Sea the Moon

The seagulls wept.

They had woken her from her sleep. It was funny, now that she thought about it. She’d also listened to their shrill pleas as she drifted off. It reminded her of the song her mother had sung to her as a baby.

Sunset and sunrise, bird calls and bird cries.

Simone rolled out of her bed and the tidal swell of the world rolled beneath her feet. Circles and orbs, circles and orbs. She wobbled over to the window on legs made of string. It’s all just circles and orbs. Or spheres. Is ‘spheres’ the word I’m looking for? She rested her elbows on the windowsill and cradled her chin in the cup of her palms. Her glazed eyes gazed outward. What Simone saw on the surface of the midnight ocean confirmed her notion that it was all circles and orbs. Or spheres. Perhaps ‘spheres’ is a better word.

The moon, fat and full, bobbed up and down on the ink-black waves. Higher and then lower it dipped and nodded, in lethargic motions. It was soporific. The sea was almost impossible to see. If it wasn’t for the white foam that bubbled at the tips of the waves, Simone wouldn’t have been able to tell it was there at all. Well, by sight, anyway. She could smell the salt in the air through the open window. And the seagulls continued to plead, of course.

Hush, said the waves. Hush; roll with us. Hush now, child. See the moon, soak it in. Hush, hush, hush. The sand beneath her naked feet was cool and damp. The sensation was rather nice. The wet beach against her bare skin was smooth and silky. It reminded her of the poem her father had told her when she was a little girl.

Sunrise and sunset, soil rich and shoreline wet.

The moon bob-bob-bobbed in the currents. They said that the moon didn’t glow — it reflected the sun’s light. But to look at it now, and the illumination that shimmered from it, Simone knew this to be false. Of course the moon glowed. Look at it. And who, pray tell, were ‘they’? Circles and orbs, spheres, o’ spheres.

Alone on the stretch of coast. As far as the eye could see. As far as the ear could hear. As far as the soul could search. As far as the heart could feel. Simone walked on, toes in the saturated silt. She was aware of her home and her sanctuary, somewhere off to her right, further inland. Or was it over to the left, somewhere in the ocean? Perhaps it hid behind the pregnant moon? Her bed called to her, to the land of sleep, the cloud of dreams. Her cosy little hidey-hole, with her pot of tea and her lit incense. But she resisted. And she walked on.

The familiar sadness flowed into her, from sources unknown. There was a great celestial jug above her. An inky, silky trickle of liquid dribbled from the spout into the soul. And so, to counteract this stream of grief, Simone threw herself into a somersault. Right there on the shoreline. Her hands dug into the soggy sand. If the melancholy would fill her, well, then she’d pour it back out again, wouldn’t she? Besides, even if she were unsuccessful, nobody could be unhappy in a somersault. Nobody. It reminded her of a quote from the book her grandfather had given her as an adolescent.

Moon up and moon down, a smile’s just an upturned frown.

Simone landed with deft and her soft nightgown billowed about her. Her mother might’ve chastised her indecency. But there was nobody except the moon to witness such impropriety. Circles, orbs, spheres and spheres. She laughed at the thought and broke out into a run — her heels carved divots in the beach. She clapped her hands together to rid them of the sand that clung like a glove. The sound reverberated across the cove. It bounced back to meet her — a percussive orchestra that faded away into the whisper of the waves.

In circles, she walked, in orbit around the sea. Overhead, the stars glittered. In the ocean behind, the moon reclined on the waves. High above, the seagulls continued to weep and plead and sing their miseries into the breeze. Simone pondered how easy it would be to go mad in the relentlessness of reality. The rigid conformities. The cuboid skeletons into which we force our fragile human minds. Round, squishy and delicate. It reminded her of the words her grandmother had spoken, the day she died.

Moon full and moon wanes; awake we’re mad, asleep we’re sane.

If this was reality, Simone couldn’t wait to fall asleep. And if this is a dream? her mind asked. “Well, then I never want to wake up,” she told the waves that shushed, the gulls that pled. “The only time I’m happy is when I dream. I wish I could dream forever.”

As the last syllable dropped from her lips like a dewdrop from a blade of grass, the blanket of her bed enveloped her. Simone couldn’t remember the walk home, but then again, wasn’t that always the case?

The pot of tea steeped on her nightstand. Trails of steam rose to destinations unknown — perhaps to the ceiling, perhaps beyond. Simone poured herself a mug and relished the gentle slosh as it splashed against the ceramic. Somewhere, her incense burned. The smell was warm and rich; somehow cosy. The spicy aroma made her bedroom seem smaller. It made her feel safe, soft, and warm.

Simone took a sip and emptied her cup. The soft liquid trickled down into her, filled her to the brim, heated her from within. Her eyelids started to droop, so she placed the mug on the side table before sleep could steal her away. As she let her head drop to her pillow, a stone into a pond, she took one last glance at her open window. The curtains billowed in the breeze.

The moon was fat and full and happy. And it glowed. Illuminations shimmered through the onyx waves.

And now…

Now, the seagulls wept again.

Sunset and sunrise, bird calls and bird cries.

Shortlisted for the Reedsy prompt: “Write a story in which the lines between awake and dreaming are blurred.” — 24th February 2020

3 thoughts on “Sea the Moon

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