It’s Tuesday, and everything seems wrong, mostly because everything is right. Everything is normal. But it’s also not.
I spent yesterday evening with my headphones jammed into my ears, the volume turned up so loud that my mom came in to check on me. I figured I could drown out my thoughts with sound, and it kind of worked, but maybe that was on account of a blossoming headache.
I ended up wasted a lot of time switching songs and bands and genres, trying to find one that would both distract me and help me focus. I tried ‘soothing’ piano, but it was too mellow; I changed to alternative music, but there were too many words for me to focus; I skipped Naya Bloom entirely, that brought up weird memories. I bounced from rock to jazz to soul to oldies to movie soundtracks. Nothing worked, but I eventually settled on an indie electronic band called ‘Asteroid Moons’, because the sheer chaos of their tracks felt right.
And at this moment, I have a strange desire to shove some earbuds in and listen to their music now, to drown out everything around me until I’m just the chopped up chords of an electric guitar and a steady but overwhelming drum beat.
But I don’t, primarily because I’m standing in a school where it is technically a violation to wear earbuds. Not that anyone ever minds.
And as I methodically pull books from my locker, Pearl leans against the locker beside me--Lacy Rawlins’--and chipperly babbles away. She’s got her hair pinned neatly halfway up and halfway down, uniform smoothed, pristine white tennis shoes on. She greeted me immediately as I stepped foot on Saint Paul’s campus, and hasn’t stopped to take a breath since.
First period starts in two minutes, and I’m wondering if she’s going to use any of that time to do anything other than yammer on about Katherine Davies.
Katherine Davies was, at some point, the most popular girl in our class. I didn’t know her as such, and neither did Pearl, because her reign of popularity ended in fifth grade, which, by coincidence, is when both of us began at Saint Paul’s.
It was in fifth grade that Samantha Cross, Katherine’s best friend (at the time) hit a growth spurt and started wearing her hair in neat curls, pulling all the attention off of Katherine--who was pretty, but not as pretty as Sam.
Katherine tried to remain Sam’s friend, but even I remember noting Sam’s dismissive, and occasionally quite cruel, treatment of her so-called best friend. Sam is the one, in fact, that started the rumor about Katherine stealing her mom’s diet pills--a rumor that continues to crop up now, four years later.
In the years since then, Katherine has migrated to new friend groups, first to the drama kids, though that didn’t last long, and then on to the volleyball girls. At first, this was of some amusement to Sam, who pointed out that Katherine ‘didn’t have the body for sports’.
This, unsurprisingly, had quite an adverse effect on Katherine, who, apparently, still struggles with her appearance. She ended up gaining more weight in the end, not because she’s not taking care of herself, but because her body is built differently than the slim figure of Samantha Cross.
Fast forward to just last year, when she started dating Henry. She calls it a ‘brief’ period when asked, but it was really almost two months, which isn’t bad when you’re in eighth grade.
Katherine and Henry bonded over religion, mostly, and often went to volunteer together, instead of typical dates. On days when they didn’t see each other in person, they’d call and pray together over the phone. She focused all her attention on him, so that he would have to focus all his attention on her. She is, after all, a middle child in a family with six kids, and will do almost anything for attention.
This is all information that I (mostly) knew already, but Pearl explains it all to me at lightning speed, using a hushed and secretive tone that suggests that it's all top-secret. It’s pointless, really, because she knows just as well as I do that I know most of this, because our school is small and it’s virtually impossible to keep a secret when you’re a part of Saint Paul’s student body.
I’m half-listening, and first period is about to start, and did I finish that history assignment?
I let her follow me to my first-period classroom, and I realize I haven’t said a word to her since a surprised ‘hello’ when I first saw her. I open my mouth, but the school bell rings, and I step backwards into my history class, safely across the threshold, and she startles and strides away mid-sentence.
So. I suppose Pearl is speaking to me again, at least.
. . .
