Walter R. Milton
She moved like a dream, this prima ballerina who would practice her already perfected art by the light of the setting sun and to gracious the applause of the pounding surf. Although she danced alone by the ocean’s twilight glow, it was obvious that she had no peer at doing what she did every evening when the sun was about to touch the water. But besides the company of the silent sky, the sun, the water, and the sand, she would dance with no audience to gape at her performance—except for one single pair of human eyes.
He, who knew nothing about dance, having had only one memorable dance in his vacant life, could not distinguish pas de deux from pax seul, but it did not take such intimate knowledge of the art for him to recognize how gifted she was nor to realize how many long hours she must have trained under expert eyes. She had probably spent her entire life dancing under a master’s careful scrutiny. Still, he could not believe that anyone, regardless of a life devoted to the perfection of an art, could possess such grace. She was grace! Her leaps utterly astounded him. They were so long, so high that she seemed unrestrained by gravity and beyond any physical constraints—and she did it all with such mind-boggling ease, for never did a sign of strain or concentration flicker upon her face. She was constantly at ease, her placidly beautiful face always smiling, always glowing in the setting sun.
But he dared only to observe her acrobatic feats and beauty from the seclusion of some near-by sand dunes, lest he would distract her from her awe-inspiring ballet, ruining for himself the pleasure of watching her perfect peace and precious gaiety. So as he lay upon the soft dunes and the rim of the sun touched the glistening horizon, her body would go into motion like a silk scarf caught on a breeze. Her long dark hair glittered in the setting sun and as she tossed it about with such passion, virtually transforming it into a veil of ether swirling about her head. It was like viewing something which should not be viewed by mortal eyes, yet there was nothing which would keep him away from his reserved position at dusk or turn his eyes from her. If she danced along the shore, then he would watch until the inexorable veil of darkness erased her from his vision. He did not know why he had to watch her, but it was, as life often presents, just something that he had to do, lest he miss a once in a lifetime privilege offered once again.
One evening, however, as she was preparing to dance, she spotted him preparing to gaze upon her ritual. She gasped in her own jovial awe and quickly feigned about so that her observer would not feel daunted by her knowledge of his presence. She performed her warm-up exercises as if nothing were out of the ordinary, but there was a certain pleasure in her heart which the vehemence of her warm-ups transmitted to her skulking audience. He felt this rapture nestle in his heart like a homeless wanderer finally coming to the place which would harbor her from the elements in warm, cool comfort forever. A place strangely incomplete without her presence.
Even as he opened his heart wide to receive the happy little lost soul, the sun kissed the sea and the woman began to dance. And did she dance! He had never seen such lively motions from a human body before; she even out-performed herself on this eve. But what really took him aback with irrepressible excitement was the fact that he could hear her giggling as she danced—a high, tinselly twinkle in the approaching darkness. Its sweetness overshadowed the rush of the tide and parted the sea of time.
He scrambled from his prone position in the sand and stood gawking excitedly as the unrelenting joy in her liquid dance rent his heart open with so much force that he could no longer contain himself. He moved down from the dunes, drawn forth by her sheer happiness tugging at him. He could no resist such pure, untainted merriment, nor did he attempt to, for he had never, even in his wildest dreams, expected to see and the feel the magnetic draw of happiness with such grand magnitude. He could not move quickly enough to reach her.
The sand launched by her bare feet glittered like the awaking stars in the refreshing, misty sea-breeze. He could feel the sand sprinkling down upon him as he ran toward her, but that would not stop him from embracing the pirouetting vision. Only she could refuse him that pleasure, but she would not; she was the one beckoning for him to approach her stage so that the distance between them could be bridged forever—and the dance could resume. She had been allowed to inhabit the safety of his heart and he, in return, would be able to inhabit her embrace. Oh, how many nights he had dreamt about residing in her arms for the rest of eternity!
She executed a lively fouetté which brought her glistening green eyes to bear upon the on-rushing silhouette, then a tremendously high jeté brought her to him, his arms ready to grasp her the moment that she touched upon the sand. The sun was halved by the sea.
He could not believe the soothing qualities of her body pressed against his. God, it was like embracing a dream come true! There was so much life flowing throughout her slender form that he felt as if he had just been reborn to some higher state of existence. This new life, which seethed and frothed in her tender embrace, totally defeated his old life, and suddenly, he realized that this union in the eyes of the heavens was complete at long last as he had a place in her embrace and she had a place in his heart. At long last!
"Oh," she whispered, almost grieved with joy, "I thought for sure that I would never set my eyes upon you again. It’s been so very long since that promise-filled dance."
He smiled down upon her radiance. "I was not certain that it was you until I felt you enter my heart at long last."
"A heart always open to receive me."
"A heart never willing to let you leave. Nothing—not even death—can separate us now. We are one."
He kissed her tender lips silent; but, as the sky turned around and around and the waves rose to the level of their waists and her embrace trembled, he looked frightened in the failing dusk, for he knew that soon the sun would set, the dream would be over. She would always live on in his heart, while she, his seaside dancer, and her embrace would not always be available for him to live within.