i. Chrissy Dances
And the waves lap gently at the sand, pushing it up and pulling it back, undecided on whether they should stay or go but nevertheless forced into constant motion by the irresistible pull of the moon.
Chrissy sits and waits on the shoreline for the dashing young man who must surely happen by soon. But the waves lap, and the sand stirs, and Chrissy’s shadow lengthens across the hard packed rippled surface and still he does not appear.
Her crown sits askew on her golden head and her eyes gaze vacantly down at her feet. She wriggles her toes into the sand and watches as the saturated ground gives up its water in tiny pools around her feet.
The sun dips lower in the sky, resting its head on the horizon, and sends glowing amber beams of sympathy to soothe the young girl’s pain. Chrissy smiles back sadly, and looks once more along the empty beach.
She folds her arms over her knees, rests her chin on them, and begins singing softly to herself. A light breeze creeps cautiously from the ocean surface and sidles up the beach. It lifts a few strands of soft, fine, hair and strokes them gently. “Everything will work out fine.”
She rises and stands before the ocean with her arms held out. The breeze grows a little more excited, flicking at her white linen dress, and whispering in her ear. She spins slowly on the spot, a careful pirouette. She points with her right foot and inscribes a perfect circle for her Prince to cross. She raises her arms in a graceful arch above her head and pivots forwards, raising one leg in an elegant Arabesque.
The lapping waves give a gurgling chuckle at the dancing girl while their parents roar approval from further afield. The wind cheers and whistles as it flows alongside her, constantly caressing, touching, guiding and leading. She dances up the beach. Her shadow flickers and wavers and the sun turns the water to fire as it clings to the last scrap of the sea. As she dances across the demarcation line between the oceanâ€™s domain and the landâ€™s, the dry sand leaps excitedly in the air around her feet, kicked into glittering tornadoes by the energy of her passing. From over the border, the brine-soaked ocean sand looks on with envy.
Then he is here, clad in black, tall, lean, his face indistinct with the sun at his back. She dances around him, laughing and crying, desperate for a glimpse of his long awaited face. She spins towards him and the last ray of the dying sun burns fiercely in her heart before vanishing, leaving her alone and silent on the empty beach once more. Her arms fall to her sides and her gaze turns down to the eternal sand. She sinks to her knees with her arms outstretched. The beach takes her hands; the ocean strokes her arms; the slowly spreading darkness caresses her golden hair.
And the waves lap gently at the sand and the wind sighs its pity. Chrissy sits and Chrissy waits for another glimpse on another day, while the weeping sun rolls its moment of magical twilight around the world.
ii. Reuben Stands
The darkness approaches, rushing on the wings of ravens, and Reuben runs through its heart. He feels the gentle tug of the world’s turning and the less gentle pressure of the whispering night which surrounds him.
Voices cry to him from the darkness; joyful laughter, angry shouts, tears, grief, and the unbearable keening wail of longing.
He turns to face the latter, his face transfigured in recognition, and throws his voice forwards into the smothering night; â€œI am here! I am always here!â€
The unseen coils of the darkness lash and flex around him, striking his arms, his legs, his back. He stumbles and slows and feels the night thicken. The cry of the longing tears at his heart, pulling at him as he in turn pushes through the murk, and the power of the cry grows with every step he takes.
Reuben redoubles his efforts against the slick, invisible bonds as a distant roar approaches from somewhere behind. It grows lighter ahead. Something shifts beneath his feet. The smooth glassy surface becomes buckled and twisted, pitted and scarred. As he forges forwards, it pulls and sucks at him, slowing him further. Sensing triumph, the invisible coils of night slither and contract around his waist.
Reuben cries out as his feet begin to sink. An icy chill embraces them and the all-too familiar hand of fear caresses his heart.
â€œToo soon! Have pity!â€ he cries, as the cold tendrils pulse and surge up and down the length of his legs. The laughter of the darkness and the onslaught of the roaring sound assault his ears and he covers his head with his arms.
The lighter air ahead is flecked with red and gold and it is towards this small hope that Reuben strives. Bright sparks ignite and burn angrily before his eyes, spinning and dancing, coalescing into a light band below and a darker band above. The surface around his legs is liquid and icy, pricking and sticking, lacerating his flesh with vicious tendrils of cold. A wave forges ahead of him, wrapping him in its reluctance, and the darkness gloats and cackles behind him.
The soft earth touches the soles of his feet in a gentle caress. With an exultant cry he pulls free of his ephemeral bonds and sprints, head down, arms pumping, knees rising high to clear the foam around his legs. The world slips into focus; gently undulating dunes beneath a luminous sky of purple and red. The darkness falls behind, unable to match his pace now that the land is on his side, but still stalking its inexorable way towards him. The last tendrils of night spring from his shoulders as he steps clear of the shivering blackness and the gentle light of the dying sun flickers in his eyes.
He laughs and whoops, leaping the last few feet, emerging from the sea as though for the first time, and the firm sand beneath him smiles its welcome. And then, a flicker of white, sunlight on golden hair, the madly pirouetting form of longing made corporeal and Reuben stands transfixed, the pursuing horror forgotten in an instant.
She spins around him, aware and unaware, eyes flashing past without making contact. Her hair whips across her face, stealing his breath and pulling it around her. She slows, her arms raising, turning towards him; her face, in profile, pale and lovely, turning, turning as the heavy curtain of dark â€“ its path leading remorselessly to this place â€“ rests its cold hand upon his back and wraps him in its coils once more.
His heart slows and despair floods through him as the ebony claws tear at him. The world fades. The silhouette falls to her knees on the beach. The blackness is total and eternal.
iii. The World Turns
Mother spins around her centre and dances around Father with breathtaking speed. The solar winds drift across her face, billowing and blowing across unimaginable distance with the softness of a lover’s caress, and the golden light of his gaze lies softly on her cheek. She is everything that is, was, and will be but nothing without him.
And there, on the border between day and night, the thin band of dusk creeps lazily across her countenance, ebbing and flowing with the contours of her beautiful face. Glistening clouds race across lush, green, grassland; the shimmer of burning air rises above parched desert; breathless frozen air hangs still above her frozen crown and feet. And all around and ever present rolls the passionate tempest of the ocean.
And there, on the border between motion and stillness, the thin band of glistening silver sand lies streaked with red as the dusk approaches. A trail of footprints, insignificant on the face of the world, leads from the ocean to the land. A second trail spirals and spins along the length of the beach; meandering and searching, then arcing sharply towards the sea.
And there, on the border between Chrissy and Reuben, the world holds her delicate breath. For a single moment, frozen in time, the girl dances and the boy stands. Her longing heart calls out to Mother for mercy. His anguished mind calls to Father, railing against his absence.
And Mother reaches out with a gentle breeze and strokes Chrissy’s golden hair. She feels Reuben’s feet, standing calmly on her shore. The girl’s breath flows from her mouth, mixing with the breeze and is carried to the boy. â€œIn this small way you are connected,â€ Mother sighs. For Chrissy is everything that is and was and will be, but without Reuben she is nothing. â€œIn this small way we are all connected.â€
And the waves lap gently at the sand in this place of union where opposites meet.