Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mrs. P, Not Paula - McAryeh

Editor's Note: McAryeh gives us our latest addition to Storytellers - and it is quite a new, and most welcome, addition to our armory.

Once again -- if your name is Jameel or Bellany, get cracking on the stories you owe me. Furthermore, we are now open to new bloggers who want to giving telling a story a crack and we are also asking for seconds from our previous contributors. On with the show:

Mrs. P. Langstrom was nothing if not orderly, so her current agitation was especially troubling. Her clothes - a pale blue dress and scarf, low-heeled pumps - were laid out neatly on the chair by her bed, with a note instructing Gabriel, her oldest, that this was the outfit she was to be dressed in tomorrow morning. She had briefly considered wearing the clothes to bed, to avoid the entire issue of someone having to dress her, but decided against it when she thought they might have to remove the clothes to iron them. That would hardly be dignified.

At 82, she walked with a cane, and had a hip replaced a year prior, but was otherwise as sharp and healthy as could be expected of a woman her age. She had outlived two husbands and a child, saw her other 2 children – a son and a daughter – marry and have children of their own, retired with full tenure as a professor of literature and letters at the University of Illinois at Champlain, and volunteered in her 70s with underprivileged youth in Chicago. A full life, she thought. Some of the others had not even reached half her age.

Sitting at her writing desk, she once again flipped through her papers, licking her fingers to wet them as she turned the pages. So much paper in a lifetime. She traced the name she had signed so many times over the past 55 years…Mrs. P. Langstrom. Never Paula, always P. Paula was a stationary name, a variation on Paul. P., on the other hand, could be anything; it was ripe with mystery and possibility. She gave no thought to what name would be on her tombstone. It would be P. Just a given. Had she remembered to tell Gabriel? Wouldn't he already know? Leaning on the desk for support as she rose, Mrs. P. Langstrom retrieved her cane from the back of her chair, and made her way to the chair by the bed. In her clear, looped writing, she added a coda to her note to Gabriel, "P. on stone, not Paula, please." Gabriel did not need more. He was sensible like that, very matter-of-fact.

It was Gabriel's daughter, Sue, who was her favorite grandchild, and the source of her current agitation. She knew that grandmothers were not supposed to have favorites, at least outwardly, but she did, and she expected everyone knew it, too. That could not be helped. The girl was everything Mrs. P. Langstrom could not be, would have been had times been different. Bold and free-spirited, a sparkplug of a girl. She was now 16, and the freedom of that age was embodied in the mound of random curls going every which way on top of her head.

But the agitation! Mrs. P. Langstrom had a card she needed to fill out for Sue before the morning, a date to commit to paper for her granddaughter's viewing only, but the date was not coming to her. The entire family knew of the card. It had been tradition in the Higgins family for generations. Each grandmother would write a date on a card for her eldest granddaughter, seal it, and leave it for her to open. They all knew of the card, but only Sue would read it and hold it, until it was her turn to do the same for her own first granddaughter.

Mrs. P. Langstrom let out a sigh as her hip gave her momentary pain. She ambled back to her writing desk and took out a stack of cards in envelopes from the top right drawer. Tied with twine, they were of varying colors, shapes, sizes and stages of decay, but all were addressed to first-born Higgins granddaughters from Higgins grandmothers. At the top of the pile was the card Mrs. P. Langstrom's own grandmother had prepared for her. In very straight penmanship, her grandmother had written: "for Paula, my heart" on the outside of the envelope. Mrs. P. Langstrom had put a faint line through the "aula" at some point in her young adulthood, and so though "Paula" was still visible, a discerning eye would see that it now read "for P, my heart". Inside, on the card, it read simply September 18, 2006. Mrs. P. Langstrom had seen the card many times over the years since it was first written on January 17, 1954. Sometimes she would trace the lines of her grandmother's handwriting, imagining her sitting in her favorite seat in her kitchen, near the bay window, as she wrote the date. Sometimes she would go for months or even years without looking at the card, but it was always there in the back of her mind.