The rest of the school day passes by in a blur. Pearl isn’t avoiding me; in fact, she seems to be seeking me out, and then talking my ear off. Not just about Katherine, about other things, too--anything, it seems like. This TV show she saw a week ago, what feedback she’s anticipating on her English paper, the skateboard trick she saw Dylan do in the parking lot.
I wish we could actually talk, but I’m also not sure what we’d really say. At this point, I’m not even sure what we need to talk about anymore.
What’s really annoying, though, is that I want to have a conversation. About the thoughts floating around in my head, the doubts. Fears. And without Pearl, I’m realizing that I don’t have anyone to talk to.
There’s Maggie, who I guess is my friend, but I can’t talk about any serious stuff with her. It would be weird. And plus, she’d tell everyone else about everything. I think even if I got her to swear secrecy, Mary Kate would still find out.
There’s Henry, but he’s still suspended for another day after his fight with Andrew. And even if he wasn’t, I’m not sure we know each other well enough for me to confide in him. I suppose I do know all of his secrets, but I didn’t learn about them by choice.
And lastly, there’s Kelly. Surprisingly, I think he’s the classmate that probably knows me the most, other than Pearl. Then again, he knew me when I was younger, and I’ve changed, haven’t I? Either way, he’s not an option. Considering that he’s part of the thought-stew in my brain right now, I would rather shrivel up and die than have a conversation with him about him.
And so my great, big revelation for Tuesday is that I really only have one friend.
. . .
At the final bell, I rush down the hall, but not to my locker. I pull a folded-up sheet of paper from my skirt pocket, already slightly worn from the number of times I’d touched it throughout the day to make sure it was still there.
I’d told Maggie that I needed to work on homework during lunch, but I still sat with her and the others first before slipping away to the computer lab. I’m honestly glad I got away--the mood seemed a little off, what with Mary Kate inviting Charles Lee to sit with us. Apparently they're a ‘thing’, and Maggie hadn’t known about it until that instance.
I’ve just reached Pearl’s locker, and I carefully wedge the note in between the slats in Pearl’s locker, hoping that it doesn’t get lost amongst her things. Or maybe it would be better for it to get lost. I don’t know.
It was a spur-of-the-moment idea, but I hadn’t been able to shake it once I thought of it, so I took that time in the computer lab to write her a note. Since we can’t talk in person--well, we can, but it’s been difficult for some reason--maybe this will work?
I duck away from her locker before she can get a chance to see me.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/447824/trinity-25)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/448999/trinity-27)
“Trinity?” Amber sounds, more than anything, surprised. “What, has your principal charged me with arson or something, as well?”
I choke out an uncomfortable laugh, partially because I cannot believe I’m talking to her. “Uh, no. Have you committed arson?”
Now it’s her turn to laugh. “Not at Saint Paul’s, I haven’t.” The line goes silent for a moment, and I tighten my grip on my phone. “Well? What do you want?”
I stand and pace the length of my room. “Oh. Well.” I pause. “You’ve made Pearl quite upset.”
Amber sighs. “It’s not like I was trying to. Is she there?”
I glance around my room as if Pearl might’ve spontaneously transported herself nearby. “No. She’s not.”
“Hm. Tell her… I don’t know. Tell her that I’m sorry, again, if you think that would make her feel any better.” Silence. “Is this really the reason you called?”
I stop pacing and perch on the edge of my bed, squeezing my eyes shut. “Yes. No. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have--”
She cuts me off. “What’s going on, Trinity?”
I’m not sure how to form my thoughts into words. This really was a terrible idea.
“I don’t know who else to talk to,” I admit finally. My voice is quiet. In fact, I’m not even convinced I’ve said anything at all.
But Amber responds. Her voice is laced with apprehension, urgency. “Do you need someone to come over? Are you ok?”
“Yes, I mean, no, I don’t need anyone here. I’m ok. I’m just… annoyed.”
“Jesus, Trinity, you make being annoyed sound like an emergency.” That sounds like the Amber I know.
“It’s not just that. I’m confused, I guess. Kinda about what you said at the dance.”
“Uh, a lot of things happened at the dance, if you recall. You’re gonna need to be more specific,” Amber says.
