"Rog where you goin'?" Rosie asked as her brother quickly dashed out from the apartment. He didn't bother to answer her, he must have been in too much of a hurry she figured. She walked over to the window and looked down at the street below. There was a group of tough looking boys passing around a basketball, they greeted her brother when he walked out of the apartment, she should have known.
"Hey Action!" One of the boys passed the ball in Roger's direction.
"Action?" she muttered to herself, she just shook her head and went back inside of the apartment, for all she knew that might have been an age old nickname she just had never heard it before. They did all live in the same neighborhood, all growing up together with Rosie watching on the sidelines. She felt lonely, growing up Roger had been both her best friend and protector, now she had no one. Of course he teased her because she was not friends with any of the neighborhood girls but Rosie knew it was because he didn't understand. Every time she tried to make friends she was instantly rejected or eventually thrown out of whatever social circle she was in. She took off her cardigan and threw it on the floor looking at her outfit in disgust. It had come from the clothes her cousin Alice had given her, Rosie always complained that Alice dressed like a nun but her mother would not listen. Instead Rosie suffered the humiliation of ugly hand me down clothes, one of many reasons why the neighborhood girls disliked her.
Rosie listened as the boys bounced the ball and ran off to some unknown destination in the distance, she leaned against the wall and sighed. Not only did Roger have friends he was so much more independence than she did, "all cos' he's a boy…" She grumbled. She ran a hand through her long brown hair, what was there for her to do all alone in this apartment? She quietly walked towards the fire escape and sat outside watching the sunset, waiting for her mother to come home.
An exhausted June McIntyre returned from her job as a waitress at a restaurant closer to the heart of Manhattan. She looked at the discarded cardigan that lay on the floor and picked it up, "Rose? Rosie?" she called into the apartment.
Rosie heard her mother calling her and came in from the fire escape, "what are you doing out there?" her mother asked. Rosie shrugged her shoulders and dusted off her black pleated skirt, "where's Roger?" her mother asked looking around the apartment for her son.
"Not here," Rosie frowned, "he's with 'is friends," she added with disdain as she sat herself in a chair at the table.
June sighed, she hated the fact that her daughter didn't have friends, Rosie was more like a boy then a girl and June blamed herself for letting Roger have so much influence on her. She put her arm on her daughter's shoulder, "come on I've got your favorite tonight, would you like to help me?"
Rosie couldn't resist the smile that formed on her lips, she really did love her mother and brother but couldn't stand the life that she lived. No one could change how she felt about that, this was the only time Rosie ever felt hopeless.
That night June had gone to bed early and Rosie had fallen asleep on the couch listening to the radio, on the street below Roger finally returned for the night. He walked up the stairs and entered the apartment, was about to see what was in the fridge for him to eat when he saw his little sister on the couch. Shaking his head he pulled the orange band of fabric from off his head and put it in his pocket. Quietly he walked over to the mouth eaten couch were Rosie was sleeping, gently he touched her shoulder and woke with a start.
"Wha' is it?" She asked tired thinking it was her mother, Roger laughed softly, " it's only me!"
"Roger?" she pushed her hair back behind her ear, "When didja get back?
He shrugged, "I dunno… I guess a coupla' minutes ago?"
"Oh…" Rosie was still slightly dazed from her nap.
"So would you rather sleep here? Or in your room?" Roger took on a role that he hadn't had in many years, being a sort of father to his younger sister.
Rosie had not even realized she had been sleeping on the couch, "I think my room…" She got up from the couch and went to her room.
Roger shook his head, he couldn't help but feel some pity for Rosie, so alone and now with him in the Jets? Of course Rosie could never know about that.
"Pow! Pow!" Rosie could hear these noises coming from her brother's room as she lay in bed, "what the hell is he doing?" she muttered herself. She couldn't be bothered to think about Roger was up to because soon after she fell asleep.
"Ma' I'm goin' out!" Roger called, as he walked out of the apartment for another night with his friends, Rosie was getting tired of him always going out to play basketball. At least that's what she assumed he was doing since every time he went with the guys one always had a ball.
"Mom can I go out just for a bit?" Rosie pleaded, she was going to see exactly what Roger was really up to.
June thought about her daughter's request for a moment, "I suppose… Just don't stay out too late…" Rosie smiled as she headed out the door. "And be safe!" Her mother called, Rosie could barely hear her as she went flying down the stairs down to street level. She looked both directions and finally spotted the boys. She followed them from a distance being careful to not being seen.
It was not long before they reached a deserted black top and started to play ball, Rosie groaned, "that's all Rog does? Play ball?" She watched them for awhile and was soon able to put some names to a few of the boys. There was Tony, Riff, and A-rab to name a few that she had picked up, but she had also learned the name they had given their team. They seemed to call themselves the "Jets", this sounded cool and tough to Rosie who really knew very little about sports.
"Hey Diesel watch it!" the once called Riff yelled as the ball bounced right past a burly looking boy. It started heading in her direction, quickly she pushed herself up against the wall so she would not be seen. The one they called Snowboy came to retrieve the ball and once he did he bounced it for a bit and then looked straight at her. "Well, well, well, look what we have here! A little admirer!" He laughed, "Hey fellas check this out!"
Rosie did not even try to hide anymore, what was the point? They all knew she was here anyway. "Snowboy watcha' talkin' 'bout?" Riff asked as he and the rest of the boys walked over towards her. Roger looked at her open mouthed, "Rosie? Watcha' doin' 'ere?" He exclaimed. She didn't know what she could possibly say to him, now she felt ashamed for even following him in the first place.
"She your girlfriend Action? Ain't she a little young for ya'?" The one called A-rab chuckled.
"She ain't my girlfriend you idiot," Roger glared at A-rab, "she's my sister!" He then turned back to Rosie, "Go home Rose!" He spoke sternly, "you shouldn't be here… You don't belong." The moment those words left Rogers lips he regretted them. He could see tears brimming in his little sisters blue eyes.
"If I don't belong here…" Rosie's voice became shaky, "then where the hell do I belong?" She yelled. She turned on her heel and ran back home.