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 he 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 drives 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)