I clench and unclench my fist, cross and uncross my legs. “What you said. About Kelly.”
Frustrated, I bolt to my feet and hug an arm around myself. “The boy I was talking to!” I grind out louder than I mean to. I lower my voice, glancing at my bedroom door. “Everyone thinks I like him. Everyone but you, I guess.”
A guffaw sounds from the other end of the phone. “Ah. Ok. So, do you?”
I toss a hand in the air. “I don’t know! That’s the problem!”
“And you can’t talk to Pearl about this?” Despite the lingering levity in her voice, Amber is calm, and her question feels genuine, not probing.
I sink to a crouch, and end up sitting on the floor. “I think we’re fighting right now,” I confess, bracing myself for the laugh that’s sure to come.
But Amber doesn’t laugh. “That’s too bad,” she states instead. “So what do you want me to say? You know I can’t actually tell you if you like someone or not. That’s kinda up to you.”
I pull my knees up to my chest and let out a long breath. “Ok. Right. Why’d you say it, though? At the dance?”
“That you don’t like boys? I told you, anyone else would’ve dragged that kid--Kelly?--onto the dance floor.”
“But that’s not proof,” I say defensively.
“I’m not saying it is!” There’s an edge of exasperation in her voice. “I was just pointing out that you seem different than most girls.”
I shift uneasily. “Yeah, alright, sorry I called, I should--”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. You called me. Don’t you hang up. There’s clearly something you want to say, so you should say it.” Her voice is firm.
I breathe in. Out. “I just think… I don’t think I like him. I don’t know why I wouldn’t, though, because he’s nice and decent and I like talking to him sometimes. I wouldn’t mind hanging out with him more.”
“Yeah, that’s called being friends.”
I switch the phone to my left hand, my right’s getting numb. Flexing my fingers, I say, “Yeah. Yeah, but… it’s weird, then, isn’t it? What if he likes me? Then--theoretically--we’d go on a date. And then I’d like him then, right? Once I’ve tried. Just right now, the thought of it, and every time I see him now… my stomach flips. But what if that’s a good flip… butterflies, like everyone says?”
For a moment, I don’t breath. I’m not sure if Amber is there. She’s probably set the phone down to have a laugh. She’ll tell all her friends how ridiculous I am.
“Shit, Trinity,” is how she responds. Perfectly serious. “You don’t have to like him. You don’t have to like anyone. If the butterflies say no, let them say no. You can be this guy’s friend and nothing else. If he’s not ok with that, then he’s a piece of shit.”
This last sentence she tacks on flippantly, and it makes me cringe, but also laugh. It’s a short, thick, uncomfortable laugh, and it makes me realize how close to tears I am.
“But it’s not right, though,” I scrape out, my voice turning hoarse. “If I don’t like Kelly, then I’ll never like anyone. He’s the most I’ve ever liked anyone, I think. And it’s not enough.”
Amber clicks her tongue. “It’s not not enough. You have no obligation to feel any way about anyone.”
I lean my head back and stare at the ceiling, trying not to let any tears fall. I sit like that for a long time, knowing if I say any words I might just fall apart and cry.
“You there?” Amber asks after a couple of minutes.
I blink until I can see clearly again. “Yeah,” I say weakly. Then, “But why doesn’t anyone believe me? The more I say I don’t like him, the more everyone else seems to think that I’m lying.”
Amber blows out a breath. “That’s just the way people are. You wouldn’t believe the shit my parents used to say before I told them I’m gay. I told them over and over that I wasn’t going to date any boys, and they didn’t believe me.”
“How did you know? That you’re…”
A snort comes from the other side of the call. “Gay. You can say ‘gay’ y’know, and you won’t automatically burn in hell.”
I clear my throat. She continues. “It’s not a science, but for me it wasn’t hard to tell. I see girls, and I want to be with them. Like, sometimes they’re just so fucking beautiful it makes me want to die. God, and kissing--” She stops abruptly. “I could say more, but I’m afraid I’ll melt your little Christian ears.”