Mrs. P. Langstrom reached into the top right drawer again and took out the card and envelope she had bought in Wickson's card store the week before. It was a simple card, plain white with a subtle border of interlocking squares. She had already addressed the envelope, "Sue, fire and spirit", but the card remained blank. She stared hard at it, bent the corners a bit, then bent them back, hoping a date would come to her. She closed her eyes, breathed in deeply, thought of her grandmother, imagined her writing at the bay window; thought of her daughter, dead now for two years, as she wrote a date for a granddaughter she would never know; thought of her granddaughter, running through a field of wheat as a child, mop of curls the only thing visible over the high stalks. There was nothing, though. No inkling of a date.

A quick glance at the clock, and Mrs. P. Langstrom knew she must retire to bed. She had already received visits and calls from family and close friends, tidied her papers, prepared her clothes, and she was tired. Just this one thing left to do. Perhaps, she thought, it will come in a dream. She brought the card and envelope to the night table by her bed.

*************

It was an unusually warm September evening, but as usual she was cold. She pulled a thick comforter over her nightgown, and set her head in the indentation on her pillow. As she settled in to sleep, she began to recall the other grandmothers. Her great-grandmother, Betty, who had died when Mrs. P. Langstrom was only a child, was but a wisp of a memory – a woman with long gray hair, braided and pinned to her head in a bun. Sarah, her grandmother, was a tall woman with busy hands, always baking, mending, washing. The night of January 16th, 1954, however, her grandmother had seemed especially small and still. She imagined her again at the bay window, and wondered if it had been hard for her to write the date on the card. Mrs. P. Langstrom had never thought to ask. Mrs. P. Langstrom's mother had died very young, and she remembered her only as a shadow over her bed. When her own daughter, Evelyn, wrote her card, she reported that it came surprisingly quickly. Mrs. P. Langstrom didn't like to think of Evelyn. When she thought of Evelyn, she always started to question.

And now, Sue. Once Sue turned 11, the family had begun to tell her about the card and the date. Of course, the girl had cried at first, as they all had. But as with all things you are told over and again, with time, it soon becomes accepted. Mrs. P. Langstrom had been 30 when Sarah died, and was well prepared for receiving her envelope. Still, it came as a shock when she first saw it, first opened the card, and saw her date in indelible ink. Sue was only 16, of course. She wondered if that were better somehow. She hoped it wouldn't change her carefree spirit.

She tried again to concentrate, quiet her mind of all thoughts, wait for a date to come to her mind. When still there was nothing, she began to have other thoughts, frightening thoughts, rebellious thoughts. What if she picked the wrong date? What if she chose not to write down a date at all? What if she stopped the tradition right here and now?

And then in an instant, it came to her. Without thinking, she reached for the pen, and with a mad flourish, condemned her granddaughter to the date she would die.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Untitled Post - AnySara

Ed's Note: It's Sunday, so it must be time for a new post at Storytellers. Anysara graces us with her work this week. Enjoy.

On a side note, this was the last one actually submitted. Those of you who owe me stories, get to it - you all have a week.

As it happened, Annabelle and Lilac's only punishment for snooping on Mr. Needlebom's property was to promise to work for him one hour each day every day for the next two weeks. Annabelle was happy with this arrangement. It was better than being grounded for the last week of school, after all.

In history class on Monday, while Mrs. Olson was droning on about the American Revolution, Annabelle's mind was on Outdoor Activity Day scheduled for this Friday. She turned the page in the notebook where she was supposed to be taking notes and started penning a note to Lilac. She heard muffled giggles to her left. Sadie and Alicia, as usual. Sadie and Alicia were the middle school girls that you were always warned about. They were tall, leggy, and had started developing breasts in the sixth grade. They wore short skirts from the Gap and tops with plunging necklines. When Mama saw them at the school open house at the beginning of the year, she clucked her tongue and muttered, “How do their mothers let them out of the house like that?” The eighth grade (and seventh and sixth grade) boys loved them. They were always “going out” with someone.

The rest of the eighth grade girls, however, were divided into three camps: they either were friends with Alicia and Sadie, they wanted to be friends with Alicia and Sadie, or they avoided Alicia and Sadie at all costs. Annabelle and Lilac fell into the last category. Alicia and Sadie were merciless. They taunted, spread rumors, and made life hell for girls in their class. It was useless to go to parents or teachers to stop the torment. When confronted by an adult, Alicia and Sadie would bat their eyes and deny the accusations. After all, no one but themselves and the tormentees ever saw or heard what happened. They were far too canny to get caught.

