Reddit WritingPrompts – The Clam Shepherd

This was one of these writing prompts off of Reddit I had the compelling urge to respond to. After all, I get to work in my anachronistic beach comber sketch! So I made a backstory for the character, pretended she was a painting and drummed this up.

Done in April 23, 2018.

Note: My writing for Reddit writing prompts is different for brevity. While this is a good example of my writing, I often omit backstory and several details to create a concise post. Please look at my other works if you’re looking for my more regular style of writing.

Original Post


In a little old coffee shop in New England, you’ll find me on the wall among old photographs of sailors, lighthouses and boats.

I’m the Clam Shepherd, an antique oil painting from the 19th century.

I’m an older dark-haired woman wandering the New England beaches, dressed in a plain 1860’s dress. A bucket of clams in one hand, another hiking back one side of my skirts up against my waist, hoop and petticoats on display. I’m looking over my shoulder, as if to invite the viewer to gather clams with me.

At least that’s how the world perceived me.

Truth be told it was impractical wandering the beach in such a way, but that’s how the painter set me up. What was it called? Oh yes, artistic license.

I should be happy scouring the beaches for dinner and anything else that catches my interest, wondering about what may wash up the next day.

But living inside the same world for 150 years does have its downsides. Being on the beach for so long tends to drive people mad. The same stretch, the same dunes. And the lack of company! What I would give to talk to another soul. Just these old clams, which sadly tend to shut up for the most part.

I can’t help but to wonder what it would be like out there, beyond the canvas I was created on. While most of my existence has been spent in various antique shops and a lighthouse, my recent tenure at a Nanhant coffee shop has given me a good dose of what’s going on in the world.

Those wonderful things called a smartphone, for example. Such a mass of information at my fingertips, and the ability to communicate with people so far away in an instant. To gather the very image of someone or something in full color, and to share it easily to someone else. Even to play music! Wouldn’t it be serene to wander the beach with a lovely tune to go along with the sights. I would greatly desire to own one of those.

I would be quite out of place, however. To step into this modern world, not knowing how to drive an automobile or use the technology this shop’s patrons tote with them all the time. I can perhaps don the attire of those around me and mimic what they speak, learning the world’s events from the newspaper at the door. But would I truly belong?

I think not.

But sometimes I look out over the coffee shop, thinking that perhaps I still can fit in. Perhaps on certain nights or events, I could pass as a historical figure, serving coffee to the patrons and telling them of tales old. To answer questions that one may need to go to the library to answer. To pass perhaps as a sort of mascot or endeared figure associated with the place of business or even town.

When the thought crosses my mind about living beyond this painted frame that I call my home, I wholeheartedly accept it. I would be willing to “give a shot” at living in this modern day and age. And I truly do believe I can fit in some way; just as I give an onlooker an invitation to journey with me along the beach, I believe I can help snatch someone out of this troubled world for just a moment, bringing them back to a place where their mind and heart can be at rest.

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