She stared at the setting sun. It was like a beach ball at day break, all bright and round and red. Sometimes hard to tell if it was rising or setting.
“Help,” she said quietly, almost to herself, or to the setting sun. What would have helped at that moment was a broom, she decided. She could ride off into the sunset and ask the sun herself.
She had transformed since her last visit to the shore. More crabby. She wanted to belong on that beach. She knelt beside a particularly slow and grumpy looking crab.
“It’s nighttime,” he said.
“Not yet,” she said.
“It will be,” he said, ever the pessimist. “I’m a realist.”
A seagull landed beside them and said to the crab, “What precisely do you think reality is?”
“A nightmare,” said the crab, “parading as a daydream.”
“I think it’s a daydream parading as a nightmare,” said the seagull.
“Can’t it be both?” she asked.
“No,” said the seagull and crab together.
The sun had slipped below the horizon without their notice. A final bow with no audience, no encore.
“There are pirates on those seas,” said the crab, looking out over the dark waters.
“They’re coming for us,” said the seagull.
“No,” said the crab, “They’re coming for me.”
“I don’t see a pirate ship,” she said.
“You aren’t looking,” said Seagull and Crab.
“Try to concentrate,” the seagull suggested.
“Envision yourself out on the dark waters. Or better—drowning.”
“I’d rather not,” she said. “There isn’t a ship.”
“There will be,” said the crab.
“There was one,” said the seagull.
“You missed me,” said the sun.
“We’re sorry,” she said.
“They aren’t,” said the sun. “But they don’t matter. Not yet, anyway. And they’ll come around. Eventually.”
“Good,” she said, and smiled. For at long last, she’d found her crown.