Across the aisle, Annabelle saw Sadie whisper to Alicia and point toward the front of the room. Annabelle followed their gaze and realized with horror that they were pointing at Lilac leaning forward at her desk, a full inch of her white flowered panties stuck out over the top of her new low-cut khaki shorts. Annabelle had to stop them before they pointed the fault out to anyone else. She had to get word to Lilac to fix her shorts. Her note to Lilac became a warning. “Pull your shirt down – I can see your underwear.” She quietly tore the paper off and folded it just twice before passing it to Anthony in front. “It's urgent!” she whispered into the back of Anthony's sticky head which smelled heavily of hair gel. Anthony turned. “To Lilac,” Annabelle mouthed. She could count on Anthony. He lived down the road from the Griffins. When they were younger, Anthony would come over to run through the sprinkler in the yard and have watermelon seed-spitting contests. Annabelle watched the note make its way forward, praying that Mrs. Olson wouldn't look up from the overhead where she was writing “Causes of the American Revolution” in green marker. She didn't and the note was tossed onto Annabelle's desk by Kristin, an Alicia-Sadie-wannabee. Annabelle watched Lilac unfold the note, refold it and pull the edge of her white tank top as far down as she could.

Annabelle sat back in relief. Crisis averted. She took a quick glance over at Sadie and Alicia to find them both glaring at her. She gulped and looked away, eyes glued to her notebook for the five remaining minutes of class.

At lunch Annabelle and Lilac had almost forgotten what happened. They laughed about their Saturday night adventure as they ate their sandwiches.

“Did anyone else see my underwear besides you?” Lilac asked taking a sip of her juice.

Annabelle hesitated. “Sadie and Alicia saw.”

Lilac groaned. “Of all people, why did they have to see? At least this is the last week of school."

“Yeah. I wouldn't worry about it. They'll be more concerned about coordinating their wardrobes this week.” Annabelle flicked her wrist and said in her best imitation of Alicia, “Oh Sadie, should we wear the pink shirts or blue with our new American Eagle skirts?” Lilac cracked up, nearly spewing juice out her nose.

Across the cafeteria, Annabelle watched Sadie and Alicia stand up and begin walking from table to table, placing a single sheet of paper on each one. At the jocks' table, one of the boys grabbed it and laughed, passing it to the kid next to him. This scene repeated itself all over the cafeteria. Soon, Annabelle saw fingers pointing in her direction. She had to see what was on that paper. She didn't have to wait long.

Alicia sauntered over and flipped one onto their table. Annabelle snatched it up. There, in black and white was a rudely drawn charicature of Lilac, rear end wider than in real life with flowered panties exploding out the top of too-tight khaki shorts. Lilac, her back to the rest of the lunchroom, munched obliviously on her turkey sandwich as the laughter in the cafeteria grew louder and louder. Lilac grabbed the flyer. “What is that?” she said through a mouthful of turkey. Lilac stopped chewing and her eyes welled with tears. “This is supposed to be me, isn't it?”Annabelle didn't know what to say.

Finally, she packed up the rest of her lunch and Lilac's and she led her friend from the cafeteria. On the way out, Alicia called out, “Nice undies, Lilac.” The whole cafeteria giggled.

“You witch!” Annabelle spun around, eyes wild. “I'd watch my back the next few days if I were you.” She stormed out of the cafeteria after Lilac.

That night after school, Annabelle hatched her plan. For years Alicia and her best-friend-of-the-moment had terrorized the entire school. Annabelle had tried to keep herself and Lilac out of the way, but this was too much. Alicia had to be stopped.

Right after school on Tuesday, Annabelle pedaled out to the Salvation Army thrift store on the shore road south of town. A cool breeze came off the channel, sweeping over her bare arms and making her shiver slightly. The channel was beautiful today – a ribbon of deep blue surrounded by different rich shades of green.

