Even without his glasses on, Finn could’ve sworn it was her, gliding through the rocky belt separating the Railway Trail from the sea. His heart stuttered and his breath
morphed into a whispered lyric.
‘So many dreams swinging out of the blue.
Oh, let them come true.’ Forever Young. It was
‘Is that on the playlist?’ asked the man
walking beside him but Finn was distracted,
marvelling. How could he see her with such
telescopic clarity, when the world itself was a
‘I recognise those denim shorts,’ he mur-
mured. Peter’s brow furrowed.
Finn’s rational brain struggled. His perfect
vision had to be an illusion, the upshot
of years spent obsessing. He wiped his
glasses, looped them over his ears and looked
again. There was a female figure on the rocks,
stripping down for a sunset swim. Probably
a tourist, his brain supplied, but his heart
rejected logic. It knew.
‘It’s Sam,’ he declared. Peter followed his
gaze, and frowned.
‘Your mind’s just playing tricks,’ he assured
him, patting his charge’s shoulder.
‘It’s her,’ Finn insisted, ‘Do you think I’m a
Finn didn’t feel foolish, as he pictured his
world, incredibly, slipping into its natural
He felt Peter’s fingers curl into a grip,
Imagine swimming before Bermuda Day.
Finn squirmed, the hold tightened, and
Peter dropped the pretence.
‘I should’ve known coming here was a
‘I’m chasing after her, Pete,’ Finn inter-
rupted, jerking his shoulder, ‘Let go’.
Peter had never understood the gravitation-
al force that she exerted but Finn had chased
after Samantha Wakefield all her life. From the
first day of pre-school, when she’d grabbed his
crayons and run giggling across the yard.
His eyes gleamed.
‘I should have tackled you right then,
minx,’ he called into the breeze, ‘Saved myself
trouble!’ The words confused Peter enough to
let go and Finn stepped towards the solitary
figure, standing above the water. It was exactly
where the chase with Sam had ended. For the
umpteenth time, he saw her plunge off the
‘No! Sam, wait!’ he shouted, already run-
‘Stop!’ Peter yelled, ‘Get a grip on yourself,
man. You’re getting married tomorrow.’
Finn ignored him and within strides all else
fell away, forgotten; his world became over-
whelmingly blue. The darkening sky seeped
violet and indigo into the cyan ocean, singeing
the cloudbank, smearing a livid trail along the
horizon. The only relief was the ghostly figure
with midnight hair, fighting against the waves.
Finn stumbled and half a decade tumbled
with him down the slope. He was back in the
summer after university, still calling after Sam.
She didn’t heed him but strode forward,
nose aloft, sniffing the early evening breeze.
Sam didn’t stagger, as Finn did, over the
jumble of boulders; she flowed. He was sure
her feet weren’t even touching the ground. She
seemed part of the vista, almost enveloped by
sea and sky, swathed in sorrow. Finn was seized
by an irrational panic. What if Sam kept go-
ing, over the cliff, into the blue? He rolled his
eyes. The ink wasn’t dry on his physics degree
and he was indulging in fanciful illusions, in-
stead of offering practical support. But wasn’t
that what this walk was about? Keeping the
body active so the mind might follow? Finn
wasn’t sure if he believed that old wives’ tale.
But he’d never tried to get over a forlorn love.
Finn wasn’t agile like Sam. His movements
were careful, probing for stable footholds
before shifting his weight. A childhood spent
trailing after his best friend (and supreme ath-
lete) hadn’t stopped him feeling like an idiot
whenever he fell down. By the time he caught
up, Sam had fashioned her canvas shoulder
bag into a cushion and was wriggling into a
cosy groove. Finn eyed the jagged limestone
dubiously, manned up and squatted down.
‘How can you sit on this? It’s literally shoot-
ing darts up me,’ he complained, squirming.
2017 Short Story & Poetry Contest
Dreams Swinging Out
of the Blue
BY SIOBHAN O’SULLIVAN