It’s been almost a week since Trinity returned my journal to me. When she first told me she’d lost it, I’d felt betrayed. A dark part of me wondered if she did it on purpose. But those feelings had dissipated quickly.
Trinity had stood there, wiping her palms against the sides of her skirt nervously, repeating the words ‘sorry’ and ‘we’ll find it’ and ‘I’ll get it back’. Seeing her like that, seeing the quotation-mark crease of her brow, I’d felt reassured. She would never do anything like that on purpose, because she’s Trinity.
I remember the way her eyes lit up when I first offered her my journal to read. The touch of her fingers as she took it from me, and the wonder in her expression as she trailed those same fingers across the journal’s cover. I’d touched that cover a million times, but I don’t think I’d ever thought about it until that moment.
I raise my head, and Maggie’s standing next to my desk. The rest of the class is filing out of the room.
“You were really zoned out there.” Maggie chuckles, a coy smile on her face.
I huff and pull my books into my arms quickly, then stand. I hadn’t heard the bell ring, but it looks like seventh period is over. Finally, the end of the day.
I duck my head and walk briskly around Maggie. Maybe if I pack my backpack fast enough, I’ll have enough time to talk to Trinity for a little bit before I have to get on my bus. Or, no, will she be around? It’s Thursday, and she’s told me about Thursdays. She hangs out with Nicholas Kelly on Thursdays.
This was something I hadn’t expected. They’re working on Easter stuff together--Maggie’s doing, no doubt--but apparently they do homework together too? I get it, he’s smart. And he is cute, with that mussy dark hair and big eyes. But she doesn’t do homework with me.
Plus, if it’s just homework, she’d invite me to come too, right? They probably don’t even get any work done. They probably just sit around and chat, and he tells her all about his family and how good at math he is, and she blushes and is all impressed and maybe flustered and probably glances around to see if anyone else is overhearing their conversation.
“Uh, Pearl?” Maggie’s voice pulls me back to the present. My body was on autopilot, my hand already unlocking my locker, and it pauses. Now I don’t know which number I’m on.
I snap to and twist the lock impatiently as I glance at Maggie. “Mhm?”
She rolls her shoulders. “I, uh, heard you had a journal of some kind? That you’d maybe misplaced? I just wanted to know if you’ve found it or not.”
Crap, I guess Trinity told her about the journal. But, she would’ve told me if Maggie read it somehow. I know this because if ever Trinity was going to lie about something, it would’ve been about Katherine freaking Davies reading my journal.
“I found it, actually,” I tell her, putting on a convincing smile. I’m very good at convincing smiles.
She smiles back, and nods. “Ah! That’s great! It’s just that it seemed, like, pretty important. What was it?”
I look at Maggie properly now, having successfully gotten my locker open. She’s giving me an innocent face, but her eyes are calculating. “It’s nothing,” I decide to say, and begin to pack my backpack.
“Oh,” She replies, and an awkward silence falls between us. “Well, I’m glad that you and Trinity seem to be friends again.”
I pause, books half-shoved into my backpack. “We weren’t ever not friends,” I say, probably too icily. “Thanks,” I add hastily, resuming my packing up.
She nods, then her attention shifts. “Oh, looks like your boyfriend is here. I guess I better…” She steps away like she’s going to leave, but doesn’t.
I turn my head to see Henry approach. He stops next to me, running a hand through his hair and pressing his lips together into an uncomfortable smile. If you could call it a smile. “Oh, uh…” he starts, looking at Maggie.
“Yeah, ok, bye Maggie. Gotta go,” I say, scooping up my backpack, slamming my locker shut, and dragging Henry in the opposite direction.
I can feel her eyes on me as we walk down the hall.
I have a hand wrapped around Henry’s elbow, but he shakes it off. “Pearl, can I ask you a question?”
His tone of voice worries me, but I don’t look over at him, and I don’t slow my pace down the hallway. Luckily, his long legs keep stride next to me easily. Trinity’s just down the hallway, talking to Mrs. Vena, and I want to reach her before she leaves.
“Hold on, shit, not now,” I say, my eyes landing on someone else. “Katherine.”
She’s coming in the opposite direction, and her eyes narrow as soon as she spots us. I reach out to take Henry’s arm again, but he moves it away.
Katherine pauses in the middle of the hallway, but she’s not looking at me, she’s looking at Henry. “So, can we talk yet?” she asks him. This is something she’s asked many times, and Henry has always, always, avoided her like the plague. She still wants to know why they had to break up, but, of course, he can’t tell her the real reason.
The one time her tried to tell her to stop asking him questions, to explain that he’d moved on, Andrew had appeared. And the next day, Andrew had provoked Henry into that fight in the boy’s locker room.
