lol this chapter is a mess


Wet Matches

Chapter Two:

Forced to Remember


Roslyn

March 5, 2004

She pushed her cart down aisle three, tossing toiletries they needed into the basket. Somewhere on the other side of the store, Winter Hawk and Bradley were playing with a basket. She could hear the two from where she was standing. At this rate, they would get kicked out of the store and the last thing she wanted was to drive all the way to McAlester from Eufaula. Roslyn sighed and pushed her cart into aisle six where her favorite snacks awaited her. Two bags of flavored Doritos were tossed into the cart and a two liter of root beer went along with it. She didn't like soda, but Winter did.

Oldies music softly played throughout the store as she continued with her shopping. Young Girl by Gary Plunkett and the Union Gap began to play, tugging at Roslyn's memories. The song used to play when she and Winter would stay up late with the radio tuned to a station that proudly announced they played music from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The station brought them both comfort and sadness as they lied awake thinking about the home they left behind and the friends they missed. It's your fault we had to move, Winter Hawk used to say during their first month living in Salina. I had to leave my boyfriend behind. Why couldn't you stay out of trouble or at least not get caught? Winter Hawk barely spoke to her during those first few months. It was a difficult time for them all and Roslyn blamed herself for it. When Winter was giving her the cold shoulder, her mother was screaming at her, constantly reminding her of the mistake she'd made.

A mistake that took her away from everything she'd known and loved, staying with her for years.

Strawberry cream cheese and vanilla yogurt were added and a different song, one sung by Elton John, took the place of the previous. It too brought back memories, but its effect on Roslyn wasn't as powerful. She glanced at the items and double checked her shopping list. A few treats she had to budget in, but to hell with it, she was depressed and needed comfort food. Tonight she planned on watching a movie while eating cream cheese and bagels.

As she went over the list, something made her turn her head toward aisle nine. There she saw a tall, tanned blonde woman in a dress that hugged her curves. There was something familiar about her that made Roslyn want to approach the woman. When the woman turned in Roslyn's direction, she quickly looked away. The familiar woman stood in front of her now, looking over the dairy options. Roslyn backed up her cart, allowing the woman more space. The wheel to the basket squeaked, making her cringe and got the attention of the blonde. Her focus was now on Roslyn. She stared at the Navajo woman for a moment, then smiled.

"Oh my god, I can't believe I didn't recognize you! Roz Bearclaw, right?"

Roslyn nodded. "Yeah, that's me." Hearing someone call her Roz felt foreign to her. No one had called her that since high school. "It's Roslyn now and who are you. I'm sorry for not being able to remember you, but..."

Blondie giggled and said, "That's the power of plastic surgery."

It all suddenly clicked together. "Stephanie, wow, I haven't seen you since..." Since the fire. She couldn't add.

Stephanie seemed to sense what she was thinking and for a moment, looked uncomfortable. "Oh, yeah, high school feels like a lifetime ago, right?"

"Yeah, it certainly does. Um, what have you been up to?"

A happy, giddy feeling rose in Roslyn's chest. Although she wasn't as close to Stephanie as she was Heather, she missed her. Deep down, she knew why Steph had come back but refused to dwell on it.

"Well, let's see, the day after graduation, I left for California and never looked back. Went to LA and became a model and now I have a nice apartment that overlooks the beach and a new boyfriend."

"That's great! I always knew you were cut out for LA. Oklahoma was holding you back." Roslyn tried to remember if she saw Stephanie on any magazines but couldn't think of any time she did.

"You can say that again. I'm getting hives from the air."

Stephanie became uncomfortable again. Roslyn had a feeling she knew what the blonde was thinking. "Have you seen Aunt Clair?"

Roslyn shook her head. "No, but I spoke to her on the phone yesterday."

"So I can guess it was a reminder?"

"Yeah."

"Claire wants to do a remembrance service for Heather. I flew back to help her out since Heather's husband has checked out of our lives. He left her son with Claire to raise so things have been hard on her. I don't know how she keeps going."

"I couldn't imagine," Roslyn replied. I do know what it's like...

"I can't either." Stephanie sighed and added, "You know, I've heard stories of missing and murdered Native American women. It seems to be a problem more up North, but you don't think that's the reason they killed her, do you?"

Roslyn felt the dread prick at her skin. She'd never heard of this before. The only missing Native woman she knew of was a distant cousin who disappeared in the 80s, but everyone just assumed that girl was a runaway. She thought back to all the times she'd taken late night walks and how the occasional creepy redneck would try to invite her into his truck. She always listened to her instincts though but what if she hadn't? She didn't want to think about someone murdering Heather and she didn't want to talk about it here.

