It was another hot, boring day when Rosalie decided to walk to the diner for a chocolate shake. While she didn’t yet have a job, her mother sometimes gave her extra pocket money, and she had barely been to the diner since since summer began. She had been sitting in the living room, listening to the radio, but she wasn’t able to find a station that she wanted to listen to. Her mom had to have been resting, because when Rosalie called out to her, she didn’t answer. So she wrote a note, took her purse, and made the fifteen minute walk over.
Rosalie always felt somewhat out of place amidst the bright colors and sounds of the diners around Chicago. But this one was her favorite. The servers were nice, and the chocolate shakes were to die for.On this particular day the diner seemed to be filled with couples or groups of friends. By herself, Rosalie felt awkward and out place as she waited in line. She thought maybe she would get it to go, walk back home, find something to read or listen to on the radio that she didn’t hate. That was when she saw Mark Copeland. Dark hair slicked back from his face.Dressed in a dark shirt and light pants that it was still too hot for. His blue eyes gazed at the wall beside him. They’d never actually spoken, but she saw him often in the halls. He was a year above her, this year’s editor in chief of the school paper. He was eating lunch, reading something, it looked like. She bit her lip, finding she was starting to shake as she approached the counter.
As she moved closer, she found Mark’s eyes were on hers as well. Nervous, she stared at him, unsure of what to say, so she said nothing.He laughed nervously.
“We go to school together,” Rosalie finally said.
“Right,” he responded, taking a minute to place her. “You’re Sean’s sister, right?”
“Yeah, I am.”
“Awesome,” he said, before going back to his book. The conversation was clearly over but Rosalie still found her gaze cast towards him and the empty seat hat at his side. She saw a few people in line looking at her, and realized it was her turn before she approached the counter.
“Chocolate shake, please,” she said. Once she paid, she approached him once more.
“Can I sit here?”
It took him a minute to look up from his book. “What was that?” He asked once he did.
“Can I sit here?”
“I don’t see why not,” he replied. Rosalie sat down, nervously twiddling her thumbs. “What’s your name again?”
A waitress then approached and gave her the shake. Rosalie began to sip it. Mark looked over at her. “That looks delicious.”
“These are my favorite.”
“I’m not huge on sweets,” he said. “Maybe I’ll try one next time.”
“What are you reading?” Rosalie asked.
Mark turned over his book cover. The Great Gatsby. Rosalie had never read it, but she’d heard good things. “How is it?”
“I’ve read it before. It’s pretty good.”
With the conversation dying out, Rosalie changed the subject. “Are you excited to go back to school next week?” She asked. She felt so awkward, so clumsy, and a million thoughtts were running through his head. He thinks you’re weird. Stop acting weird.
Mark shrugged. “Eh.” After a laugh, he added, “About as excited as you can be.”
“So,” Rosalie said. “I heard you’re going to be editor in chief of the paper this year.”
He nodded. “Right.”
“I was wondering, well, if I might be able to join?”
“Sure,” he said. “Everyone’s welcome. We just need a writing sample, but you can bring that to our first meeting. It’ll be a week from today. After school.”
“I guess I haven’t written anything that would be suitable,” Rosalie admitted. It was true. She’d written a lot more when she was younger. Fantasy stories about princesses and mermaids, ones she illustrated herself. After her father died, she stopped. But in the past few years she’d become interested in it again. In the news. In history. In ways to immortalize singular moments of time. But she had no audience, no one to read her work. She had a lot of ideas, but nothing she’d comitted to the page.
“Well,” Mark said. “You have a week.”
“I guess I do,” she said.
“You like writing?” He asked.
“Sure,” she said. “I suppose I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I used to write more fiction, but now I think I want to be a reporter.”
“Really? That’s interesting.” He paused. “I guess I’ve never met any girls that have wanted to do that.”
Rosalie shrugged. She rarely, if ever, thought about her being a woman as a barrier to her career, or anything that even made her different. Her father always used to tell her that she could be anything she wanted to be, so she grew up believing it.
By this time, Mark was done with his lunch, and he took his book and stood up. “Well, Rosalie, I’ve got to get going. But, see you next week I guess, right?”
She nodded. “Right.”
Rosalie watched as he left, finishing the rest of her shake in a sort of suspended animation.
That night Rosalie laid awake in bed, unable to stop thinking about Mark. She was going to join the paper, so they would interact regularly. Of course, she wasn’t only joining for him. And he was certainly more than a handsome face. He was smart, and he cared about the same things that she did. Would this be it for her, the time she finally stopped being lonely? Maybe Mark would ask her out on a date. Kiss her the way she only knew from movies, and maybe afterward, tell her that he loved her. She told herself to calm down. It was far too early for any of that. Besides, if she was going to join the newspaper, she was going to have to write an article first. And it was going to have to be good. She had five days left of vacation to think fo something.