So I’m shocked when I notice Henry’s feet slow, when he pauses mid-step to look at her. I nudge him with an elbow, willing him to move, but he’s stopped. A few students walk around us with annoyed sighs.
Katherine looks a little surprised too. Her eyes bounce to me. “Pearl, this is between Henry and I,” she states with an air of authority.
“Henry?” I murmur, looking up at his face. He’s frozen. I’m afraid that something has triggered a panic attack, and if that’s what it is, I need to get him as far away from Katherine as possible. She is, without a doubt, a stressor.
But then Henry takes a series of deep breaths. “Sorry, Katherine. Not right now.”
He makes a beeline for the front of the building, and I catch a glance of Katherine’s expression before I follow. Her eyebrows are drawn together in a mixture of confusion and sorrow, her hand is raised to gently hold the cross necklace at her throat. I almost feel sorry for her.
I take a moment to try and find Trinity, but she's nowhere to be found. Must be off to the library already, off to see Kelly. I sigh and step out the front doors, where I find Henry. He’s watching the buses pull away. I curse as my bus drive off.
Henry scratches the back of his head. “Sorry. Jackson can drive you home, if you want.” He nods his head across the parking lot, and there’s Jackson, standing halfway out of the driver’s side of a car. He waves when he sees us.
I exhale in relief. “I keep forgetting he can drive!” We start walking toward him. “Would he be ok with that? It’s far.”
“I know,” Henry replies.
Jackson moves his violin and sheet music out of the backseat and into the trunk, then we all settle into the car, him and Henry in the front and me in the back. Jackson starts the car, and we peel out of Saint Paul's parking lot.
Henry turns in his seat to look at me. “Pearl… I don’t think we should be, like, pretending to be together.” He shoots a glance at Jackson. “I don’t like lying about it.”
“Oh. Ok. I mean, I never told anyone we were together, people are just assuming it.”
“And you made Maggie spread that rumor.”
I cross my arms. “Yeah, because we had to make Katherine think–”
“I know, and I should’ve said something sooner. I’m just… I’m not comfortable with the whole thing.”
“It wasn’t a bad idea,” Jackson pipes in. “But…”
I try to read his expression through the rearview mirror, but I can’t get the right angle.
Henry’s running a hand through his hair. “But I think it’s time I tell the truth to everyone. Or, at least, stop lying.”
I sit very still. “Henry, what if…?” My throat closes before I can finish the sentence.
When Henry doesn’t respond, Jackson says, “I’ve hung out with Henry’s parents. I’m around all the time, and I think they might already suspect that we’re dating.”
Henry reddens. “Not dating, probably, but yeah. They’ve asked me about him.” A slow grin spreads across his face. “They tell me he’s really nice. They like him a lot.”
“Ok, just… you don’t have to tell them. If you’re not ready, and if it doesn’t feel safe.”
Henry nods. “I know. But I want them to know. I’ve thought about it a lot. And I don’t want to hide Jackson anymore. Like, when he picks me up from school. I’d rather just let people think what they think about us, as terrifying as that is.”
Jackson reaches a hand across the console to take Henry’s hand. Henry looks back at him with the most lovestruck smile I’ve ever seen. I smile, because they’re both great, but I feel a little empty in my stomach.
“That’s great, Henry.” I mean it. But that doesn’t mean I’m not scared for him, too.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/457103/trinity-38)
For the Stars Sing
I felt her presence, then
Pulling me towards the sky,
Swimming in silky nightmares,
Dancing through scattered dreams
She's seen it all,
And yet she still sings for me
Human as I am,
I tip my head back and wait,
Millions of years, no doubt,
Of time between us,
She has blinked eons ago,
And I can only see it now
And so she calls to me,
And I feel it, even when I
Cannot hear it,
Cannot see it
She flits across the sky,
She breathes the darkness,
And withers in the light
She sings for me,
While I wait for her,
It’s nice out today--warm but not too warm, sunny but not too sunny. In fact, it’s so nice out that the teachers even let us eat lunch outside in the courtyard. I’m glad it’s Friday.
Wednesday was a blur after I got home from Katherine’s. I’d put off my homework, and it was getting late, and I wanted desperately to read Pearl’s story. I read some of it then, but most of it Thursday night. Normally I have to cram all of my assignments on Thursday night, but since I met up with Kelly, he’d helped me with most of it. What I didn’t get done with him I ended up not finishing. I hope that doesn’t affect my grades.
When I’d arrived at the library, Kelly had already started working, his school shirt untucked and his dark hair falling into his eyes. When I sat down, he pulled an earbud out of his ear and looked at me. “Are you feeling better?”
I had pulled my eyebrows together. “What?”
He had blinked at me. “You were sick. At Katherine’s house.”
