The Beginning

February 24, 2013
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Trinity White stands still in her bedroom, her eyes focusing cautiously on the two outfits laid out in front of her. With a perfectly manicured hand laid thoughtfully underneath her chin, her hazel eyes scrutinize the white shorts paired with a flowy yellow tank top. After a few seconds, she switches her gaze to the black high-waisted skirt with a purple off-the-shoulder shirt. At the moment, all that’s on Trinity’s mind is her first day back to school. Entering her senior year of high school, she wants to make a grand entrance, looking as glamorous as she can. She is the most popular girl in school, of course. Trinity shakes her head with a smile on her face. Does it really matter which outfit I choose? She asks herself. I’ll look amazing in either one and look better than everyone else anyways. Trinity shrugs her shoulders, lifting the pressure off of them immediately. She decides on the skirt, solving the only problem of her day.

It’s the last day of summer, and Trinity is high with eagerness towards the beginning of her senior year. Nothing is more important to her than looking her best and showing it off, something she has never failed to do ever since she was a tiny toddler. One person she especially enjoys looking good for is her boyfriend of two years, Trey. He is at the same status as Trinity as the star basketball player and the most attractive boy in school. Of course Trinity is paired with him. Although Trey is different than her; he shows much more compassion for others and is kind to everyone he sees. Despite this large contrast, Trey still is with Trinity because there is something about her that he is drawn towards. Not her beautiful looks or her popularity—he could care less about how popular she is—but something in her personality that he sees but Trinity doesn’t yet. Trey is devoted towards helping her realize it too; he just knows that it’s something that makes her a better person. But at the moment, she is too caught up in high school to realize it.

Trinity, now satisfied with the outfit she has chosen, lays back onto the soft comforter of her bed and whips out her iPhone. She presses two, her best friend’s speed dial, and lays the slim phone to her ear.

After two rings, Jaime picks up. “Hey Trinity,” Jaime’s high, clear voice says into Trinity’s ear.

Trinity inspects the nail on her middle finger, looking for chips on her French manicure. “You busy?” she asks simply, switching her gaze to her window. The green leaves of the tree right outside sway in the light Virginia breeze, sparkling in the sunlight.

“Nope, what’s up?” Jaime answers.

Trinity sits up, letting her bare, pedicured feet graze her carpeted floor. “Good, come over for a swim?”

“I’ll be over in a few,” Jaime responds before ending the call.

Trinity, already in her swimsuit with shorts and a tank top over top, makes her way downstairs and out to her pool. She gazes across her backyard to the next yard over, the rich green grass reflecting the sun like a mirror. Squinting, Trinity sees Jaime step out of her back door. Trinity smiles and raises her hand as not only her best friend but her next-door neighbor makes her way across her backyard and into Trinity’s, smiling and waving back. Trinity grins to herself, always happy to have her best friend so close.

The next day, Trinity picks up Jaime in her white BMW, and they head towards school for the first day of senior year. It’s a beautiful morning, the sun already shining bright in the clear blue sky as it warms the late summer air, and birds are waking up, letting out short, loud chirps from their perches in the high branches of swaying trees. Enjoying the weather with her window down, Trinity is happy with a great start to the first day of school.

“I can’t believe we’re going back already,” Jaime sighs, gazing out the passenger window at the blur of green trees gliding by.

“I can’t believe we’re seniors,” Trinity replies as she toys with the radio, looking for a good song. She keeps Good Feeling on and focuses on the road again, satisfied.

Jaime tucks a piece of strawberry-blonde hair behind her ear and nods her head in agreement. “High school went so fast.”

Five minutes later, Trinity enters the McMillan High parking lot and pulls into a space as close to the school as she can get. After double checking her hair and makeup in the flip-down mirror in front of her, Trinity grabs her bag as she and Jaime make their way to the first day of their last year in high school.

“Do you see what she has on?” Trinity whispers into Jaime’s ear as they walk through the school hallways, focusing her eyes on a short, self-reserved girl passing by, dressed in an atrocious outfit that breaks all rules of the color code or simply fashion sense in general.

