A Grain of Sand

Eddie Myler was from Fort Bragg, where his father owned a lumber mill; Lynn Kota lived year-round at Stillwater Cove.

As for Mark, his mother had lost her leg at seventeen after falling under a train, and she had never learned to drive. Now that his father had left her for another woman, Mark had to wait until Christmas and Easter vacations for the headmaster to drive him to Santa Rosa, where he could catch a Greyhound home to San Francisco.

One October day, Eddie asked Lynn and Mark to spend the weekend at his home. As soon as Mrs. Myler drove them to their ocean-front house outside Fort Bragg, Eddie and Lynn darted inside, emerging with .22 rifles and boxes of bullets.
Without a word to Mark, they hiked off toward the sand dunes, leaving Mark behind in the driveway.
“Hey, you guys, wait for me,” he called.
But they ignored him or pretended not to hear.
He ran after them.
As they reached the windy beach, Eddie whirled around and made a fist with one hand. “Get lost, Saddler. We don’t want you along.”
Mark wandered back to the house, where Eddie’s mother was preparing dinner.

“Why aren’t you with the boys?” she asked.

“They didn’t want with them,” he replied.

“Well, you can go watch television. I’ll talk to Eddie when they get back.”
When they returned, Eddie’s mother either forgot what she had said or decided not to mention the matter to her son.
All weekend Mark sat in the living room, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and watching Queen for a Day, This Is Your Life, What’s My Line?, Truth or Consequences, and You Are There.

Sunday, Mrs. Myler drove the boys back to Stillwater Cove.

Ten minutes after they walked into the bunkhouse, Lynn punched Eddie in the mouth and knocked him to the floor, hitting him again and again, until the other boys pulled him off.

Later that night, Mark was sitting on his bunk when Eddie came into the cubicle “I’m sorry for what happened, Mark,” he said. “You’re my real friend.”

Eddie held out his hand.

To Mark, it was too small and far away to reach—like a grain of sand on a windy beach.