Here it is! New story! Took me long enough, sorry. I mean, between AP testing and my concert, I had enough to do last week. I did not need the major brainstorm that I got, when twenty ideas popped into my head! Oh well, now I have some free time till Thursday and then it's off to Toronto! Yes! Wish us luck! My choir is competing in a singing competition! Yay!

After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box.- Italian Proverb

            It is strange how quickly your life can change. How in one second, everything you have built up, your whole world can come crashing down. How, in the space of a single heartbeat, your life will never be the same.

            These instances often come when a decision is made. Some process of thinking and choosing one idea or another. Some times, it is something big, something you saw a mile away and thought long and hard about. Sometimes it is something you don't even think about, returning a smile, or taking a new way home, something so small and insignificant you would never know that it could have life altering consequences. These are the ones that often spring before you even knew they were there.

            This is a story about choices. About choosing between that which makes you comfortable, and that which makes you loved. To be presented with two options, both with their virtues and their vices. Both fulfilling some aspect of necessity. And in choosing, we say something about ourselves, something about who we really are and what we hold closest to our hearts.

            What would you do if someone offered you everything you had ever wanted? What if suddenly, every wish was granted? But what if you had to lie, to your friends, your loved ones, to yourself? If you had to hide who you really were? Ask yourself; is it worth it?

           

            The morning Racetrack Higgins's life changed dawned like any other. The sun burned into the room full of sleeping boys as the old landlord, Kloppman entered and shook his head, proceeding to make his rounds and poke each boy awake with the broom in his hand.

            Race awoke and promptly tumbled to the floor, much to the amusement of the other boys. But he only grumbled and got to his feet, stumbling into the washroom and getting himself cleaned up.

            He walked down the streets, feeling much better in the early sun as his best friends run beside him. Jack Kelly grabbed his hat off his head and tossed it to Kid Blink who tossed it to Mush who threw it back to Jack. This game continued until they reached the distribution station and ran smack into David Jacobs, who was waiting for them with his younger brother Les. 

            "Do you guys have to do that every morning?" he complained good naturedly as he handed Race back his hat.

            "A co'rse, Davy!" Jack said, laughing as Race tackled Mush. The bell rang and the newsies hurried into the station.

            When Race's turn came, he slapped down several coins and grinned at the manger, "A hundred." The boys laughed as the tight wad named Weasel handed him his papes.

            As they made their way out into the square, Race hurried to catch up with Jack. "Hey, cowboy. I'se gonna see Rosie taday, wanna come?" Jack grinned.

            "So dat's why ya bought so many!" he laughed, understanding something beyond David's reach. " Surah, ya mind Dave?" David looked at Race, who was beaming, his hundred papes under his arms. Les nodded franticly, knowing that any place would be an adventure when with two of the best newsies in New York.

            "Who's Rosie?" he asked. Jack laughed again and grabbed his arm, dragging him down the street after Race. Soon after Race and Jack decided to play a game of keep-away with David's cap, and the game lasted until they reached a large brick building quite a ways uptown.

            "Manhattan Home For Orphan Girls." David read the sign hanging above it. The building was a normal brownstone, though a bit larger than the others. It's thick granite slabs were a dark brown in color, the windows dark, giving it an impression of a place not meant for children, but Race hurried up the steps and pushed open the door.

            Once inside, the noise was intense. David had only heard it reviled in the lodging house on a rainy night. Shouting and the yells of children at play echoed through the house, though there was no one in the first front room they came to.  Only a desk and a few chairs.

            But Race grabbed a long rope that hung from the ceiling and pulled, a ringing echoed through the house. Not a second later, a tall thin woman with graying hair pulled back in a tight bun hurried through a door on their left.

            She frowned when she saw them, but her face instantly lightened when her eyes fell on Racetrack.

            "Anthony!" she cried and pulled the boy into a hug. Race sighed and let her hug him. When she pulled back, she smiled at him. "Why, we haven't seen you in ages! I'd about given you up for dead."

            "Nah, I jist had some tings ta take cae a." he said. "So how's Rosie? Ya mind if I take her?" the woman smiled and shook her head.

            "Of course not. She 's been dying to see you." The woman vanished the way she had come and the boys were left alone.

             "Anthony?" David asked, eyeing Race with a skeptical raised eyebrow. Race shrugged.

            "Yeah, so?" But before he could answer, a small blur of red and yellow flew through the open door and attached herself to Race. He laughed as the chattering, wiggling child latched herself around his waist. She was gabbing away in some language, though David couldn't understand it. It took him a moment, but he soon realized he had heard it before. When Race was angry, he often swore in his old language. It was during the times when Race was too angry or worried to remember English, that David heard the words pouring out of his mouth. This was the language that was now streaming from the tiny girls mouth.

            Race laughed and pulled her arms from around his waist. He knelt down and pulled the little girl into a tight hug. David caught sight of her bright red hair as she jumped and down in the older boy's arms. Them, when he released her, she sprung at Jack, who laughed and scooped her up.

            "Hey, Rosie!"

            "Jack! Where ya been? I ain't seen ya foeva!"

            "Now, Roisin, what did I tell you about using the word aint?" the woman said.

            "But dat's da way Tony talks!" the child protested from Jack's arms. Race smiled and took the child.

