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chasing rosie larsen

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chasing

Rosie asks Alexi to come with her that day.

They ride their bikes out to the park and have been filming for an hour. She's got her camera in hand and he's following her close behind. He reaches out for her wrist to slow her down, ends up lacing his fingers through hers, looks over at her as she scans the area around them.

She laughs, noticing his eyes on her.

"What?" he asks, and she hands him her camera and points to the set of swings in the distance.

"Race you!" she calls, a head start.

"Rosie Larsen!" he groans, fumbling with the camera strap. "I'm going to kill you!"

 

-

 

There's a group of kids out by the soccer field, smoking.

"Can I bum one?" Rosie asks, and a slight girl, no more than 14, with her hair just above her shoulders, pipes up.

"What's in it for me?"

All bravado and spitfire.

Rosie ponders, and Alexi grabs her wrist. "C'mon," he says. "I can get you some smokes."

"No," she says. "It's alright." She pulls her backpack around to the front, unzipping it. "How about..." she rummages through the front pocket. "This?"

Rosie holds out a pin, one of those cheap ones she picked up at the record store when she got her last Neko Case album, a monarch butterfly with a neon pink background. Pretty cheesy. The girl takes it, turning it over with dirty fingers, and she smiles, radiant. "Monarchs. Ok, Curly Sue. You've got a deal."

They sit and smoke, making daisy chains, and Rosie lets the girl talk while Alexi kicks a soccer ball with a couple of younger kids who show up.

"Your boyfriend's nice," the girl tells her.

"Oh," Rosie laughs. "He's not my boyfriend."

"Really?" she chuckles, disbelievingly. "He know that?"

Rosie rolls her eyes, and reaches out, touches her hair. "You know, you'd look really cute with your hair cut short," she changes the subject.

The girl raises her eyebrows. "Got any scissors?"

Alexi comes back over, sweaty, and pulls a water bottle from Rosie's bag.

"We gotta bolt if we're gonna make the ferry in time," he tells her.

"Hey Bullet!" A voice calls, and Rosie turns. A group of kids, two girls and a boy are walking toward them from the far end of the field.

Bullet gets up, wipes the grass from her pants. "Gotta run," she says. "My friends are here."

"Hey, wait," Rosie scrambles up, follows her. "Take this."

She hands Bullet a twenty dollar bill.

"You kidding me right now?" Bullet says.

"Just take it," Rosie tells her. "You need it more than me."

 

-

 

"That was nice of you," Alexi says, after.

"It was no big deal," Rosie tells him.

"Yeah," Alexi says, and he pushes her hair behind her ear, kisses her for the first time. "It was."

 

-

 

They catch the ferry in time, and Alexi films her.

She told him before.

That she was leaving.

But that's the moment it starts to feel real.

 

-

 

"Why'd you kiss me today?" she asks later, when they're coming back from the grove, riding their bikes back toward the water.

Alexi bows his head, and Rosie can't see, but knows he must be blushing. "I dunno," he shrugs, "wanted to, I guess."

She laughs.

"No dummy. I mean... why did you wait so long?"

She veers off to the left, down a dirt path, away from their destination.

Alexi follows.

And once again, he's chasing her.

 

-

 

She sits with her head on his shoulder as the ferry takes them back.

Back to the real world.

Alexi thinks of this movie he saw once. A girl with a no-name cat and a boy who loved her, despite the way she always ran away.

"Are you going to say goodbye when you leave?" he asks.

He can feel her shaking her head, not moving from her spot below his chin.

"Nah," she says. "I don't think so."

Can I come with you? he almost asks, but doesn't.

"Why not?"

"I'll be back someday," she says. "I promise."

She looks up at him, and Alexi kisses her again, one hand under her chin.

"Better be."

-fin