I’d almost forgotten he was there. “Oh, yeah,” I said with a laugh. “Yes. Yup. All good.”
He shoved the hair off his forehead. “Katherine didn’t read that book, ever. Or maybe she did, I guess. I left early.”
I chuckled again, because I didn’t have much to say. “Yeah. Yeah, I left early, too.”
We realized pretty quickly that we’d already finished all we needed to do with the Easter decoration plans, and moved on to doing homework. A lot of the time we didn’t even talk, Kelly just sat with his head bent, focused on nothing but the sheet of math problems in front of him.
In other words, it was pleasant. It wasn’t anything special, but I liked it anyway, and I hoped we’d do it again. So I was quite pleased when Kelly got up to leave and asked, “Next week?”
I pull the journal out of my backpack like it’s a delicate museum artifact. I’ve been handling it with care ever since losing it to Katherine Davies.
“It’s really good,” I tell Pearl with a grin. She reddens and kicks her feet idly. She’s perched on top of the picnic table, our usual spot. “Really. It could be published. Now take it before I do anything to it again.”
Pearl takes the journal back, shaking her head. “I’m just glad you found it.”
I’d told her what happened. I couldn’t not, after she entrusted me with her writing. Tuesday morning I’d told her it must be in the lost-and-found, and that there was nothing to worry about. She’d been understandably upset, but not properly mad, which was a relief.
She’d been far more upset when I told her that Katherine had returned it to me.
“That thieving, conniving bitch,” Pearl had sputtered.
I’d been quick to assure her that Katherine didn’t know it was hers. I hadn’t bothered to mention that Katherine enjoyed it, though. It sounded like a lie in my head. In fact, I half-think that was all a dream.
I sit down on the bench and stare at the passing clouds. “I’m sorry I lost it. Again.”
Pearl hops down to the seat so that she’s next to me. “It’s ok, Trinity. This is the first draft, actually… I have another journal with the second but you’re not allowed to read it yet.”
“First draft?” I ask, glancing at her. Her wide eyes watch me, sparkling. “But the story didn’t end.”
Pearl’s story is a fantasy novel. Or novella, or partial book, or whatever you call something she’s been writing for years but hasn’t fully finished yet.
It follows Odette, a young princess, whose whole family is cursed to remain in their castle. None of them can step foot in or out, but non-royalty can.
Her parents live happily inside the castle’s walls; it’s filled with anything they could ever want, after all. And Odette’s little brother, Leopold, is too young to understand.
Odette spends most of her time with Lionel, her appointed personal guard. She has him go out and bring her things, but it’s never enough. More than anything, Odette wants out of the castle.
Years ago, the curse was put upon the royal family by a group of mages, who are the main ruling body of the state, and work closely with the King and Queen. The mages have put in place a strict system of rules, and Odette’s family was cursed when her great-grandmother broke one of these rules. Her family refuses to tell her which one, and will only say that it brought shame upon the family, so much so that the state was split into two. The half where the royal family lived was cursed, while the other half became its own kingdom and appointed new rulers.
Odette’s parents tell her that there’s a way to break the curse. If she marries Alain, the prince from the neighboring kingdom, then the two kingdoms will be unified again, and the curse will be broken.
But then, Lionel reveals that he can do magic, and he’s been working on a way to break Odette out.
On the last pages that Pearl wrote, Odette has a choice: stay and marry Alain (who is kind but awfully boring), or escape with Lionel and leave her family and everything she’s ever known behind forever (the caveat on Lionel’s spell is that she can never go back into the castle). If she stays, she’ll be following in her parents’ footsteps, working closely with the group of mages that she mistrusts. But if she runs away with Lionel, the curse won’t be broken, and her family, her brother, will be trapped in the castle forever.
Pearl blows out a breath. “Yes, it’s unfinished, I told you that. I just… don’t know how to end it, I guess.”
I consider telling her what Katherine said. It would be a simple ending, having Alain and Odette live happily ever after, the curse being broken. But it’s a much more interesting story if she escapes with Lionel.
“What have you written in your second draft?” I ask.
She pokes me in the side. “It’s a secret.” I laugh, and her eyes crinkle as she smiles. “I got to the same spot again, and I still haven’t decided. I changed other things, but I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
“It seems like Odette’s always wanted to get out of the castle. I think she’d take the chance,” I say.
Pearl rests her chin in her hand. “That’s what I want her to do too, but then where does the story go? Does it have an ending? Does she just disappear into the woods, never to be seen again?”
I knock my shoulder against hers. “This isn’t real life, Pearl. You don’t have to figure it out yet.”
She just nods, but I can tell she’s still thinking.