I fish for words. “Ok,” is what I come up with.
“Listen, Trinity, I do have other things I need to be doing. I’m not even sure I’m helping.” I can hear rustling over the phone. I can’t tell what she’s doing.
“No, uh, I mean, you did help. Some, anyway.” I stand, holding my phone with both hands, as if I’m afraid I’ll drop it.
“I’m serious about googling this stuff, though. Main thing is: if you don’t like this guy, then you don’t. Doesn’t matter what anyone else says. But seriously, the internet is your friend.”
I realize she’s going to hang up, and I feel relieved but also suddenly panicked. Like I haven't said enough. I open my mouth, but she speaks first. “I gotta go, but call again if you need to. And tell Pearl to read my texts, if she hasn’t. Ok?”
And just like that, everything goes silent again, and I stand in the middle of my room, feeling unmoored.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/447481/trinity-24)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/448269/trinity-26)
As Mr. Sumner finishes up the end-of-the-day prayer over the school’s PA system, I’m already gathering my things. I’m careful about it though, because one time Joshua Dillon got written up for writing in his planner during a prayer. But I’m so sick of this Monday that at this point, I’m not sure how much I’d even care about getting written up.
That’s not true, actually. I would care. But still.
I make it just one step out of the school’s front doors before being accosted.
“Trinity! Can you come over here for a second?”
I swivel my head in the direction of Maggie’s voice. Towering over her left side is Sister Bertha, her hands laced together in front of her. And chewing on a fingernail to her right is Nicholas Kelly, his eyes trained on the buses in the school parking lot.
“I’ve really got to catch my bus,” Kelly says to Maggie as I approach.
Sister Bertha stares down at him impassively. “I’ve spoken to your bus driver. He’s not leaving without you.” All of us look up at her in surprise. “You’re Pete’s favorite, you know,” she elaborates after a moment.
Kelly shrugs one shoulder. “Yeah. He has mentioned it, I guess.”
I’m not sure how one becomes a bus driver's favorite, but I guess if anyone could do it, it’s Kelly. Or Pearl, if she tried.
“So, as head of the Easter Planning Committee,” Maggie starts, holding up her hands dramatically, “I’ve put you two in charge of the Easter decorations for the hallways. Since Lent starts this Wednesday, you obviously don’t need the decorations up by then, but we were thinking we need a plan, at least, by Friday.”
I don’t know why I was chosen for this responsibility, and I look to Kelly for his reaction. He’s staring off into the parking lot, though. Maybe he’s not even listening.
Maggie continues, “We have a budget--”
“A small budget,” interjects Sister Bertha.
“I’ll text you guys some details. But in the meantime, you two should probably meet up and talk about it.” She smiles innocently at me. I’m surprised she doesn’t wink.
“Are you helping us?" Kelly asks her.
Maggie makes a face that indicates how preposterous she thinks this idea is. "Oh, no. Just you two, together. I'm very busy doing other things," she explains.
I think Sister Bertha lets out a sound somewhat adjacent to a chuckle. But obviously I'm just hearing things.
Kelly blows out a breath. "Well. Fine. But I really should get going. Bye.” He ambles off to his bus, which is, as Sister Bertha promised, still there.
Maggie calls out to him, but he’s already gone. So she claps her hands twice and turns to me. “You’re welcome,” she coos. I can feel Sister Bertha looking down at me, her tall frame casting a cold shadow where I’m standing. The nun doesn’t say a word, though.
“Well, I’ll text you, like I said. Does he have your number? I was going to get you to give him your number. Don't worry, I’ll text it to him,” Maggie is saying.
“Yeah. Ok,” I say with a forced smile. I scan the parking lot. “I think I see my mom’s car." I don't, but there is a car that's a similar color. Easily mistaken. "Bye, Maggie.” I glance at the nun. “Bye, Sister Bertha.”
“Miss Reeding.” I instinctively freeze at the sound of Sister Bertha’s low voice saying my name. “Your skirt is missing a button. I thought you should know.”
