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Something was wrong with the young boy playing near the water. Annie had seen him every day this week from her personal spot on the beach. She was in Nerja, a town 30 miles east of Malaga on the Costa del Sol, where she had rented an apartamento for three months of Mediterranean sun, fun and relaxation and to get far away from the Canadian winter.
She watched him tossing stones in the water like all boys do but he didn’t gently skip them. He hurled them with conviction, as if trying to disturb not only the fishes, but also all the people swimming in the vicinity.
“Bloody Hell!” he yelled at no one in particular.
He plopped down and sat cross-legged on the sand, his skinny arms propping up his rather large head. Annie guessed him to be about 9 or 10 years old. He had blonde hair that was in need of a good brushing and a cut. She had noticed him before and he was always alone. Where was his family? Why wasn’t he playing with other kids? He always came to the same spot on the beach, by the lifeguard tower, mid-morning, and flung rocks and dug up sand and spent several hours doing mostly nothing.
Annie was a recent widow without children but when she stopped to observe little boys, something deep and visceral ached inside her. She had always wanted to have a son but the gods had not smiled down on her or her reproductive organs. Now in her retirement, she would have thought that the yearning would disappear but as she watched this particular boy, it came back in full force. Unfortunately the dearly departed Roger had left her without offspring or anything more than a few poignant memories. What he did leave was a large amount of money that Annie was endeavouring to dispense by travelling around the world slowly — a pursuit Roger would have disapproved of, but hey, he wasn’t here, was he?
That’s it, she decided. I’m going to talk to that boy. Maybe he is somewhat challenged or a bit slow but he looks like he could use a friend.
She picked up her beach bag and walked down to his piece of the sand. She sat down right beside him. She hoped not to frighten him. So many kids now would not talk to strangers but it was worth a try.
“Hi there young man,” she said. “I wonder if could ask you to do me a favour?”