Annabelle left her bike leaning on the rail outside the thrift store and made a beeline for the underwear section. There, she looked for the largest, ugliest pair of old lady panties she could find. Settling on a giant yellow pair splashed with purple and green flowers, she went to the cash register to pay.

“Now what would a young lady like you be wanting with a pair of drawers like these?” Mrs. Simkin, the cashier, raised an eyebrow at her.

“Er...” Annabelle hesitated. “I need the material for a project for school and these were just the right color.”

“I see. Well, good luck on your project. Must be the last of the year, eh? You enjoy your summer, now, my dear.”

“Thanks,” Annabelle was relieved to leave the store.

In first period on Wednesday, a folded piece of paper landed on Annabelle's desk when Mrs. Olson wasn't looking. She looked around to see where it had come from, but there were no tell-tale glances in her direction. Slowly, Annabelle unfolded the note. Scrawled in black magic marker was a warning, “Don't even think of doing anything to Alicia. You'll regret it for the rest of your life.” Annabelle crumpled the paper and stuffed it in her notebook. She'd have to keep a low profile and avoid the lunchroom for the next two days. The lunchroom was a giant free-for-all. The moms who came in to monitor the lunchroom were clueless. Annabelle could never figure out if they just didn't care or if they really were that dumb, but they often let kids get away with almost anything.

After class, Annabelle told Mrs. Olson that she had a headache and the lunchroom noise would really aggravate it. Would Mrs. Olson mind if Annabelle and Lilac ate in her room? Mrs. Olson said she'd be delighted to have the company. Annabelle told Lilac the news between classes. Lilac had been hiding all day under her sweatshirt and long blond hair even though it was nearly eighty degrees outside. She looked relieved that she wouldn't have to face the cafeteria again.

“Cheer up,” Annabelle whispered. “I have a plan!”

“Annabelle, you can't,” Lilac protested.

“Don't worry. I'll tell you about it at lunch. Gotta go or I'm going to be late for science.” Annabelle flew off down the hall toward the science wing.

Friday morning arrived at last. Annabelle had hardly slept. Today was D-Day – the day when Alicia would finally get what was coming to her. Today was also Field Day and the last day of school. Annabelle was on cloud nine.

She left for school thirty minutes earlier than usual. She had to time it right if her plan was going to work. Locking her bike into the rack at the back of the school, Annabelle made her way to the front. Good. No other kids lingered outside the main entrance, yet. The custodian was just raising the flag for the day. Annabelle waited for him to go back inside before rounding the corner of the building. She quickly unpacked her supplies and set to work. Two minutes later, she finished and disappeared inside the building to wait and watch until her handiwork was discovered. She found the choir room unlocked and slipped into the alcove where she could hide and look out the window.

It didn't take long. The first kids to be dropped off stopped in front of the large poster board sign Annabelle had taped to the flag pole. The sign read in large black letters, “Has anyone seen my panties? Please return ASAP to Alicia Thomas.” It took the kids a minute of staring at the sign before one of them looked up. He nudged his friend and pointed. There, right below the flag hung the enormous flowered panties from the Salvation Army. The kids cracked up and moved off to play hacky sack next to the door. The next kids to be dropped off figured it out sooner because the first kids yelled out, “Look up!” Most kids laughed loudly. A few looked uncomfortable and tried to hide their snickers behind hands.

Finally, a black BMW rolled up. Out stepped a tall slender girl with long brown curly hair. She wore sunglasses, a tank top with “Princess” in glitter across her chest, and a khaki skort. Her flip-flops slapped her heels as she approached the crowd that had gathered around the flagpole. The students quieted and loud whispers could be heard, “It's her! It's Alicia!” Like the Red Sea they parted as Alicia, now looking confused, continued up the front walk. She couldn't miss the sign, however. With a perfectly manicured hand, she pushed her sunglasses back on her head, lips pressed furiously together. The crowd followed her glance and then, before Alicia could figure it out on her own, simultaneously looked up. Alicia followed their gaze and stood staring for a moment before erupting, “That little brat!” and stalking into the school, a trail of wannabes fanning out behind her. Soon, one of the wannabes returned to remove the sign and panties from the flagpole. Annabelle sat back from her perch in the choir room alcove, satisfied that this would be the best day ever.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Wave Dancer - Ayala

Editor's Note: Well, it's a new week so that means it must be time for a new Storyteller's submission. Here's one from Ayala, fresh off her summer hiatus. Ayala is fairly new to the blogverse and she has a great writing style for a young-un. She can use Storytellers for practice any time she wants.

