Corin stood at the edge of the pacific, long tendrils of her black hair being blown back by the wind, desperately wishing for a smoke. Realizing that she'd have to make the $5.50 she had in the pocket of her orange windbreaker last, she spat bitterly, smiling now that there were no nuns to reprimand her for being unladylike. She'd come to this lonely stretch of beach because Jonathan had loved it, but she saw little inspirational about the scene now. Mostly, she felt cold.

The impatient prick waiting for her in the cherry red miata a few hundred yards behind on PCH began beeping and relunctantly Corin tore her gaze from the slate-grey waters and trudged through the sand back towards the narrow stretch of highway. Before walking around to the passenger's side of this obnoxious yuppie-mobile, Corin felt in her back pocket for her trusty swiss knife, she figured she could use the blade if this greasy richboy tried anything funny; the corkscrew attachment if she was feeling really nasty.

Corin slouched in her seat and looked over at the guy who had picked her up several miles back at a dusty gas station. He was young, probably not 20, and was dressed like a catalogue picture from Abercrombie & Fitch. Corin had hoped for a minute that this guy was queer, but her heart had sunk as soon as she saw him eye her breasts, Jonathan never stared like that. Corin winced as the jerk put a hand on her thigh. Only a few more miles, she told herself, nonetheless she shifted her weight so she could slip her hand into her back pocket easily.

"What's your name, cutie?" the creep asked, his smirk displaying capped teeth. Corin tossed her head backwards and zipped her windbreaker up just beneath her chin before lying, "Maria. Maria Anderson."

"I'm Garret. So, tell me, what's a sweet young thing like you doing hitchhiking up the California coast? Don't you know it's dangerous?" He squeezed Corin's thigh on the word dangerous. Corin shifted in her seat uncomfortably and bit her lower lip before replying, "I'm fifteen," Corin consciously dropped two years from her age, hoping it would make Garret back off some, "old enough to know how to take care of myself."

Garret did not remove his hand from her thigh, Corin noticed, and she slid her hand into her back pocket.

"It's getting late. Sun's about to set. Where you're going is still at least fifty miles down the road, and I don't like driving at night. There's a little hotel a few miles up ahead, why don't we bed down for the night and I'll take you the rest of the way in the morning?"

Corin sighed inwardly. Once upon a time, she would have fucked this loser, stolen his rolex and wallet while he was snoring soundly on the low-cotton count motel sheets and been most of the way to Oxnard by the time the sun came up. But now, she reminded herself, she had to be pure for Jonathan.

"Look mister, I'm not a hooker. I just want a ride to Santa Barbara to see my sick brother," alright?"

Corin could feel the sweat on Garret's palm through the faded blue denim of her jeans. Garret's lips became a thin line and his nostrils began to flare. He began to squeeze Corin's thigh, hard enough that she was sure that there would be a bruise. Through his capped, white teeth he hissed, "Now look, you bitch, I'm not taking to you Santa Barbara for my personal pleasure. I gotta get something out of it, and I don't see you forking over gas money."

Corin swore under her breath, then with all the quickness of a viper, whipped her right hand out of her back pocket and thrust it at Garret, there was a metallic click and Corin was pleased to see his eyes widen as he realized the point of a blade was at his throat. His hand was still on her thigh, however.

Corin's pretty face contorted into a feral snarl as she placed the slightest bit of pressure against Garret's throat, despite her savage visage, she spoke in a slow, even tone, "listen you sick dickweed, all I wanted to do was get to Santa Barbara to see an old friend, and you had to make things ugly thinking with your cock," a slow smile started to cross her face as old habits returned. Fuck being pure, she thought, realizing that her attempt at purity would have gotten her raped had Garret not been such limp dick idiot.

Garret slowly removed his hand from her thigh, she did not flinch but continued her speech, "what you're going to do is hand over your wallet, your watch and that little cell phone in your pocket, can't have you calling the police."

All the bravado was gone from Garret's face as he complied with her demands. Slowly, she removed the knife from his throat. With her left hand, she slipped the three items into pockets in her windbreaker, her right arm draped awkwardly across her, knife glittering in the failing light. With one hip she bucked open the cardoor she had never completely shut and backed out onto PCH. She smiled bitterly at Garret and said, "If you're smart, you're going to turn around and pretend none of this ever happened."

Edgily she backed away from the car and hopped down an incline to stand on the beach she had left only moment's before. Jonathan's beach. She watched Garret turn and drive back down to PCH and thought about her admonition to him, "if you're smart..." she knew darn well that he wasn't smart and quickly pulled out the cash in his wallet before chucking the rolex, the startac and the handcrafted leather billfold out to sea. She wanted to make sure there wasn't any evidence on her when he got around to calling the police and they came looking for "Maria Anderson".

She remembered that less than a half-mile back, there had been a little gas station, and figured with a grand total of $59.75, she could afford to buy a pack of smokes. Corin walked along PCH, trying to ignore the cars that sped by until she reached the Lucky Star Gas Station. It had no redeeming features and was identical to a thousand other Mom & Pop places on the road side, but nevertheless, the name made Corin's heart feel lighter somehow. She paid for a pack of Marlboros from a short, hairy man with stubby fingers who did not ask her for ID.

Corin darted across PCH and ran down a sandy incline to sit on the beach. Tiredly, she plopped down in the damp sand, and fumbled in her pocket for a tattered, much folded piece of paper which she placed in her lap. The impending sunset colored the water red and orange, it reminded Corin of the reddened yolk of a fertilized egg she once cracked and she shuddered. She lit up a cigarette and delicately unfolded the piece of paper to read once more:

Lament of the Lost Angel

I love him
But I am not beautiful
And sometimes we slip through the cracks
No, not the fallen
But we who are lost in the forest
Wandering through orchards of jade,
Groves of lapis, oh!
But I am not beautiful
My wings are tattered and torn
I sold my halo to keep myself warm
Hidden in the forest we sometimes see the light
Oh how you glow
And sometimes I think you can see
Me in the shadow, deep in the shadows
Wearing holes between patches, not cloth-of-gold
Then you turn out your light
Leaving me (not the fallen) alone in the cold

Amateurish, Corin frowned, and yet her heart ached. She stared up at the darkening sky and shouted, "You idiot, you were more than beautiful!". Corin folded the piece of paper up again and took a long drag from her cigarette. She exhaled and the sun disappeared over the horizon.

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