I have to work to unclench my teeth and speak english. “Yes. Uh. Thank you, Sister. I’ll get it fixed.”
. . .
My mom asks about my day on the ride home, and at some point she worms the story out of me that Maggie assigned Kelly and I to Easter decoration duty.
“You sound upset about this. By Kelly, you mean Nicholas, right? That's a funny thing to call him. Anyway, he's a nice boy, what's not to like?"
I poke at the spot on my skirt where the button's missing, pulling at a loose thread. "It's his name, Mom."
"But 'Kelly' makes him sound like a girl, he can't be happy about that."
"It's his last name. Everyone calls him Kelly."
My mom shakes her head. "Ok," she concedes. "Aren’t you two friends?”
I burrow further into the passenger seat. “No, we haven’t been friends since, like, fifth grade,” I scoff.
She raises her eyebrows. “Well, alright then. Are you nervous about this, then?”
“A handsome boy," she teases, playfully drawing out the 'o' in boy. "Maybe you should bring him around? You never have anyone over to the house.”
I think I die right there on the spot. “Oh my gosh, Mom. I’m not inviting him over. That’s weird.”
She frowns, that crease forming between her brows. “It’s not weird, Trinity. It’s normal. And it’s normal to be nervous. He’s probably just as nervous as you, that’s just how teenagers are.”
I shake my head vehemently. “He's not nervous. He--we're just... Ugh. Can we not talk about this?”
She just laughs. “Ok, ok. Sorry, sweetie.” But she’s still grinning a little.
And just like that, I can tell that she, too, along with the rest of the world, believe that I’m head-over-heels for Nicholas Kelly.
. . .
I should be studying for my science test, but I just can’t focus. My mind whirs with thoughts.
I want to talk to Pearl, I want to see Pearl, I want to know what Pearl’s doing right now. I think she's still mad at me, but she's never acted like this. She's never avoided me. I don't even think I did anything wrong, really. Did I?
Thinking about her makes me tired.
I want to know why Henry punched Andrew. Or did Andrew punch him? And does it have to do with Katherine, and why did she leave Henry that note, and what does she know?
And I want to know if Kelly really does like me, and I want to know why I think that has any bearing on whether I like him or not. I never considered liking Kelly in any non-friend capacity until someone else suggested it. Does that make me blind to my own desires, or does that mean I don't like him?
And why is everyone convinced that they know what I'm feeling? Maggie just sent me his number with a winking face emoji, and it's clear she's trying to set us up. The more I deny liking him, the more everyone else thinks I do.
Most confusingly, somehow the idea that he likes me makes him seem appealing. I still don't really want to date him, but out of anyone, maybe he wouldn't be so bad. Theoretically. I mean, I'll have to date someone at some point.
I'm just nervous, like my mom says.
I swivel side to side in my desk chair for a long time, getting absolutely no school work done. And when I've had enough, I pull out my phone.
I know that this is a terrible idea, but I also don’t know what else to do. I scroll through my contacts, find the one I'm looking for, and hit 'call'.
“Hello?” The voice on the other end is curious, a twinge surprised, and a decent amount amused.
I press one of my palms into my eyes, already regretting this decision. “Hi, Amber. This is Trinity.”
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/447284/trinity-23)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/447824/trinity-25)
It’s Friday, which is usually the best day of the week, but unfortunately for everyone, the day turns out pretty crappy.
First, Sister Anne and Sister Bertha inform the ninth grade class that we’re in charge of planning all of the Lenten school services, and ultimately Saint Paul’s Easter celebration, as well. This wouldn’t be awful, and in another reality could even be fun, but they’ve crowded our whole 116 person class into the chapel and Pearl doesn’t sit next to me. She doesn’t sit next to Henry either, and somehow that makes me feel worse.
I’m distracted the whole time, watching her out of the corner of my eye from a few pews away. She keeps rolling her eyes whenever the nuns talk, and it makes me want to shake her. As usual, I feel like Sister Bertha is watching, watching, watching.
Pearl doesn’t talk to me later in the day either. Not during science class, or in the halls, or when I try to find her at her locker. I think she’s going out of her way to avoid me.