Jaime sighs as Trinity holds a look of pure humor on her face, looking like she is about to burst into a fit of laughter any minute. “Trinity, come on,” Jaime groans, unhappy with the way her best friend treats people. “It’s the first day of school for crying out loud, give some people a break.”

But Trinity doesn’t listen, still humored as she pats her pin-straight chocolate-brown hair down, making sure her private little outburst didn’t mess it up.

On their way to third period, Jaime grabs Trinity’s attention and points to a poster on the wall.
Soccer try-outs start next week: Monday through Friday 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM.
Be a part of the best team in the state!

“You trying out this year?” Jaime asks, glancing at Trinity.
Trinity grins. “Of course,” she replies, “how can the MVP of the State Champions not try out senior year?” Trinity thinks back to last year’s season as co-captain, remembering the many games in which she scored the most goals, driving the team to the State Championship. Now that she is a senior, it is her chance to be a captain of the team. Butterflies burst in her stomach at the thought of this, even though her position as captain is basically reserved for her at this point. She was MVP last year; it’s kind of hard to not name her captain of the team.
Right then, Trinity spots Trey coming towards her, a wide smile breaking out onto his face at the sight of her.
“Hey you,” he says, putting his arm around Trinity and giving her a peck on the check as he starts to walk with them. He smiles at Jaime. “What’s up, Jaime?”
Jaime smiles back as Trinity looks at Trey’s smooth, tan face so close to hers. The butterflies return even after two years of their faithful relationship. His light brown hair lies perfectly above his blue eyes and he looks back at Trinity with a crooked smile that sends goose bumps all over her olive skin. Before she could say a word, Trinity’s moment is interrupted by the loud late bell ringing from the speakers.
“Oh, crap!” Jaime mutters as she flees to her next class down the hall.
“Oh man, I’m gonna be late for calculus,” Trinity groans to Trey. Despite Trinity’s absorbance in her materialistic life, she works hard when it comes to school and excels in almost every class.
Trey gives her a quick kiss and they both head off to their next class, already late on the first day of school.

That afternoon, Trinity is at Jaime’s house as they lounge in her backyard after their long day of classes. The sun is still shining its rays and Trinity is lying on her back with her eyes closed, the cool grass feeling soft underneath her.

Jaime comes over with two bottles of water and sits down next to her best friend.

“Okay, how ridiculous is that homework Mr. Shields gave us today?” Jaime says as she crosses her legs underneath her, referring to their AP Biology teacher. Of course, he gave out a long packet on the first chapter due in two days, getting a “head start” on their first lesson.

“So bad,” Trinity agrees, taking a water bottle and sipping it daintily. “I miss summer already.” She angles her face towards the sun, enjoying the warm rays on her skin.

Just then, Trinity hears the back door slam. She turns her head towards the noise and sees Jaime’s brother Justin coming down from the back stair-case of his garage-apartment, a part of Jaime’s house that now belongs to Justin since he is taking a year off before college to focus on his music. With more room to practice with his band, the apartment that has always been above their garage proved to be the perfect place for Justin at this time. When he reaches the ground, he notices Jaime and Trinity sitting in the grass. His shaggy brown hair brushes over his dark brown eyes and despite the hot weather today, he is wearing jeans with his t-shirt. Justin nods at his sister and Trinity before heading to his car parked in the driveway.

Trinity realizes right then that even though she and Jaime have been best friends and neighbors all their lives, she has never gotten to know Justin at all. In elementary school, when Jaime and Trinity would be playing together in Jaime’s house, Justin would pop out and scare them or bother them like any other obnoxious brother would do at that age. But as they grew older, he seemed to become distant and quiet, always in his room with the door shut as he played the guitar loudly or out somewhere with his friends.

“Justin is just really into his music,” Jaime had said while they were in middle school after Trinity had asked her what was up with him.

Now, Trinity gets a sudden rush of curiosity about Jaime’s mysterious older brother. She watches him as he gets into a small blue car in their driveway and finds herself wondering where he might be going, all of the sudden interested in what he’s like.

