The chilly November wind was blowing. Not many people came to the boardwalk when it was chilly. Other than the shop owners, there was no one else around but Willie and Grace. They stood huddled on the boardwalk steps waiting for Connor and Daisy.
Grace scooted closer to Willie. “I didn’t bring a jacket,” she mumbled.
“You’ll warm up soon enough when we start running.” He dug his hands into his pockets and turned to block the wind with his back. “Does that help?”
“A little…” Grace shivered. “Maybe our next date with Connor and Daisy can be indoor bowling.”
Willie’s eyes lit up. “I’ll ask Connor tonight, if you like.” The prospects of a next date, was very much to his liking.
Willie was a tenth grader and thin for his height. He had dark chocolate skin and dark brown dreadlocks that went to his shoulders. He liked to keep them pulled back in a thick ponytail whenever he ran.
Grace was all legs with beautiful chestnut skin. She had rows and rows of braids that went to her shoulders with lots of tiny ceramic beads woven into the braids.
They were becoming tight friends with Daisy and Connor and were looking forward to this evening’s “running date” even if it was freezing.
At first, Willie didn’t like Connor because of the party incident. That situation had made Connor look very bad in Willie’s eyes. He had a sister in rehab and was adamantly against any kind of drug or alcohol abuse. However, Daisy had explained everything to him, and he now understood that Connor was not the jerk that he had appeared to be at the beginning of the year.
Willie was now getting to know Connor in a different light. He was getting to know Connor through his running. Willie could not help but respect Connor after watching him run in the school meets.
“Where are they anyway?” Willie complained impatiently. He looked around scanning the parking lot for Connor’s car. “There they are!” He pointed at the black firebird pulling into the boardwalk parking lot.
“Yes!” They exclaimed as they jogged over to the car.
“Hey, man!” Willie held out his knuckles to Connor as they met up with each other. “Ya look like shit. How was the new job?”
“It’s so freak ’in hot in my Dad’s work place, no words can describe it. I don’t understand how a place can be so hot inside when it’s freezing outside. It makes no sense to me at all, man. Let me get another drink before we start running.” As Connor explained all of this to Willie he hopped over to Daisy’s side of the car to let her out.
“Hey Grace, hey Willie,” Daisy glumly mumbled.
“What’s wrong with you?” Grace eyed her carefully.
Connor put his hand on Daisy’s shoulder as they walked to the shop. “I finished my building before she finished hers. I teased her about it. Now she’s all bummed out because I teased her,” Connor stated this a little too happily for Daisy’s taste.
“There’s a difference between being diligent and being slow Connor. I am not slow. I just want to do a good job that’s all,” Daisy defended herself.
“You did do a good job, babe. The place was very clean,” Connor tried to smooth it over, but it wasn’t working. He’d already called her slow too many times.
They reached the drink part of the store and everyone selected what they wanted. Daisy had her arms crossed over her chest, pouting.
“Look, Day… I’m sorry I teased you earlier. You’re so much fun to tease, I can’t help it sometimes. Please let it go.” He grinned hopefully.
She checked his face to see if his apology was genuine. He appeared to be sincere so she smiled a little. “Okay, I guess it’s stupid to get so mad about it. I forgive you.” She came close to him hoping for a hug. He gave her a warm one and scratched her back a bit.
“That’s my girl,” he whispered in her ear. “Can we run now, babe?”
“Okay,” she returned, feeling better.
“Let’s go south, all the way to the lookout spot and back,” Connor suggested. Willie and Grace both nodded in acceptance.
“Daisy girl you run next to me, okay?”
They all started off. Connor let Daisy set the pace. The refreshing scenery helped them breathe deep and focus on the simple act of running. There were slopping dunes with wild grasses to one side and the never ending grey ocean on the other. The wooden platform stretched right down the middle between the two scenes. The little stresses of the day became less and less important as they ran. Each runner entered their own private world of running. The sound of the gulls and the ocean water washed away aggravation with amazing ease. The wind blew unwelcome thoughts past them in just minutes. The refreshing came and Daisy lifted her head to see the sky and smell the ocean air. She had already forgotten what she was mad about.
When they reached the lookout spot at the end, Connor looked back at Grace and Willie wondering if they needed to stop for a few minutes. They did look like they could use a break so Connor touched Daisy’s arm. “Let’s stop a minute,” he breathed.
Daisy was so wrapped up in her own world his words didn’t really sink in so he said it again, “Daisy stop at the benches, okay?”
Daisy slowed her pace, one notch at a time, just like Andy had taught her. She put her hands on her hips and walked around in circles at the end of the platform still in her own thoughts. Connor, Willie, and Grace each did the same thing.