"Your brother may speak like that." The woman replied, trying to hide a smile. "But he is not going to be a young lady, and I will not have my young ladies speaking like that. Now, do not forget your th's."

Race laughed as the girl muttered something in that other language. And then, he took her hand and led her out the door.

"Have her back by dark!" the woman called after them, but David doubted Race heard. As they hurried into the street, he jogged to catch up to Jack and Race who were swinging the girl between them. The girl looked up at him, and stared at him with large dark brown eyes. He had seen those eyes before. But where?

"So this is Rosie?" he asked. Race nodded.

"Roisin, I'd like ya ta meet Davy and his li'l brudda Les, dey's our friends. Davy, meet Rosie." That was all he offered, but Davy smiled at her. She grinned back.

            "I lost a toot!" she told him, showing him the empty space between her front teeth. Race laughed.

            "Surah, ya tell him! Whudda bout me?" he planted a mock pout on his face and she gave him a hug.

            "I wus jist gonna, " the child replied with a look of comfort on her face. She planted a kiss on Race's cheek and he smiled again.

            It wasn't long before they found themselves at the entrance to Central Park. Jack looked around as Race placed Rosie on the ground and handed her several papes.

            "Hey, Race, ya mind if we sell down da path a bit?" Race shook his head as he held up the pape and began to shout the headlines, the girl instantly taking her place at his side, yanking her hair out of the neat braids so it looked hastily done and disarrayed. The look on her face turned from smiling and happy to pitiful, her eyes full of tears, in a matter of a few seconds. Davy noticed even Race's stature had changed. His tall shoulders were slumped, and his voice held a roughness as he called the headlines.

            "Are they alright?" Jack glanced back and laughed.

            "A coi'se!" he said, dragging David down the path. "Dey's jist selling' da papes. It's called drawin' pity." Then he dragged Davy and Les down the path, calling out the headlines as he went.

            The sun was blazing overhead by the time they'd finished, and Davy swallowed, longing for a nice cool glass of sarsaparilla. But Jack seemed unhurried as they made their way back to the gate.

            Race was waiting for them, smoking a cigar he had not had that morning and had probably been lifted from someone's back pocket. The girl, Rosie was a little ways off, skipping rope.

            "Hey Jack!" she called, skipping over to them. "I'se hungry!" Jack laughed and scooped her up.

            "Well den, why don't we'se go and get sumdin from da venda?" he asked, "Want sumdin?" he asked Davy and Race. They shook their heads and Jack led the two smaller children off.

            "Selling good?" Davy asked Race, as he sat down. Race nodded, grinning.

            "Always is when I got da kid wid me." he said, puffing on his cigar and rolling up his sleeves.

            "Who is she?" Davy asked. "She looks kind of familiar." Race glanced at him, as if debating something. Then he sighed.

            "I ain't surprised. She's me sista." Davy turned slowly and stared at Race. The boy took another long drag of his cigar as he ignored Davy's stare.

            "Your sister? But how?" Race grinned at him.    

            "If ya don't know, I ain't tellin' ya." Davy sighed and rolled his eyes.

            "I meant, that she looks nothing like you." He paused to stare at Race, looking for similarities. Then he found a big one. "Except for the eyes. You have the same eyes."

            Those eyes turned on him now, glaring at him. "But why does she live there? I mean, why not with you? Or with your parents?"

            Race's glare had turned deadly now. His dark brown eyes were narrowed and dangerous. David realized too late that he had asked the wrong question. Mentally, he smacked himself. Most of the boy's pasts were a closed book, closed and locked, burned if possible. Race was no exception. He lowered his head.

            "Sorry." Race said nothing, but shifted his gaze towards the vendor as Jack tried to juggle two small jumping children and order something for himself as well as count the small pile of coins in his hand. David watched them too, wondering if he should go help Jack.

            "It's safa." He turned to look at Race. He was looking back at him, the fire gone from his eyes.

            "What?" Race rolled his eyes.

            "Ya asked me why she ain't livin' in da lodgin' house." He said, grinning as if David had just asked him what was a pape. "It's safa. She don't' gotta get up and sell in da morning. I ain't gotta worry bout her.  I know she's got a bed ta sleep in, a warm meal, friends, I ain't gotta worry much. I ain't gotta look out foah her all da time, jist meself." David nodded, it seemed simple enough. But he noticed Race had not answered the question about his parents and he left it alone. Better to know a little and let them decide when to tell you the rest.

            He remembered the night after the strike, only three days ago, Jack had taken him on the roof and told him everything, and from the first time he'd seen the plains of Santa Fe on his grandfather's ranch, to his mother's death. Come to think of it, he had mentioned Race. He had mentioned being friends with Race before becoming a newsie, back when his mother had been alive. That meant that at one time, Race had had a mother, a father, a home. David wondered what had happened.

            Rosie ran up to Race and tackled him, grabbing for the cigar in his mouth. "Missus O'Hara says dose tings stunt yer growt." She said. Race laughed and held it out of her reach.

            "Don't matta, I'se still bigga den youse." He said, laughing. Davy wondered, as he watched the two, if what Jack had said once was true. You can try to escape your past, but it always catches up with  you, no matter how fast you run. He was about to find out.