What's this, I finally got around to posting a story I've been working on for 8 years? :O

A little backstory for this one: Like The Outcast, most of the characters are based on actual people I knew. Flashbacks won't be in every chapter and some of them are out of order.

Dedicated to the real Summer Cloud who inspired Roslyn Bearclaw.

Wet Matches

Prologue/Chapter One:

Come As You Are

March 4, 2004


Roslyn Bearclaw hung up the phone and leaned against her kitchen counter. Holding her chamomile tea with both hands, she took a sip and looked at the calendar. The five-year anniversary of Heather Donovan's death was swiftly approaching, but to Roslyn, it felt as if it happened last year. Roslyn spent most of the week trying not to think about it. As far as it concerned her, it hurt a lot less when you move on as soon as possible. But now Clair Donovan had to call and remind her, she just had to reignite the hurt in Roslyn's heart. She had to have Roslyn over for the five-year memorial service. It was pointless or so she kept telling herself. She couldn't stay mad at the women though. Clair Donovan had always been kind to Roslyn, more than she could say about her own mother.

She checked the time and saw it was noon. Bradley was having lunch by now and would be home in three hours. He was growing up too fast, Roslyn thought. In four more hours, Winter Hawk would be home. She hoped her sister wouldn't piss her paycheck away on booze again.

In her bedroom, in the bottom drawer of her chest-of-drawers, underneath clothes she hadn't worn in years, was her yearbook. She had them going all the way back to sixth grade but chose the one from her junior year instead. The cover was ugly with blue and purple and the words Express Yourself on the front. She always thought the previous year had a better one with a gold cougar over a dark green background.

Roslyn opened the book and turned the glossy pages until she came across the class of '94. She looked over the names and faces, some looked familiar, others had faded from her memory. There she found two familiar faces from her past, one a friend, the other an ex. Tony Mason and Christopher Reiner stood out to her. Everything came flooding back at that moment.

Tony Mason was a very pale white kid with short dark, brown hair. He was short, lean, and hot-headed. Heather had always loved Tony from the moment she met him and for the life of Roslyn, she couldn't figure out why. He knew this and took advantage. That was one of the black marks against him, but it wasn't entirely his fault he built walls. His father was one of the fun dads who let their kids eat whatever they wanted and do what they wanted. His mother tried to raise the kids right, but they always ran to their father. He eventually took off when Tony was fourteen, leaving him feeling resentful and bitter. The only thing he trusted from then on was weed and boy, did he love weed. Not only did he smoke it, but he practically announced it proudly to the world. Not that Roslyn cared. As far as she was concerned, Tony could do whatever he wanted it. Still, he could have been up front with Heather from the beginning and not used her the way he did. Maybe deep down, Heather knew it. She spoke of only having Tony for one thing, but Roslyn also noticed Heather becoming jealous every time some girl talked about how hot Tony was.

She ran her thumb over Christopher's photo. He was Choctaw as many Natives in the area were. His black hair cut in the curtain style that was popular at the time and he wasn't wearing glasses in the photo, but he wore them regularly. He was intelligent with a bright future ahead of him until that night in '94 when the Hexagon House burned down.

They met in fifth grade and quickly became friends, but he skipped a grade when they entered junior high and met Tony. Their friendship stayed intact and on a summer's evening, when they were fourteen Chris asked her out. It caught her off guard by his sudden interest but played it cool. She told him she'd think about it and two days later after talking with Heather and Elizabeth on the issue; she gave him a chance, never regretting her choice.

