the hermit and her shell

Cora was large; well for a hermit crab anyway. She had grown and grown and was still growing. Her current home was her 118th. She went through homes like the white rabbit went through his burrow – in a hurry. Every other month or two she’d find herself in a new neighbourhood. She coundn’t stay in her old one, because crabs don’t like living near someone diferent. Don’t believe me? Ever recall walking along a beach and finding a crab chatting with a clam? Or just hanging out with a mudskippper? They don’t even like being near larger crabs for fear of landing on the menu. So, Cora had moved 118 times.

She didn’t mind it really. She got to meet new folks and see lots of new places and as she grew, dinner seemed to get better and better. For a hermit crab, she really had done a lot. 

As she rested into her shell in contemplation, she noticed something. She couldn’t get her claws to tuck under her head. That was how she usually slept. Oh no, she thought. I’m going to have to move again. She wiggled and slithered as deep as she could into her home, but try as she might she could not stop her claws from obtruding from the shell. She really didn’t want to leave but it seemed she had no choice.

And so, Cora bid her new friends goodbye and began the quest for a different shell. She walked and walked for days, all the while feeling the pinch of her shell. Every shell she came across was either too small or too heavy for her to carry. So on and on she walked. As the weeks passed, she grew numb to the weight of the shell on her back. Looking around her, she began taking in the sights – giant lobsters tangled in a wrestle, a morray eel choking on a piece of garbage and carefree squids darting around every bend. She looked up and saw the sun playing on the sand beneath. Her eyes had been always so fixed to the ground that she never noticed where those mystical gleams of light came from.

Then all of a sudden she slammed into something. She was blinded for a second but when she opened her eyes, there it was. Gleaming like new, with a tender shell and comfy looking interior. She realised suddenly that she had been so preoccupied that her old shell had simply slipped out and she was walking around naked. It explained why the parrotfish had eyed her suspiciously. She ran into the new shell and took cover. The only way to get a home to fit comfortably was to wiggle around a little. The shell rested smoothly on her back, caressing her sides firmly but gently. She loved it. And what’s more, it seemed brand new. Cora lifted her new home and went along her merry way.

After a very short while though, she noticed that the shell had a hole at the botton where her soft stomach could scrape the hard sand beneath. So she tucked her stomach in. Then she noticed that the sun was getting too hot for her. The shell was too thin; it gave her no protection. Poor Cora, she really did want to keep this shell. Maybe, some minor repairs would make it more suitable for her. Although homes were meant to protect you, there was something about this shell that made her want to keep it away from other hermits. She has seen them, they could be vicious. To them shells were just something to be made use of and then discarded. So, on she walked, looking for things to mend her new home with. She was a tough little hermit. She was not giving up without a fight.

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