When the souls of the sea whisper to each other and tell the stories of their past the waves stop and the entire ocean calms. Silence overwhelms the night and the stars shine with all of their strength onto the surrounding sands. They whisper, but we cannot hear them. As hard as we may try and as much as we may hope we cannot listen to the stories of the sea. She knew for she had tried.

She had heard them whispering under the sparkling sky. Slowly, silently, she had walked to the edge of the water. But the sands had felt the warmth of her feet and had warned their beloved ocean of her coming. The waves then started to swirl, creating a pattern around her. At first she had tried to resist the movements; she wanted more than anything to hear the stories they could tell. But the motions were too beautiful to refuse so she let the waves spin her back to the shore; back to the world she was a part of, a world where you do not hear the voice of the ocean.
_______________________________________

“Is everyone ready? Take your places, please, time is our enemy here. Now is everybody ready? Good. Begin.”

The pianist started a gentle tune, his fingers barely landing to rest on the keys before moving on to the next ones. Softly the violins joined in, then the flutes. They played calmly, quietly. Suddenly they played harder, more intensely, their sound drifting higher and filling up more of the surrounding space. The cellos began, bringing the air of excitement with them. The sounds blended together so flawlessly to create a symphony unlike any other.

It was expected that this music would be extraordinary. Of course they would practice relentlessly, there was no doubt that they would play for hours and then go home and go through the notes a hundred times more in their heads. For, you see when you are the musicians for the greatest dancer of your time you do not merely play. For if you miss a beat, if you hesitate for a moment, the dance is lost, a second too early or too late and she will loose her concentration. The music needs to become so dependable that she can blend with it until they are one, so that it looks as if the music came from the same place that her movements did: her heart.

With that knowledge in mind the musicians worked harder than every before. They studied and practiced and now it was over. Tomorrow she would dance in front of the world with their masterpiece accompanying her. Tomorrow.

“That was beautiful.” The conductor had a tear in his eye as he spoke. He had pushed them hard but they had come through. He had dreamt and they had made his dream a reality. Tomorrow she would bring her magic to this very stage. Tomorrow.

___________________________________________

The ocean had been kind today; she could see David from her window, his boat filled with fish. It will bring in good money, she knew, for their home. She looked once again at his kind face and gentle eyes and she wondered why it was that she hated him so.

“If I wasn’t being forced to marry him I might actually end up loving him on my own.” She had not meant to say that out loud. She knew if she was heard she would be punished for being ungrateful. Ungrateful. What a stupid word. She had come to hate that word as much as she hated his face. It could be worse, she thought. Her sister had been forced to marry a merchant from the next town. He had been fat and almost twenty years older than her teenage sister, but rich and so they had wed. David was not rich, which quite honestly she was happy for, although she knew her mother had hoped for a wealthier match. She hated money. She hated fish. She glanced up again at the boat and David waved at her shyly. She waved back. She hated fish.

Fish were gifts from the ocean. The waves guided the boats and the ocean decided which fishermen would succeed. She resented that gift, for it was not the one she wanted. She wanted to hear their stories. Sometimes she still sat up late at night straining her ears to hear their tales. But the sea had learned her tricks by now and they whispered softly to each other so that she could not hear. So she made up her own stories. Of ships and mermaids, of love and of faith. But her favorite story was the wave dancer, a story her mother had told her when she was a little girl. She would whisper it to herself until she fell asleep, her own story of the sea.

Once upon a time, when the land was controlled by the power of the ocean, there was a girl who loved to dance. Every night she would leave her small home and dance under the moonlight. Well, the sea saw the beauty of the girls face and the grace in her movements, and desired her. Although the sea controlled the land it could not make the earth bring the girl to them. They wanted her to dance among their waves and swim through the depths of their waters. But the earth wanted the girl to run through valleys and rivers and to dance through the trees of its forests.

