Sunny Isles belonged to Miami Beach, but the beach strip wasn’t South Beach with big hotels serving rich tourists with a view of the Gulf Stream. Budget hotels blocked the beach view and once off the strip the swamps ran west to the Everglades. The snowbirds’ exodus began before the Spring Break and hit stride on the Monday after Easter end of May was low season. Most of the motels on Collins Avenue sported occupancy signs. There were few takers

Kyla Rolla woke up early for breakfast with her father and looked out the bedroom window. Her father’s Cadillac convertible was the only one in parking lot. The fronds of two palms hung listless over the desolate sidewalk. Overhead a cloudless sky. Her hand presed against. Warm glass. Everyday the weather was the same unlike the South Shore of Boston. Warm, sunny, and warmer with the morning giving way to noon.

The air-conditioner was set at an eternal 71 degrees. A fine spring day in the Blue Hills, but cold to her skin. The slim fourteen year old threw off the blankets and pulled on a thin nightgown over her pajamas. A swift regard in the mirror and her hands smoothed down her blonde hair. Opening the bedroom door she walked down the hallway to the kitchen and opened the front door to pick up the newspaper in the hallway. She placed the Miami Herald on the table.

After buttering two slices of wheat toast and brewing a cup on instant coffee, she called for her father. Several second the forty year-old appeared in the kitchen ready for work selling luxury property from Bal Harbor to Key Biscayne. His tropical suit had been ironed by Kyla as was his white short-sleeved shirt. He smiled and sat down, putting a pack of LUcky Strikes on the table.

He was dying to smoke, but not smoking in the apartment was her one condition for coming down here.

“Good morning.”

“Another sunny day.”

“Just like yesterday.”

“Your mother said it felt like winter yesterday. Cold and rainy.” He spoke to her mother every day, mostly before he or she went to work.

“I doubt it ever gets cold here.”

In the winter it get into the 50s.” He looked at the top of the Miami Herald and said, “Forecast today in 82.”

“Just like yesterday and probably tomorrow. Can I come to work with you? I can get dresed in five minutes.” All she needed was a shirt, shorts and flip-flops and a bikini and towel in her bag.

“Sorry, I have to drive around a client all day.”

“I wish I could come with you.”

“It’s all business and you would be sitting in a hot car all day, as I deal with buyers and sellers. Not much fun.”

“It’s not a problem.” She buttered the toast and push the plate across the table. After five days she had only been to the airport and Sunny Isles. She had not expected to be trapped in this one road beach town. “I’ll go to the beach and then the library. Could I take the bus to Miami Beach one day?”

“The bus. No one rides the bus here.”

“I see plenty of people in the bus.” The old, Cubans, and blacks. “I know how to be careful.”

“Sorry, Kyla, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. I have to work the weekends, but next Monday we’ll go down to Miami Beach and maybe even take a trip down to Key West later in the month.”


Satisfied with her complacency he opened the newspaper to the sports page and shook his head. “The Red Sox are going no where this year.”

Kyla resisted saying, “Just like me.” and saw under the headline that today was May 28. Tomorrow was Sean Coll’s birthday. He had said that he would write every day and not a single letter or card appeared in the mailbox. Only bills and circulars, but she had only been here six days. He couldn’t have forgotten her this quickly.

He looked up for the newspaper and then glanced down at her bare feet.

“What I tell you about wearing slippers? You leave footprints everywhere.”

“I forgot.” Kyla shrugged and sat down to an OJ and buttered toast.

After a week in Miami Beach their mornings and days had a routine.

“What are you doing today?”

“Same as yesterday.” She liked sleeping in bed late, but if she stayed in bed, she would miss this time with her father. This trip was not meeting her expectations. “Finish breakfast, go to the beach, lunch, read in the shade, go for a swim, eat dinner. Watch TV and go to sleep.”

“Sorry, I’m working so much.” His work had been a big promotion and a large increase in salary.
When her father first mentioned moving to Florida for work, she had thought her parents were having trouble, but neither her sisters or she had ever heard them fight. Her mother hadn’t wanted to make the move. Her family was in Boston and she had given her blessing to the move by saying, “You go make that money. I’ll come down later in the summer.”
Kyla had jumped at her father’s invitation to accompany him on the move. Florida had sounded so exotic and she had never traveled father than Cape Cod. She would have like to see Sean. They lived in the same isolated neighborhood under the Blue Hills. A bus ran into Lower Mills, where a trolley along the Neponset River connected with the T into Boston, but neither Boston nor Sean were going anywhere.

Now here she was in Florida. All alone. Every night her father came back late from work. Initially she thought he had a girlfriend, but his clothing only smelled of him. Her mother and father had been apart, ever since his transfer to Florida, but they were separated and not divorced. Her mother as a devout Catholic did not believed in divorce.

Kyla bit into the toast.

Her father finished his coffee, picked up his cigarettes, and kissed her on the cheek.

“Have a good day.”

The door was shut.

Kyla was alone, but there weere hundreds, if not thousands of people in Sunny Isles.

And not all of them were old.

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