I just smile at her.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/456598/trinity-37)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/457738/pearl-39)
crawling on eight legs
clicking dial on your phone
to answer in woodstained pleas
to regret the seconds with you
more than those seconds without
vacuum seal, then, your
wallet-sized heart. tuck it away,
wouldn't you like to see something,
Stargazer, to mold your own world
dusty plaid sunset countertops
speckled with those lonely
kind of days-weeks-months
forever, then, isn't
all too long
long as you're unreachable on
the other side of my phone
Katherine flips open to a random page. I can feel my heartbeat in my ears. I need to stop her. She can’t be serious.
My hand darts out and grabs Maggie’s upper arm, and I pull her towards me. I can see Katherine’s eyes skimming the page, her eyebrows pulling together. Before I say anything, Maggie whispers, “Is that…?”
“Pearl’s journal,” I squeak. “We have to do something.”
Immediately, Maggie is on her feet, and she’s pulling me up as well, dragging me towards Katherine before I even know what’s going on. “Trinity doesn’t feel good, Katherine, maybe you should take her inside? Or, like, get her an aspirin or something?”
Katherine’s gaze settles on me, and I grimace. She has deep brown eyes, and the scrutiny in her gaze reminds me of Sister Bertha.
Reluctantly, Katherine tucks the journal under her arm. “Fine. Follow me.”
Maggie lets go of me, and when I don’t move, she gives me a shove towards the doorway of the barn, where Katherine is just passing through without a backwards glance.
Katherine leads me into her house, which is cluttered with things: falling-apart books, a wall full of dartboards, her little sister’s swimming trophies, half-full mugs of coffee, scattered Scrabble tiles. It’s no surprise, considering eight people live here.
We step into the tiny first-floor bathroom, and Katherine begins to rummage in the medicine cabinet, before pausing and looking at me.
“Do you actually need an aspirin?”
I draw myself up as tall as I can. “Why did you take it?” I ask, eyes on the journal still under her arm.
She sighs dramatically and tosses the journal at me. Despite being a foot away, I don’t catch it, and have to retrieve it from the floor.
“I didn’t take it,” she says, her lips pursed. “I picked it up because you left it in first period.”
I smooth a hand across the front of the journal, as if checking it’s still in my hands. “I did not. Andrew knocked everything off my desk, and--”
“And this one was under your desk, which I didn’t see until second period, because I have Mrs. Marley two periods in a row.” She gives me a withering look. “Why would I steal your weird little journal?”
She thinks it’s mine. If she thinks it’s mine, then she’s right; why would she steal it? “But why didn’t you give it back?” I ask. “I’ve been looking for it for two days.”
Katherine flips a long piece of hair over her shoulder. “Hmph. I’d forgotten.” She states it like it’s obvious, but her eyes roam around the room, anywhere but me. I wait.
“Fine,” she spits, turning to close the medicine cabinet. She catches my eye through the mirror. “I read it. I didn’t know what it was, so I started reading it. And I know it’s not done, but it’s really good.” She raises a brow. “I want to read the rest when you finish it.”
My lips part, but I don’t make a sound. Katherine likes Pearl’s book. Pearl hates Katherine--I think, and somehow she’s the first person to read this book. How did this happen?
Katherine turns towards me, a hand on her hip. “And if you need ideas, I know how I’d finish it. Obviously I want Odette and Alain to be together, but I think it should be Alain who tells her how he feels. That way Odette knows he’s committed before breaking the curse. She is going to break the curse, right?”
Once again, I stand helpless. “Um…”
She shakes her head. “Alright, then. Don’t tell me.”
We stand there for a few moments before Katherine says, “Can I get out of this bathroom? You’re blocking the doorway.”
“Oh,” I say, and step out and into the hallway. “But why were you going to read it to everyone? That’s…” I was going to say ‘mean’, but the word dies on my tongue.
Katherine stalks past me, navigating nimbly through her house and over and around piles of things. “Andrew was making me mad,” she replies over her shoulder. “As usual,” she tacks on.
“It’s not yours to share,” I tell her back, emboldened now that she’s not looking at me.
We’re on the front porch when she stops. “There’s nothing to worry about, it’s a good story.” It’s a technically a compliment, but her tone is condescending. “Everyone would like it. I think it would be cool if you read it--some of it--at the talent assembly.”
I stare at her with wide eyes. She scoffs. “I forgot you have stage-fright.”
“You do,” she cuts me off sharply. “You should have heard yourself when you read that reading at school service that one time." I grimace. "Oh and one thing, then I have to get back before Andrew breaks something.” Her eyes dart to the barn, as if she expects to see smoke, but everything appears to be in order. “Since you owe me a favor, I--”
“I do?” I interrupt, eyebrows drawn together.