“He’s so weird sometimes,” Jaime says, snapping Trinity back to reality, “but I’ll admit, he’s a pretty skilled musician.”

Trinity’s interest in conversation suddenly perks at the mention of Justin. “What does he play again?”

Jaime starts picking at the grass beneath her. “Electric guitar and he sings,” she replies nonchalantly. “He’s in a band with three other people, too.”

“Is he really good?” Trinity asks, finding herself attracted to a good musician for some reason, odd enough since she’s always been into athletes.

“Yeah, I’d say,” Jaime says with a shrug. “Who knows, maybe this year for his music might prove to be a good choice after all. Famous or not, he’s getting out there and making some money.”

“Maybe you’ll have a famous brother in the future,” Trinity says, smiling and nudging Jaime jokingly.

Jaime lets out a short burst of laughter. “Yeah, I’m sure,” she replies sarcastically. “Miracles will be miracles.”

Suddenly, Trinity hears her mother yell her name from their house, sounding like an angry scream rather than a nice call to come to dinner.

“Oh, whoops,” Trinity says, now aware of why her mom sounds ticked. “Forgot to clean my room. Better get home before she murders me.”

“Call me tonight to work on that biology homework,” Jaime says as Trinity gets up to leave.

“Will do!” Trinity calls over her shoulder as she walks to her house. Right when Trinity is alone with her thoughts, Justin pops back up into her mind. As weird as she feels about it, he sparks an interest in her and she immediately feels a sense of rebellion at the thought. Trey doesn’t come into her mind at all as she thinks about Justin, despite her faithfulness towards him for two years. Maybe she needs a little bit of edge in her life, something that lets the adrenaline rush through her. To Trinity, this mysterious musician kind of fits the part. Not only this, but she feels sort of attracted to him, realizing how good-looking he really is.
Stepping into her house, she smiles to herself, liking the rebellious feeling Justin gave her.

The next week came and went in a heartbeat. Trinity got accustomed to all of her new classes, already receiving piles of work in every subject. But she is dedicated when it comes to school work, getting every assignment done and being sure all of it is perfect. She got ready for soccer try-outs next week, practicing in her huge back yard and making sure she was warmed up and confident for when the try-outs came; of course, she’s always confident within herself, so not much practicing was even needed.

On top of all of her schoolwork, she was able to look her best in school, carefully planning each outfit and hairstyle, being sure she looked the best out of everyone. This also gave her time to sneak sly comments to her friends about what other people were wearing, just for her pure enjoyment. Of course, she gossiped to others about the latest scandals going on about people, not hesitating to exaggerate a bit to make the stories a little more interesting. In just a few days, Trinity was back to her normal self in school; center for gossip, prettiest senior, and of course, center of attention, like always. The first party was that Friday, and Trinity was eager to go, feeling the rebel resurface in her.

“You’re going to Ben’s tonight, right?” Jaime asks Trinity now as they drive home from school. This time, Jaime drove them to school in her black Jeep Wrangler; they always switch off every other day on who drives to school. It keeps the gas saved and therefore, the parents happy.

“Uh, yeah,” Trinity answers, acting as if it was an obvious answer. “You’re coming.”

Jaime switches her left turn signal on as she pulls up to a traffic light. “Of course I am,” she says. “Can’t wait.”

That evening, Trinity spends delicate time on what she would wear to the party. After a good half hour of getting ready, she skips down her staircase and calls out to her mom, “I’m going out.”

Mrs. White walks from the kitchen to meet Trinity in the foyer, her bare feet padding lightly against the shiny hardwood floor. “Okay, be careful, sweetie,” she answers, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“Always am,” Trinity beams at her, acting as sweet and innocent as can be.

Trinity’s brown sandals flop against the cement as she walks down her driveway to get into her car. The sun is slowly setting, casting an orange glow on the treetops, and the late summer air feels comfortably cool without the blazing sun. The crickets and cicadas chirp and sing loudly, filling the evening air as Trinity climbs into her car.

Jaime sees Trinity start the engine from her hall window and quickly slips out the front door to meet her. Within minutes, they are on their way with the radio blasting and windows down, singing along to the songs that come on and laughing loudly as they let the warm night air breeze through their hair. They are excited to go to their first party as seniors with the feeling that everything is perfect. But the night is very, very young.