Like the rest of their friends, Chris grew up poor, though he was better off than Tony and Nolan. Roslyn jokingly called him middle-class poor, but he never found the joke funny. His parents were hardworking folks who smoked pot and partied on the weekends. Even with that in mind, they made sure their three children had clothes on their backs and food on the table. Chris was almost a full-blooded Choctaw Indian, but his siblings were half. He learned early in his childhood that his biological mother died during childbirth and shortly after that his father, Christopher Sr., married a white woman, Nancy, who became pregnant with Chris' sister, Veri, within months of only knowing each other. Five years later, his brother, Mitchel, was born. Nancy was always distant from Chris. She would tell him she loved him and made sure he was he had what he needed, but there was something about their relationship that felt fake as Chris would put it. Roslyn never liked Nancy Reiner. She was a bitter woman who never liked Roslyn wither. She never was nice to Nancy either. Her hostility towards Roslyn was something that often caused fights between her and Chris.

Nancy Reiner told Rosyln, the day she and Chris broke up would be the happiest day of her life. The woman would eventually get her wish when Rosyln was forced to move away.

The last time Roslyn saw Chris, she was at the mall in Tulsa back in '99. She was going up an escalator as he was coming down with Britney Lewinsky at his side. She looked at him, but he didn't look her way and continued down. Her heart sank in that moment. It was then she knew she had to move on and forget him, but that would be easier said than done. She spent a lot of nights thinking about him even when she was with Leo, she still thought of Chris. However, she got over him and continue living her life. She focused on her boyfriend, son, her job, and sister and over time he faded into memory like all the others.

Until now.

She turned a few more pages and came to the junior section. She found her other friends Nolan Crane, Stephanie and Heather Donovan, Elizabeth Timbers, and herself. Roslyn, Nolan, and Heather were going through their "grunge phase" when those photos were taken. She couldn't help but laugh at their early 90s glory.

She continued flipping through pages as she took a trip down memory lane. There were hardly any photos of her on the rest of the pages, but he was never a fan of joining clubs or sports. She wanted to be alone most of the time, leading most kids in school to mistake her introverted nature as snobbery.

Roslyn shut the book and placed it back in the drawer, she got up and walked back into the living room. She lied down on the couch, shut her eyes, and let the past come back to her. She was sixteen again, her hair was much longer, her jeans ripped, her favorite movie was Dazed and Confused, and love and friendship were all she'd ever need.

August 22, 1993

"Miss Bearclaw!" Mrs. Peters' shrill voice rang out.

Roz's eyes lazily drifted to her math teacher. "What now?"

"I asked you a question. I expect you to answer me!"

Roz rolled her eyes. It was the first week of school and this bitch was already riding her ass. Detention would become her friend this year, she could see it already. Her gaze flickered to Heather and Elizabeth who silently pleaded with their friend to stay calm. Last year they suspended Roz for punching Sally Peters, the daughter of Mrs. Peters, in the face, breaking the girl's nose and knocking a tooth. Since then, the math teacher had it out for Roz. Well, the bitch could get the fuck over it, because her precious daughter was a fucking bitch like her mother.

"We have a strict policy against holey jeans, Roslyn," Mrs. Peters reminded her student. As if Roz needed reminding.

"Oh yeah? You wanna buy me some new jeans?" Roz retorted. Behind her, Heather and Elizabeth giggled.

Mrs. Peters' eyes narrowed and her lips pursed. She straightened her posture and pointed to the door. "Out!" She commanded.

Roz gathered her books, all the while snickering. She didn't say much else as she passed a row of kids who tried to hide their grins and laughter. Slamming the door behind her rattled the windows in the classroom. She felt a sense of freedom and relief leaving her first-period class. Who the fuck gave students math this early in the morning, anyway? A sadist, that's who!

She made her way down the hallway, straight to the principal's office where she could finish her schoolwork in peace. Vice Principal Olivia Sanders was there when she entered the office. She took one look at Roz and shook her head. She had a soft spot for Sanders because the woman always looked out for Roz.

Olivia Sanders was a tall, thin, middle-aged woman with broad shoulders and frizzy brown hair that pulled back into a tight bun. She carried herself with authority and intimidated those who got in her way. The only one who could see her softer side was Roz. Roz felt that Vice Principal Sanders was too good for Canadian Public Schools.

"What did you do now, Roslyn?" Vice Principal Sanders asked.

