I thought this morning I’d dip into some of MacKenzie’s backstory as I wrap my mind around diving back into her story. This is set over Kenzie’s senior year spring break and dips into her friendship and hints at tensions that will come into play when she returns to her hometown a decade and more later. This is in first draft state – forgive any typos!
“Wooooweeee!! Lookee who’s drinking free tah-night!” Kenzie twisted to look over her shoulder to find Mitchell standing with feet braced cranking away on his reel. His pole curled over, tip bowing towards the water.
“Moose, y’drink free every night. Your pa even hands ’em to ya, lucky bastard.” She watched a moment longer as he fought against his catch. “Yer gonna snap yer pole, ya dumbass.”
Kenzie reeled her line in quickly as the fish on his line switched directions and headed towards her end of the pier. She tugged the bait free and tossed it into the river and tucked the hook into an eye to protect it and her fingers. “C’mon, drop your tip, Moose.” Kenzie climbed to her feet, wiping her hands on her ragged jeans.
Her friend grunted and glanced over his shoulder. “Hey, is Becky watching’,” he hissed and Kenzie laughed and pulled him back around.
“Pay attention to the fish on your line not the next catch,” she teased. “And y’know Becky’s watching. Though what she sees in your jug-eared mug beats the fuck outa me.” Kenzie glanced up the slope to the sprawl of blankets and coolers and teenagers. “Fuck me. Who invited Sheila?”
Moose grunted again and shuffled along the pier, his reel spinning against the tension as his catch tried to run. “When does anyone ever invite her,” he grumbled. “Shoulda neva gone there, O’Dell. That girl’s mad as fuck.” Kenzie rolled her shoulders and resisted looking back up to the gathering again.
“I was drunk off my ass, Moose. I didn’t go there. Whatever she wants to call it, doesn’t matter. I was practically unconscious when she kissed me.” Kenzie grabbed the net and followed him as he finally dropped his pole’s tip and started pulling the fish in in earnest.
“Yeah, well she tells anyone who ever looks at you that you’re hers.” Pull, reel, pull, reel, Moose methodically worked his catch closer to them. Kenzie though he looked just like his pole had, all whipcord thin, arched towards the water, taut with tension.
“Fuck me.” Kenzie scrubbed her hand through her hair.
“Well, Becky might get jealous but sure.” Kenzie punched him in the arm.
“Shit, watch out, he’s going for the pylon!” Moose swore in a long streak, running along the pier pulling on the line. Despite the cool breeze off the water sweat was popping across his brow and sticking his shirt to his back. “Need a break?”
“Nah. I’m good.”
“You just don’t want me to land your catch again.”
They lapsed into silence as Moose pulled the line to and fro, tiring the fish out, drawing it ever closer to the end. Kenzie caught a glimpse of the long, silver body. “It’s a nice trout,” Kenzie said. “Can you work it near the ladder? I’ll go down with the net.”
Kenzie sighed with relief when she caught the thrashing body in the net. She handed it up to Moose and climbed back up, twisting to sit on the pier and dangle her legs. She listened to the lapping of the water around the supports and Moose opening and closing the cooler. He dropped down next to her and handed her a beer.
“Gonna have to go up and be social again,” he complained, flicking fish scales from his palm.
“Yup.” Kenzie popped the beer open, took a swig and sat it on the planking. “Y’know I can’t stay if she’s still up there.”
Moose sighed and nodded. “Liz’ll be pissed.” Kenzie swore under her breath. “You get in the worst pickles, O’Dell, y’know that?”
“Yeah.” Kenzie shot a look up the hill to find Liz watching her and Sheila glaring at her. “Goddamn it.”
“Y’sure know how to pick ’em.” Kenzie gave a wry laugh. “Yeah, I know. You didn’t.” Moose swung an arm over her shoulder and leaned closer. “If you just give in to Liz she’d take Sheila on for ya.”
“I don’t want Liz,” Kenzie grumbled.
“You eva gonna tell me who you DO want?” Moose’s prominent adam’s apple bobbed as he gulped at his beer. “C’mon, I’m your wingman!”
Kenzie shook her head, trying not to think about a pair of hazel eyes that sent her stomach looping in lazy circles. “Yeah, no thanks, Moose. Not that I don’t appreciate you. Just…no.”
“If’n y’say so.” He thumped her on the shoulder. “Cmon. Let’s go clean these and get some cooking. I’m hungry.” Moose folded up his long, stork like legs and surged to his feet. He reached a hand down and she took it, letting him draw her up.
“You’re always hungry,” she laughed. Determinedly she pushed the thought of her aunt’s best friend out of her mind, shoved away the worry of going home later, ignored the pressure of the gazes on her from the picnic. Was it too much to ask to just have fun with her friends before Spring Break ended and the push towards graduation loomed?