Stephanie wasn't a Native, but they raised her. Heather was half Cherokee as were both of her parents. Mr. Donovan had a white half-brother who gave Stephanie over to Heather's parents when he lost his money through bad business deals. After Heather's father walked out on his family, Claire Donovan continued to raise Steph as one of her own.

"I have no idea," Roslyn admitted. "I don't like to think about it."

"Neither do I, but… well, I guess we'll give you a call when we figure out the date for the service. You'll be there, right?"

"Yeah, I'll be there." I wish I didn't have to be…

Stephanie closed in on Roslyn's personal space and hugged her. Roslyn stiffened at first, then relaxed and returned the embrace.

"I missed you," Steph said, her voice sounding slightly strained.

The Navajo woman was taken aback that. Of all the people in their group, she would have guessed that Stephanie would have been the one to forget her childhood friends.

"I missed you, too," Roslyn replied.

Stephanie let go and backed away. "I need to be going. Aunt Claire is waiting for me at home." She took out a notepad and pen and scribbled down her number. Roslyn wrote hers and placed it in Steph's purse.

She watched her old friend walk away. By then, that giddy feeling had deflated, and she felt empty inside. Years ago, she'd forced herself to move on from her high school days and now she suddenly longed for those days, missing her old friends even if she was miserable at home.

A hand came down on her shoulder, startling her. She turned to face Winter Hawk standing behind her with a puzzled look. Bradley was clutching his aunt's hand and looking up at Roslyn.

"That was Stephanie Donovan," Roslyn said.

"Damn, she looks good," Winter commented.

"Down, girl. She's in town helping Claire with Heather's memorial service."

She heard Winter give a quiet, Oh. "Let's get out of here before shit gets too depressing."

After paying for their items, the sisters with a little boy in tow raced to the car as the rain drizzled down on them. They quickly loaded the car before climbing in to escape the rain and cold. Winter turned on the heater and tuned the radio to a modern country station. Winter Hawk wasn't really a fan, but Faith Hill was singing and she liked her. Roslyn was indifferent to it. She liked some country but not all.

Within minutes, the car was warm, and they were on the road back to Canadian. There they could watch a movie together and forget the past.


Chris

March 10, 2004

In an old farmhouse on the rural side of Eufaula, Chris Reiner dressed for the day. He stepped out of the guest bedroom he'd spent the night in and followed the scent of eggs and bacon frying. Kim Jones (formally Mason) was in the kitchen fixing breakfast for her children and Chris. Tony, Chris, and Libby had paid Kim a visit the night before and bunked here for the night and possibly the entire week. Kim didn't mind how long they stayed as she enjoyed their company.

The floorboard creaked beneath his feet as he shuffled into the kitchen and took a seat. Kim smiled at him and poured him a cup of coffee while he waited for breakfast and the rest of the Mason family. His stomach ached with hunger as he watched Kim place bacon on a paper plate. He had not eaten since yesterday afternoon except for a chewy bar.

As he sipped on the bitter liquid, he could hear Libby stirring in her mom's room. Libby was Tony's younger sister. Libby was once a bubbly girl but somewhere along the way, she changed and not for the better. Now she was a single mom of five children ranging from eight to six months and she had custody of neither because of past drug use and a string of abusive boyfriends she let mistreat her older children. All of them stayed with their biological father (Libby had an on again, off again relationship with him) who was threatening to move with the kids to Colorado. Chris wanted to feel bad for Libby but he couldn't. He figured she and her ex would get back together and she'd get pregnant in no time. Rinse and repeat.

She came out of the room, her unwashed, crayon yellow hair a tangled mess and her clothes were days old. Tony came out of his room seconds later, shirtless and wearing flannel pants. He took a seat beside Chris, completely ignoring his sister. Kim had breakfast and plates served on the table.

"Well dig in, kids," Kim said.

They didn't hesitate to do so. Hardly a word was spoken as they ate. It wasn't until Chris finished the last of his eggs did Kim speak again.

"So, I heard you boys are going to a memorial?"

"Just some girl we used to know," Tony replied.

Chris imagined punching Tony. Just some girl you knew really well. Some girl you got mad at for going to a dance with another boy. He knew Tony wasn't one to get attached, but he hoped his oldest friend would show a little humanity.

"She was a good friend of ours. We lost her five years ago," Chris said.

"Was she that girl found dead by the Canadian cemetery? I think I heard about that."

