The Seaside Dream | by Brian Shane

Inspired by a painting of the same name, by Ashley Webb


“I remember that day, early in to the evening,

And even late in to the night; It was cold.

I have lost myself in that time too easily,

Before and after seem less important. The told

Story of my mind,

as of yet to be defined,

Begins with a long night, windy, yet calm.

A chime came from beyond the sanctuary

Atop the twisting trail of the bottomless hill,

Where the water and land transformed to one:

A splashing white,

A frothy foam,

With the green, damply impressioned land.

The chime was wistful, a clamor against the quiet wind,

And not yet apparent to the soles within.

I saw her, from my window, in my darkened room.

The feverish walls bounded with joy against the

Dancing flame behind me; I saw her then.

At first I was entranced by a shimmer, a speck

Amongst the crashing waves, and what next

I could not decipher. The shimmer appeared

And disappeared in a constant pattern,

Dancing back and forth between the flailing sea:

The waves shifted to distort

The otherwise maintained beat.

But I saw between them, beyond it seemed,

At what I could not at first discern.

The moon was bright this evening,

Beyond the light of the day in fact

Where the cloudy overcast

Masked itself from time, denying the suns line

Of sight, until it began to gray.

The moon was the first to see the ocean’s surface.

Oh! How could it see!

It’s one round eye stared blankly

From its haven abound the night’s sky;

Barely a star in my sight,

I can say with some doubt,

For this lamplit stillness had me transfixed

Within the confines of the ocean surface.

The glimmer of the moon’s reflection

Created a flicker. A flicker no bigger

Than the first shimmer I previously mentioned.

I chalked up both apparitions to be

Nothing more than my imagination,

Tricked by the moon, and the dancing shadows––

Like those of my room––amongst the ocean’s surface.

I had given up, had lost my interest,

And nearly retreated to a sleep, when

I felt the wind. I heard a tiny music and,

Beyond my home,

Along the road

To the shore below,

I saw her there.

Fair as I see you before me,

Or you see me before you.

I can tell you this with utmost certainty,

I had seen a mermaid

In the waves that crashed against

The shore below my home.

Well, I was flabbergasted,

I couldn’t believe my eyes,

Wouldn’t believe my eyes,

I felt sleep deprived.

The shadows play tricks, like the dancing wick.

But no,

I could see quite professionally:

The moon was full; the fullest I had seen!

I know, ‘A mermaid sounds absurd,’

I can see you judging me

with your eyes. But those eyes–

those of which see me true as day–

Were not as clear as my eyes that evening.

As clear as the night sky my eyes were,

And I felt no more deception.

I saw her smile at me, her flaring blonde hair,

Dampened by the sea, was darker in tone,

And, matched with the purpling sky,

Became the hue of the strawberry

ripe beyond its age. What do you ask?

Of course she was pretty. Gorgeous;

I believed at first, then beautiful soon after.

She grew behind her a long slender tail,

A deeper red than that of her saturated scalp,

But even brighter, and the

Evermore rich it became,

As I saw bits and parts, long, behind her,

Withdraw from the water

as it shined amongst the moonlight.

So, there I was still in awe –

My jaw thoroughly dropped

Beyond the furthest depths of the ocean floor –.

A dream?

No... no,

to dream of such beauty is an impossible thing.

Did I say how beautiful? Oh, how beautiful was she!

No... no,

She was real, as I before you,

As this room of which we visit...

No... She was real.

You want to hear how I know?

How I am certain beyond doubt?

I cannot let go of this moment:

I saw her reach,

Her pink arm stretched

towards something I did not see.

At this point we no longer made eye contact,

That moment was brief,

Too brief if you ask me;

I still picture that moment as if it lasted an eternity.

But no, she was looking down,

away from our home.

Her arm lingered hastily, anxiously patient,

If there is such a thing. That’s how I would describe it.”

The two sat in silence for a moment.

The low embers in the gathered

fire place hissed and popped.

The older gentleman, our heretofore unmentioned

Narrator of the outlandish claim, stood, gathered

Another brick of firewood, and carelessly planted

It atop the coals. He stood there for a moment,

Listening intently to the new sparks and crackles,

Hisses and pops, from the freshened fire.

“Then what?” a voice from behind him

Asked abruptly. He hesitated before

He turned to see the questioning being,

His trance now broken.

He was still behind the conversation,

His mind amongst the flames,

When a second, “What happened?” became

Audible in spite of the festive shadows

Dancing with laughter against the shapeless walls.

Only then did he begin to give his answer:

“Nothing... Nothing happened, she disappeared.

She sank as heavily as the expression on her face,

As heavily as my heart through witnessing her pain,

In to the shifting ocean, I never saw her again.

I believed I liked this story, as I do every time

Prior to sharing it with a friend. But it saddens me,

Her inability to reach what she desired most...

But I tell it the same every time. I must tell myself

This story every day, forgetting the pain

That is sure to follow, or ignoring it

So blissfully that it seems unlikely to be.

I believe that this time it will be different,

And that she will come soaring to me

Above the ocean, a silhouette in the moon light,

Dancing amongst the stars. Yes,

I see them now; the stars were bright

And plentifully clustered that night.

I remember now, the darkening creep of the coming storm,

The gray battle of clouds just enveloping the horizon.

Maybe it was all just a dream, a trick on my eyes.

But I remember it so clearly, as clear as the sky

Once was that evening.

But without the light, a shadow is nothing

But blackness amongst blackness.

Yeah, she was real... I could hear the music

She made; it was low, sad, and crashed against the sand

At the bottom of the sloping end of the path

Traveling from my home, resting solely atop the hill.”

He turned again from his companion

And stared deeply in to the well lit flame

of the fireplace. He stared for just a moment.

Watching the rhythmic splendor it came to him,

And he said it without thinking, without knowing

If he had even said anything at all,

And to whom, or which, or what

he said it to cannot be determined:

“Don’t dance without music:

It is to interpret shadows

Without a light of which to create them.”

___Brian Shane was born in the city of Coos Bay, along the coast of Oregon. After living most of his adolescence in the small, rural town known as Eagle Point he now resides in Beaverton, Oregon. Writing stories and fables from an early age, Brian has adapted his love of the written word to a career path beginning with a Bachelors in English Literature. Always busy, mostly productive, Brian seeks to understand the world, perception, and the human condition through his continued literary travels.