The sea knew that they had to be smart to convince the girl to dance for them, so at night, when they would gather to share their stories, they let her listen. The souls of the sea would whisper to the girl about dances of far away places and movements that she did not know. The girl was smart and knew the dangers of dancing with the sea, but her body desired the movements, her heart wanted the dance. So she started to dance closer to the waters. She let her feet sink into the soft cool sand with every movement. The brave waves came up to touch her toes, and then rushed back into the safety of the sea. Slowly she became braver and danced into the waves. She danced only until the water reached her ankles and then moved back to the warmth and comfort of the earth.

For nights they danced like this. The sea whispered around her and let her hear their magic words. Then the sea began to whisper to her, as if she was part of them, and in a way she was. She had become a part of the sea.

She began to dance everywhere she went, spreading the movements and patterns that the sea had taught her. She amazed people with her talent and her unique dances, and she was careful never to tell them where she had learned her secrets. For you see, they were not really her secrets at all, but the secrets of the ocean. But the ocean is powerful and beautiful, and hard to resist, and the girl soon started to forget to be careful.

Her life on earth kept moving, she grew, she married, and she lived. And no matter what was happening in her life she kept dancing. Soon she had a child. The pain had been outrageous and she had feared that she would never see the ocean again. But she survived and had a beautiful baby girl. That night, while her daughter slept, she went outside to dance with the sea.
That night her happiness was stronger than ever before, her movements sharper, her heart more content, and she forgot to make sure she did not dance too far into the waves. She forgot to be careful of the height of the water against her skin.

That morning her husband woke to his daughter crying and his wife gone. She had danced too far. She had gone too deep. He wept for his wife and for his daughter who would grow up without a mother, and, to protect her, he made sure that the baby would never dance, that she would never go near the ocean. But the souls of the sea were inside of her and so she found a way. She grew quickly and soon found the knowledge of dance that was deep inside of her. And the sea loved her as well. But she was smarter than her mother and never left the shores; she danced with the waves around her feet but was careful not to lose concentration.

She grew up with the sea in her soul. She grew, she married, and she lived. She had a daughter who also had the ocean inside of her. So they danced together by the light of the moon. And at night, when they had danced and came inside to sleep, she would hold her daughter and whisper in her ear “Forever you will carry the secrets of the sea. You will pass them on to your daughter and then to her daughter. Be careful never to tell the secrets of the sea. And dance. Always dance.” With this message she would send her to sleep. Night after night, year after year. She grew, she married, and she lived. And her mother’s words came true. So even now the soul of the sea is passed down through the generations. And there is always one who cannot resist the urge to dance with the sea.

The story always calmed her. It reminded her of her mother and it put her to sleep. She knew the story was not real but it always reminded her of her own mother. Her mother would go outside to sit by the water every night. She had said it was to think, but she knew her mother danced; she had stayed up one night to watch. Her mother had been so beautiful; the moon shining on her face, and the ocean swirling around her. And when the night was over she had asked the sea one thing; that the ocean should not share its secrets with her daughter.

In the morning she had woken up and rushed to ask her mother about the dance she had seen. Her arms already aching to feel the movements. But her mother had been harsh when she mentioned it. She told her it must have been a dream. And now, after so many years, she had trouble remembering if it had been real or not.

_______________________________________________

He had a secret. The mirror was leaned up against the ugly dressing room wall. He adjusted his suit, smoothed his hair one last time, and checked his watch to find that he still had twenty minutes until he had to be on stage. Ah, his secret. Tonight he would play the piano for the greatest dancer he had ever seen. And although he would be playing with twenty other musicians he knew she would only see him. He knew because the sea had told him. His name was David and the sea had told him that he belonged with this girl, this girl who danced like the waves.

______________________________________________

They married in October. The ocean was starting to get cold and tossed angrily in the background. She smiled, nodded, hugged the appropriate people at the appropriate times, but all the while she was wishing she could jump into the water and swim away.

That night they sat together in their new home. She was leaning against the window with the moonlight falling across her face and David gave her a gift. He gave her a small stone in the shape of a heart, with the pattern of the sands that had shaped it so still on its face. He told her that the sea had given it to him to show her that they would love each other in time, and that when it came this love would last forever. And this time, looking into his eyes, she took the gift of the ocean.

