Anything... (Chapter 2)
“Dude. Chew with your mouth closed. I don’t need to see that.”
Zack flashes a cheesy smile as he pops the last of the empanada into his mouth. He groans in a of post food-gasm state of bliss. “No, seriously. Marry me.”
Trini rolls her eyes in response and continues to heat up the rest of the empanadas. She carefully pulls them out of the microwave and stacks them up into a somewhat neat pyramid on a nearby paper plate. There’s more than enough empanadas there to feed a family of five, let alone just Zack and his mom.
“How many does your mom want?”
Zack leans back on his chair, cranes his head towards the bedroom and shouts a few unfamiliar words in mandarin. There’s a momentary pause and then Zack’s mom responses back from the bedroom.
“She says two.”
Without another word, Trini separates out two empanadas out onto a smaller plate and then goes about pouring a glass or water and grabbing a napkin. She makes her way through the narrow passageway that connects the main room to the bedroom, attempting to balance the plate and the water glass with only one hand – her good hand – as she does. It isn’t an easy feat to say the least.
Trini has been religiously coming over to Zack’s place, every Tuesday night with food, since a week after their impromptu campfire bonding session.
At first, she would try and come up with an excuse as to why she had brought it over. Her mom made too much for dinner or her abuela was in visiting and refused stop cooking. And Zack would nod in acceptance and then enthusiastically dig into whatever smorgasbord Trini had brought without any further questions.
But, after a while, Trini found herself feeling less and less of a need to make up an excuse. She would just show up, food in hand, and then spend the next few hours hanging out with Zack and his mom.
And it felt right. Like how being in a home should feel.
“Zack, it’s hot as balls in here.” Trini calls over her shoulder as she makes her way into the bedroom.
Zack’s mom gives her a warm, comforting smile as Trini sets the plate of empanadas in front of her.
Although Trini has only ever exchanged a few words in broken English with the woman, she’s come to view her as a sorta second mom… A mom that loves her unconditionally. No judgements nor strings attached.
“Shit. Not again.” Zack enters the bedroom and makes a beeline for the A/C unit. “Third time this week, man.”
“Here. Let me take a look.” Trini pushes Zack aside and squats down in front of the unit, causing her hair to cascade into her face. She attempts to tuck the loose strands behind her ears but it’s of little use. Within a mere second, it becomes untucked again.
Trini let’s out a frustrated sigh, grabs a hair tie from her wrist, and swoops her hair up into a ponytail.
“Whoa. When you get that done?”
Trini self-consciously touches her undercut and immediately grows a bit tense feeling Zack’s eyes on her.
“Dunno. A few weeks ago.”
“Weeks? No way. That shit’s super fresh.”
Zack reaches up to touch Trini’s nape but she slaps his hand away.
“C’mon, Crazy Girl. Don’t be like that. It’s sick.”
Zack turns back towards his mom and starts to rapidfire words in mandarin at her. His mom answers back matching his level of enthusiasm.
“Beautiful.” Zack’s mom gestures to Trini and then motions to the back of her head.
Trini can’t help but blush at this.
It’s such a little thing. A simple compliment. But it matters… God, how it matters.
“Thanks,” Trini mumbles trying to mask the growing redness spreading across her cheeks. “Kim did it.”
Zack bursts out in laughter at this sudden confession.
“Nothing.” Zach tries to suppress his laughter but can’t. “Just that the girl’s got it so bad for you.”
Trini shakes her head in disbelief. “Yeah right.”
“Fine. Don’t believe me.”
Trini goes to fire off a sarcastic response but stops short when she catches the look on Zack’s face. It’s a look that she rarely sees from him. A look of pure, undiluted honesty… and it’s nothing short of unnerving.
Trini redirects her attention back on the A/C unit, letting Zack’s comment sit with her for a moment or two.
There’s no way Kimberly could like her. Or at least like her in that way.
Kimberly’s straight…or is she?
Trini has never has had the best of gaydar, but still, she would certainly know if–
CLANG. The A/C crackles and then springs back to life. It doesn’t sound pretty, but it’s running.
