Nora sat alone on her knees in the small sandbox. The bright sun was shining down on her, but she did not mind; she had work to do. Her hands were covered in damp sand and her thin, black hair fell over her face. She wanted to push it back but she didn’t want the sand to get in her eyes. She knew how much that hurt and she did not want to cry, or look like she was crying, in front of the other kids in the park.
Her dad was at the office, and her mom was around somewhere, probably on a call for work. She knew how busy her mom was, so she was okay playing alone for a while. After all, she worked best when she was alone. She had only been playing in the sand for a little while and she had already made a pretty big sandcastle.
Nora took her sandcastle mold and filled it up with the damp sand that surrounded her. The mold was dark blue and about the size of her wrist to her elbow, it also had small details etched into it, like a door and a window. She then flipped the mold right next to what she had made so far, adding on to the sandcastle. She patted the top of the mold to make sure all the sand came out into the right shape. After that, she smoothed out the edges, joining the new sandcastle to the larger unit.
Nora continued this process until her arms were tired and she did not have the energy, or will, to add on to her sand castle.
She looked up from her work to see a man sitting on the bench reading a book. He was wearing a tan trench coat and occasionally looked up to see what was happening in the playground in front of him.
Before she could catch his eye, her mom asked her to leave since it was going to get dark soon. She wondered how the man in the tan trench coat was going to read in the dark. Sadly, she had to leave before she could find out.
The next day Nora returned to the park. She got out of the car and ran with her mom to the sandbox. To her surprise, the man in the tan trench coat was on the bench reading his book. She tried to look at the cover, but there were only words, no pictures, and Nora did not know how to read yet.
Although the sandbox was small, the park was big, full of slides and monkey bars of all sorts of colors. She sometimes went down the slides and hung on the monkey bars, but no matter when and how she did, the slides and monkey bars would always be the same. The sandbox, on the other hand, was ever changing.
Many kids came and went in the sandbox, but none of them stayed. Nora was usually alone, and she did not mind. She also never got bored. She always saw her sand creations as fascinating and came into the sandbox with new ideas everyday.
Today she decided to draw in the sand. And she knew exactly what she was going to draw. She looked up at the man in the tan trench coat, which was actually pretty similar to the color of the sand itself. She started by drawing the bench he was sitting on. It was an ordinary bench; it was made out of wood and laid in the shade of a large tree next to it.
She then began to draw the man. He was a tall man, taller than her dad. He had dark hair and blue eyes. He also had a clam expression on his face, no matter the antics of the children in the park.
When Nora finished her drawing, she looked up at the man, and hoped that he would see her work. This time, she caught his eye and waved him over.
He looked at her and tilted his head to the side, wondering why she was calling him over. He slowly closed his book, memorizing the page he was on, and got up and walked over to her.
When he saw that Nora had drawn him, he smiled. Nora beamed back at him, very proud of her work.
The next day Nora was excited to return to the park and see the man in the tan trench coat. He was not reading a book, but instead had a notebook and a pencil with him.
Today Nora had brought some sand toys to the park. She had plastic molds of seashells and marine animals. After playing for a little while, she noticed the man in the tan trench coat was drawing on his paper.
He seemed pretty good at drawing. His pencil made light strokes on the notebook paper and every once in a while he would flip his pencil around and erase a mistake. He looked up at Nora several times and then continued drawing.
Soon, Nora looked up to see the man in the tan trench coat waving at her. He didn’t say anything, but she knew she wanted him to look at what he had drawn.
She got up out of the sand and ran over to the man. He turned his notebook around so she could see his art. Nora was very happy with what the man in the tan trench coat had drawn. He had drawn her. She let out a little giggle at the picture, it was funny seeing herself playing in the sand, she never knew what she looked like.
“My name is Ben,” the man in the tan trench coat said.
“Hi Ben, I’m Nora,” she put out her hand for him to shake it, she had seen this on TV and she saw her parents doing it too.
Ben let out a laugh at her gesture, and he shook her hand.
From that day on, whenever Nora came to the park, she would say “hi” to Ben, who would say “hi” back.
Nora had always been so used to playing alone, but now, she had a friend.