As always, the party turns out to be the perfect way to end the week and start the weekend. The huge white Victorian house was filled with people from school looking for a good time after a full week of school, bringing a taste of summer back into their lives. Trinity enjoyed herself just as much as everyone else, mingling with others and playing multiple games of beer pong. The typical parties from kids at McMillan High never seem to get old. Trinity wasn’t exactly capable of driving by the end of the night, but she was smart enough to at least keep herself in control. Like the reliable best friend she is, Jaime did the honors of driving them home.

After reaching her destination later that night, Trinity carries her tired limbs up the soft carpeted stairs and feels a large sense of relief once she is able to kick off her sandals and lay back on her bed. A great night for sure, but it does have to end eventually. Trinity curls up on her comforter, closing her eyes and letting her mind drift. Before long, an image pops into her mind. A long, tan face smiles his typical smile, showing his bright white teeth as his rich blue eyes sparkle: Trey. Trinity smiles to herself, happy that Trey is hers. But suddenly, the face changes. His short brown hair grows a little longer, covering the tops of his ears and brushing into his long eyelashes. The eyes darken to an almond brown, glowing against his peach skin.

Trinity’s eyes snap open. Justin. Suddenly the night still seems very young. A slow smile grows onto Trinity’s face as her sleepy mood becomes giddy with eagerness and a wide feeling of exhilaration runs through her veins. Maybe this night doesn’t have to end.
Ten minutes later, Trinity slips out the back door with a mischievous feeling pumping through her body. The dewy grass is cold against her feet as she makes her way across the backyard. She can see a light on in the second floor of Justin’s garage-apartment and a little burst of butterflies spreads throughout her stomach, knowing that he will be up. She makes her way to the back steps of the garage, climbing them delicately, and, after a deep breath to relax her nerves, knocks neatly on his door.
Trinity can hear rock music playing lightly inside. A quiet breeze starts up, blowing over her bare shoulders and through her hair. She shivers a bit, rubbing her hands over her upper arms. After a minute, the music is cut off. Her heart starts racing again as she realizes that he heard her. But before she can wimp out, she remembers why she is doing this: for the exact feeling she’s getting now. Exhilaration, eagerness, excitement. . . after thinking, she suddenly craves it, growing impatient of how long it is taking for him to get the door. Surprisingly, Trey doesn’t make his way into her mind again at all. All she can think about is Justin’s dark, attractive face, sending more tingles down her spine. Before she can think one more word, the door unlocks and swings open.
Justin stands in the doorway wearing jeans and a black t-shirt, looking just like the last time Trinity saw him. His dark brown eyes stare at her blankly for a minute and then a crease forms between his eyes in confusion. His right hand is still holding onto the doorknob as he stands still, frozen in place.
Trinity’s heart drops at his expression, suddenly thinking this is a very bad idea. But she toughens up and before she can say a word, Justin beats her to it.
“Trinity, right?” he asks, his expression changing to one of recognition as he releases his hand from the door and lets it fall to his side.
“Yeah,” she breathes, almost speechless. Weird; she has never felt this way in front of a guy before, even Trey when they first met. She’s always been the confident one, starting the conversation and breaking the ice with her flirty comments and batting lashes. But this is different.
“You wanna come in?” he asks, stepping to the side as he gestures lightly into the room. Obviously; why else would she come to his door at one in the morning, anyway?
“Sure.” Trinity slowly steps in and gives Justin a polite smile. He returns it as he shuts the door lightly.