Yes, she was that girl. The girl everyone forgot about. "Yeah, her."

Libby laughed. "I remember her. She was always up Tony's ass. That kid could not take the hint. I didn't like her much in all honesty.

She didn't like you much either. Not after you stabbed her in the back.

"She was kind of slutty, too. After Tony graduated she slept around," Libby continued.

"Don't speak ill of the dead," Kim said.

Chris kept his mouth shut and looked down at his empty plate. The sooner they cleaned up the kitchen, the faster he could leave. It wasn't even ten a.m. and Libby already got on his nerves.

As they were leaving out the door later that morning, he heard Libby ask her mom if she could stay until she got back on her feet.

Kim agreed. Of course, she did…

They made it to Arrowhead Estates twenty minutes later. The area was jokingly called the Beverly Hills of Canadian because it had some nicer houses, at least the ones closest to the lake. Chris slowed to the stop sign where the small guard shack sat in the middle of the road. It was empty as usual, having not been occupied in years. He remembered the time in junior high, Tony snuck out late one night and spray painted one of the cameras. It took months before anyone caught him. Chris wondered if Tony was thinking about that too.

A security guard drove passed them and waved. It was shocking those Barneys were still around.

The car began to move again. Taking a right would lead them to Area One and Two, the nicer areas where all the lake houses resided. Going straight, then taking a left at any road took them into Area Three, the poorer side with the trailer houses. It was also known as the creepier side of Arrowhead because of the thick forest surrounding the area and the rumors of Bigfoot. One and Two were surrounded by forest as well, but at least you could see when you went hiking in the woods. In area three, an overcast of trees darkened everything. But it was also where Tony, Nolan, and Chris grew up. They passed by the house Roslyn once lived in, now empty with grass growing around it. There wasn't a "for sale" sign on the lawn which meant vacationers and weekenders now owned it.

"I heard Roz will be at the memorial," Tony said after almost forty minutes of silence. "I don't think she should be there. I mean, she wasn't at the funeral and she hasn't tried to contact any of us in years."

Chris felt a twinge of annoyance at Tony's comment. It was true that Roz had dropped off the face of the earth that night, but he also knew that it wasn't her fault. Her mother must have freaked out when she found out her daughter had committed a crime. For a while after that night, he hated Anna Bearclaw for taking Roz away from him, but now looking back he couldn't blame her. It was his fault after all.

But it wasn't just Tony's hateful remark towards Chris' ex-girlfriend that annoyed him. It also made Chris remember her and not just as a passing thought. Now he really remembered her and felt the stab of heartache that hadn't hurt since the first year he lost her.


August 26, 1993

Chris hadn't stepped onto the yard and he could hear Roz's mother raise hell inside. Anna was a battle ax, but she didn't yell often. When she did, however, everyone scattered. He would not lie; he was slightly afraid of the woman.

Slowly, he walked up the steps for a closer listen. To his relief, it wasn't Roz that was in trouble, though he felt sorry for Winter Hawk. The bedroom window to the Bearclaw sisters' room came open. He watched as Roz came crawling out and fell onto the hard ground with a thud. She brushed herself off and rose to her feet. Seeing Chris, made her giddy.

"Holy shit, did you come at a bad time!" Roz said.

Chris looked at the house, then turned back to her. "Seems like I did. What the hell was that all about?"

"Winter dropped out this year. She didn't go to the first day of school Thursday and she didn't go Friday either. Then today the school called Mom at work and asked why Winter hasn't been to school yet. I tried to stay with her for moral support but then the moment Winter mouthed off, Mom got pissed and yelled. Jesus, I hope the cops aren't called. It's why I got out of there."

The front door flew open and Winter came running out laughing. She met the couple in the street with a smug grin on her face.

"Mom kicked me out of the house," she said with a laugh.

Chris was shocked and slightly angry at this. "What the fuck?"

Roz gave a frustrated sigh. "Well, this is just great."

Winter gave a shrug and took out a pack of cigarettes. Roz gave her sister a light smack on the arm.

"Save some for me!" Roz said.

"There's plenty left so relax."

"I'll relax when I have a cigarette."

Chris hated cigarettes or any tobacco product for that matter and he hated the idea of Roz smoking. His father dipped which made him gag at the thought. He wished Roz would quit, but they promised they'd never try to change each other. At least she washed her mouth out with scope before they made out, but there was always a lingering taste.

