I wrote somewhat feverishly this summer (I think the heat compelled/inspired me to write more). Now that summer’s end is quickly upon us, I thought I would post some of the work that came from visiting Central Washington, reading Little Birds, and generally being caught up in the feelings brought on by summer weather. Here is part one of a somewhat lengthy story about teenage lesbians and death. Happy reading.
The Typesetter’s Daughter
The residents of Tieton, Washington thought it must have been a joke. They had gathered at the centennial celebration that hot, dry July afternoon to eat pie and congratulate each other on another year of getting by—a small fruit town that boomed from the 1930s to the 1970s, Tieton had dried up with the changing agriculture business.
Mayor Hall took the stage and looked out at the scene that lay before him—the small but well-kept park, the empty storefronts, the crowd of people who still maintained orchards or ran the few shops left in town. The faces were mostly older, wind-worn, life-lived faces. Tieton was not a young town.
“I stand before you all—as your mayor, as your fellow citizen—to celebrate one hundred years as a town. This is no small feat. Let us not forget what we have accomplished in this last century.” A few cheers broke out; the sound of clapping started and quickly stopped. Most were silent. They could hear something behind Mayor Hall’s empty remarks.
He cleared his throat—a gubernatorial signal of something important to come—and seemed to be searching for just the right words to say. “Let us celebrate, but let us also be mindful of the challenges we all face as citizens of this town.” He paused, looked down at his notes. “It is my duty as your elected official to bring to light one of our chief concerns: the cemetery.” He paused again, as though this word should have sacred significance in a town much closer to death than life. “It has been brought to my attention that our cemetery has reached full capacity. We no longer have room to bury our dead. With our recent cuts to the budget, we do not currently have funding to fix this problem, either through expanding the cemetery or through alternative outlets.”
From the opposite end of the park, near the parking lot, Birdie had yawned through most of the mayor’s speech. Since moving from Seattle the week before with her mother, she had been yawning a lot. She stopped yawning at the mayor’s mention of the cemetery. Birdie couldn’t help but picture the cemetery overflowing with old, decrepit bodies. Piles of them, spilling out into the dusty streets. She pulled her headphones off and focused on the mayor as he stammered through the rest of his speech.
“I am about to make a request to you all, something that I understand sounds like a lot to ask, something that could prove to be a difficult task. On behalf of the government body of Tieton, I ask that until we can resolve funding issues to expand our cemetery, you please refrain from dying.”
“Oh this is glorious, Coco. What kind of nutty town did you move me to?” Birdie asked her mother.
“Hush, Birdie, dear,” Her mother said. She smoked and listened. She was the kind of smoker who made it look utterly cool and utterly neurotic at the same time—a few erratic puffs followed by one slow exhalation. Birdie knew that if she wanted to, her mother could blow perfectly rounded circles with her smoke, but she didn’t like to show off. Her mother was her idol. “I want to hear the rest,” she told her daughter.
But there was nothing to hear. The town had fallen silent. A few nervous fits of laughter broke out, but that was it.
The mayor finished his unusual announcement. “Expect more information in the mail. We will send out an official ordinance to all households. Until then, please do not let this put a damper on our day. The sun is shining and there are many festivities to enjoy. Please don’t forget the pie-eating contest will begin in twenty minutes. Thank you.”
The crowd stood motionless at first, absorbing this seemingly impossible task that Mayor Hall had placed upon them. Garrison Foster, a seventy-five year old retired farmer who suffered a stroke the previous year, looked at his worried wife. Manuel Rodriguez, whose family owned a gas station, coughed on his cigarette smoke and tried to block out the image of his father’s pale face when he had died from lung cancer two years ago. Birdie, who was seventeen and therefore immortal, laughed.
“Come on, darling, let’s eat pie and mingle,” her mother said. This was a simple task for her mother—a divorcee artist who bought one of the upscale lofts built downtown to bring new (read: rich) blood into the area. Since the Mighty Tieton artist community had been established—setting up a printing press, a book bindery, and numerous artists studios—well-to-do artists from Seattle had poured into town. It was an interesting juxtaposition, Birdie had thought, to see these rich Seattleites in their modern lofts and driving their Lexus SUVs besides the poorer (read: everybody else) residents holding on to a crumbling town.
At least they had helped the town, these artists, by attracting attention to the area, holding events, and opening new businesses. Birdie couldn’t fault them for throwing their wealth around, especially not now that her mother was one of them—and by extension, Birdie was too.