And not only that, but Henry gets called to the office, which I only know because Maggie informs everyone at lunch. She says that he and Katherine were having a huge fight in between first and second period.
I’d quickly told him yesterday that the handwriting on the note he’d received matched hers. He hadn’t believed me at first, because apparently she used to dot her ’I’s with circles, and do some kind of curly thing with her ’Y’s. But I’d given him a flyer for the bible study group, and that had certainly convinced him.
And on top of all this is the schoolwork I hadn’t done Wednesday because I was at Pearl’s house, and the science test next week that I haven’t studied for yet, and the English paper that I need a first draft for by Monday.
All that would’ve been bad enough on its own. But someone has also spread the rumor that Nicholas Kelly and I are dating, or that I went over to his house on Wednesday, or that he’s planning on asking me out. Of course, no one’s said any of this to my face.
No one but Maggie, that is.
By the end of the day, I’m anxious to vent all my frustrations to Pearl. I’m anxious to see her. And I’m standing outside the front doors, waiting for her to come out. And at some point I glance over at the buses, and that’s when I see her climbing aboard hers.
It’s Friday, and she’s not coming to the park with me.
. . .
I spend the weekend checking and rechecking my phone for texts from Pearl. I don’t receive any. Checking my phone so much reminds me of what Kelly said at Maggie’s party: maybe whoever it is isn’t worth texting.
And thinking about Kelly and Maggie just makes me irrationally annoyed. Maggie did text me once more, but it was just to tell me that Sister Anne put her in charge of the Easter Planning Committee, and she’s putting me on the committee, if I want to be. I told her sure, because I know if I say no she’ll ask why, and I don’t want to explain that I’m mad at her for telling the whole school that I have a crush on Nicholas Kelly.
Especially when I don’t think I do.
. . .
Monday slogs along. I’m tired because I stayed up too late editing my English paper. And I have a history assignment I completely forgot about. And I forgot to put my school uniform in the wash, so I had to wear my skirt with the missing button. I keep waiting for someone to point it out.
Pearl isn’t at school. I try not to worry because she’s missed Mondays before, because of her retreats, she’s said. But hadn’t she just told me that she only had a two hour session this week?
Henry isn’t at school either, but that one I can at least explain. Or rather, Maggie does, over lunch.
“You didn’t really see the fight though, Becca,” Maggie was saying as I sat down. I sit in between Erica and Abbey now, because Mary Kate’s been getting to lunch early to claim the seat directly next to Maggie. I don’t mind, other than I still keep catching her scowling at me from behind her graphic novels.
Becca juts out her chin defensively. “Obviously I didn’t see the fight part. They were in the boy’s locker room, duh.”
“But you heard it?” Rachel asks around a mouthful of apple.
“Who?” pipes in Erica, glancing at me.
I can only shrug.
Maggie is quick to answer, though. “Andrew Ryan and--”
“Henry Foley,” Mary Kate finishes, setting aside her book with a thump. “Bloody noses, both of them.”
Now Henry’s getting into fights? Actual fights?
“Erica, you were there,” Becca says. “We were here after school for track, and Andrew was too, obviously. Henry must’ve gone in to pick a fight with him.”
“Why would Henry want to fight Andrew?” I ask.
“Oh, it’s got to be about Katherine,” Maggie informs me, stealing a handful of animal crackers from Mary Kate’s lunch. “Since she’s dating Andrew now. Henry’s definitely jealous.”
I don’t tell her how incorrect this statement is.
Abbey shakes her head. “Henry’s suspended is what he is. Well, he and Andrew both.”
Becca sighs dramatically. “And Katherine’s still here, soaking up all the attention.”
Rachel sets down her water bottle--which I’ve been told (and have confirmed) is constantly filled with protein shake. “She actually hasn’t said that much about it.”
Silently, I wonder how much Katherine does know. And I also contemplate whether that’s my problem. Because right now, I have far too many problems of my own.