Katherine frowns. “I didn’t read your thing out to everyone, so, you’re welcome. And I found your book. So that’s two, really. But anyway, all I need to know is if Pearl and Henry are really dating, and then we’re even.”
Her brown eyes are expectant and stormy, and I can feel my heartbeat increase. Do I say yes? Do I say no? I don’t even know what Pearl would want me to say, or Henry for that matter. “Uh, I don’t know if they’re dating, per se, but… they do spend a lot of time together,” I offer. It's true, at least.
Katherine stamps a foot on the ground and then takes a deep breath to calm herself. “Sorry, Trinity, I’m not mad at you. Henry’s a sneaky, miserable… ugh.” She presses her hands together, as if in prayer. Maybe she is praying?
“All right. Whatever,” Katherine says after a moment, then turns to me. “And all the planning stuff is over, so feel free to leave whenever.” Then, she stalks off towards the barn. I hesitate, because I got the impression that she’d like me to leave now and not ‘whenever’, but I do need to get my backpack, at the very least. I stare up into the sky and sigh, then trail behind her.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/455378/trinity-36)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/457103/trinity-38)
Katherine Davies’ house is huge. Ok, maybe not huge, but it’s pretty big, which makes a lot of sense because she does have five siblings. What’s actually huge is her family’s plot of land.
As my mom was driving us closer and closer to Katherine’s, I began to wonder how she even knew where to go, considering she refuses to use a GPS. The entire landscape was filled with fields and fields of knee-high plants and telephone lines, and beyond that, just sky. Against all odds, though, my mom pulled up to a large house next to a big barn next to a field that, I think, goes on forever.
I stare up the drive at the house, which has a wooden sign tacked up next to the door that spells out ‘Davies’ in hand-painted letters.
“I’ll have to pick you up at six, at the earliest,” my mom tells me, glancing at the clock. It’s four-thirty. “I’ve got to go across town and drop off the dry-cleaning before they close.”
“Ok,” I reply, grabbing my backpack and stepping out of the car. I see movement near the barn, and I shut the car door and edge closer. I can hear my mom pulling away behind me.
The large barn doors are open, I find, and there’s students inside. Even from here I can see them. They’re spilling out of it, some of them around the side of the barn, hidden from the view of anyone in the driveway.
For the kids outside, there’s lawn chairs and a firepit, though it’s too warm and early in the day for a fire. There’s a tire swing, as well, hanging precariously off the limb of an oak tree, one of the only trees in sight. Inside it's mostly empty save for the colossal tractor and a handful of students sitting on bales of hay, Katherine and Andrew at their center.
All in all, I think there’s about thirty kids here, which is a sizeable chunk of our class. Also, there’s not a backpack in sight.
“Trinityyyy!” comes a sing-songy voice to my left. I realize I’ve been standing and staring into the barn for a strange amount of time, and I look around sheepishly.
Maggie’s waving an arm from the tire swing, laughter bubbling out of her as she’s pushed higher and higher. She lets out a screech as the oak tree’s branch groans.
I dart over, being sure not to get hit by the tire or Maggie’s flailing legs. Mary Kate is standing just below her, giggling as she pushes Maggie with even more force. A few other kids sit and watch, presumably waiting for their turn.
I would be more worried about the potential death-trap that is a tire on a rope, but something about Mary Kate catches my eye. For one, she’s not wearing a uniform--no one is, which is bizarre, but nothing I haven’t seen. She’s dressed in a similar fashion today as she had been at Maggie’s birthday party: a striped top and overalls, a little beaded necklace, patterned socks. But beneath the sleeve of her short-sleeve shirt is ink. A sun and moon spiral across her skin. Is it possible that she has a tattoo?
Mary Kate reaches out and grabs the tire with both hands, skittering her shoes into the dirt with the force of it as she’s pushed backwards. It successfully slows Maggie down, though, and the tire jerks back and forth for a moment before calming into a slow spin.
Maggie shakes out her hair and slides off of the swing. “This thing is great. Trinity, you must try it!”
I shake my head and clutch the straps of my backpack. “No thanks.”
Mary Kate has folded her arms, and I try not to stare at her tattoo. Maybe it’s temporary.
Within about a minute of talking to them--and observing my surroundings--it becomes clear that this gathering is less like Easter planning and more like a party. Maggie reveals in a hushed tone that Katherine hosts big parties every so often, always in the barn, and always resulting in some kind of drama.
Charles Lee appears then, and chuckles when he spots my backpack. I still haven’t set it down, and it’s begun to hurt my shoulders. “You know we’re not doing any real work, right?”
I frown, because why would Katherine say it’s an Easter meeting if it’s not? But I don’t have a chance to answer, because Mary Kate has pulled on his arm and is kissing him on the cheek and wrapping his arm around her waist.
