colette_icon.gif tamara_icon.gif tasha_icon.gif

Scene Title Sandcastles
Synopsis A trio of young women take time off from worry and stress at the beach.
Date July 2, 2010

Staten Island Boardwalk

In a somewhat surprising twist, no one in the Ferrymen owns an actual ferry.

Colette Nichols is not actually sure if that's irony or not either, though she'd like to think it is.

It sounds good.

Staten Island isn't the first place most people think of these days when they imagine a relaxing summer day. Given the terrible conditions of the forgotten island and the slow, arduous reclamation process underway it is at times more like a warzone in some foreign country than it is a part of the United States. The southernmost side of the island, however, is beginning to look more and more like it used to with every passing day.

Stretching for two and a half miles from the ruins of the Verazanno Narrows Bridge all the way to the gated compound of Miller Field, the Franklin D. Roosevelt boardwalk and beach is a hidden treasure strewn across Staten Island's southern coast. While none of the boardwalk shops are open anymore, the beautiful stretch of beach is all but abandoned, a peaceful and isolated sandy stretch of sparkling ocean water and plenty of sun.

"See? I told you it was still here!"

This is not an ordinary Ferrymen assignment that Colette Nichols has brought Tasha Oliver and Tamara Brooks on, in fact it isn't really an assignment at all even if she did frame it that way. Standing on a stretch of the isolated boardwalk, sea breeze blowing through her hair, Colette looks like someone who could use a day at the beach. While at her back the high chain-linked fence serves as an ominous backdrop, the shadow of Staten Island Hospital and Miller Field is unknowingly foreshadowing.

Leaning up against the faded wooden railing leading to stairs down from the boardwalk to the beach, Colette shifts her weight to one sandal-laden foot and looks over her shoulder to the accomplices she's brought on this "mission." Hair windblown and in as much of beach attire as Colette actually could possibly possess, the cut off khaki shorts and olive drab tanktop aren't quite a bathing suit.

The warm sun beats down on the boardwalk, cool breeze coming in off the water, and in a way it's like these three have the entire beach to themselves. All it cost was a thirty dollar boat ride out from Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood and plenty of patience. In Colette's mind, well worth it.

For Tasha, the smell of the ocean and the feel of the gritty sand beneath her sneakers on the boardwalk remind her of her childhood, before her parents split, when once in a while the family of three managed to go on an outing together — either on the very rare weekend when both parents put away their work for the sake of the family, or maybe a day of hooky for all three, from school, court, work. The feel of salty spray on her face and the sun beating on pale shoulders that actually could get tan, thanks to Italian heritage is one that brings back wistful nostalgia.

"Wow. It feels like a private beach or something," Tasha says, a hand coming up to shield her eyes from the sun as she peers around at both surf and turf. "Sooooo…" she draws out, "there's no actual assignment, is there, you conniving little minx?" She turns to smile at Colette, dark eyes sparkling with affection. A day away from the obligations and duties at Gun Hill, to spend in the sun and water, is obviously an end to which the means of well-intentioned are justifiable.

In the two days since her collapse, Tamara hasn't quite shed the dark circles from about her eyes. They're particularly visible in contrast with the errant streaks of white that more or less follow her cheekbones, smears of sunscreen that didn't get completely rubbed into the girl's skin. Sandaled feet find their way down the stairs apparently in the absence of vision and conscious direction, her head turned back to look at Colette as she walks past the younger brunette. Her expression is faintly bemused; in response to Colette's words, the seeress shakes her head slightly but doesn't say anything.

Tamara's faded blue shorts are also cutoffs; unlike them, her plum-colored tanktop makes a bold statement for itself against the background of beige sand, dull green saltgrass, and water in myriad shades of blue-gray. She continues walking down towards the waterline, apparently perfectly willing to leave the other two behind while Colette overlooks the beach and Tasha wonders about assignments. Leaning down to sink her fingers into damp sand, Tamara picks something up; straightening with it enclosed in her fingers, she's promptly distracted with watching a gull cruise past, well above.

