Rooftops

Rooftops

A Story by Jasmine Thousand
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Jack loved running with a passion, but until recently it had been his solitary sport.

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Rooftops

      There was a certain silence in running, a quietness achieved only as the world around faded into a blur of green and brown and blue. Jack lived for this silence, the ache in his muscles as he passed street after street, store after store. Running was when he allowed his mind to wander, past the never ending lectures he listened to at school, past the notebooks full of sums he had to do for homework. Running was his one freedom; running was where he could excel despite the fact that his father worked three jobs at minimum wage.

     Running was his life.

     And when he sat down after he finally felt the exhaustion, he would find himself miles from home in a place he’d barely recognize, the smile would split his face as he leaned back and ran his hands through his hair, trying to catch his breath.

     It was on one of these many brief excursions that he found himself sitting next to a girl he had seen a couple times before in school. She was around his age- eleven- her hair pulled into a tight braid at the back of her head and her tiny nose tilted up at him.

     “I tell you what,” she began, staring straight ahead with a sense of stubbornness and defiance, “I think I can run faster than you can, even in this dress.”

     He turned to her with a combination of incredulity and a bit of anger. Really, she was challenging him on what he’d grown up doing? A girl who looked as though she probably had all she could ever want at the tip of her fingers, had only to ask- would never know what it felt like to not have quite enough to eat or to have her clothes not really fit her-

     “Shouldn’t you be with your parents? They wouldn’t want their doll getting out of their possession, now would they?”

     “I’m allowed to do whatever I want.” She replied with words short and clipped, her mouth stretched into a thin line.

      “Fine. To the school then.”

     She smirked for half a second before she was off, before he even had a chance to say ‘Go!’ When he arrived at their school, panting and barely able to catch his breath, she was already leaning against a tree, her braid beginning to fall out of its knots and envelop her face with a cloud of yellow, which she appeared to be trying to tie into a ponytail.

     “I think I win.” Again with the snobbish tone.

     “I think,” he huffed and panted, “that you cheated. I didn’t even say to go before you were off!”

     “A rematch then?”

     “No need. Having cheated, you automatically forfeit the match.”

      Her smile faded at his response, and when she spoke her words had a tinge of metal. “Well, then, you can consider yourself beaten by a girl. Rather disappointing, you must realize, what with everyone in school going on about what a great runner you were, I though you at least would’ve been able to be best me.”

     He felt his blood boil at this. She already had everything, he was sure of it. He knew the likes of her in the school: snobbish girls who stuck together and laughed at everyone and everything else. And here she was, trying to take away his pride in life.

     Jack really didn’t feel that bad when he turned around and ran down to his home, pretending not to hear her yelling at him to wait.

     Her voice faded into the silence he knew so well. But just as he was about to reach home, he stopped. She had beaten him, and that was something. He’d have to improve.

      Jack clenched his fingers together tightly and continued walking.

 

     He saw her in school the next day, sitting underneath the same tree, eating a sandwich as she flipped through a book.

     She was alone, resolutely ignoring others just as solidly as they ignored her.

     He noticed with a smile that she was holding it upside down, her mind obviously preoccupied with other matters. And maybe it was that that made him sit down next to her.

     “I never did get your name.”

     “Well, Jack, I may know your name from all those track competitions. But why would you need it?” she snapped, turning another page. “If you’re not even willing to have a rematch. Too sore of a loser to admit you lost, I take it.”

     “I guess I thought it through. And if I really want to win any championships, I have to beat everyone. Even girls in frilly yellow dresses and Sunday-school shoes.”

     She was quiet for a moment, and her voice was softer when she spoke. “I…don’t really want to wear these. My mother makes me.”

     “You could probably run faster if you weren’t.”

     “Yeah.”

     He fiddled with a pocketknife he had left in his sweater, opening it, closing it, opening it again. Trying to choose.

     “There’s…behind the apartment I live in, there’s a gate with a hole in it. We can go into the forest. Sometimes I like to run there instead of on the streets.”

     Her fingers froze on the page of her book. Then she nodded, slowly, once, before returning to her upside-down words.

     “What are you reading?” he asked, trying to pick up the conversation again.

      “I’m not reading it. But it’s about these kids who leave their house every night and run along the rooftops, saving the world from monsters.”

      “That part of the reason you like running?”

      “A little. The world must be bigger from rooftops. More… lively. I wouldn’t be surprised if we missed so much of our lives because we’re always on the ground. It’s my favorite book; I always take it with me when we move.”