Roz shrugged and set her books on a small end table in the corner of the room. "Oh you know, the usual."

"Roz, you know I can't keep defending you. Eventually, you will get in enough trouble and I won't be able to bail you out. You pushed the limit last year when you hit Sally."

She knew Sanders was right, but with all the problems at home, she had nowhere else to vent her anger except at school. She hoped Sanders wouldn't catch wind about her home life.

"I know, but Sally is such a bitch. Most days I can ignore her, but she called Stephanie a slut, so I had to defend my friend's honor."

Sanders laughed. "You're not a knight, Roz," then in a hushed voice she added, "Everyone knows Sally is a bitch like her mom, but next time take it up after school. You know the usual spots she likes to hang out at."

Roz grinned. "Of course."

She stayed in the office until it was time for lunch. She joined her friends in the cafeteria where Chris was already waiting on her. He looped an arm around her and stole a kiss before anyone could see. She blushed and wanted to punch him for making her feel that way.

"Heather told me what happened this morning. You really need to calm down," he warned.

"Mrs. Peters is a bitch," she replied.

"Please stay out of trouble this year. Do it for me, okay? I won't be here next year to look after you."

Roz rolled her eyes. "I don't need looking after, but if you insist, I'll try to calm down."

"It's all I ask."

They had lunch in the cafeteria's corner with the rest of their friends at noon. Chris and Tony had the salad bar while everyone else had the main lunch which was soy burgers and cold fries. Roz dipped her burger in ketchup thinking about her cousin in Flagstaff, Arizona who bragged about getting actual Burger King and Taco Bell from his school. It was times like this she wished could move to the city instead of dwelling in this backwoods town of Canadian, Oklahoma. Her eyes swept over her friends who gossiped about the latest events that were happening in the school and she felt a little better. She figured that if she would be miserable here, at least she had friends that who could be miserable with her, too as they ate soy burgers and cold fries.

Chris gave her a gentle nudge.

"Stop daydreaming," he said.

She jammed her elbow into his ribs, making him grunt. "Shut up, dickwad, I'll daydream if I want to!"

"You don't have to be so rough," he replied while rubbing his side.

She shrugged and went back to her meal.

Under the table, Tony had placed his hand on Heather's thigh, making her jump in surprise. Everyone knew what he did, but they played it off as if they were oblivious to their behavior. Roz wondered if they were already sleeping together. They were not exactly a couple, but Tony made his interest in Heather well known and she wasn't great at hiding her feelings either. Still, Tony continued to experiment with the idea and Roz wished the two would hurry up and fuck already. She was tired of Heather moping around about Tony and Chris was tired of hearing about how amazing Heather's tits and ass looked.

Elizabeth and Nolan were discussing their science project, but the two couldn't agree on what they wanted to do.

"We're running out of time, Nolan," Elizabeth said.

"I know, I know. What about putting a dead frog in honey?"

Elizabeth crinkled her nose in disgust. "That's disgusting and cruel."

Nolan sighed in frustration. "Then you think of something!"

Roz giggled at their banter and wondered if they would make a cute couple. She and Chris were already together, possibly Tony and Heather were, too, and then they would have Elizabeth and Nolan. It was perfect, but then that left out Stephanie. Well, she didn't enjoy having a boyfriend for very long, anyway. She dated boys long enough to get sex out of them, but not long enough to fall in love and then she moved on. She almost always had a boyfriend with his arm around her, which gave her the reputation of being a slut.

"I have a date Friday night," Stephanie announced.

"You mean you will leave another pair of heel prints on the roof of a Trans Am?" Tony said before laughing.

Heather punched his arm and gave him a warning. He shrugged it off and went back to his rabbit food. Roz rolled her eyes and told Stephanie that it was awesome.

"Who's taking you out?" Elizabeth asked.

"Brody Matthews. He's from Indianola," Stephanie replied.

"So you fucked all the guys here and now you've moved on to the neighboring towns?" Tony said.

