R O S A L Y N O S B O R N E
Bluetooth earbuds discreetly tucked beneath neatly-formed curtains of bright hair had been Rosalyn’s saving grace for much of the morning. However, she still offered wide smiles to familiar faces and engaged in conversations that warranted or expected her participation. The parties planned for the first week back, who had grown facial hair over the summer, and the newest relationship updates were all topics of interest.
Felix Brooks and his long-time girlfriend Claire had finally called it quits, a game of chess that Rosalyn had long been dabbling in. But, really, if a few playful forearm touches was enough to break the two, were they really doing that well? She had done Felix a favor by helping to free him from that situation. Claire was sour, spoiled with jealousy, and therefore doing everything she could to save her name, even if it meant sacrificing someone else’s.
Preparing for, managing, and even fulfilling rumors about her had become a part-time job for Rosalyn Osborne, though she saw it more as a hobby. Each day she seemed to learn more about who she was. She wasn’t aware that she had been raised in foster homes until last year. Good ‘ol Joseph Osborne was her very own Daddy Warbucks according to Mathers Memorial High. She had slept with more people than she had even shared a hello with, had spent time in jail for arson, and had paid her way out of a failed semester once. All of these stories unbeknownst to their main character until the whispers eventually found their way back to her.
Rosalyn hurriedly nudged her way through the library’s main doors with her shoulder, as both hands were occupied and her bag was slowly, and painfully, descending down her arm. Her fingers were stretched around and threaded between three disposable coffee cups, a familiar logo plastered on the side. It had been easy to slip out of the school to Joe’s once the assembly had been called to an end and would be even easier to later claim her first-day tardiness was due to class confusion.
Rosalyn moved to Mrs. Macleod’s desk with a genuine smile, skillfully placing one of the cups there while still holding a grip on the remaining two. The older woman raised her head from deep within a book, staring down her nose and through the pair of glasses teetering at its end. She reflected the grin offered back, seemingly pleased to recognize the student.
“Now, Wanda, you feel free to add something a little warmer to this. That hip is not gonna be happy with the way you were throwing it back out there.” A wink from the young woman was swatted out of the air by Mrs. Macleod, but even she couldn't help but chuckle at herself.
Free reign to the library during lunch periods and after the school day had come at the small price of occasional gifts to and conversation with the librarian. This unspoken deal was solidified last year when this escape was the only thing keeping Rosalyn relatively sane. Well, this was still to be determined. She moved to her usual spot in a far corner concealed by shelving, placing the remaining drinks on a side table, one on each side, and settling into an oversized armchair with cushions that had been long used and abused. Despite the inescapable fluorescent lights strewn throughout the entire school, this little nook had proven to be relatively comfortable.
The Sound and the Fury was settled open into Rosalyn’s lap, her page previously held by a bobby pin she was now twirling between her teeth. Half of her notebook page had been filled and much of her coffee had been drained before she realized she was still alone there. Maybe he got caught up. And it was the first day back. Expecting him to even remember this routine was silly. She feigned her disappointment with a roll of her eyes, though she couldn’t help but glance to the now chilled cup of chai tea, his name delicately scrawled in cursive ink across the side. Even the barista had remembered who it was being made for.
. . .
“Aw, wow! What a collection of bargain thrift store finds!” Rosalyn chirped as she stepped into the classroom. The unique arrangement of furniture was hard to ignore, but it was no accident that Rosalyn’s gaze bounced between Aiden Roth and a few of the others already seated with this comment. “I mean, the decor has some vintage, boho-esque vibes too... Cute.”
Jonas Lehrer was the next person her attention fell to, her eyebrows raising and lips pursing slightly. “Ahem. Definitely cute,” she muttered, finding a place for herself.
This was strange. The wild collage of personalities forced into the space, half of which had names she couldn’t remember, was enough to throw Rosalyn off. Then suddenly there was a dog? And talk of the Jonas brothers, who had lost all of her interest after each being married off. Rosalyn's palms had grown damp and she instinctively raised her shoulders in an attempt to draw more air into her lungs. Some sort of control over this situation was required and she was quickly to her feet in front of the group, though she remained stationed in front of her seat. Walking to the front in this state, in these heels, on this ancient floor was asking for embarrassment.
“Hello, my name is Rosalyn,” the young woman paused to slightly nod her head forward in a greeting. “A part of my identify that I think would be valuable to share is that I would actually rather be at a picnic with the Donner Party than be standing here right now.”
Rosalyn’s voice maintained the same chime it always did when she knew she was being ill-tempered. She clasped her hands in front of herself and scanned the space, mannerisms synonymous to that of a preschool teacher managing a room full of toddlers. This was entirely a deliberate way for her to mock the exercise she was being forced to endure without actually giving Mr. Lehrer a reason to reprimand her for it.
“I hope we can all get to know one another on a more personal level before I officially decide whether or not I will toss myself out of that window,” a quick gesture of her hand demonstrated the exact glass pane she would launch herself through,“or before we all get diagnosed with Mesothelioma from the asbestos now floating around in our lungs.”