The two children who had been spent the morning beach combing sat down next to each other on the warm, dry sand. They placed the treasures they had found next to each other and examined their haul.
They had collected a decent amount of treasures. The little boy was particularly proud of the whole, unbroken sand dollar he had found. The little girl was incredibly pleased with a smooth, teal piece of sea glass that looked like a beautiful gemstone.
They sat. The little boy watched a seagull go about its business and the little girl hummed softly to herself as she made patterns in the sand with her finger.
Suddenly, the little boy spoke.
“I’ve met you before.”
“What do you mean?” asked the little girl, tilting her head inquisitively. This boy's family had just come here. She didn't think she'd ever met him before.
“At the train station!" The little boy said as though that alone would make everything perfectly clear. "You were there, and so was your dad! And I saw you and you were on a leash like a puppy dog and you said it felt safe which thought that was a weird thing to say but I didn’t tell you that because Mother had just told not to be rude and I figured that might be rude.”
The little girl remembered that. It had felt safe. Back then America felt very scary.
Tateh had made America sound like a wonderful, happy place. But when they finally arrived she was greeted by a frightening blur of loud noises and bad smells and what seemed like an endless flood of people, all talking over each other and yelling until you couldn’t tell what anyone was saying.
It had been cold, and she and Tateh rarely had anything to eat, and she started to feel very weak and tired very often.
This wasn’t the place either of them had expected at all. So they had left to find a part of America that was nicer.
There was still constant noise and she still felt tired and hungry, but the rope made her feel safe. There was something keeping her from being swept away in the angry sea of faces, it kept her close to the one familiar face she wanted to see.
“I remember that.” She informed the young boy.
“When you left I knew I was going to see you and your dad again someday.”
“How did you know that?” Asked the little girl. When they’d first met, the little boy had talked very fast and asked more questions than she could keep up with. He was much nicer to talk to now, but he was still very strange.
“I don’t know. Sometimes I just know things.” The boy answered
“Like magic?” Asked the little girl, awe creeping into her voice. She’d seen magicians before. Her Tateh had even gotten to film a famous illusionist! But she knew that those were just tricks. She didn’t know if magic could be real.
The little boy thought for a moment. “I guess so.” He answered, shrugging.
“That’s amazing!” Said the little girl.
“I don’t know about that…” said the little boy, sounding hesitant.
“Oh?” The little girl inquired. She was worried maybe she had said accidentally something that had made him remember something upsetting.
“Well sometimes I know part of something, but not anything useful. And sometimes I know something bad is going to happen but I can’t do anything about it! And I can’t control it, so I can’t know stuff I’m supposed to know, like when to stop talking or what not to say!”
“Oh no.” The little girl said softly, she hadn’t thought about that. She wasn’t magical to her knowledge, and people often commented she was very quiet. But she knew what it was like to have something scary happen while you have to just watch.
The little girl looked back to where Tateh was sitting, he was still talking to the blonde lady. she was glad her Tateh and the boy’s mother liked talking with each other. If they were friends, that meant she could spend time with the little boy too!
“I’m happy you knew we’d see each other again.” She said, trying to say something less somber.
The little boy turned to look at his mother talking to the little girl’s father. Mother really seemed to like the girls dad.
“Me too.” He said firmly in agreement. If he had been upset, he was cheered up now. “Now we can be friends!” He exclaimed.
Tateh had gotten the little girl all the things he had promise when they arrived in America. She had pretty dresses, and pretty dolls. She had the pretty hat with a blue ribbon she was wearing right now. When walking past store windows, if she saw candy or ice cream a toy on display, Tateh would often get it for her.
But it had taken so long to get all those things, and they had moved around so much, she’d never gotten a chance to talk to any other children.
A friend. That’s something in America she didn’t have that Tateh couldn’t get for her.
She smiled and nodded “friends!” She repeated in agreement.
The little boy was happy. He liked his new friend! Staying in Atlantic City would be much more fun with her to play with.
The little girl was happy too. She couldn’t wait to tell her Tateh she had a friend now! She knew the news would make him smile.