Her mother disappeared into the crowd and was immediately swept up into conversation with a man named Thumper (no last name), who worked as an installation artist. When Birdie and her mother had first toured the area in Coco’s post-divorce search for a new place to call home (Coco got Birdie out of the divorce; Birdie’s father got Seattle), they had seen Thumper’s massive sculptures sitting eerily in darkened rooms that were once used for cold storage in the old fruit warehouses. Birdie had felt unsettled. Coco had felt enthralled. She purchased the loft that day and within a week Birdie had left her hometown, her friends, her school, and her old city life behind. Birdie was not a country girl, but she was an artist just like her mother and she was just as adventurous when it came to trying new things, even if meant moving to Central Washington—some kind of desert wasteland on the other side of the Cascades and far away from her verdant and lively Emerald City.
Birdie surveyed the crowd gathered around the dessert table. She couldn’t see a single person her age. There had to be some teenagers in Tieton. She neared the table with the pies and reached her hand out for a slice of cherry pie.
“You’re lucky, that’s the last slice,” came a voice from the other side of the table.
Birdie looked up and saw a girl, close to her age, standing opposite her.
“My lucky day, I guess,” she answered. “Hi, I’m Birdie and I am happy as hell to see somebody my own age around here.” She extended her hand and swept up the girl’s in one quick motion.
The girl laughed. “Yeah, there aren’t too many teenagers in this town besides my brother and me.”
“What’s your name?” Birdie asked.
“Short for anything? Rosanna? Rosalind?”
“Just Rosie. My abuela was called Rosa.”
“That’s pretty.” She took a bite of her pie. “Do you want to take a walk with me?”
“I can’t. I’m helping my mother with the pies. These are from our panaderia. We baked them this morning.”
Birdie took another bite. Warm. Sweet. “I guess I’ll have to settle with a piece of pie. See you around, Rosie.” Birdie was never the type of girl to look back. She made all her exits with the assurance of somebody who knows people will watch her walk away.
Birdie lost sight of her mother in the crowd. She wandered past the children playing tag, the adults stuffing themselves with centennial cake, and elderly people sitting in a hushed circle, poking at dessert, gesturing towards the youth near them. Birdie wondered what they were thinking, if they were thinking of death and dying, of the inevitable so close to them they could almost touch it, yet somehow now, forbidden, made into a cruel joke. Birdie passed them quickly, thoughtlessly—when you are seventeen, you don’t worry about dull, permanent things like death.
Rosie found Birdie sitting on the grass near a tree reading a book.
“Little Birds,” Rosie tilted her head sideways and read from the book’s spine. “Never heard of it.”
“I trust you can’t find much by Anaïs Nin in the libraries around here,” Birdie said and closed her book. “Sorry, that sounded catty. But I guess I have felt a bit catty these days.”
Rosie sat beside her. “It’s okay. I guess you’re not too happy that you had to move here. You’re from Seattle, right?”
“Is it that obvious?”
“Yes and no. Your mother came into the panaderia yesterday. She must have told my mother her whole life story. You were a main character.”
“Coco does love to talk.”
“You call your mother Coco?”
“Yes, that’s her name. What do you call your mother?”
“Mom or madre.”
“Coco is a bit…bohemian. She’s a painter, spent quite a bit of time in France during and after college, etc. Honestly, I think becoming a mother startled her. So she never really raised me like a daughter. She’s always treated me equal. So I call her by her name.”
“An equal, that must be nice. My dad treats me like I’m twelve. He’ll probably treat me like I’m twelve until I’m forty.”
“Are you his only girl?”
“One and only.”
“That’s why he treats you that way. He’s just overprotective. Let me guess, he let’s your brother get away with much more than you.”
“Exactly. Pedro is only one year older and he gets the truck, gets to date, gets to stay out late, no questions asked. Speak of the devil,” Rosie said and gestured to a group of boys walking towards them.
“Hey Rosie. Why aren’t you helping Mom?” One of the boys asked. The others lingered behind, uninterested.
“We’re out of pies, Pedro. There’s nothing left to help with,” Rosie answered. Pedro looked at her and then at Birdie. “I was just talking to my new friend, Birdie. Birdie, this is my brother Pedro. Pedro, this is Birdie.”
Pedro leaned down and shook her hand. “What kind of name is ‘Birdie’? It sounds like a cartoon or something.”
“It’s the name my mother gave me. I never asked why. I always thought it had a nice ring to it.” She dropped his hand.
