she sends him a message across the gel
and receives a hey, an acknowledgement
she sends him more words
sees him appear 38 seconds ago
sends some more words, saucier
sees him last seen 7 seconds ago
sends yet more words, ending with a query
sees him appear 52 seconds ago
eagerly suspended, refreshes 30 seconds ago
waits again, refreshes again one minute ago
wonders at the silence, refreshes 3 seconds ago
watches some more, refreshes 45 seconds
nonexistant responses, refreshes 8 seconds
then 1 minute
then 2 minutes
then 4 minutes
she lingers over 20 minutes
before finally giving up realizing there will be none.
amorous words spilled into the void
to be met with silence
chilled, she turns off the monitor
then goes to bed



She picks her head up from a book she is perusing in the shadow of a large floppy white hat. Her kids are busy burying each other laughing near the water line. Waves crash in, sand castles are swept out, blue and green plastic buckets are recovered. Sea gulls clamor for bread crumbs tossed by a coppery leathered barefoot man with strands of grey in his windtousled brown hair. Quiet murmurs of soft radios and private conversations drift across the dunes. She turns back to her book, engrossed in another place and time, peripherally aware of the here and now. The sun beats down upon her back, warms her calves, toasts her arms, baking her. She lets it bronze her too pale desk job skin, doing double duty, also removing the last traces of lightness from her empty ring finger. Time slips by unnoticed.

She is jolted back to reality by cold salt water doused across her hot back. Shocked, she spins around on the blanket ready to berate impish children. She is stunned to find the bird man smiling down on her with an empty blue bucket unsuccessfully hidden behind his back. He makes no apologies. The hairs on her surface dry quickly springing back up sending a courant rippling across her skin.

"Hey!" is about all she can muster.

"It's not safe to lay out in the sun like that unprotected. Skin cancer and all"

"Excuse me?" she splutters

"I've seen you out here all week. How bout you take your nose out of that book and come take a walk with me instead."

She glances over at the kids who are snickering. Her daughter makes two pairs of fingers walk across the sand, nodding her head down the beach. Her son makes kissy faces.

"What do you say? Take a chance?" He holds his hand down to her, waiting.

In that moment she decides, why not. She has to start over some time. She reaches out to grasp his fingers.

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