Connor jumped up on top of the bench and looked out over the landscape. The wind was sharp and refreshing. He breathed deeply as though the air itself would give him new fuel for the rest of the run.
Willie was watching both Daisy and Connor. He could see that they could easily keep on running. Connor had looked tired when he arrived, but now he looked energized and ready for anything. Daisy looked fired up and still focused on her run. She was no longer angry. She walked over to the railing and put one foot up on top of it and stretched out her leg. Then she did the other one. She looked out over the ocean and sky still deep in her own thoughts.
Connor jumped down from the bench and came up behind her. He put his hands on either side of her on the railing and rested his cheek on the side of her head. He was whispering in her ear, but neither Willie nor Grace could hear his words. Daisy Ray was smiling gently, her gaze still focused out there somewhere on the ocean. Their lovers spat was completely forgotten, blown away completely in the wind or maybe they out ran it, who really knew, but it was all gone and forgotten. Now they stood, admiring the beautiful world they lived in, completely at rest.
Willie and Grace were watching the ocean themselves now. This was such a relaxing place. Grace climbed up to sit on the railing and Willie stood next to her holding onto her so she wouldn’t fall.
“I love the sound of the ocean,” Willie said softly as he gazed at the waves. The wind was strong making the tumbling of the waves a little louder than usual.
“Yea, the ocean makes such a steady, rhythmic sound,” Grace agreed. All four of them stared at the ocean, absorbed in its beauty.
Connor had all along been whispering in Daisy’s ear something that was just between them. Daisy had completely relaxed against him just enjoying the view and his voice. Then he asked her, “Should we start running again?”
“Yea, I guess, we shouldn’t lose the moment,” Daisy sighed.
Connor looked down at her. “Which moment are you referring to?”
Daisy turned around and touched his cheek with her hand. “None of them Connor. We should not lose any of them.”
He smiled in agreement.
She watched the ocean a moment longer and then shook herself saying, “Let’s run.”
“Let’s do it then.” And they were off.
On the way back, the wind was at their backs, not in their face. Daisy found this to be annoying because she had not tied her hair back. Her hair was blowing around wildly. Connor noticed her dilemma and passed her one of the bands from his wrist.
She was relieved and mouthed the word, “Thanks.” She pulled her hair up and returned to her normal gait.
As they approached the end of their course Daisy began picking up her pace more rapidly. The others followed, keeping step with her perfectly.
When they could finally see the place that they had started from in clear view, Connor grinned, “Day-Day, race me!”
Daisy considered his request. She had never beaten him before. She’d never even come close, but she would try anyway. “You’re on!” And she picked up her pace one notch at a time over and over and over again until she reached her maxed out speed.
Grace and Willie followed excitedly.
Connor pulled out of formation easily and flew to the spot they considered the ending spot.
Willie passed Daisy and flew in shortly after Connor. Next was Daisy and Grace together.
They walked around in circles, hearts pounding, grinning with the excitement of a race well done.
Connor grabbed Daisy playfully, saying, “Thanks, babe.”
“One of these days I’m going to catch you Connor Bailey,” Daisy shook her finger at him confidently.
“You already have Daisy girl,” he returned with a happy smile. “You already have.”
They looked up from their horse play to see Mark and Susan in the parking lot next to the Firebird. The four of them jogged over to greet them.
“What are you two doing out here?” Connor asked Mark as he leaned against the hood of his car and helped Daisy find her spot on the hood next to him.
“We’re looking for you, man. My church is having a big potluck dinner for Thanksgiving. Anyone can come. Afterwards we will be having a worship service in the sanctuary. My mom wants you, your Dad, Daisy and her Grandparents to come,” Mark paused then looked at Grace and Willie and added, “You guys can come too if ya want.”
“Dad and I have always eaten Thanksgiving dinner at Daisy’s place. I really don’t think changing plans is a good idea, man.”
“Okay, well, just keep it in mind then.”
Grace touched Willie’s hand and whispered, “Ask them about bowling.”
“Oh yea, Connor. Grace and I were wondering if you two want to go bowling with us on Friday night?”
“I’m free. How about you Daisy?” Connor looked over at Daisy.
“I’m free! It sounds fun. Let’s do it!”
“It’s a date then.” Willie turned to Mark and Susan, “You guys want to come?”
“Not Friday night. We’re going to worship practice this Friday night. Maybe another time, man,” Mark returned.
“Okay, well, Daisy and I have homework to get done so we need to get going. We’ll catch you guys later.” Connor and Daisy left for home.