Breathless, Emma dragged her disheveled self from the water’s edge. Her hair dripped sand into her eyes. She clawed herself away from the drag of the next wave that crashed on the rocks. It broke into softer splashes over her. She stared into the water’s foam and listened to the sounds of waves crashing and colliding near her. She stood. She shook. The wind whipped at her wet and sandy body and wrapped around her like a blanket. She couldn’t get her mind out of those eerie waves that pushed her down, down, down. She lifted her head up to whoever would listen. Her voice, a scream, filled the night air. She gritted her teeth, sandy enough to file them down . . . and gagged. Her tears mixed with the salty water. “Never again, she cried out, “The Ocean is not my friend.”
Voices carried with the winds of the night air. “Emma, come on, come here, come join us.”
Emma turned to the voices.
“Where are you?” She did not dare rub her eyes. She could not tear herself from the blurred vision, silhouettes against the moonlit, yet dark sky. It looked like two figures of disputable character. They shouted to her.
She swallowed, “Please,” she said in a timorous voice, “I can’t see you. Wave.” She squinted, but the darkness shrouded the figures, what did she see?
She walked toward the sound of the shouts. “Maybe I should run?”
In the distance she could hear the trumpet of the elephants. She could see the tower, the elephant hotel. The sand, cold and damp, tickled her toes, and hampered her run. But run she did, when an arm came out of nowhere and grabbed her hair. He turned her around, threw her down, and took her mouth in a searing kiss. She struggled to no avail.
Coney Island is not known for high waves, but this evening, the smell of storms permeated Emma’s nostrils. The ocean waves, big enough to drown, headed this way.
“You dimwitted girl, were you swimming tonight?”
She stared into Wil’s face. A friend? She lifted her hand and ran her fingernails down his cheek. Blood oozed out of the long red scratch. The sticky stuff dripped into his mouth.
“Ouch, damn, why’d you do that?”
“I just came out of the water after almost drowning, and you scared me half to death.”
“You didn’t have to get violent.”
“Violent? Me? What do you mean? And what was that, a kiss? Go into the water and wash your face. There’s blood all over the place.”
“Look Emma,” Wil lowered his head, blood dripping into the sand at his feet, ran his hand through his hair, his dark eyes widened, “I’m sorry. I did not mean to scare you.”
Emma, now shivering from the cold, said, “Go wash your face, then we’ll talk about this idiocy.”
Bobby, a friend in the crowd they hang with, stood by watching all this said, “Emma you are cruel. Wil won’t ever do anything to hurt you. He loves you.”
“You’re crazy as he is Bobby. Never play a game in the dark like that, I couldn’t tell who you were, and where your voices were coming from.”
“Hog wash, Emma. Who else would it have been calling you? The gang were all waiting for us, we didn’t know where you were, but then we saw you come out of the water, and called to you.”
“You go tell everyone we’re coming. I’ll wait for Wil.”
Now Wil was trudging through the sand, his head hanging. He became more and more interested in Emma and couldn’t resist teasing her. The scratch on his face gave him the thrill of her touch. He’ll treasure the mark forever. It was a simple flirtation, this roll in the sand. After all no great harm had been done. He hoped Emma would forgive him. He’s saved up all the money his Uncle Henry and Aunt Lucy had sent him for his birthday in January, so that he could take Emma out to Steeplechase Park, that new playground. Even buy her a Valentine’s Day present. Some chocolates in fact. Maybe something more.
“Well, you sure took your time. What were you doing, drinking up the ocean?”
He looked at Emma, who stood in place with a grin on her face. “Emma, are you still mad? Don’t be mad, please.”
“No, I’m not mad anymore. I hear all the laughing from the Steeplechase, let’s go Wil, just never scare me like that again.
He offered her his arm, she tucked her arm into his, and off they went getting the sand between their toes as they walked the beach to the Steeplechase pony ride to join the gang.