Of course, the sea was barely salty.
It had a hint of salt, as otherwise no one would have recognised it as the ocean at all, but by and large the Ocean of Dreams tasted like liquorice or caramel, and the overriding impression on tasting it was sweetness.
Yet nevertheless, the dreamer hesitated on the shores. Her toes barely touched the sea foam as the waves ploughed their course up and down the golden sand. Not really sand - the dreamers toes were curled around the dust of ancient dreams, from long forgotten sleepers, who had fallen into the real and never returned. Each mote of sand called in a different voice, but she could barely hear them, so intent was she in scanning the horizon.
With a soft surge, another wave drifted up the beach, this time caressing her feet with lovers’ kisses before whispering away. The tide was coming in and her watch was nearly over for another day.
She couldn’t say for sure why she had started watching, nor what precisely she was watching for, but in between wakings this was where she always wanted to be - on the shore of the Ocean, with the living breeze in her hair, the sand brushing her skin. It reminded her of - something. Something she still could not grasp.
And so for eighteen years she had stood, and breathed the sea air, and watched, and waited. Occasionally she would see other dreamers - lovers, fighters, travellers. Knights and shamans, singers and fools, all had passed by in their time, but they never lingered. The sea which drew her so irresistibly seemed to repel all others, as if its voice was crying for her alone.
“Jasmine,” it whispered, as it rushed towards her.
“Jasmine…” it sighed as it retreated once more.
The familiar weariness was returning, her eyelids getting heavy. The world was calling her back. She prepared to surrender to the darkness.
When something changed, a mast of a ship penetrated the horizon, a crimson sail, purple pennants streaming. A huge boat was skimming the waves, heading directly for the shore with alarming speed.
The dreamer could not move - she found herself completely entranced by the oncoming vessel, as it approached, neared, and then drew itself up onto the sand.
“Jasmine, my darling, my love,” called a soft, familiar voice, bubbling up from inside the ship. “I am here at last!”
It took her a second to find her voice. “Who - who are you?”
A man dressed in swathes of blue and green leapt over the railings and landed in a cloud of sand. His eyes twinkled beneath a mass of hair.
“Jasmine! It is I, the Ocean itself. I have become human so I can love you just as you love me. Come, let me hold you close.”
“No, no, no” whispered the dreamer, covering her eyes.
“What is it, my love? Do you not love me? Is this not what your heart has desired for these eighteen long years?”
She uncovered her eyes, and faced him sombrely, afraid of somehow breaking him.
“I do love you,” she said, “but just the dream of you.”
And with that, Jasmine woke.