Stephanie glared. "Tony, how many girls have you slept with again? You brag about the girls you've bedded all the time. Why am I any different?" The girls agreed with her and waited on Tony's answer.

"It's different," he replied.

"How?" Heather asked.

He shrugged. "It just is, so get over it."

Stephanie responded by pouring chocolate milk on his head.

After lunch, Roz was to report back to the office where Vice Principal Sanders was waiting on her. She found Sanders in her office finishing a salad. Roz knocked on the door and Sanders motioned for her to come in.

"A call was made to your house earlier," Sanders said.

Roz swallowed. Great, this was all she needed. Her mom was not in the best of moods lately and the last thing she needed was to hear bitching.

"But," Sanders continued. "I'm sure if you get home in time, you can delete the message off the answering machine." Sanders lifted a mug of coffee to her lips. She eyed the Navajo teen over the coffee waiting for her reply.

"Oh… I sure hope I make it in time," Roz replied innocently.

Roz took the bus home from school that afternoon, counting down the moments she would reach her house. The moment the double doors flew open she jumped off and made a dash for the house. In the front yard was a flaming orange Camaro that she never saw before. She assumed it must have belonged to Winter Hawk's new boyfriend she was always gushing over.

She found the house key hidden under the welcome mat and enter her tiny two bedrooms home. The house was always dark because of her mom's frequent migraines. The fake wood paneling and dark blue drapes enhanced its gloominess. The carpet was an ugly beige color that covered most of the house. Only the room she shared with her sister was different with soft light blue. The old fridge that was once white, was now a faded, ugly yellow and never got as cold as it should have. The furniture was old and worn, the AC and heater never worked, but it was the only home she'd ever known.

She threw her bag at the door and called out to her sister.

"Winter Hawk, I'm home! If you have a boyfriend with you moan twice!"

No answer, but she knew her sister was screwing her boyfriend in the bedroom they shared. Gross. She found the answering machine in the kitchen and deleted the message Mrs. Peters left. Roz grinned and turned toward her room.

I win this round, you wrinkly old prune.

She knocked on the door and the bed springs suddenly stopped bouncing. She heard muffled voices and two people scurrying around the room. Finally, the door flew open and Roz was greeted by a topless Winter Hawk.

Roz was glad her breasts never got as big as her sister's. It surprised her the poor girl never toppled over.

"Dude, seriously? I'm busy!" Winter complained.

"I want to change out of my jeans. It's hot outside."

Winter turned and rummaged through their dresser before pulling out a tank top and short shorts. "Here, now scram!"

Roz rolled her eyes and dressed in the bathroom they had to share before leaving the house.

Ashley was Winter Hawk's real name, but in seventh grade, Winter found a book on the Navajo people or Dine as they often preferred to be called and their history during a trip to Arizona. Winter soon wanted to know more about their culture and begged their mom for more books on their people. While she wasn't fluent in the Navajo language, she knew enough to proudly say she could help preserve their language and culture. She denounced Christianity and the U.S. government, saying both were a blight on the Indigenous people of this continent. In one year, Ashley became Winter Hawk and renamed Roz to Wolf Eyes, although Wolf Eyes never caught on as Winter Hawk did.

Roz loved her sister, but she was something else although she knew Winter wasn't wrong in her views, Roz wasn't as comfortable shouting to the sky. Winter had confided in her the night before that she planned on dropping out of school, claiming that she was tired of the white man's brainwashing.

"My next step will be to break Leonard Peltier out of prison," she told Roz. It took everything in her to keep from laughing at her sister.

"You realize you wouldn't get far, right? The guards will kill you or you'd go to jail." Roz said.

"I know some people who can help."

"Ash-Winter, you need to stop being ridiculous. Put her energy into something else."

She grabbed her bag off the floor and walked to Heather and Stephanie's house. There she could finish her homework and leave the dishes to Winter Hawk. She looked up at the clouded sky and noted that it would rain soon. Maybe Stephanie could drive her home later.