Rayenne finally found her. Marisa was sitting on the top of the playground, knees folded, eyes cast far out at sea. Tears moved like waves across her face. They created silent oceans of sadness. Marisa didn't hear her coming up and settling herself nearby. At least, she made no sign that she did. Marisa moved from the moment only when the sound of the waves splashing on the nearby beach and the swishing of the pine trees and the distant joyful sounds of children playing was broken by Rayenne's soft apology.

"I'm sorry." Rayenne said.

"Don't be." She didn't turn from the gray-blue view of the misty ocean.

"I didn't mean to--if I had thought--I didn't know--I mean--well--" Rayenne's excuses faltered as Marisa gently shook her head once.

"I forgive you."

They were quiet for a while, listening to the sounds of the world around them. Children laughed. Birds called. Far away, the ice cream truck made its rounds with its cheery, static tunes. Rayenne saw the wind blow in Marisa's hair and thought how pretty she looked, and wondered what had gone wrong in her life to put her here. The bittersweet mix of salt and pine and fresh-cut wood mingled in the air and blew past them, across to the sea. The sun poured down on it all, soaking into the trees, into the ground, into the girls' skin.

It was Marisa who spoke first.

"Why? Why couldn't I have seen it? Why didn't I try? Why couldn't I have been just a little more mature? Why couldn't he--why couldn't he. . . ? Why didn't she see?

"I'm so stupid. I could have just--just changed everything if I had only paid attention. And now--now look where I am. I'm a lost little girl on a playground. I have nothing anymore. She took it all. I have no more hope, no more love--and no more friends.

"If only I had a little more courage. If only he had a little more vision. If only she was a little more reserved. If only you--

"If only you had never met him in the first place."

Marisa had been crying the whole time. The tears seemed to come from a deep well inside of her that had just been rediscovered after years of hiding. The wood around where she sat was wet from hours of bitter crying. Rayenne knew that Marisa did not blame her; Marisa was blaming herself. She wondered with a pang of guilt which one she preferred. Rayenne came over to Marisa and wiped her tears. Soon Marisa had collapsed in her arms and was sobbing, huge, hoarse, pained sobs that shook her body. It was the first time she had really cried in years.

Around them, the wind still blew, the sun still shone, the children still played. The ice cream truck played on and the ocean waves still crashed. Occasionally a group of people walked by, looked at them curiously, and talked in hushed voices until they passed the playground. They were in their own world, yet their world was a little piece of the whole.

They stayed like that for a while, two girls from such different places, yet so much the same. Both of them let the pain knife through them. Waves and waves of pain crashed through their bodies.

After a lifetime, they turned together and walked to the beach to meet the others.