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STRANGERS

The Pegasus Review Summer Ed.

     She loved the beach in winter. That was why she took the job. But sometimes whole days would pass and she wouldn't see anyone and the loneliness would begin to gnaw at her. Then she would talk to herself and phone in frequent reports to the weather service and play word games in her head to stay cheerful.
     The Park Ranger station faced the dunes at the east end of the island where the paved road ended. A nasty November storm was beginning to pound the coast and she hadn't seen a single human being go by the checkpoint in more than four hours. She was about to close the station for the night and retire to her quarters in the rear when she heard his knock.
     The sight of him took her breath away.
     Two hours later they lay in loose embrace, naked on the tangled bed sheets. She listened to his labored breath.
     She whispered, "You're so different from anyone — from anything I've known... it was incredible but at the same time I was very conscious of how strange and new everything was."
     He was silent.
     "I mean, I don't know who you are or where you come from or what you're doing here. You just appear out of nowhere... you have to admit you're a pretty spooky guy."
     She listened to the sea. Between gusts of wind she could hear the crashing surf slowly wearing down her fragile barrier beach.
     "There are so many questions I want to ask you," she said.
     She brushed some damp sand from the bed and studied him in silence. His breathing slowed to match the rhythm of the surf. A few minutes later he stirred and she saw his eyes turn opalescent and felt the scaly surface of his arm slide across her breast.
     The ancient smell of sea tides changing rose in her nostrils and she knew he was becoming aroused again.

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