“Yeah, it’s pretty, don’t get me wrong. Just unusual. Anyway, nice meeting you. I’ll see you back at the house, Rosie. And see you around,” he said and looked once more at Birdie before turning to rejoin his friends.
Rosie waited until after the boys had left and leaned in to Birdie. “He likes you already. I can tell.” She said it with the kind of intimate confidence not usually obtained until a slumber party.
“Your brother seems perfectly nice, but he’s not my type.”
“You have a type?” Rosie asked.
“Yes, and you are much more it than he is,” Birdie answered and smiled unapologetically.
Rosie looked momentarily shocked as she registered Birdie’s answer. “Oh, are you a lesbian?”
“Yeah. I’ve never dated a guy, just girls.”
Rosie turned so she faced Birdie directly, so that her back was turned farther away from the crowd of people nearby. “May I ask you a personal question?”
Birdie straightened up. “Oh course. How else will we get to know each other?”
“You’re right,” Rosie said and paused. She lowered her voice. “So how did you know you were a lesbian? Did you always know?”
“Yes. Even when I didn’t know, I knew.” That was Birdie’s answer.
When Rosie realized Birdie wasn’t going to say anything more on the subject, she moved on to fill the silence that had settled between them. “So your mother said you moved here because she and your dad are getting divorced. Was it that bad that you had to move away? Sorry if I’m overstepping. There just aren’t a lot of girls around here to talk to. I’m desperate for gossip.”
Birdie rifled through her purse as she talked to Rosie. “Coco and father started their divorce a few months ago. The settlement is quite large. He bought her out, bought her right out of Seattle because the city just wasn’t big enough for the two of them—and by ‘two of them, I mean Coco and father’s ego.”
“You’re not very close with your father,” Rosie observed.
Birdie looked up. “I tried. But daddy dearest said he didn’t want a ‘dike for a daughter, dammit.’ For a software man, he was quite good at alliteration. He was also quite good at making me feel like shit,” she said and pulled a pack of cigarettes out of her over-sized bag. “You want one?” Birdie held the pack out to Rosie.
“No thanks,” she answered and waved her hand.
“Have you ever tried?”
“Well, then how will you know whether you like it?”
“I shouldn’t here. My parents are close by. My dad would kill me.”
“Then let’s go somewhere. I think this party’s over. I think it ended as soon as the mayor started to talk about death.” Birdie stood up and extended her hand to Rosie.
Rosie took it and stood up with her. “Alright, let’s go.”
“Where to? I haven’t been anywhere but my place and the park and what little falls in between.”
“Have you seen the high school yet?” Rosie asked.
“No, but I thought it wasn’t here.”
“No, not in Tieton. We don’t have our own high school. We go to Highland High School. It’s just down the road two or three miles. We could walk it if you want.”
“I’ll drive.” They walked away from the park without saying goodbye to anyone.
“Do you have a car?”
“Just Coco’s, but she’s not going anywhere. I think she’s hitting it off with that installation artist guy, Thumper.”
“Oh God, the installation artist. No disrespect to artists, but what kind of name is ‘Thumper’?”
Birdie laughed along with Rosie. “I know. But Coco is crazy too. And she loves all kinds.”
They reached Coco’s car and Birdie pulled out a spare pair of keys. The drive to the high school was quick, sightless.
“So this is where I’ll be going in the fall,” Birdie said half to Rosie and half to herself as they entered the empty parking lot. There wasn’t much to see since it was summer vacation and the high school was desolate. Birdie took in the quiet surroundings and brown hills in the distance.
They rounded the parking lot and climbed up on a fence to sit.
Rosie spoke first. “What did you think about all that death talk? Pretty crazy, right?”
“To say the least. I didn’t realize this town had that many problems, but I think it’s ludicrous that the mayor would even say something like that. You can’t ban death.”
“I know. How bizarre. I think it really shook everybody up, though. My parents wouldn’t look at me the whole time Mayor Hall talked.”
“Talking about death always does that to people, that’s why people don’t talk about it. Everyone acts like if you don’t mention it, it’s not there, like it’s some kind of boogey man.”
“What do you think?”
“I think it’s there, sure. But I don’t let it bother me too much. I’d rather enjoy my life. You?”
“Well, I’m Catholic, so I’ve been raised to believe in an afterlife, you know one greater than what we have now—no suffering, no fear, no pain.”
“Sounds blissful? Do you really believe it?”
