On that weekend when they both disappeared from home, she with a black eye and he with a huge welt on his back where it had struck the radiator when he'd flown across the room, they pooled what money they had and split it mostly between his sock and her shoe and took the Number Six train down to Grand Central then the Seven over to Sixth then the D all the way to the end at Stillwell Avenue on Coney Island where neither had ever been. To celebrate escape they ate hot dogs at Nathan's and bought cokes and walked along the beach which was pretty empty on this early afternoon in early May. He told her he loved her and that they'd stay away forever and find jobs and live in one of those little houses they'd seen from the train that sat on walks not even streets and that, in their house, no one would ever hurt anybody. And the day turned into night and they actually found a twenty dollar bill in the sand plus a bunch of change and felt rich and had knishes and cream soda for dinner, splitting a cherry-cheese one for dessert, then curled up against a giant concrete support under the boardwalk. They were too tired to make out though as they both started to drift off and she pressed against him he got hard and thought about sex but they were only fourteen and hadn't even talked about doing that.
He woke up nervous not long after and spent the rest of the night in cautious watching, his mind trying to think of all the ways things could go their way and they could survive. She suggested McDonald's for breakfast because the bathrooms would be good and they could clean up, so they went there, then walked the boardwalk hand in hand all the way to Brighton Beach. They spent an hour walking the tiny paths among the bungalows and daydreaming that inconceivable future, and then they walked back and rode the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone twice burning through way too much money and they looked at each other, there on the sidewalk in front of Astroland Park, and she started to cry.
They took the D train back to Forty-Second Street, then the Seven to Grand Central, then the Six back to Westchester Square. Then they walked towards their houses, knowing what was waiting.___________________________
copyright 2005-2006 by Ira Socol
photography adapted from assorted images including a main one © Burkhardt Seib