Smirking, Colette tilts her head to the side, threading fingers through her hair as she unshoulders a heavy black backpack. "N— not really assignments, uh… no. I mean, I can't surprise Tamara so I wouldn't be surprised if she smuggled some sunblock with her," there's a flash of mismatched eyes over to the blonde as Colette hefts up the backpack. "But I brought some beach towels I borrowed from Lynette's place."

Threading a lock of dark hair behind one ear, Colette wrinkles her nose and offers a faint smile to the vista of the beach. "Next time we'll bring Misty and Jupiter…" Colette admits a bit guiltily, as if feeling just a touch bad for leaving the pets out of this excursion. Scuffing sandals across the boardwalk, Colette jerks her head to the side and waves a hand for Tasha to follow before bounding down the wooden steps at Tamara's heels, coming down with a hop off of the last two steps onto the sand below.

"My sister used to take me out to a different beach here back when I first moved in with her to the city," Colette quietly offers, sandals sinking down into the soft sand as she follows Tamara out onto the beach. "I remember how bein' out in a place like this made everythin' else feel less important. Sorta'… let me relax. I think we earned some relax."

Treading over to Tamara, leaving marks in the sand behind each step, Colette lifts one brow inquisitively. Question going unasked but the intention of asking what'd you find might well be enough to be asked all on its own as she looks down to the blonde's curled fingers.

"We've definitely earned some relax. Especially you, after working hard all week," Tasha says with a smile to Colette, bending down to pull off her sneakers and hop onto the warm, sun-baked sand to follow Colette to the water's edge where Tamara stands. What goes unspoken of course is that Colette has had a lot of other stresses to worry about, including Tamara's strange collapse (or strange, at least, to Tasha), and the various other problems that Colette seems to draw to her like a magnet.

Tasha does own swimsuits, but Colette's covert operation means that Tasha is in her usual cut off jeans and a tank top, her hair in two pigtails to get it off of her neck and to keep it from whipping in the wind on the boat ride over.

She reaches for the backpack, taking it from Colette to open and pull out the beach towels, moving up into dryer sand to lay them out while Tamara and Colette inspect whatever it is that Tamara has found.

Intentions are noisy things, to those with ears to hear them. Tamara twists to face Colette, at which up close and personal perspective the younger girl can see that there was indeed sunscreen involved earlier; smiling crookedly, she lifts her hand and opens her palm to reveal a white-and-tan striped shell, not quite intact, surface still at least a third obscured by grit. "It's not a whispery shell," she tells Colette. "But it's kinda soft," she adds, dropping it into the other girl's hand so she can see for herself.

Sand grit is not exactly soft by any normal definition. The edges, corners, and ridges of the shell have all been worn down and eroded, though, which could be what Tamara means…

Leaving that puzzle for Colette to figure out, or not, Tamara moves up the beach to help Tasha lay out towels.

There's few moments where Colette is struck by personal philosophical discovery. So few in fact they could be counter on one hand, but holding the shell Tamara gave her there's a click of something in her head. Whether right or wrong doesn't usually matter with Colette, once she's got her head set on something she typically follows it to the exclusion of all other things. "Soft…" Colette mumbles to herself, curling fingers around the shell and looking back up to Tamara, worriedly.

Rolling her thumb over the shell and brushing away some of the sand, Colette comes up the beach towards where the blankets are being laid out. "Water erodes a lot've stuff…" Colette says quietly as she comes up to the blankets, looking to Tamara with a crease of her brows before tucking the hsell into the pocket of her shorts.

"So," Colette offers a look over to Tasha, dismissing her quiet statement from her arrival, "you feeling better?" Her mismatched eyes drift from Tasha over to Tamara, teeth worrying at her lower lip briefly. "You… had us kind've worried the other day. I know— I know you don't know what'm talking about, but that's okay. I just— " there's a hesitant smile, "I'm hoping being here at the beach does us all some good."

When Tamara comes to help her, Tasha offers a smile, handing her a towel and laying out the last one, three in a row. "This island looks a lot better in the summer than it does in the winter," she says, nodding to the land behind her. Staten is as mixed of a bag as they come for Tasha — pain and pleasure, fear and love all thrown together in one long, long winter.

Though it looked rather beautiful in the snow, its scars hidden by white, the summer sun and the lulling of the waves is much preferable to the frigid winter. Tasha sits on one of the towels, glancing up to Tamara, her own eyes a touch worried. She was shaken by the collapse the other day.