“I don’t know. My parents do. I believe they truly believe in it, and that gives me some comfort knowing they’re comforted. I can’t say for sure, though, what I believe in. I just know that talking about death, especially in such a formal way like Mayor Hall did, makes my stomach feel all knotted up. Death is so mysterious. I can’t understand how he could talk about it like it’s a crime.”
“Oh God, this is depressing. Let’s stop talking about it,” Birdie said and waved her hand, as if with that one gesture she could wipe out death, at least for the time being.
Rosie looked at her feet and then back up at Birdie. “Well, what else should we do?”
Birdie put one hand down on the fence to steady herself and then leaned in and kissed Rosie, gently and then more firmly, on the lips.
Rosie stepped to the ground, away from Birdie’s lips. “Whoa, what are you doing?”
“Oh Rosie, I’m sorry. I was caught up in the moment. I always rush these things, make the first move too fast.”
“Wait, what? Why are you making any moves? I’m not gay.”
“Oh, okay,” Birdie said like she didn’t believe it.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“It’s just, how do you know you’re not if you haven’t tried it?”
“I don’t know, but I’m just not.” She pulled her cell phone out of her purse and looked at it. “Shit, I missed a call from my dad. He’s probably wondering where I am.”
“Let’s go back,” Birdie said and hopped off the fence. She straightened her skirt. “Thanks for showing me around, Rosie.”
“You’re not mad, are you?”
“No, of course not. I’m sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable.”
“No, it’s okay. You just surprised me, that’s all.”
Birdie dropped Rosie back off at the park. “Come by the lofts sometime, Rosie, and I’ll give you a tour,” Birdie called as Rosie walked away.
“The same goes for the panaderia,” Rosie yelled back.
Birdie smiled to herself on the short drive to her home. Only a week into town and she had made her first friend.
A few days later Birdie and Coco received the official ordinance in the mail. Coco had casually thrown the stack of mail on the kitchen counter, and Birdie—glancing up from the latest issue of Modern Painter—saw the governmental envelope. She reached for it and slid the envelope open.
“It is strictly prohibited for residents of the town of Tieton, Washington to go beyond the boundaries of earthly life, and to go into to the afterlife,” Birdie read out loud. “Well, it’s official, Coco, you moved me to the stupidest place on earth.”
Coco crossed the kitchen and stood at the table across from her daughter. “Oh, don’t say that. The mayor is desperate, not stupid. I am sure he understands how ridiculous it is to ask the residents to not die. That’s uncontrollable. He has probably run out of options.”
“How about fundraising? The problem here is money. The cemetery needs it. The town needs it.”
“I know, I know. I think that is where we come in, all of us artists in the community,” she said with a grand sweep of her arm. “We’ve come to this town to help rebuild it—through events, building improvements, and raising cultural awareness. But it looks like Tieton needs more than just a few paintings hung up and a couple parties thrown throughout the year.”
“That’s great. Let me know how I can help,” Birdie said and looked back down at her magazine. There was a feature on Boticelli’s Primavera. Birdie could still remember when her parents took her to the Uffizi in Florence and she saw it there. She cared for nothing else, not even The Birth of Venus. She could close her eyes at anytime and see the orange grove, the folds in the women’s dresses, the serene moment interrupted by a gray force, cruel like winter. She always wanted to be the woman spreading flowers, though sometimes she woke in the middle of the night from nightmares that she was the woman being dragged away. The painting haunted her like a benevolent spirit.
Coco sat beside her and the shifting of the chair pulled Birdie back to the conversation. “I am sure we’ll need your help. Thumper and I are organizing a committee now. We would like to host a few events and try to bring in some donors from Seattle. We hope to hold the first one in October, you know to align it with the Day of the Dead. That way we can honor many of the residents’ spiritual beliefs while at the same time making light of our awkward situation in a more, well, lighthearted way.”
“That sounds great, Coco,” Birdie said without looking up.
It was then that a knock on the door saved Birdie from more of her mother’s philanthropic ramblings. “I’ll get it,” Birdie offered and left her magazine. She walked slowly to the door, twirling her blond hair into a ballerina’s bun on the top of her head and then dropping it, letting the long strands return to their place down her back.
When she opened the door, she found Rosie on the other side, standing cautiously, as if she were about to change her mind and leave. She wore an orange sundress that nearly reached her knees.
“Hey Birdie,” she said with a wave.
“Hi. Do you want to come in?”
“I can’t because we’re about to leave.” She made a gesture towards her brother and his truck. “That’s why I am here. My brother and his friends are taking inner tubes and floating the Yakima River. I wanted to stop by and invite you, if you’re not busy.”
