“Hi sweetie.” Marjorie said as she poured him some coffee. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”
“I had some business to take care of but now I’m back for the foreseeable future.”
Marjorie nodded. “Good. I wanted to tell you that you did a real nice thing by getting Max that truck. I know she may not show it but I know she really appreciates it.”
“I’m glad; all I wanted to do was help.”
“I think she knows that but I’m not sure she’s used to getting any help. It seems like she hasn’t had much support in the past and is very nervous asking for help, almost as though she has to depend solely on herself.”
AJ glanced over in her direction and saw her kneeling down next to a little boy who had Down ’s syndrome. She was helping him color the balloons on his place mat and after a few moments, she looked at the finished product and smiled. It was the first time he’d ever seen her smile and it totally changed her appearance.
She stood up a few seconds later and glanced around the diner to see if anyone needed anything. Her gaze finally fell on AJ and she averted her eyes quickly; she dashed into the back before he could call out to her.
“I’ve never seen her smile before.” Marjorie commented. “That little boy must be someone special.”
AJ was about to say something when Bob came out from the kitchen.
“What happened in here?”
“Nothing, why?” the older woman asked.
“Max walked right through the kitchen and it looks like she’s crying.”
“What?” AJ said as he jumped up. “Where is she?”
“On the beach out…”
Before Bob could finish his sentence, AJ was out the door and halfway around the building. He spotted her sitting on one of the dunes and wiping tears off her cheeks. Not wanting to intrude, he thought twice about going down there. His conscious finally won; he was starting to feel protective of her and wanted to make sure she was ok.
“Hey.” he called out quietly.
Max jumped up, hastily wiped her eyes and started back up the beach. As she was about to pass him, he gently put his hand on her arm. He could tell she was uncomfortable so he quickly removed it.
“Are you ok?”
“I’m fine.” she whispered.
“Why don’t you take a break or something? I’m sure Bob will give you a bit.”
Bracing for an argument, he was shocked when she turned back around and walked back to the dune. She sat down and he waited a moment before he took a seat next to her. They sat in silence for a little while but AJ wound up breaking it because it made him so uncomfortable.
“Want to talk about it?” he asked gently.
“Ok.” he replied and lay down on his back. “The clouds are pretty huh?”
Max looked up. “They kind of look like kids’ toys.”
AJ laughed. “They really do. I like coming out to this beach, they have the best clouds.”
“The best clouds? I didn’t think that the clouds segregated themselves on different beaches.”
“Of course they do! These clouds are the nicer ones and they love hanging out here.”
Max chuckled. “It’s good to know that we’re attracting the nice ones.”
They sat there a little longer before Max stood up.
“I should get back in.”
“Are you sure you’re ok?” AJ asked as he stood up.
Before she could stop herself, she replied that she was just missing someone.
“I knew it!” he shouted. “You missed me!”
Max’s jaw dropped.