I’m just beginning to feel uncomfortable with her display of affection when some boys come out of the barn and shout for everyone to come in.
As it turns out, Charles is wrong, and we do plan who can do what for the Easter talent assembly. By the looks of it, Katherine’s friend Flora did all of the planning beforehand, and she and Katherine are just doling out responsibilities now.
To my surprise, I see that Kelly is here, sitting on a hay bale between two other kids on the other side of the barn from Maggie and I. For a moment, I think that we might decorate for the assembly together. But he volunteers for something else, and Maggie signs us up to greet families at the door. I’d rather not, but I tell her it’s fine.
By the time that part of the meeting’s over, it’s barely past five o’clock. Katherine stands and tosses her long hair over her shoulder. “Enough of that, now. Since it’ll be a talent show, who’s got a talent to show off now?” Andrew’s already on his feet. “Looks like Andrew is going first,” she says with a hint of irritation.
He flashes a grin at her, then the crowd. “I’ll need a volunteer!” he bellows, and someone groans, while his friends holler. He glances back at Katherine, who’s pouting, then back out at the crowd.
Maggie snorts and leans closer to me. “What is this, a magic trick?”
He chooses Katherine’s friend, Flora, who blushes as she stands. She’s slight, which must be why he picked her, because he immediately grabs her about the waist and hauls her into the air. After just a moment, they collapse into a pile of hay, and Andrew’s friends whoop louder.
Katherine starts to talk, but Andrew stands and pulls up Flora behind him. “Anyone else?” he asks the group. “Or I’ll demonstrate on Flora again!” He reaches for her, and she laughs and squirms out from his grasp.
“I have got something more fun,” Katherine states loudly. “It’s a bit of a guessing game.” She stomps over to a cluttered table in the corner of the barn, and pulls something off of it. “This belongs to someone at school, so we’ll read some and see if anyone can figure out who.”
I strain my neck to see around the girl sitting in front of me.
My stomach plummets. It’s a brown journal, well-worn and well-loved.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/454423/trinity-35)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/456598/trinity-37)
When I see Pearl on Monday, she doesn’t say anything about YRJ. In fact, she doesn’t say much at all.
Her hair is woven into a golden, braided crown, and wonder distantly how she did it. I see her from my locker, walking down the hallway, and she sees me. Her face splits into a grin, and her eyes bounce to the floor, almost shyly.
By the time she’s reached me, my smile is as wide as hers.
“Hey,” I say. “How was… the weekend?”
Her smile fades into a more serious expression, a thoughtful expression. “It was ok.” Her eyes flick back to her shoes, or mine. “Thank you,” she adds. She reaches out and touches the back of my hand.
I nod, and she pulls back.
Suddenly, she swings her backpack off her shoulder, and I notice that it’s her old blue one with the pink horse patch. A new zipper is crudely stitched on with a thick purple thread. She pulls out a worn journal and holds it out to me with both hands.
“I want you to read it. It’s not done, but…” When I don’t take it, she presses it into my hands. “It’s the story I’ve been writing,” she explains.
“You want me to read it?” I ask, passing a hand over the cover. It’s brown and plain and soft.
“If you want,” Pearl says, and I look up to see her biting her bottom lip.
“Yes! Of course I’ll read it,” I tell her, tucking the journal into my arm with my school books. She gives me another smile, and it’s in that moment that I once again remember just how much I missed seeing her real smile.
. . .
My first period class is history. My seat is next to Erica, but we usually don’t talk much because she’s always sneaking earbuds up her sweater sleeves and listening to music, or podcasts, or something.
Today’s no different, and Mrs. Marley is still trying to get the projector to work, and half the students are out of their seats.
Katherine Davies, of all people approaches Erica and I, so I stare down at my books as if I’m occupied. She stops, but doesn’t say anything, and I risk a glance up.
As always, her uniform is pristine. Most kids at Saint Paul's have a lot of siblings, and Katherine is no exception. However, whereas other younger siblings wear hand-me-down uniforms, Katherine’s always look fresh. No holes, no tears, no missing buttons. And to top it off, a silver cross hangs just between her collarbones. She’s basically a walking school brochure.
She gives me a picture-perfect smile, so I smile back. “Erica, Trin,” she greets. Erica doesn’t look up.
I run my tongue across my teeth nervously, wondering if this has something to do with Henry. I have five classes with Katherine and she’s never spoken to me unless a teacher dictated it.
Her smile fades into a sigh. “Well. I’ve been elected to handle the Easter talent assembly, and since you’re both doing Easter planning, I’m going to put you on the list to help for the assembly.”
“You elected yourself,” Erica interjects without taking her eyes off her phone. I didn’t even know she was listening.