     Jack soon found out that they moved a lot, spontaneously and usually due to her father’s obscure and complicated job, which from what she understood required a lot of formal meetings and paperwork.

     He also found out that her name was Rosalind, a name he tested as he yelled at her across the forests and as they ran. Their summer turned out to be happy blur of sitting in grassy meadows reading book after book, racing one another across cities and then hanging upside down in trees to look down across their town, across all the different rooftops. She wore jeans and sneakers, and beat him many times more in races before he gradually grew able to keep up with her.

 

      There was a certain noise in running, a noise achieved only as the world around faded into a blur of green and brown and blue. Jack wondered how he’d never heard it before, the sound of feet pattering across the ground, light and fast, the sound of breathing and of laughter as he raced against another, and then a strange feeling of pure joy as they ran through the trees, watching the skyline darken the rooftops until both simply had to run home or risk their parent’s worries.

      And then she came to the forest one day, hair tightly braided down her back and tied in pink satin ribbons, matching her frilly peach dress and Sunday-school shoes. It was the first time in a long while he’d seen her in such clothes. She looked apprehensive, a touch fearful perhaps.

     Jack was instantly wary. He stopped reading and dropped his book immediately, and suddenly felt the difference between them more heavily than ever before. Without the aura of confidence she usually worse, without the cocky smiles or any dirt on her shoes from running, he felt as though he barely knew her. Had Rosa always looked so…innocent?

     “We’re moving.”

     He knew to expect it. But still it felt like a punch in the gut, to finally have made a friend and have her taken away just as suddenly as she came into his life.

     “When?”

     “Today.” She spoke, and seemed to feel the weight of a thousand accusations as he glared at her.

     “You couldn’t have at least given me some warning?”

     “I…didn’t know. Not until today.”

      There was silence. Nothing like the silence of running he used to know, but a heavy, dull silence that threatened to cut him to the core.

     “Well. I suppose this is goodbye then?”

     “Yeah.” She said quietly. “Yeah.” And she turned and began to walk away, leaving him as so many other people in his life had.

     “WAIT! Wait, Rosa!” he called out, and she stopped. “In three years, the state is hosting a race. For only the best. You’ll be there…right?”

      When she turned around, she was smirking again, part of her old arrogance back. “Why wouldn’t I be? I’ve always been the best. And we never did get a legitimate rematch.”

      He smiled back; a thin quirk of his lips, watching as she held her hand in a silent goodbye and then she was gone.

     


© 2013 Jasmine Thousand



Author's Note

Jasmine Thousand
Written for a contest for K-6 audiences. The word limit was at 1500...a bit of an effort to ensure that I was under, but here I am (and I didn't have to cut that many descriptions!)

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Featured Review

That was good. A sweet short read. Like how molded the ending. It's been so long reading something from you, but I can tell you have improved, if even a little bit. There's more flow to your work now. The words just slip off smoothly. :P

A hat off for the Lady Thousand.

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jasmine Thousand

4 Years Ago

Thank thee. :) I haven't read anything from you either for such a long time. Really, I've been behin.. read more



Reviews

That was good. A sweet short read. Like how molded the ending. It's been so long reading something from you, but I can tell you have improved, if even a little bit. There's more flow to your work now. The words just slip off smoothly. :P

A hat off for the Lady Thousand.

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jasmine Thousand

4 Years Ago

Thank thee. :) I haven't read anything from you either for such a long time. Really, I've been behin.. read more
WoW O_O

It's been awhile since I last read a story by you, and Jazz...

I can honestly say that was wonderful read. Beautifully crafted.
And the descriptions were perfect.

I wish you luck in the contest! :D

A wonderful write well done, M'Lady.

Posted 4 Years Ago


Summer'sBreeze

4 Years Ago

That sounds like fun. :D
When do you guys get out for break?
Jasmine Thousand

4 Years Ago

I get out for break on the 21st. I think two prompts per week would be a little too much considering.. read more
Summer'sBreeze

4 Years Ago

Wow o.O
I get out the 12th and don't go back till a week after New Years.

And y.. read more

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Added on December 5, 2013
Last Updated on December 5, 2013
Tags: rooftops, jack, rosalind, fiction, short, story, running

Author

Jasmine Thousand
Jasmine Thousand

At the barricade, CA



About
You see, deep down I've always believed people were truly good at heart. more..

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