They lived happily together and grew to love each other. She grew, she married, and she lived. They have a daughter the following spring. She had hair as dark as the depths of the ocean and eyes as blue as the waves in the sun. And every night she would tell her daughter the story of the wave dancer. The daughter grew, she married, and she lived, but the magic of dance and the desire of the sea was lost in her. Here the story ended.

_____________________________________________

The silk of her bodice shimmered in the light. She wasn’t nervous; she had done it a thousand times before. Ever since she was little her mother would tell her a story that mothers had been telling daughters for generations. It was the story of the wave dancer. She did not know but her mother had changed the story. She told her daughter that a long time ago her great great grandmother had married a man named David, and on their wedding night he had given her a gift from the ocean. For you see, she had always wanted to dance with the ocean. She had the desire to hear the secrets of the sea, just like her mother did and her grandmother did. But her mother had made the sea promise to stop the cycle of the ocean, and so it had stopped. But, her mother told her, now it would start again.

When she turned thirteen her mother told her the story of the wave dancer and pressed a small package into her hand. She opened it and saw a smooth stone in the shape of a heart: the gift of the sea. That night she walked to the ocean and laid the stone into the waves. She asked the ocean to take back its gift and give her another in its place; the gift of dance. So the ocean took back the stone and danced with her. The souls of the sea whispered in her ear and the waves swirled around her feet in a pattern unlike any she had ever seen. The cycle had returned.

She had shared the gift of the ocean with everyone she met. She danced. And the more she danced the more she realized the beauty of the water. Whenever the souls of the sea whispered to each other she heard, she learned, she danced, and she continued the pattern of the sea. But she knew that the sea had once given her great great grandmother the gift of love in that stone and she had exchanged it for the gift of dance. She had asked to be able to hear the stories of the ocean and she was scared that it would be instead of love.

“Five minutes ‘till show time.” Only five minutes.
_________________________________________________

The show was over. She had danced with the waves whispering in her ear. She had danced as if the moon was shining on her face and the warm sands supported her feet. She was at the beach now, here to thank her friends for the gift they had given her, for the cycle of magic they had restored to her family. She had come to listen to the souls of the sea whisper to each other.
______________________________________________

He had played like never before, with the crashing of the waves against the shore keeping the beat in his head and the moon lighting the notes so he could see what to play. He had watched her. He saw the moonlight shining on her face and he heard the sea whispering the movements in her ear. He knew she would be at the beach, here to thank to ocean. He too came to thank the waters for the gift they had given him; her.
______________________________________________

They met at the beach one night, a long time ago. She danced and his music accompanied her. The sand had felt the warmth of his feet and had warned their beloved wave dancer of his coming. They did not speak. They did not have to.

He pressed a small package into her hand. She slowly opened the familiar wrapping and, with a tear in her eye, she saw the beautiful stone that she had returned to the sea so long ago. The ocean had given it back to her; the ocean had given her him. The moonlight fell across her face and David told her that the stone was a gift from the sea to show that they would love each other in time, and that when that love came it would last forever.

They grew, they married, and they lived. Always together. Late at night they would come together and listen to the stories of the sea. When they had a daughter they would bring her with them. They would lay her little feet into the wet waves and let the ocean caress the daughter of their beloved wave dancer. The three of them would dance with the water; they would swirl and spin together with the sea along side them.

When the daughter turned thirteen her mother took her aside and told her again the story of the wave dancer. When she was done she held her close and whispered in her ear, “You are the dancer, my love. The ocean will tell you their secrets; the waves will show you their movements. But always remember they are not your secrets to tell. And dance. Always dance.”

Then she took her daughter by the hand and went out to the ocean. Together they unwrapped the stone with the pattern of the sands that had formed it still on its face, and they laid it in the water. The ocean took back the stone so that one day, when the daughter was ready to grow, to marry, and to live, the ocean could return the stone to the right person. So that the cycle would forever continue.

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When the souls of the sea whisper to each other and tell the stories of their past the waves stop and the entire ocean calms. Silence overwhelms the night and the stars shine with all of their strength onto the surrounding sands. They whisper, but only some can hear them.