He was hoping it would be the two of them, but now with Winter Hawk trailing behind them. She stayed quiet, the only sound she made came from her shoes scuffing the gravel road. Instead of sneaking off to the woods to make out, now they had to find Winter a place to stay.

Roz must have known what he was thinking because she turned around to face Winter and told her to get lost. If the older sister was offended, she didn't show it. She tossed a cigarette at Roz and took the road leading to the boat ramp.

She took Chris by hand and said, "Come on, there's a weekend house near here and they keep the key under the mat."

The house in question had not seen an update since 1975. Slipping inside was easy, as the only neighboring house was also a vacation house. Heather would have ranted about it and claimed the older generation was greedy for buying up houses, only using them once in a while and the rest of the time they sat vacantly. Chris could sort of see where she was coming from, but it wasn't his business what other people did. The only problem he had with it was the vacationers who acted as if they owned the entire park. Most of the vacation kids vandalized the area (they blamed local kids), littered, and hogged up the good swimming areas. The more he thought about it, the less guilty he felt breaking and entering.

They sat down on the couch and snuggled up. He wished they could go to his house, but his Mom banned Roz and Veri had threatened to "beat that bitch's ass" if she saw her on the property. It was disheartening to know his family hated the love of his life.

In junior high, Roz and Veri got into a fight over a misunderstanding. It ended in both girls bruised and suspended. His mom confronted Anna about it which resulted in a screaming match between the women. Then there was the stigma of Anna being a young mother and Nancy had viewed teen parents as trash.

"You're quiet," Roz said.

"Just thinking."

"About?"

"Stuff."

She raised her head and looked up at him. "How insightful." She stretched out on the sofa and laid her head on his shoulder. "Whenever we go into these houses, I like to pretend they're ours. Like, we're grown-ups and shit, living on our own, paying bills, and not having to worry about our families."

He did the same, but his sight was on the bigger picture. He hadn't told her yet, but he planned on going to college and getting far from this town as possible. The thought of living here forever made him cringe. His grandfather was born in Canadian and died in Canadian. Even though his grandfather's grandfather was one of the original Choctaw settlers, Chris felt that his family could do better than this. He wished Roz could come with him but her grades were poor and it didn't help that she was too unmotivated to fix that.

"Yeah," he finally said. "That could be cool."

"Or we could travel the country," she suggested.

Tempting, but no. "Maybe."

Before Chris could react, Roz cupped the side of his face and turned him to her. She kissed him deeply and with a passion he'd become familiar with. His body reacted to her and she could tell. Breaking this kiss, she looked down at him with a sly smile and lust in her eyes.

"Do you want to?" she asked.

Yes, he wanted to, but it didn't seem wise right now. They shared their first time together over the summer. It happened at her house while her mom and sister were away. Despite having at least an hour and a half to themselves, both were nervous Anna would walk in at any minute. It was quick and awkward. Not the magical moment Roz was hoping for and she claimed it hurt a lot. Since then they'd only had sex three other times. The last time was on the forest floor and Roz kept complaining about leaves in her ass.

"I want to, but we can't."

"Why?"

"We're not having sex on a bed that hasn't been washed in months."

She took his hands and guided them under her shirt where they found her soft breasts. He really hated when she tempted him. It wasn't helping she was grinding on him with those shorts. He gave a sigh and removed his hands.

"You win," he said.

She sat up, took his hand, and guided him to the closest bedroom. It was hard resisting her.

It was better than the other occasions they were intimate. The nervousness was still there but not nearly as intense as before. Towards the end, he swore he heard her moan for the first time. It was soft and faint but enough to make him finish sooner than he wanted. Fully dressed again, Roz laid her head on Chris' shoulder with one arm draped across his chest. Her eyes were closed, but she was awake. Giving her a gentle nudge, she opened one eye.

"We should probably get out of here," Chris said. "It's getting dark out and these woods won't be safe for very long."

Roz yawned and stretched. "You're right. Maybe I can have Winter stay here for the night."

"You sure that's a good idea? I think your mom has cooled down by now."

"Yeah right," Roz scoffed.

She slid off the bed and straightened her clothes. They fixed the bed sheets and readjusted the pillows before leaving out the back door. They cut through the woods and ended up in Area Two. It didn't take them long to reach the Boat Ramp thanks to an elderly woman giving them a ride on her golf cart.

The couple found Winter Hawk huddled up on a rock by the lake with a cigarette in hand. She seemed transfixed on the land across the water. With a few pebbles in her free hand, she tossed them one by one into the water before dropping the rest on the ground. Roz's shoe scuffed the gravel, startling her sister. The older teen relaxed at the sight of her friends.