Katherine pushes out her bottom lip. “I volunteered to take work off of Maggie’s plate.” She gives me a look and rolls her eyes at Erica. I scratch my nose. “Anyway, I’m doing a prep-session at my house on Wednesday. We’re planning everything then.”
“Kath! I’m invited, right?” a voice chimes from a few desks down. It’s Andrew Ryan, a self-satisfied smile on his face. He gets up and lopes over, throwing an arm around her shoulders.
He throws Katherine off balance, and she bumps my desk, some of my books sliding off the edge. Her face colors, and she scoffs and slowly pushes him off. “I told you about this last week,” she says to him while picking up what fell.
Mrs. Marley is asking for everyone’s attention, and telling us to sit back down.
Katherine sets my books back on my desk and adds, “Everyone’s gonna be there, so just show up whenever. And feel free to bring whoever else.”
. . .
It’s not until lunch that I notice it.
“Erica,” I say. I have to repeat her name a few times before she notices me; she’s sitting across the table, a different seat than usual, because she had to plug in her phone and she couldn’t reach the outlet.
Rachel yanks an earbud from Erica’s ear.
“Do you remember if I had a journal with me in History? It’s brown, just plain brown. I thought I had it with my books.” I noticed when I put all my books away in my locker before lunch that I was missing something: Pearl’s journal.
Erica stares at the ceiling for a moment. “Um. No. I don’t remember.”
“Is it homework?” Maggie asks. “I’m sure Rachel has an extra copy if it is.”
“I just like to have more than one, just in case,” Rachel replies defensively, pointing at Maggie with a celery stick.
“No, it’s a journal,” I say, trying to think back. When did I last have it? I couldn’t have lost it, could I? Oh no, Pearl’s going to be furious, isn’t she?
Mary Kate lets go of Charles Lee’s hand for a second to clap lightly. “A dream journal?!” she breathes.
Maggie shakes her head, and Becca adds wistfully, “I love dream journals.”
Abbey coughs. “Dream journals aren’t real though, like, the dream interpreting part.”
“You’re supposed to interpret them?” asks Becca.
This sparks some debate, and Mary Kate and Abbey start arguing, and Becca looks confused, and Charles looks even more confused, and I have absolutely no idea where Pearl’s journal is. Her journal that holds the book she's been writing for at least a year.
And things were only just starting to go right for us.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/452983/trinity-34)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/455378/trinity-36)
strip of sunshine
golden, cracked, and delicate
as the heart i've been given
wrapped in candy stripes and evergreen leaves
sordid, restless, absent
whispering into darkness for too long
tear out a strip of sunshine, darling
claim it for your own skin
running, whirling, radiant starlight
crackling beneath the bones
and now, just sing
Amber returns with five cookies instead of two. She gives one to me, keeps one for herself, and stuffs the other three in the pocket of her jacket. They’re plain sugar cookies, and they taste like paper, but I nibble on mine anyway.
“Well? Your turn,” Amber says after a minute. She’s already eaten the one cookie, and now she’s rearranging the chair next to her so she can comfortably prop her feet on top of it.
“Yeah, you used some kind of shy wizard magic to make me speak, so it’s your turn. Tell me a secret. Then we’re even.” She raises her brow at me.
I blink at her, remembering back to when I first saw her before the Spring Fling. It’s almost like she’s a different person. But her face has the same sharpness, her gaze is still shrewd, her hair is even styled into the same two ponytails. I wonder for a moment what Pearl would think if she knew I was talking to Amber.
“I don’t really have any,” I admit. I really can’t think of a secret, even if I did want to tell her something.
Amber pushes out a breath. “I thought you’d say that. At this point I think I believe you, which honestly just proves how boring you are. No offense.”
I am a tiny bit offended. “Well you didn’t have to tell me anything,” I try to shoot back, but my voice isn’t very forceful.
She swings her feet off the chair next to her and slaps her palms on the table. I see a boy a table away from us jump and turn at the noise. “Listen. The only reason I brought it up is--” She follows my gaze; I’m eyeing the boy who’s still looking at our table. “Piss off, Jake!” she bellows, and he flips her off, which causes other kids to murmur, and the group leaders chastise everyone.
Amber turns back to me, a satisfied grin on her face. She looks more relaxed than she had been. I guess yelling calms her. “I’d wanted to say something about it before. On the phone. But I’m still shit at talking about it.” She bites absentmindedly on a nail before continuing. “I thought maybe you could also be… It’s stupid.”
I notice that she hasn’t repeated the word since the first time she’d said it. Aromantic. Aromantic, that was the word, wasn’t it?
“It’s not stupid,” I tell her. I trace the carving on the table again. S and M. M and S. Two people that liked each other enough that they carved the first letters of their names into a table. “What does it mean, though? You don’t kiss people?”