Birdie turned and called over her shoulder. “Coco, do you mind if I go tubing with my friend Rosie?”
“Not at all, dear. I’ll be busy all afternoon planning the fundraiser with Thumper. You should get out of the house on such a nice day,” Coco spoke as she walked. When she reached the door, she extended her hand to Rosie, palm down. Her handshake always looked like she expected people to kiss her hand rather than shake it. “Hello Rosie, it’s so nice to meet you officially. I saw you working in the bakery the other day, but we never had a chance to talk.”
“You too, ma’am,” Rosie responded and Coco’s face tightened at the word “ma’am.”
“Let me grab my swimsuit and I’ll be right out,” Birdie said and disappeared into the house.
“You’ll have to tell your mother hello for me. I want to stop in soon for more of her delicious treats,” Coco told Rosie.
“I’ll let her know, ma’am,” Rosie said and choked on the word this time, realizing halfway through that she had said it out of habit but not being able to stop.
“Well, I should get back to my planning. You’ll have to ask Birdie to fill you in on the plans for the festivities. We’ll need as much help as we can get from the energetic younger people around here.” With that, Coco turned and walked back to the kitchen, past Birdie in her cut-off jean shorts and over-sized sunglasses.
“Let’s go,” Birdie said and grabbed Rosie’s hand. “That’s a cute dress,” Birdie said as they walked towards her brother’s truck.
“Thanks,” Rosie replied, casually letting go of Birdie’s hand and running her own through her hair as they neared her brother.
“Hey Birdie,” Pedro said and offered a hand to help her into the truck. “Come on sis, the guys are already halfway there.”
The three fell mostly silent on the drive to the river. Birdie couldn’t pinpoint what Pedro actually liked, as most of his responses to questions came in the form of a grunt or a nod. She wished she could be alone with Rosie to make sure things were okay between them since their kiss. She never wanted to make Rosie feel uncomfortable.
Birdie had her chance to be alone with Rosie once they had set up at the river. Pedro and his two friends wanted to swim for a while in a wider stretch of the river, while the girls wanted to start their float right away. The three guys watched as Rosie and Birdie removed their clothes and stood in their swimsuits. Birdie pulled out a bottle of sunscreen with SPF 45.
“Jeez, Birdie, does Seattle make you that afraid of the sun?” Rosie joked.
“I happen to like having light skin, thank you. Some may say ghostly, I say porcelain. You should put some on too,” she advised, running her eyes over Rosie’s brown skin.
“I never burn.”
In the distance, Birdie could swear she heard Pedro’s friend Mike say, “Well, I know what I’m jerking off to tonight.” She pretended not to hear and grabbed an inner tube. “Let’s get out of here, Rosie. I’ve had enough testosterone for the day.”
The water was cold, even if the temperature outside reached the mid-nineties. It felt cold in the refreshing way, though, not the cold of winter nights or even of fall mornings. It was a shock of cold to wake the body up from the lull the daydream temperature put it into.
“Here, hold my hand,” Rosie said and steadied Birdie. It’s a little rocky here, but you’ll be fine once you lay down. Just don’t let your butt sink through or you’ll spend the whole time bumping it on rocks.”
They held onto each other’s handles to form a chain as they floated down the river. The current wasn’t very strong, but it was fast enough to separate them if they let go. They lay their heads down and closed their eyes. Birdie kept her sunglasses on.
Rosie spoke without looking up, the kind of listless drawl that comes with conversations had in water. “So what was your mom talking about back at your place? She mentioned some festivities.”
“Oh that. Coco and the other artists are scheming ways to raise money to fund the building of the new cemetery.”
“Sorry if this sounds rude, but aren’t they all collectively rich enough to pay for it themselves?”
Birdie shifted her sunglasses to the top of her head, looked around briefly, and moved them back down. “Probably, but then they couldn’t think of themselves as crusaders for the common good. They have to work to raise the money, not just write a check.”
“I understand, I guess. What’s the fundraiser?”
“A Day of the Dead celebration. I think Coco patted herself on the back for that one. I’m sure she adores the irony.”
“I wonder what they’ll do.”
“I don’t know. How do people normally celebrate it?” Birdie asked.
“My family honors the traditions that have been passed down through the generations. We make gifts for our loved ones who have died and take them to their graves. Some families build altars with sugar skulls and flowers, but we usually just leave trinkets. My mother always bakes a treat to leave on her mother’s grave.”
“And it just sits there on the grave?”
