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Cold Water

by Vivienne
(Colorado)

Milo sat at the table until the young waitress with the silver bracelets brought him his drink. Then he picked it up and went out onto the veranda, where the wind took away its little umbrella. He sipped it and set it down on the railing. A number of coasters in the shapes of sea creatures had been lined up on the cracked wood. Milo set his drink on a crab. He looked out at the beach. There were four days left.
Milo watched as a woman appeared at the doorway of the hotel next door. She put on her sunglasses and shook out her hair, and then she took the hand of a small boy, whom Milo had not noticed, and walked with him out toward the beach. The water began only a couple hundred yards away from the front door of the hotel. When they reached the sand, the woman made the small boy stop and take off his shirt, and she proceeded to rub sunscreen energetically into his shoulders and arms. She made sure to get his ears, and then she pointed toward the waves, where they broke with a gentle rhythm on the sand. She pushed her sunglasses up and looked at him expectantly, as though waiting for him to burst suddenly with energy, and run toward the surf. The small boy scratched his ear, where an accumulation of sunscreen had left a long, white streak. The woman looked at him for a moment longer, and then turned to a fraying tote bag she’d set down next to her. She rummaged through it until she found a Frisbee, which she presented to the boy.
He took it and moved away from her, but Milo wasn’t paying attention to the boy. The woman hadn’t seen him up on the veranda of the bar. But he had seen her. And Milo had four days to get it done.

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