The Fire and the Tide

Photo by “Fir0002/Flagstaffotos,” creative commons license

These are the words he wrote in the wet sand of the beach, as she watched the far off glow of the sunset on the horizon, to explain why their love was doomed.

“Long ago, Odin, high father of the Gods, imprisoned a Valkyrie, Brunhilda, in a ring of fire. Only the bravest soul in the world, he decreed, could free her from this prison.

The story says that she was eventually rescued by Sigurd, who was that brave warrior, and that together their love eventually caused the end of the world, and everything vanished in fire.

But in truth that is just the day dream of this poor warrior maiden, who was never rescued, because the bravest soul in all the world was not seeking love from a stranger far away — instead he found it wherever he went, until he was killed as a political prisoner, for that is the reward the world gives to bravery.

And so Brunhilda sits, eternally bound, and day dreams. And in her day dreams she has built a sand castle, and this world we live in is that sand castle, and the red glow of the horizon is our glimpse of the ring of fire that binds us all — the fire that each of her daydreams ends in, because she cannot imagine another fate.

Our love is doomed, because the architect of our world is lonely. Because a brave man chose to believe in politics rather than myth. Because Odin is vengeful. Because, a long time ago, the creator of the world was disobeyed — for love. Because love is always an act of rebellion against a power that cannot be stopped, whether it is time or flesh or the throne above all things.

I have decided,” his story ended, “to sit with Brunhilda in sorrow, rather than try to repeat the endless cycle of her mistake.”

Then he left, and she stayed behind, and she watched the tide flow in and the words evaporate in the waves, until all that was left was a picture she had taken on her phone. The color of the sky turned dark, and she sat beneath the moon and built a sand castle. Imagining it was the home of a prince and princess who could live happily ever after, even in a world built on sand.

- Benjamin Wachs