"You two done porking?"

He felt his face heat up, but Roz was unfazed by her sister's teasing. Still, she changed the subject.

"We found you a place to sleep for the night," Roz said. She held out a house key for Winter.

Winter took the key and stuffed it in her pocket and thanked them. Once she got the address for the house, she turned back to the lake and the sunset reflected off the water. They tried engaging with her again, but she seemed aloof now. Later that night, Roz would confide in him she worried about her sister's mental health.

He walked her home, making it back in time before the streetlights came on. He wanted to kiss her one last time, but Anna Bearclaw was watching through a window. After she walked inside, Chris made the walk back home. His mom didn't like for him to stay gone after dark and there was a curfew for minors. Anyone under eighteen had to be off the streets by ten pm.

He checked his watch and saw it was eight. Hopefully, someone would take pity on him and give him a ride home. Because Area Three was more rural, there were fewer street lights. He kicked himself for not taking a flashlight. It wasn't a lie to say that he was slightly afraid to walk down long stretches of road in pitch blackness, especially with the Gettle brothers, a trio of white supremacist, running loose around Canadian. He made sure to keep a lookout for Stephen Gettle's white Ford Bronco.

Last year, Marshal Gettle jumped Chris in his own yard. It caught him off guard, leaving him unable to defend himself when Marshal threw dirt in his face. Marshal pinned him to the ground, Chris tried calling for help but found he couldn't breathe. The Gettle brother called Chris every racial and homophobic slur in the book as he slammed his fist into Chris' face. It was only by a stroke of luck that Tony stepped outside for a smoke and saw what was happening. Tony was taller and leaner than the shorter and chubbier Marshal. Tony didn't hit hard, but he was fast. Chris didn't remember how, but Tony had chased off the Oompa Loompa neo-Nazi.

He wished those snaggle tooth hillbillies would go back to Broken Arrow.

A pair of headlights in the distance snagged Chris from his thoughts and his heart took off in his chest. It was, in fact, the Bronco speeding down the road and leaving a trail of dust behind it. Chris turned the corner and cut through the woods. He ducked down behind a blue spruce, hoping he wasn't laying in deer shit. The beams grew brighter and Chris flattened himself in the dirt. He prayed that Winter Hawk had left the boat ramp and found shelter. The Bronco was getting closer and slowing down. Charlie Daniels was blasting, making him cringe internally. He really hated country music and couldn't understand how Roz could enjoy it.

The Bronco rolled to a stop. He heard the voice of Lyle Gettle, the youngest brother, talking about skipping school tomorrow. Then the truck was off again, backfiring all the way down the road and far away from the boat ramp.

Chris gave a sigh of relief and brush off his clothes before running back home.


"Are we done reminiscing?" Tony asked, annoyed.

Chris blinked and looked away from the house that his family once lived in. Tony leaned against the passenger door, looking bored. A sudden longing for a certain Navajo girl was slowly crawling back into his heart. He quickly dismissed it, reminding himself he moved on a long time ago.

"Sorry, I was just thinking about..." He couldn't say it was about the time he and Roslyn had sex in an empty house. "That time you caught Marshal beating the shit out of me. You remember that."

Tony took his time answering that. The look on his face told Chris that his old friend struggled to remember. Drugs had really ruined his mind. "Just barely," he finally replied.

"Well, I never forgot that day. You really came through for me."

Tony rolled his eyes and said, "Aw, is this the part where we jerk each other off?"

"Jackass."

"Are we done strolling down memory lane? Because I'm sick of looking at my childhood home and want to get back to my mom's house. The one away from this dump."

Chris sighed. "Yeah, but I need to make one more stop."

He had to see it. At least the remains.

The once gravel road was paved over. He strangely missed it even if it made skateboarding difficult. Nostalgia was a hell of a drug. He carefully guided the car down a steep hill and took a sharp right-hand turn. From the driver's side, he could see the lake glittering and the docks bobbing. A particular blue one stuck out the most, and he wondered if Heather's family still owned it after all these years.

They finally made it to the place where their lives or at least his was changed forever. He expected to see a slab of concrete and overgrown weeds. He expected the old rusty for sale sign to still be swinging in the wind. He didn't see those things, however. What he saw made anxiety pierce his chest and spread throughout his torso, fear twisted in his gut, and his mouth went dry. He tried steadying his hands, but he couldn't. Beside him, Tony was paler than normal.

"This can't be real," Tony whispered.

But it was. The Hexagon House was back.