Tamara, true to form, proceeds to stretch out on her stomach — on the sand, rather than the adjacent towel. She can't dig her fingers into the fabric of the towel and run it through her hands, at least not while she's also laying on it. However, she can rake through sun-warmed sand to her heart's content. Rubbing a few grains absently between fingers and thumb until they finally fall away, the girl tilts her head to peer up at Colette. Pauses to shake blonde hair back out of her eyes, so she can really see, then just offers the other two an unsure smile. No idea what you mean. Blue eyes shift their focus to Tasha. "What was better?" Tamara prompts curiously.

There's a lopsided smile from Colette at Tamara's lacking answer, but her expression more conveys a see what I mean message than anything else. Crossing her legs as she crouches down on the beach blanket beside Tamara, Colette shakes her head and smiles, leaning back onto the palms of her hands, eyes wide as she stares up into the sun with a smile on her face, dark locks of hair blowing across her brow from the cool sea breeze. Most people should wear sunglasses or just not directly stare into the sun, Colette's method of shielding her eyes from the bright light is more subtle.

"Well, you seem to be feeling better," Colette offers with a soft sigh, leaning to her side to reach out and hook her fingers around a lock of Tamara's hair, tucking it behind one ear with a faint smile. She doesn't bother to press the issue though, both to not elicit Tamara into the struggle of looking back and to not dredge up the stressful last couple of days.

"So… I had a talk with Ygraine the other day while I was at work. She mentioned that Elaine had gotten her GED while she was at the Lighthouse so… I think— I might talk to her about it. I know you told me I don't have t'do it but…" While Colette talks, outward appearance would suggest that a cloud passed in front of the sun, from the way that cool shade is spread across the blanket, Tamara and Tasha in an irregular pattern.

There is no cloud, just Colette.

When Tamara doesn't answer the question, Tasha tilts her head. She's trying to understand how Tamara's power works, so that she doesn't have to call Colette if it's not an emergency. She wraps her arms around her shins and rests her chin on top of her knees as she stares into the water, though she gives a glance up to the sky when the shade falls into place. The corner of her mouth quirks into a smile and she brings her eyes back to Colette.

The talk of the GED brings her brows together, though she smiles still. She rises, moving to the other blanket to sit behind Colette, resting her chin on the other's shoulder.

"You don't have to, and I stand by that, okay? Don't do it for me, don't do it for my mom. Do it if you want to because you want to, and not because someone else tells you to. I know you're smart. I know you can pass it. You probably don't even need to study," Tasha says, wrapping her arms around Colette's waist. "I mean… like, that map you figured out for Raith. You did a good job with that. Ferry operations won't be on the freakin' GED of course, but if you can do that, a little algebra and some 'what's the main idea of this passage' questions are probably a piece of cake."

She tilts her head to kiss Colette's cheek. "You can do it — Elaine can help. I can help. I mean, they have books and all at the bookstore for that. GED, GRE, MSAT, LSAT, all that stuff. You can do it, but I don't want you to, unless you want to. Not because my mom or Ygraine says to."

She glances over at Tamara, to see if the blonde has any say in the matter — does she already know the outcome of this little debate?

The seeress echoes Tasha's headtilt in kind, smiling crookedly as no response is forthcoming to her question either. Planting her hands in the sand, fingers splayed, she pushes herself back up to her feet. Towels, induced shade, and concerns regarding furthering education are left behind one step at a time, a nonchalant wiggle of her fingers given in passing, as Tamara wanders back down towards the waterline — apparently the seeress chooses to keep her own counsel on the subject of GED, or else just plain doesn't have any. Not looking at the gull that glides past in the other direction, the blonde lowers herself to sit on the damp sand, sandal soles about three inches above the highest reach of the average wave — translation: not far enough up to avoid the highest waves. She sets her fingers to digging in the sand again, but this time the sand she pulls up is rearranged into something resembling three-dimensional shape. Wet sand is good for that.