“That’s my tiny butch!” Zack pulls Trini in for a bone crushing hug as his mom enthusiastically claps with relief.
“Call me that again and I’ll fuckin’ cut your balls off,” Trini mutters back, trying her best to act annoyed but secretly she loves it.
Zack’s words have been on a never ending replay in Trini’s head for the last 18 or so hours.
There’s a possibility. A small… No scratch that. A minute possibility that Kimberly Hart has feelings for her. And not the “I love you like a sister” sorta feelings.
The type of feelings that tend to transcend trivial words and common definitions.
The type that make a person forget all common logic and do rash, insane things.
The type of feelings that up until recently, Trini thought could never ever be reciprocated. At least not by Kimberly.
A note suddenly lands on Trini’s desk, snapping her out of her thoughts. She glances over at Kimberly, already knowing that it came from her, and catches sight of her smiling.
Kimberly gives a bit of a head nod towards the note, motioning for Trini to go on already and open it.
Trini ever so discretely, unfolds the paper, trying not to draw too much attention to herself. The last thing she needs is their Bio teacher intercepting yet another one of their exchanges.
If only she knew just how deep of thoughts they are…
Trini takes a moment, trying to think of how she wants to respond and then writes–
“Just hungry. Wanna hit up Krispy Kreme with me after eighth?”
Trini folds back up the piece of paper, shoot it over to Kimberly, and redirects her attention back on their Bio teacher. It’s taking every ounce of self-control she has within her to act like she’s not all that interested in Kimberly’s response..
A second later, the note lands again and Trini opens it back up–
“It’s a date!”
Trini does a slight double-take upon seeing these words.
Of course, Kimberly doesn’t mean a “date” date. That’s just some sorta common straight girl terminology. Call something a date just for shits and giggles.
It’s like when straight girls sit on each other laps and be overly affectionate with one another, almost to the point where it could be misconstrued as PDA.
It couldn’t be an actual date…
Trini glances back over at Kimberly, searching for some sort of clarity, but is only met with even more confusion.
Kimberly stares back at Trini with an infectious smirk painting across her lips. It’s almost as if she knows something that Trini doesn’t.
…Or could it?
Trini sits curled up in the far corner of a booth, compulsively swiping through her instagram feed, while her knees bounce at a jackhammer like pace. Her ability to “act cool” disappeared roughly five minutes ago when Kimberly offered to go get their “usual” and refused to let Trini pay for it, saying it was “her treat”.
“Two strawberry iced donuts with sprinkles and a large milk and sugar with a splash of coffee.” Kimberly places the donuts and coffee in front of Trini before sliding into the other side of the booth with her own coffee and donut combo.
“Very funny, Hart,” Trini mumbles under her breath and then takes a massive bite of one of the donuts.
“Oh, I’m hysterical.”
Trini, not so gracefully, crams the rest of donut into her mouth, causing an impromptu shower of rainbow sprinkles.
A warm smile crawls across Kimberly’s face and she every so slightly chuckles.
But Kimberly doesn’t respond. She simply reaches across the table and with the lightest of touches, brushes a few stray sprinkles off of Trini’s cheeks.
And just like that, Trini’s mind instantly short circuits.
It is just a little gesture. Something that Kimberly has done numerous times before, but for some reason, this time feels different.
This time it feels like it could mean something more…
“How’s the hand?”
“Huh?” Trini suddenly realizes that Kimberly’s talking to her and snaps back to reality.
“Your hand. How’s it healing?”
Trini slowly opens and closes her fingers on her left hand, only wincing slightly with each change in movement. Even with her accelerated healing, it’s still going to be at least a few more weeks until it’s back to full strength.
“Good. Cause I’d hate to see any permanent damage happen to those fingers of yours.” Kimberly smirks with a subtle raise of her eye brows while reaching across the table and ghosting her fingers across the top of Trini’s.
Trini chokes on her sip of coffee, just barely avoiding it from shooting through her nose.