“Somebody comes by eventually and takes it away. It’s all a part of my parents’ beliefs. They believe in honoring the memory of the deceased.”
“I think I’d like to help build an altar for the celebration. Maybe all the artists can build altars and put them on display during the fundraiser.”
“Are you an artist too, like your mother?”
“Yes. I paint mostly, draw occasionally.”
“Do you have a favorite painter?”
“I don’t think I know him.”
“He was French, around in the late 1800s. He painted a lot of sex, a lot of nudes. He had a great sense of humor, at least that’s what I think from a lot of his paintings. And they never seemed afraid of anything, his paintings, I mean. They made me never want to be afraid.”
The sun had reached the middle of the sky. In the distance, they could hear Pedro, Mike, and Juan shouting as they moved through the water. They must have settled into their inner tubes as well, and they were moving down the river purposefully, while the girls remained floating casually, conversationally.
“What about you Rosie, what do you like to do?”
“Well, when I’m not in school I have to help out a lot at the panaderia. I spend a lot of time with my family since there aren’t a lot of other teens around here. Most of the kids at Highland live outside of Tieton. My father is a typesetter, did you know that?”
“No. I assumed he ran the bakery with your mother.”
“No. She inherited it from her mother. My father’s been setting type for thirty years now. He used to do it in Yakima for some of the businesses, but then everything moved to digital and he stopped for a lot of years, moped, got mad at us for no reason. When the businesses started coming into Tieton, my dad jumped at the chance to set type for the letterpress. He works there part-time now, setting type for books, promotional materials, business cards, anything they want. We have a stack of stuff in our kitchen—postcards and coasters—that he set the type for. He loves it. I think he’s always liked working with his hands like that.”
“Do you like it? Typesetting, I mean, do you ever do it with him? You must or you wouldn’t get that tone in your voice when you talk about it. It’s the same way my voice sounds when I try to describe a painting.”
Rosie blushed, found out. “Yes, I love it. My father used to let me come to work with him as a child. He taught me how to recognize the letters by touch, how to space them just right. I liked watching the old-fashioned machines and watching him create something precise out of seemingly random objects.”
“Do you help him now, now that he’s back to work?”
“No, he stopped letting me. He said that my job is to help my mother. He acts very protective of his work. He complains a lot that the only reason he has his job is because some rich white people wanted a hobby, wanted to feel special because they were ‘getting back to basics.’ For him, it’s always been this way. He’s very stuck in his traditions. He doesn’t care for the Internet or smart phones. He wants things to stay the same and he worries that if he passes his skills on to me, I’ll take them from him. Then he’ll be useless again.”
“Do you know that or think that? Maybe you should try talking to him.”
“I can’t talk to my father, Birdie. He doesn’t listen.”
Birdie wanted to say something more, wanted to tell Rosie to make her father listen because that’s what she would have done, but they reached the bend in the river where Pedro and his friends had parked their cars and they had to let go of each other’s inner tube and stand up. The boys must have paddled their way down the river because they appeared not far behind, loud and obnoxious, putting an end to anymore sharing between the new friends.
“Take off your tops, ladies! Nobody’s looking,” Juan shouted from behind. They turned and saw the three boys—their inner tubes tied together like a makeshift raft.
“Shut up, man,” Pedro said in an effort to behave like a gentleman. He didn’t say this until they had stopped and he stood next to Birdie.
When Pedro and Rosie dropped Birdie off at her home, Rosie walked her to her door.
“You’re so sweet, Rosie, but you don’t have to walk me home.”
“I just wanted a moment alone with you. I want to warn you that my brother will probably ask you out. You’re pretty and new here, which makes you just his type.”
“That’s fine. He won’t be the first boy to do that. I’ll just tell him I like girls. Thanks for the compliment, by the way.”
“Do you think maybe you could tell him something else, maybe just that you’re not interested or don’t feel like dating since you’re new around here?”
“Rosie, I’m not ashamed of who I am.”
“No, I know. It’s just, this is a small town, and people aren’t as open and accepting here, my dad especially. If he finds out, I’m worried he won’t let me see you anymore. I don’t want to risk losing you as a friend.” Rosie looked down, her cheeks flushed.
“Fine. Tell your brother I broke up with someone right before I moved here and I’ll avoid him at all costs. You owe me for this.”
A week passed before Rosie stopped by again.
Stay tuned for next week’s installment of “The Typesetter’s Daughter.” Will Rosie and Birdie go all the way? Who will die first in Tieton? Did anybody notice that flora and fauna thing I did?