Lise felt sand creep into her running shorts, but she didn’t care. She was thinking about the boy and girl she saw a half mile back, on the state park section of the beach. They looked like teenagers. Not locals, but drifters.
The boy had long dreadlocks, the color of dirt. He wore a grey t-shirt, army shorts, and black Converse high tops, all relatively clean. Lise found their cleanliness puzzling. The boy sat on the sand, beside a stick of driftwood. He did not move or speak. Lise could not imagine what he had been thinking. To her, teenage boy minds were impenetrable.
The girl had a thin, pale face and dark eyes. Lise couldn’t see the rest of her, except for the bit of black hair that had come loose from her bandana. Most of the girl’s body was enveloped by the boy’s. Perhaps that’s what caught Lise’s attention. The girl sat between his legs, hugging her knees. The boy wrapped one arm around her shoulders and held her close to his chest. Their bodies were rigid, almost defensive. They reminded Lise of an island fortress she had once seen on a PBS documentary. Lise wondered whether they had just woken up, or had never gone to bed. It was seven o’clock in the morning. Were they homeless, or just passing through?
Lise wishes she would have spoken to them. Instead, she had pretended not to see them by shielding her eyes from the sun. She should have asked, “Are you ok?” or “Do you guys need anything?” That might have been too maternal, too annoying. She could have just said, “Hey.” She had convinced herself that they would have sneered at her, or given her the finger. But now she wasn’t sure. Maybe the girl would have asked for help. Maybe the boy wasn’t as confident as he had seemed. Maybe they were just tired, or hungry, or coming down from a high.
Lise stood up, wiped the sand from her shorts, and resolved to go back to the state park beach the next morning. By the time she reached her hotel room, she had already forgotten them.