No one could remember when it started. It must have been a very long time ago. He had been born of heat and passion, of crushing weight and hardness of heart. He was a rock. She on the other hand was created from gentler, softer liquid and gaseous things that clung together in love. She rocked the life she had in and on her. She was the sea.
They were so different, he was the strong silent type, powerful and durable and cared for no one. She loved to dance and sing and caressed and cared for everyone. The they first met on a silvery strand of beach. When she saw him she loved him straight away and wanted to possess him and wrap him up in her arms. She couldn't reach him and he looked down on her and thought "What a silly skittish creature, If I could speak I would tell her to go away."
The sea was sad that she couldn't reach him. So she waited a little way off, lapping at the little grains of pure white sand that separated her from her desire. She fidgeted with forlorn fondness for the rock and warmed her little wavelets on the sun bleached shore.
The moon saw the sad sea sighing and the arrogant rock on the shore. She called to the sea, "Come listen to me, my friend the sea. I'll help to make him yours."
So the moon came close to the earth and the sea rose to hear her advice. But she couldn't catch what her friend was saying. The moon passed across the sky and was gone over the horizon. The sea collapsed back into her bed and cried some very salty tears of disappointment.
Each night when the moon came out she tried in vain to listen for the words of wisdom, only to be frustrated each time. She looked up at the moon.
"Beautiful Moon, why won't you help me?"
"Courage, you restless creature, can't you see that you can reach him now."
With that the moon slipped away from view again. The sea went back to the shore and saw the rock sitting there as usual.
"Rock, I want to touch you." He ignored her.
She came a little closer, "I want to kiss you." But he still had no eyes for her.
She came right up to the edge of the rock. "Come and join me, I want to be with you forever."
The rock, was furious. How dare this wavy, wavy, watery waste, talk to him as an equal.
"You are beneath me," he thought as strongly as he could, which was a pity because just at that moment, the sea had made a supreme effort to reach him and a tiny finger of water touched him, and she felt what he had thought immediately. She recoiled with emotion. Her feeling of shame was so great, that she hurried away to conceal herself. But she couldn't hide, especially now that the moon was helping her. She had to meet him every day. Her shame was turned to bitterness, and she became very angry indeed.
He was resolute. On no account would he have anything to do with her. From that day on they knew they were enemies and forever waged a constant battle by taunting and teasing each other. He was made of granite and sat with pride on the edge of the land. He stood out from his brothers and faced the ocean. He was arrogant and mocked the waves as they broke over him. The salty water came first as a trickle, then a flood, then a torrent of liquid. Splashing and separating into a hundred, a thousand, then tens of thousand droplets, all over him.
"What are you," he thought, "You that break to pieces so easily." But she didn't give up.
One day she enveloped him, she wrapped herself about him and pushed him and pulled him, but he stood firm, nothing daunted him. She tired of holding on and left him. But she called out to him, "I hugged you. I kissed you. I'll be back tomorrow," and she laughed in her rippling way. He said nothing, but he knew she had told the truth. Her kisses were still wet on his face, and he longed for the sun to dry him.
She returned again and again. Sometimes she would tickle him, but he refused to laugh. Later she came back and was so cross that she beat and whipped him with her waves, but she was no match for him, he smugly bore it all, he was granite. Everyday she returned. Everyday she had the courage to approach him. Everyday he ignored her, as if she meant nothing to him. Everyday he emerged from her onslaught, his head held high with a stony expression.
She loved to tease him, her fingers of creamy suds and foam washed him and scrubbed him again and again. But then finding herself too high up the beach rushed back over the sand, with a whoosh and a sigh.
"I am invincible," he thought to himself.
"We'll see, we'll see," she whispered.
For many years they challenged and chided the other, the rock put his hard face toward her every time she attacked him, and she sought the help of her friends, the winds, to mount stormy attacks on him. But neither won.
It must have been that their old mother, the Earth, who saw them arguing and turned away from her children in disgust. For when she did so the whole world tilted and the seasons changed. The sea no longer could bask on the warm sand and the rock found it harder to dry off the sea's kisses. And it was getting colder and colder. It was so cold that after the sea had smothered the rock with her wet embrace one day, the water never dried, but froze right on the surface of the rock that night. The next day it took a long time for the frozen water to melt.
The following day, the sea water made the rock wet again and when it froze at night, it hurt the rock. He couldn't remember ever having been hurt before. And it was only after the sea had bathed him that he felt better again. Every night the same thing happened, the tepid water of the sea soaked into the rock, and hurt him very much when it froze at night. He longed for the sea to come and tend to his smarting skin. One day while the sea was a little way off the frost in the rock hurt so bad he felt he could burst. And he did. Some tiny chips of rock broke loose and fell down beside him. He felt a little better but was not completely himself. But all was not over, the sea came back every day to see him and bathed his wounds, but with each touch he knew that when the frost came back, he would suffer again. And he did.
This torment of the rock went on for days and weeks and months and years. The sea could see what was happening and everyday rushed in to comfort him, all their enmity forgotten. But in doing so she made things worse. One day the water had got right inside him and the frost was particularly cruel. Before the night was out the rock spoke for the very first time. The sea heard him, and the sky heard him and the moon as well. He moaned out aloud, "Help me." and shattered into several pieces.
Yet the damage was not complete. Every night it was the same. His body was split up by the cold and the water freezing within him. In a little while all that was left of that proud rock was a pile of little stones.
The sea didn't mind, she looked after him. Every day she went back to see him and played with him. She raced him up the beach and dragged him down again and he got smaller and smaller and smaller. Until he too, was just so many grains of sand on that sloping shore.
Now the rock and sea are always together. As they dance in the shallows of the surf you can hear them singing. Just listen as they rush up the beach and back down again. Now when you look at the sea in the setting of the sun, I am sure you can see her winking at you, as if to say, "I won, I won."