MAY’S WINNER – SARAH’S PICK: The Dancing Seahorse by V.L. Marsell

I selected this month’s short story, written to eventually be turned into a picture book for children, because it’s a simple yet inspiring tale of sticking with something, even when it’s hard. Something all writers know about, I’m sure! It’s a good reminder to be yourself and never give up!

The Dancing Seahorse

By V.L. Marsell

Serena the Seahorse is the odd one of her family.

She is rainbow-colored; everyone else is just plain orange. They never really treat her like she’s different, but she still feels like she doesn’t belong.

Some of the other sea animals, however, do make fun of her because she is different. This makes her sad. It was because of this that she prefers to be by herself.

Places where no one else can see her are her favorites.

She is afraid for anyone to find out what her secret love is. She was afraid they would make fun of her.

Serena loves to dance.

She goes to a little alcove in the more shallow water—where she could hear the music playing from the beach. First, she starts swishing her tail and moving her head from side to side, until she gets into a rhythm. Then she begins twirling.

One day, without her knowledge, one of Serena’s sisters follows her.

She is curious as to where Serena goes every day after Fish School ends. Savanahh watches in amazement as her sister begins fluttering and twirling around. She doesn’t know what to think. It is strange and beautiful at the same time. She watches her for a long while before heading home.

Savanahh wants to tell her parents what she had seen. But she was afraid that if she tells their parents, Serena will be mad at her.

She already knew that Serena feels out of place because of how she looks. But if the other sea animals know about her dancing, maybe they could see how special and talented her sister really is. Maybe she can even talk Serena into entering the Fish School Talent Show that’s taking place next week.

Later that evening, Savanahh tells Serena about following her and watching her dancing. Serena feels sad. Because once the other sea animals find out, they would make fun of her more often.

Her sister tries to reassure her and tells her that she needed to enter the Talent Show. “Everyone should see how beautiful you dance,” Savanahh says.

At first, Serena is scared to let anyone see her dance. But the more she thinks about what her sister had said, the braver she feels.

She didn’t tell her sister, but she decides to enter the Talent Show.

On the day of the Talent Show, Serena is terrified, but is ready to dance. From where she stands, she can see her family. When she swims out on stage, she sees all the other sea animals watching her and she almost swims away.

But she doesn’t.

She musters all of the courage she has inside and she starts to swish her tail. Then she closes her eyes and just dances. She forgets about everyone, pretends she is in her secret alcove, loses herself in the music of her mind, and dances with all her heart. When the music stops, she opens her eyes and sees everyone clapping.

After the show, when the winner is announced, Serena couldn’t believe her little ears.

She WON!

The next day when she goes to school, everyone tells her how beautiful she had danced. From moment on, no one ever makes fun of Serena again.

And she dances every day.


V.L. Marsell wrote this for her friend’s granddaughter, Serena, who is a dancer and loves seahorses. She is working on a novel and other short children’s stories. Her previous short Christmas story published on UpwriteLadies is being looked into for publishing.

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