Shelby just hit her favorite part of her daily jog, she turns off the sidewalk and down the hill into the deep soft sand. With each swift stride, pebbles of sand slip into her socks and shoes. A sensation that she hated at first, but now loves how it scratches her skin. It is nice just to have any feelings left at all these days. As she reaches the shore line, she turns south towards Crystal Pier. The surf was restless – splashing in irregular patterns. It fit her mood, but she saw the Dawn Patrol surfers were having a tough time staying out of the erratic impact zone. Absently, she thought they probably shouldn’t be even out. And to finish off her mood, the marine layer was dense and low. Weather like this kept the beach empty and it was just how Shelby liked it. All to herself.
She was almost at the Mission Beach Lifeguard command center when she saw a familiar figure heading in her direction. He must have seen her coming from the tower. Inwardly she sighed. He should know better and leave her alone today.
“Hey Old Man,” she said as she dislodged her ear buds with a swift pull where the two wires meet, but still jogging in place.
“What are you doing up so early? Didn’t you go out partying last night? You should be sleeping ’til noon like the other kids your age?”
“No interest in that anymore, Rusty. Didn’t you spend all night chasing some cougar?” She retorted.
“They aren’t cougars to me, kiddo – they are prime pieces of meat!”
He could tell she didn’t really listen to him. She has been 3,000 miles away since she showed up. Rusty knew what was wrong. He knew the anniversary was today. There was so much he wish he could tell her about that night. But, he just couldn’t. He had a promise to keep to an old friend. After a brief pause, he saw she finally returned to the moment. Her eyes honed in on him and she saw he was observing her. Damn, he thought, she hates when I do that.
“Are you here to work or check up on me?”
“Rusty, if you want to help someone, I think the surfers up the shore have bitten off more than they can chew.”
Rusty shook his head. She’s so much like her father. He would bury himself too. He watched her as she reinserted her ear buds and ran down the sand. He could almost see all the demons running in her wake.