[001] SORRY TO BREAK THE NEWS TO YOU!

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chapter one

1. HERE'S THE THING: Rose was (arguably) a good person. Despite her combative personality - she was a napalm bomb of heightened cultural sensitivity - there were pros beneath the cons. She liked dogs. She had remarkable leadership qualities. She loved her mother. She stretched before she reached. Every afternoon, she greeted the mailman with a dimpled smile. She -

Fuck it.

"I don't care about your bike; realistically, you were posing a public hazard by leaving it in the middle of the road for no reason-"

"How do you not see a fucking bike in front of you?" The kid's nostrils flared up unattractively. Initially, he was calm and his voice was a steady baritone, but Rose thinks, I might have broken him. "It was on the side of the street -the left side of the street! You're supposed to drive on the right side!"

"In many countries, people drive on the left side of the street."

Remarkably, not a scratch was left on Rose's car, the glossy paint of her purple Volkswagen Beetle glistening in the dewy morning. The so-called Enchantress was a sixteenth birthday present, originally a knackered and rusted white. Rose took it upon herself to improve where she saw fit (ie. the paint job, the new rims, the burgundy fuzzy dice hanging from her front mirror.)

He grimaced, taking out his phone and fervently tapping into his screen. His eyebrows knitted together in a way that made Rose want to take a couple steps back. She didn't know him and he looked like he'd swing a golf club at her head given the chance.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Looking up ways to dispose of a dead body on WikiHow."

Rose rolled her eyes. "Funny."

"Not funny," he snarled, looking down at Rose with a vexed expression from a good foot above.

"That's subjective."

He frowned. "Look, you fucking destroyed my bike, the least I could use is an apology."

"And I am sorry. Truthfully. Sincerely." Rose pulled a pen out of her bag. "Here," she said, pressing the tip into his palm, "this is my name and insurance agency's number. They'll sort things out."

He shook his head. "No, I don't have time for a fucking insurance pay off. I need my bike everyday. I'm a fucking paperboy for Christ's sake," he says gesturing to his backpack. The tattered ochre bag was filled to the brim with bundled issues of the Dudley Daily, their town's primary source of opinionated news from a conservative agenda.

Rose wrinkled her nose. She looked at him: disheveled hair, windswept face, drowsy five AM eyes in the flesh. He smelled vaguely of sweat - a combination of saltiness masked with a light, woodsy cologne - and also, the sadness of a dropkicked puppy. He was in fact a paperboy. His bike sat in a crumpled heap on the side of the curb and for a moment, Rose did feel for the guy.

And then the moment ended.

"Well, I gotta go."

"What-"

As an afterthought, she scribbled her own number on the base of his hand in a haste. "I'm late for work-"

"Huh, me fucking too."

"Oh, cry me a river. There are like ten newspapers left - you'll live."

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