She tips her head back and crosses her ankles back onto the chair next to her. She drums her fingers against the edge of the table. “No. No, not at all, actually.” She uncrosses her ankles, scratches her arm. “Fine, I’ll tell you,” she says finally. I hadn’t realized that there was a chance she wasn’t going to. She speaks so openly about everything else. Everything.
“Again, I am not looking for any opinions on this,” she reminds me with a glare. I shrivel up a little in my seat, which seems to satisfy her enough to continue. “Alright. It’s… it’s, ok, this is going to sound dumb, but it’s the best way I can think of explaining it at the moment.” She rubs her eyebrow.
“You know the butterflies you were talking about on the phone? So there’s different ones. The sexy ones happen when you’re looking at someone and you’re thinking, holy hell, they’re hot. And you’d like to--”
“I get the point,” I interject. We’re still sitting in a building that is basically a church.
“Fine,” she laughs. “And there’s other ones that appear when you’re with someone and you want to be around them all the time. Not like friends, but like dating. I don’t know, really, that’s why it’s hard to explain. I don’t get those ones.”
I chew the end of my cookie and think for a moment. “Oh.”
“And some people don’t have those butterflies--that attraction--but they date anyway. And it’s the same for the sexy butterflies; you can be ace and do it.” I scrunch up my nose. “But I choose not to date, because I don’t want to. I like just having friends instead.”
“How do you know…” I say slowly. Amber’s eyes narrow at me, and for a second I’m afraid to continue. “…if it’s something you’re missing?”
She barks out a laugh, and she squares her shoulders. The boy--Jake--from the other table, glances over, then quickly away. He’s afraid of her, I think. I almost wish I was at his table instead. Amber rises from her chair and leans over the table towards me, hands braced on the table and her eyes dark. “It’s not missing. I’m not missing anything. Fuck you. How do you know you’ve got it, then? Huh? How do you know?”
People must be looking at us now. Not just Jake. I shake my head and pull my hands to my face.
She sinks back down. Huffs. Scratches her arms and sighs. “I’m sorry, Trinity. I didn’t really mean that,” she says eventually.
I nod a little, but I’m still hiding behind my hands.
. . .
My last experience at YRJ is in a big, open room with all the other kids. That includes the overnight ones, which means it includes Pearl.
They gather us all into a giant circle, and Pearl’s on the opposite side of the room, and Amber is a few kids away from me because I didn’t really want to stand right next to her. Pearl smiles at me across the circle, and I, of course, smile back.
We’re instructed to all hold hands, and I don’t know either of the kids next to me, but I see that the kid on my left has cuts on his wrist, and I’m afraid holding his hand might hurt him. And the kid on my right has sweaty palms, and when I glance over I recognize that it’s Michael, the kid who gave a talk at the beginning of the day. He looks at the floor and doesn’t look very excited about God’s love anymore.
We recite some prayers, and then, all of a sudden, it’s over for me. It’s eight o’clock, and we all get our phones and things back from the cubby room, and my parents pick me up. And I’m glad it’s over, but I also feel guilty because Pearl’s still there, and I know she hates it, and I spent the whole time at the end thinking about Amber and not her.
. . .
Saturday ends, and Sunday starts, and now I’ve got to do my homework. I pull my notebooks out of my backpack, glad that I at least don’t have any math homework that needs done, since Kelly helped me on Thursday. Any math homework that needs done immediately, anyway.
A crumpled sheet of paper falls onto the floor as I pull out another book, and I pick it up. It’s the red flyer that I’d been given on the way out of school on Friday. I hadn’t even read it, just stuffed it away.
I smooth out some of the wrinkles to read it.
EASTER RISING TALENT ASSEMBLY
Do you have a creative talent you’d like to
share with Saint Paul’s?
The Easter Rising Talent Assembly is a
celebration of music, writing, and art.
See Mrs. Vena for more details.
All grade levels are encouraged to participate!
I remember Mr. Sumner mentioning this assembly in one of his daily announcements. It’s going to be at the school on Easter Monday, even though we have school off that day. I’ve heard Maggie talking about it, too, because it’s part of her Easter planning. Luckily I’m not in charge of decorations for that, though.
Speaking of, Kelly had texted me while I was at YRJ. All it says is, ‘meet thurs again?’. I had some kind of jolt of energy seeing that he’d texted at all, and then, upon seeing that he wanted to meet again, I felt more like I’d been electrocuted.
I’d like to see him again. I’d like to meet on Thursday. But I haven’t responded yet, because there’s a buzzing happening in my brain or in my stomach, I can’t tell, and I don’t know if it's butterflies or something else.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/452158/trinity-33)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/454423/trinity-35)
interlocking frostbite fingertips
icy heartbeat thrum
yearning receding repeating