Colette's attention, having followed Tamara, is settled down on the wet sand taking rough conical shape under the seeress' hands. There's a sudden eruption of a laugh, smile spreading across Colette's face as she turns to look back to Tasha. "I think Tamara just told us to stop worrying and enjoy the weather," the half-blind teen opines as she sits forward, then pushes herself up from the cross-legged position where she was sitting.

Dusting off sand that has collected on the backs of her legs, Colette offers a hand down to Tasha as she kicks off her sandals, dark brows lifted to her hairline and a warm, happy smile clinging to her lips. "C'mon, let's go take some good advice."

Maybe Tamara didn't intend her sudden decision to make sandcastles be a point to be taken, maybe she did. The end result though is true enough in Colette's mind: They came here to relax, not fret. As hard as it may be some time to actually let the worries of the day go, sometimes you just have to. If anyone can lead by example of putting the past behind, even if for a time, it's Tamara.

"She is a wise, wise woman," Tasha says with a grin at the sudden infectious laugh that draws one from the slightly smaller of the two brunette. She plants her hand on Colette's and makes a bit of a show of pulling herself to her feet. Her fingers interlace with Colette's as she suddenly breaks into a run, dragging the other behind her as she heads for the water's edge, close enough for the cold, frothy water to lap at their toes, evoking a squeal from Tasha before she plunges a little deeper in, reaching down to feel the ebbing water and sand rush past her hands and feet.

Water in the northeast is cold and New York is no exception. Shrieks of laughter and shock come from Colette as she splashes through the shallows, cold waves sloshing up over her knees and darkening the fabric of her tank top and shorts with spots of moisture. Smiling broadly and shaking her head, Colette hunches her shoulders up and ducks her head down, hands cupped together and splashing water up towards Tasha, mismatched eyes gleaming with mischievous intent.

There's a scuff of her heels in the wet sand below as she splashes up into shallower and shallower water, approaching where Tamara works on her sandcastle, face red and toothy smile wide. Huffing with laughter, her shadow casts across Tamara's sandcastle, the ghost of a hand offered out.

"Come on," Colette offers to Tamara with a wide smile, "let's go cool off, an' then we can build a sandcastle together." It's the first time Colette's been this relaxed in a long time, the first time she's acted more her age in years.

Splashing! Such treachery has Tasha shrieking, squealing, and responding in kind with kicks of water aimed at the traitor. But Colette moves out of her range to go gather Tamara and little of Tasha's retaliating splashes make their mark.

Though she has no change of clothes, Tasha is sure the sun will dry what she is wearing in quick enough order, so the petite teen wades further out into the deeper water until her shorts and tank top are soaked through and the water comes up to her chin. Kicking up her heels, she lays back on the water's surface, closing her eyes and floating, letting the waves rock her. They definitely have earned 'a relax.'

Castle is a grand and glorious name for a pile of wet grit that manages to simultaneously lack symmetry and even recognizable shape. It would fit right in with an abstract impression of a beach, perhaps — or would have, before Tamara accepts the hand up, stray foot negligently scattering the drying mound of sand as a consequence of this process.

Standing a moment, Tamara smiles at Colette; her thumb leaves a raspy streak of damp sand grains square along the bridge of the younger girl's nose. "Okay."

Wrinkling her nose against the touch of the sandy fingerprint, Colette bubbles up with laughter again, squeezing Tamara's hand as she leads her back to the frigid water, feet and ankles splashing through the shallows, even as the lapping waves of the approaching tide threatens the Salvador Dali walls of Tamara's sandcastle.

They say that near-death experiences can evoke a sense of revitalization, an eagerness to experience life and find those moments of happiness and serenity wherever they can be found. Here under the bright summer sun, in the shadow of the Reclaimed Zone, Colette Nichols is searching for those grains of happiness in the sand of the beach and having surprising luck finding them.

It may not be a certainty, how fleeting these moments of happiness are, but for the sake of not wasting them Colette is going to enjoy every moment if they were her last. Maybe Tamara didn't mean anything by the shell she gave Colette, or maybe it was just coincidence that the teen likened the erosion of saltwater over a shell to the way the river of time can wear down a person. Her laughter here in the shallows of the beach isn't lonely and they won't be the last yet.

But like the sandcastle's walls being eroded by the encroaching tide.

Nothing can last forever.

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