I convince my mom to drop me off at Maggie’s house ten minutes later than her party actually starts. I don’t want to risk being early in case no one else is there yet and I’m forced to, like, socialize with Maggie’s parents or something.
I also tell Mom she should pick me up early, just in case I’m having a miserable time. She tells me that it’ll be fun and I should stop worrying so much.
Maggie’s house is small and homey and filled to the brim with ‘rustic’ home decor. Almost all the wallspace is filled with wooden signs reading things like, “Faith, Hope, & Love” and “I am with you always” and my personal favorite, “All I need today is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus”.
I meet her parents briefly, and two of her siblings (apparently there are five of them). Her parents are nice; in fact, they remind me a lot of my parents.
The actual party passes surprisingly quickly. There are twelve of us, and I know everyone from school, so it almost feels like I’m in class. We mostly talk about school and play games like charades and trivia, both of which I’m terrible at, but luckily I don’t think anyone really cares.
Weirdly, I spend most of my time talking with Kelly. His first name is actually Nicholas, but there’s another Nicholas in our grade so everyone just calls them both by their last names. Kelly used to always be on the swings at recess when we were young, and that was always my favorite thing to do too. Since then though, I haven’t spoken to Kelly much; I never have the opportunity to. Kelly is in all the honors classes, and I, most certainly, am not.
“Who are you texting?” Kelly, who’s sitting on a pillow on the floor next to the bean bag I’m in, leans closer to me.
I click off my phone screen, hiding my sent messages to Pearl:
Sorry I was being annoying about Henry. I didn’t mean to be weird about it
I’m at Maggies if you change your mind about the party
It’s pretty fun, actually
The first message I had sent this morning, and still she hasn’t responded. She must be more upset than I think she is.
I lean away from Kelly and say, “Does it matter?” I cringe internally; I didn’t mean to be rude to him.
He just scoffs. “Ok, well you keep frowning at your phone, so maybe whoever it is isn’t worth texting.”
“I wasn’t frowning at my phone,” I argue half-heartedly. I probably was.
“Sure, sure,” Kelly says with a small smile, looking away from me and up at Mary Kate, who’s begun karaoking quite poorly at the front of the room.
He digs his phone out of his pocket. “Oh, well, looks like I have to go…” he says to no one in particular.
“What, now?” I ask, looking over at him.
He sweeps his black hair off of his forehead. “Yup.” He lowers his voice and leans in towards me. “To be honest I hate karaoke.”
I laugh a little, trying to picture Kelly karaoking.
“That doesn’t mean you have to leave,” I say as I watch him stand up.
He looks down at me. “I actually hate parties. I only stayed this long because I had someone new to talk to.” He gives me a crooked smile and then says loudly, “My dad’s here to pick me up. Bye everyone!”
My voice blurs into the chorus of goodbyes, and I text my mom shortly after to pick me up.
. . .
I don’t see Pearl at school on Monday, and she never responded to my texts. I do, however, see Henry Foley.
“Henry!” I curl my fingers around my books as I jog down the hall to catch up to him and his friends.
Henry turns and sees me. “Oh… hey, Trin,” he says, sounding confused. He stops so I can catch up, and his friends jostle him, laugh, and walk away.
“Have you seen Pearl today?” I ask him, staring at his Saint Paul’s football jacket. Which, by the way, is technically against the dress code.
“Uh, not today, no,” he replies, running a hand through his hair.
This marks the second Monday Pearl has missed school.
I sigh and look up at him. “Are you going to see her today? I heard you had plans today.” I try to keep my voice neutral.
“Oh. I think so. Yeah.” Henry shrugs.
I shrug too. “Cool. Yeah. Ok, well, I don’t know if she saw my texts, so when you see her, could you just tell her I’m sorry?” I stare at my shoes, worn black flats. “I think she’s mad at me.”
I see Henry’s black and neon yellow tennis shoes shift uneasily. “Sure. I can tell her. But, uh, Trin?” I look up again at his annoyingly-traditionally-handsome features. “I don’t think she’s mad at you, I think she might’ve been, like, away? A family vacation or something, I guess.”
I find it hard to believe that Pearl wouldn’t have mentioned a family vacation to me.
Henry’s standing in front of me, just kind of nodding. “Well, gotta get to class.”
I don’t watch him go; I spin on my heel and march down the hall away from him.
The only other thing that happens Monday is that I pass Kelly in the hall. I lift my hand in a wave and say ‘hi’, but I guess I don’t say it loud enough, because he glances at me, then away. My smile slides off my face pretty quickly, and my hands tighten on the books I’m holding.
. . .
On Tuesday morning, I hear Pearl talking chipperly with Mrs. Vena. I must’ve paused in the hallway, because Pearl’s big eyes find mine and she smiles and says ‘see you later’ to Mrs. Vena and makes her way towards me.
“Trinity! Hey!” Her blonde hair is neatly and perfectly pulled back into a high ponytail, and her uniform is as crisp and clean as ever. She looks the same as she always does.
I stop in the hallway and smile back naturally, but something about it feels wrong.
“Where were you yesterday?” I ask.
Her smile never falters. “Oh, you know, fighting crime and whatnot,” she lets out a breath of laughter before her face softens into a more serious expression. “I saw your texts by the way, but my phone was off all weekend, so I couldn’t respond. How was Maggie’s party though? I want to hear everything.”
My first instinct is to tell her about the party, but instead I falter. “Why was your phone off?”
She just rolls her eyes at me. “What do you mean? It just was. Now really, who was there?”
I can see that the hallway is getting less and less crowded as everyone starts to finally make their way to class. The bell will ring soon. I stand still and blink at Pearl. “I just--Is everything ok? I mean, what about your weekend?”
Something in Pearl’s expression changes, and she turns her face away to look down the hall. I realize in that moment that I can’t read her expression, that I don’t know what she’s thinking or what she’s going to say. I don’t know why that makes my chest ache.
“Yeah, well, it wasn’t really the best weekend. I, um…” Pearl never says ‘um’. “I don’t really want to talk about it now.” She looks at me and her wide eyes look even wider than usual.
I feel a wave of panic, and I can’t tell if it’s mine or hers or if it’s because the bell is about to ring or because of I don’t know what, something else? “Let’s meet after school, then, at the park. Yeah?” I offer hopefully.
Pearl smiles, but her eyebrows are pinched together. “Yeah, ok.”
The bell rings then, and Pearl is still standing there and I nearly jump out of my skin. I’m not even sure if I say goodbye, I just sprint as gracefully as I know how to my next class, knowing I’ll have a tardy marked on the attendance sheet.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/434641/trinity-5)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/435863/trinity-7)