Did Kimberly just say that? That isn’t something one says to their strictly platonic friend. That’s something one says when–
Trini looks up just in time to spot Jason heading over towards them.
“Hey. What are you guys doing here?” Jason slides into the booth next to Kimberly and greets her with an overly friendly hug.
“Solvin’ world peace.” Trini muttered while digging into her second donut.
“We’re just hanging out. Where’s Billy? I thought you two were going to the quarry?”
“Still are. Swung by to grab some snacks first. You know how Billy gets if he doesn’t have his two glazed donuts and–”
“A soy hot chocolate.” Kimberly finishes Jason’s thought with a knowing smile. “That boy sure does loves his hot chocolate.”
“A little too much. Not gonna lie though. It’s kinda adorable.”
Jason and Kimberly exchange a small laugh and in the process doing so, reach out to touch each other. Jason, with his hand on Kimberly’s back and Kimberly’s hand on Jason’s thigh.
It’s nothing more than a familiar, subconscious reaction that happens all of the time between the five of them and yet, in that moment, Trini feels as if witnessing something private. Something that’s not meant for her eyes.
Trini knows, deep down inside that Jason doesn’t harbor those type of feelings for Kimberly. Not that he’s ever flat out told her this. He doesn’t have to. It’s just something that she knows to be true.
But, sitting there, watching the two of them casually interact with each other, Trini can’t help but think that it’s only a matter of time before their “brother / sister” style of friendship morphs into something more. Something deeper.
It makes sense. Jason and Kimberly are – or at least up until recently – Angel Groove’s version of teenage royalty. The star quarterback and the head cheerleader.
Sure, it’s a stereotype… but stereotypes exist for a reason, right?
And this is what every straight girl wants. Or at least the specific breed of straight girl that Kimberly Hart happens to be.
They want the charismatic, blue eyed, dimple clad athlete who’s kind and considerate and puts all of the other boys to shame when it comes to grand, romantic gestures. The one that every parent dreams their daughter will bring home one day.
Suddenly, Trini realizes that she needs to leave. And right now.
“I’ve gotta go.” Trini quickly scoops up her backpack and slides out of the booth, not even bothering to give Jason nor Kimberly a chance to react.
“Trini, wait!” Kimberly calls out after her with a somewhat strange level of bewilderment to her voice.
But Trini doesn’t stop. She can’t. Trini heads straight towards the door with an unwavering determination to get out the hell out of there as fast as humanly possible.
This is all just too much for her…
Trini slips into the kitchen through the backdoor and does a quick glance around. Not a soul in sight. Perfect.
Trini exhales in relief and then starts to move across the room, when suddenly–
Trini stops dead in her tracks as her mom appears in the doorway.
“Where were you?”
“Out.” Trini responds in barely more than a whisper. Eyes glued to her beat up converse.
“Out where? And with who? You were supposed to be home over an hour ago.”
“Just out. Okay?” Trini goes to moves past her mom, but she’s immediately blocked. This isn’t going to be a quick conversation.
“No, not “okay”. You can’t just go running around, doing god knows what. There are rules, Trinity. Now where were you?”
Trini tense ever so slightly at the sound of her full name. Her mom is the only one who ever uses it and god how it gets under Trini’s skin each and every time that she does.
“I was out with friends,” Trini answers through gritted teeth.
“Who are these friends? Do I know them?”
Trini takes a deep breath for a moment, internally weighing whether or not she should drop the name. A name that is going to illicit a response from her mom that Trini herself can never seem to achieve. No matter how much she tries.
Trini’s mom instantly lights up with a level of sheer excitement that Trini hasn’t seen in well over a decade.
“Kimberly Hart? Oh! She’s that lovely girl who volunteered at that hospital fundraiser last month, right? The cheerleader? I didn’t know you two were friends.”
Trini shrugs. She knows from years of experience that it’s better not to say anything at all and just let her mom’s imagination run wild with thoughts of the type of daughter Trini could possibly be.
