Pearl’s phone conversation with her parents is short. She tells them that she missed the bus and she’s sorry she didn’t call sooner and she knows that she’s supposed to come straight home. When she hangs up, she tells me they’re just fifteen minutes away; she’d already missed a call from them and they’d started driving towards Saint Paul’s.
“We better head back to school.” Pearl picks up her backpack and smoothes her stray hairs back into place. “Or, I better, at least.” She heads up the path without waiting for me.
When I catch up to her, she doesn’t even turn her head. I wonder what she’s thinking.
“It’ll be ok, though, with your parents?” I ask as we emerge from the path and back out into the sunlight. It feels humid and sticky and warm.
“Yeah. It’ll be ok. I’m not officially grounded or anything, so…” She pulls her mouth up into a halfhearted smile.
I realize then that I don’t know what her life at home is like, and until just now, I’d never considered that it would be any different than mine.
“You were going to ask me something,” Pearl prompts, her tennis shoes scraping the ground as we slowly trudge back towards Saint Paul’s.
My eyes flit around. A fence and bushes to our left, a few cars passing on the road to our right, nothing but the familiar slope of sidewalk to school in front of us. “How did you… know? Like, have you always known?”
She lifts her head and she might’ve even straightened her shoulders. When she turns her face to me, it’s thoughtful. “No, I haven’t always known. It’s hard because everyone always told me I should like boys, and I do. So I didn’t really understand liking girls, or I just convinced myself that it wasn’t really ‘liking’ at all.”
I nod. I wonder what boys she’s liked. And I wonder what girls, too. Just as long as it’s not me, a little voice in my head says. It can’t be me.
She continues, “I kind of always thought that everyone felt like I do, but I realized more recently that that’s not true. Clearly.”
I’m still not really following, and I have more questions, but we’ve reached the uncut lawn in front of Saint Paul’s, and both of us fall silent. There are still students around, waiting to be picked up or talking or goofing around. Not many, but enough that I don’t say another word.
And as if that wasn’t enough, I feel a presence watching me and turn to see Sister Bertha eyeing us from the doorway of the chapel. I swerve towards the parking lot, wanting to put distance between the nun and our very un-christian conversation.
We wait for our parents to pick us up, and in the end, my mom pulls up first because we live close. So I leave Pearl standing on the curb, her hair smoothed into a perfectly presentable ponytail once again, and the three hearts on her tank top winking at me.
As my mom pulls away, the rosary hanging on our car’s rear-view mirror clinks against the windshield, and I stare at it. I’ve never really paid it any attention before, even though it’s been there my whole life.
. . .
The next two weeks pass by in a blur of spring rain and routine conversations and late-night homework assignments. Pearl and I fall back into our normal habit of discussing our classes and our classmates and ordinary everyday things.
Everything is exactly as it was. For the most part.
Pearl doesn’t say anything about her parents or her church retreats or her girl-and-guy-liking, so I don’t either. She continues to hang out with Henry, and he and I continue to ignore each other in the halls. I haven’t spoken more than a word to him since he pulled me into the library all those days ago.
Rumors do circulate though. About Henry, not Pearl; no one suspects her of being anything short of flawless. It only takes a day for Maggie to inform me that she heard that Henry might be gay. I just act surprised and say ‘no way’. But after a few days that talk dies down, and everyone moves on to new rumors, like how Mrs. Vena might be pregnant.
I’m starting to think that I can finally stop thinking about who likes who and who likes people they’re not supposed to like and anything involving the word like. And then the flyers start to go up: the Spring Fling.
Pearl slides into the seat next to me, yellow print-out in hand. I look away from Mr. Gleason, who is currently writing a very complicated looking science equation on the chalkboard in preparation for class.
“You are going to love this,” Pearl says earnestly as she smacks the sheet of paper onto the desk in front of me.
The Spring Fling
Join the school for an ocean-themed
shell-ebration that you won’t forget!
With special guest Naya Bloom
My eyes jump to meet Pearl’s. She’s barely containing a squeal. “Naya Bloom, Trinity! Are you seeing this?”
I shake my head, but only because I can’t believe it. Naya Bloom is one of the small musicians I’m currently obsessed with, and Pearl knows because I love to share my music finds with her. I know Naya is from around here, but I didn’t think I’d ever see her live, especially not at Saint Paul’s annual Spring Fling.
“How did I not know about this?”
Pearl leans back in her chair and folds her arms. “I don’t know, but now you’ve got to go, right?”
I hadn’t considered going. Not until now, anyway. “Do you want to go?”
She lifts a shoulder. “I was thinking about it.”
I pick up the flyer and tuck it into my science notebook. “I guess we should go,” I say back, suppressing a grin. This is the first year we’re allowed to attend any of the dances, and I’ve never known if they’re any fun or not. But now I’m picturing Pearl and I, maybe wearing silly sea-inspired outfits, getting to hear Naya Bloom live.
Then she goes and ruins it. “I wonder if we should go with anyone?”
“Go with--?” I fall silent as Pearl cocks her head in Mr. Gleason’s direction. He’s starting the lesson, so I sit through the class and take notes. But my eyes still wander to the flap of yellow paper sticking out of my notebook.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/437661/trinity-8)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/438893/trinity-10)