(first part: https://theprose.com/post/432343/trinity)
(previous part: https://theprose.com/post/446860/trinity-22)
(next part: https://theprose.com/post/447481/trinity-24)
maybe just maybe
I'm not sure, I may be telling myself a sweet, beautiful lie- it's happened before, but not like this; it's scaring me, but I want to give in- I want to do this all for you, I know you're worth it and this may never happen again; I have to confess, tell the truth, let you know about what's either a marvel or a monster growing inside of me- perhaps, just maybe, there's the littlest chance that you're drowning in the same thing that I am.
(I love you.)
When an Angel and a Demon are in love… (Reposted from another challenge)
The Demon played the role of Devil’s Advocate.
The Angel played the role of savior, teacher, and healer.
The relationship: a beautiful disaster made neither in Heaven nor Hell.
They met as enemies on a battlefield. Both with the intention to save the world:
The Demon, who pledged to purge evil, led his armies as he had earned his horns in Hell.
The Angel, who pledged to save the world, brought peace as she had earned her wings in Heaven.
″Hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works.”
When she told him this, he fell in love.
One day the Angel fell in battle and could no longer fly.
The Demon offered her immortality on condition that she stay by his side forever.
Unable to leave the other’s side and return to Heaven or Hell:
They travel the world to this day bringing war and peace.
be my fable—my moonrise tea,
be my shot of stability.
hold my heart and hand & kiss my curves softly.
but more than anything, tell me your thoughts (please):
sculpt your mind with unfiltered phrases of raw words,
fresh cut slabs of verity.
because my soul craves organized chaos,
collateral spontaneity, it tastes like warm honey
gold tongues of destiny.
The Midnight Child
“I’m headed for a land that’s far away
Beside the crystal fountains
So come with me, we’ll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains”
He sang along with the beats of the cold wind that blew towards the direction of the high clockwork towers. Loose and tattered threads made movements of oriental dance as he swung the bag like the giant swaying pendulum that now stood motionless near him. Sharp minute crystals of frost grew on its raised glass coverings, projecting upwards into the air.
“In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
There’s a land that’s fair and bright
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night”
He peeled off his fake beard and slid it inside the old bag. The orange wig that rested on his head with the support of the beard rolled down eventually into the bag as he cocked his head to remove the plastic canines. He really was a different man without those cheek pads and the red ball of a nose.
“It’s Jolly, the joker!” they would run to him. He was never the clown children could be afraid of. He could make the most serious man laugh. He could do the trick no warlock could. Yet behind all those pranks and spoofs were innocent eyes that mirrored the shades of bright laughter and summery smiles. He was the real joker.
Twelve notes sounded from the city gong resonating the circus, each beat ending with a prolonged ritardando. The most beautiful phase of time. The very hour of typical Australian midnight. Jolly spun his bag around, making sharp, flat sounds with his thick boots and danced zigzagging towards the faucet that stood near the giant ferris wheel. Water flowed on his face, as he rubbed his cheeks with the back of his knuckles, washing away the flakes of his commanding make-up. He whistled as he filled his empty bottle, a whistle that went continuous and endless, sounding so unique as if the whole of midnight stopped to listen to him. The moon was magnolious that day, barring the clouds, sending her lustre take the form of a halo around her head. She didn’t shine. She didn’t glow. She was dazzling.
His whistle was cut sharp by the loud cries of a little child. His eyebrows raised, following the call that came from the skies. Surely, it can’t be the stars. He shadowed the cries closely, scanning through the graphite clouds. An eerie feeling creeped down his spine as he heard minor sounds of clinking metal. He read the skies, his eyes widening, letting out a knee-jerk gasp. The sound came from the ferris wheel.
The top carriage shook from left to right, going mad like a deranged elephant. He ran to pull the lever that spun the wheel but it was forced and tied with thick iron chains, all connected with a single intricate lockwork. He spread his fingers around a thick block of heavy granite that slept on a wooden pedestal near him, trying to break open the lock. But the moment it hit the metal surface, it crumbled to powder.