“Were you at the mall? Do kids even still hang out at the mall anymore? Do you need money for clothes? I bet Kimberly would be more than happy to help you pick out a few things. Maybe something a little less baggy? That girl has a wonderful sense of style. You could learn a thing or two from her, Mija.”
Trini self-consciously tugs on the ends of her flannel shirt while shifting from foot to foot.
Trini’s appearance has always been a sore subject, to say the least, between the two of them.
Her mom has tried everything, including once throwing out all of Trini’s wardrobe, in order to get Trini to dress “more appropriately”.
And by “more appropriately”, she means more like how a girl is supposed to dress. Cute tops. Skirts. Heels. Dresses…
“No, Mamí. I don’t need money.”
“Isn’t Kimberly dating that boy? The one who’s a quarterback? I think that’s what Mrs. Rogers said. She mentioned it when I was picking up Diego and Daniel last week. Maybe she can introduce you to some of his friends?” Trini’s mom gleefully rambles on, getting more and more caught up with each and every passing second.
Trini skin crawls. Once again, she knows she needs to leave. And now. Before her mom’s words can cut any deeper…
“I’m going back out.” Trini straightens herself up a bit, finally meeting her mom’s eyes. There’s a look of hopefulness there that Trini simply can’t handle.
Trini doesn’t respond. But she doesn’t have to…
Her mom takes the silence as a yes. “Just make sure to be back by 10, Mija.”
With that, Trini turns back around and takes off again out of the house.
Trini sits alone on top of a large boulder, knees tucked firmly into her chest, just looking out onto the quarry down below as two defined trails of tears roll down her cheeks.
This is her spot. A spot that no one – Not even Zack – knows about. It’s the spot that’s reserved for those moments when life becomes just a little too much to bear.
A spot where no one can see her break down and cry.
BUZZ. Trini’s phone suddenly lights up beside her, signifying yet another text. She ignores it, not even attempting to glance down at the screen.
BUZZ… BUZZ… BUZZ… BUZZ…
“Fuck.” Trini lets out a frustrated sigh, snatches up her phone, and swipes the screen.
PainInMyAss: TRINI!!!!! YOOOOO!!! Where R U????
PainInMyAss: U OK??? Your girl’s freakin’ out. Text her ASAP.
PainInMyAss: Trini… Trini… Earth to Trini!
PainInMyAss: C’mon. I know u’r there…
PainInMyAss: Get u’r head out of u’r ass.
Knowing that she has no patience to deal with Zack at the moment, Trini ignores his texts and taps into the other set of notifications.
PinkPrincess: Hey T. Where’d you go? Everything ok?
PinkPrincess: Just tried calling you but got your VM.
PinkPrincess: Did I do something? Is it me?
PinkPrincess: Please let me know you’re ok.
Trini takes a moment and then types out–
I’m not ok.
But she can’t bring herself to hit the send button. Trini quickly deletes the message and places her phone back down again.
Trini looks at the screen once again.
PinkPrincess: I saw the dots. I know you’re there. Please, Trini. Just talk to me.
Trini would give anything just to be able to talk to Kimberly. To curl up in her arms and recount all of the numerous reasons why the last few days have royally sucked. To have Kimberly lovingly stroke her head and reassure her that it will be all be ok in the long run.
But Trini knows that it’s just not a good idea. That talking to Kimberly will be the first step down the all too familiar road to unrequited heartache.
With a sudden and definitive resolution, Trini shuts off her phone and then shoves it into her pocket. No more messages… at least not tonight.
Trini runs her hands through her hair and glances out onto the moonlit quarry below. There’s a stillness to it all that’s more than calming. She re-tucks her knees back under her chin and just stares for another moment or two. Then–
An almost blinding GREEN LIGHT implodes at the base of the quarry… right near the entrance pool. It’s brief. A blink of the eye and it would have been missed.
Trini immediately jumps to her feet in a sudden state of panic, trying to get a better look. But there’s nothing there. Just the moonlit quarry.
“What the fuck was that?”