Blue and Purple
There are a handful of them outside the convenience store, teens with tanned faces sipping sweaty purple slush drinks.
The one says, My mom went last night. She spent like an hour in the garage trying to find our camping lantern because it was so dark on the beach. She took the batteries from the remote to charge it. I had to keep getting up to change the channel.
The other says, Both my parents went, too. My mom was crying in the kitchen before they left, and my dad wouldn’t look at her. He just kept opening and closing the fridge like he was expecting something new to be in there.
Another says, But he was already dead, right? The kid? When they found him?
The next says, My dad was in the group that found him.
The one says, Your dad went, too?
And the other: Did yours?
Another replies, Mine went.
The next: Did they all go?
The other asks, Did you go?
They crane their necks to look inside the market, but the sun’s glare makes it hard to see.
They sip their drinks.
The one turns back and asks, What was it again? What the kid had, I mean.
He was autistic, I think, says another.
He kind of scared me, says the next. I know that’s bad to say, but he just stared, you know?
I saw him crying once at the library, says the one. He just kept screaming and bashing his ears.
Why? says the other. What was wrong?
I don’t know, says the one. It was horrible.
Another asks, He fell in right?
They think so, says the other. When they found him, he was blue already. Undertow is what my mom said.
God, says the next. And again: God. That poor kid.
My mom came into my room last night after she got back, says the one. She put her hand on my back, and it woke me up. She said she just had to make sure I was there. It was kind of scary. Her in the dark like that.
What did you do? asks another.
Nothing, says the one.
You didn’t say anything? asks the other.
Like what? says the one.
I don’t know, says another. Like, I love you or something?
I didn’t know I was supposed to, says the one.
Because you didn’t know about the kid? says the other.
I didn’t know about him, says the one. I didn’t know yet.
None of us knew, says another. Then: Look.
The final one is walking up now, cell phone in hand.
What took you so long? says the next. Your slush is all melted now. Here.
The final one takes the sweating cup, blinks. My mom called. I guess they found that kid.
They sip their drinks.
They compare their blue and purple tongues.