The cries grew louder pounding his eardrums, as he stopped for a moment to check if he was hallucinating. He rolled his shoulders, pushed the sleeves up, put his gloves back on, and climbed into a carriage. He stretched his arms outward and upward and with his supple fingers and climbed into the next carriage. His acrobatic skills gave him a hand as he mounted up and up and up until he reached the top carriage. His palms burned red underneath his gloves as he cracked his knuckles, all ten of them in rapid succession. He searched inside the carriage to find the source of the cries, till his boots bumped onto something.
He bent down and sat on his knees as he came in contact with two teary eyes that shone like freshly polished pebbles, washed from the sea. Jolly smiled, his usual joker smile and stretched his right hand into the blackness as a little hand reached out and touched his dirty blue gloves. A little boy, barely a year old, crept from the dark, struggling to stand on his knees. Jolly took him into his arms and with one giant leap, he vaulted towards the ground, rolling himself like a ball, making sure the boy was safe. The boy screamed, a loud ear-piercing scream which collapsed into a cough as Jolly put a finger to his lips.
He fumbled to find his water bottle and slowly glugged little sips of water into his throat. The boy ran his tongue over his chapped lips, gesturing for more. His face was red and pale with dry tears that rolled behind his ears, wetting his sideburns. Jolly loved watching his neck move in and out with every swig. He turned the bottle-cap and slipped it back in his bag. He let the boy rest on his back, carrying him, his arms looped around his neck.
“Ready for home, boy?” Jolly asked, closely watching his grey eyes spread wide open. “Aye? Okie then.”
He looked at the boy who sat there, deadpan, his eyelids fluttering from time to time. He wore a wide-collar, perfectly tailored pea coat with buckled leather shoes and tight socks that stretched up to his knees.
“A vest, a shirt, a coat, ain’t that a lot, boy?” Jolly chuckled. “Was yer name?” His mouth stretched wide, trying to weave words he knew but couldn’t produce. Finally he said something, hardly louder than a breath, but Jolly heard it.
“Yova,” the boy had said. Certainly, that can’t be a name. Jolly wrinkled his brows, replaying the movement of the boy’s lips.
“Did yer say, Noah?” he asked, with the newly found curiosity. But the boy shook his head and repeated his utterance.
“Guess yer got the sound wrong, boy,” Jolly said, scratching his jawline. “Les start from scratch.” It all began with Arthur and Elijah and trailed on to Luca, Joshua, Ezra, Tyler and all those circus boy names Jolly could think of.
“Edward?” he asked, one hand clenching his forehead in vexation, the other resting on his hip. The boy let out a slow whistling breath and his face lit up with a tint of rouge as if a chemical fluid had been injected into his cheeks. He smiled, revealing his baby teeth, and nodded his head in affirmation.
“Edward! Yer Edward!” Jolly shouted in delight, throwing his arm in the air. He joined his hands together, his fingers interlocking each other, holding the back of his head like a pillow.
“Yova!” the boy repeated, joining with Jolly who floated in the realm of happiness of cracking the cryptic name. He advanced towards the boy, taking him by his armpits and swung him around like on a flying carousel. The boy chuckled, enjoying the free ride, his face scintillating with eternal jubilation. “Glad yer din scream this time.”
“Grab yer papers, people!” he shouted at the top of his voice, pedalling down the placid roads of the sleeping city. Edward slept inside the bicycle-basket, letting out bonny little snores as a fine line of saliva dribbled down his coffee-coloured coat. Jolly picked up a newspaper balancing the cycle with one hand, rolled it like a barrel and threw it inside a house’s open window. His eyes were screwed on the little boy, never bothering to take a look at the headlines.
The sun wasn’t up. The azaleas hadn’t opened. The wrens were asleep. But Jolly was wide awake, his legs busy propelling the bicycle. “Prince Edward goes missing! Windsor castle in a frenzy!” The words were printed in bold letters in the darkest of inks, only to blind Jolly’s eyes.
“Grab yer papers, people!” he shouted, not knowing who he is carrying, not knowing he is being watched, not knowing that this is all planned.