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Dream Child

The salt water was chilly, playing with the sand at low tide. In the rock pools, warmed by the sun, anemone’s tendrils waved as small clear prawns skitted amongst young seaweed. Blue misty hills rested in the distance. She looked up from watching the little world in the pool and stared. Her throat tickled, she coughed, and a tear dampened the corner of her eye. Over there, in a heather covered two-roomed house he sat, alone, eating bread and cheese, wistfully aware of the rumble of the small breakers on the beach and the cry of the terns overhead. If only…. She needed to know… He needed to be sure…

She went to the Old Lady near the harbour… He went to the Old Man by the standing stone… They both asked the same question.

The Old Lady gave the girl a linen bag filled with different herbs – she slept that night with it under her pillow – dreaming. The Old Man took a bottle from the shelf and advised three drops before bedtime. That night they met in their dreams, but did not know each other.

He swam as a fish in the clear blue sea, she flew as a white winged gull. She spiralled on the rising warm air, soaring on gentle wind, and then spied her supper. A sideways look, a sudden twist of her body and she dived. The gull found her mark, swallowed the fish in one gulp and pulled out of the cloying water. Satisfied she returned to the nest, and a little later, in the dark of the night, laid one beautiful egg.

The sun rose. Across the bay from the misty Blue Mountains a young woman awoke and fancied eggs for her breakfast. She climbed the familiar path up the low cliff edge. Gulls wheeled around her, complaining at the disturbance, but she spied one nest without a guardian gull and within it a single egg rested. She carefully picked it up, returned to her kitchen and enjoyed a tasty meal.

There were many chores that day, and the next and a week and a day quickly passed. On the seventh day the girl felt a quickening in her belly and early in the evening a beautiful boy child was born. The young mother knew she could not care for the infant. She barely ate enough herself; she had no food for this hungry mouth. She prepared a small wicker basket, made it water tight and filled it with soft moss, laid the beautiful sleeping babe inside in the dark and on the next falling tide set it out to sea. Lulled by the gentle rocking of the waves the babe slept on, as it was carried away from its mother into the wider bay.

In the distant Blue Mountains a young man awoke to the early cockerel call and fancied fresh lobster for breakfast. He climbed the familiar path down the low cliff edge. Gulls wheeled around him, complaining at the disturbance, but he pulled his boat off the shingle, into the water, and rowed to the fishing ground. With the first line, tight and heavy, a fine-looking lobster was soon aboard. Eager for his meal he rowed the boat back to shore and pulled it onto the beach.

Bending to select his food he saw a small wicker basket lodged amongst the seaweed on the rocks. He picked it up, opened the lid and a babe sleepily opened its eyes and smiled in recognition.

Page last updated: 13th Jan 2011