Immediately, the one thing that stands out to Trinity is the mess in the far corner; but after a closer look, it doesn’t turn out to be a mess as she sees the drum set and two electric guitars sitting on stands against the wall. The mess she saw was a bunch of wires lying across the floor, connected to amps on either side of the drums. Scanning the rest of the room curiously, she sees a TV on a wooden chest on one wall facing a brown couch on the opposite wall. To her left, a small kitchenette took up one corner of the room, and a door to a bathroom was visible in the far left corner. There were random items thrown about the floor of the entire room: clothes, food wrappers, drumsticks, dumbbells…guess he works out? Trinity thought.
“So what brings you here?” Justin asks, passing her and casually flopping onto the couch.
Trinity quickly switches her gaze back to Justin, suddenly fumbling for the reason why she could possibly have come so late at night, especially to see someone she never really knew.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she says lightly, looking around. “I guess I got bored.”
Justin smiles at this. “I never see you around,” he states, crossing his right ankle up onto his left knee and laying his arms behind him on the top of the couch. “You must be really bored.”
Trinity blushes, but suddenly becomes a little comfortable around him. She likes how kind and welcoming he is, even at this hour. “Maybe I am.”
In an act of boldness, Trinity plops down right next to him on the couch, crossing her legs underneath her into the soft cushion. With just one move, the whole situation changes. They start into a conversation, talking easily about anything and everything. Justin is secretly pleased that she showed up, as he has always been interested in her but too intimidated to talk to her. He heard from his sister that she could be a real jerk, cruel with her words and full of herself. But now, he becomes more interested as he finally is able to talk to her. He finds her bold personality very attractive.
After a while of talking, Justin starts to make a move. Trinity, excited enough from this night already, feels her heart start pumping adrenaline through her veins. Happy with her confidence and fearlessness of the night, she is finally getting the edgy, mischievous feeling she’s been waiting for. Trey never penetrates her mind, blocked from her thoughts completely as now his face is replaced by Justin’s.
Too absorbed in each other, they are unaware of the quiet footsteps climbing the back stairs to the door. A masked face peers into the window, seeing the two on the far end of the room. He flexes his fingers in his leather gloves and reaches for a blade in his back pocket.
James and Trinity are completely unaware of the danger outside of the apartment. Suddenly, a hard knock at the door echoes in the room. Justin pulls away from Trinity, staring at the door in confusion.
“Who could that be?” he mumbles as he slowly gets up and creeps to the door.
Very carefully, he opens the door a crack, peeking his head out. Within seconds, he shuts it and turns around.
“No one’s there,” he says to Trinity. “That was weird.”
But Trinity can’t respond. When Justin had turned around, the door had opened quietly and a large black figure appeared. She stares past him, back at the door, with a horrified look on her face.
“Trinity, what—” Justin starts as he begins to turn. But it is too late. He is cut off mid-sentence and a horrifying noise fills Trinity’s ears as she lets out a blood-curdling scream.

Trinity is standing in pure fear, staring into a pair of dark eyes behind a ski mask. Justin falls to the ground and she can’t bear to see what was done to him. The man wipes off his knife without taking his dark stare off of Trinity. She can’t think what to do, shaking in fear and shock, and thinking this is it. This is the end.

Quickly, Trinity is able to tear her eyes away from this monster and look around for an escape route. There is a window on the wall next to her by the couch and another pair of windows across the room. But only one door…behind the man.

If I break that window, I’ll be able to jump, she thinks fast. It can’t be that far of a drop.

Trinity looks back at the man, her eyes wide as she is analyzed by him. Suddenly, the man advances slowly and Trinity has no choice but to act as quick as possible. She grabs the dumbbells lying by her feet and thrusts them into the window. Glass shatters everywhere and Trinity cringes away, shielding her eyes from the flying pieces. Immediately, she climbs halfway through the window and looks down.

“Oh my god,” she whispers, staring at the big drop. It seems so far down, right into the cement driveway. But she glances back and sees this man getting closer, so she braces herself and drops from the window. After a moment, her legs automatically take her into the darkness of the night.

The changing orange leaves shine in the sunlight as a small, white butterfly flitters past, moving with the calm breeze. It’s a warm day considering the quick transition into fall. Children’s loud yells echo through the air as they play in the sprinkler in their backyard. They laugh and scream when being spritzed with the cold hose water, running through quickly and then standing safely in the dry grass off to the side. They run through the sprinkles one by one, each enjoying it just as much as the other no matter how many times they run through.

Trinity watches calmly from her back porch, but her eyes begin to glaze over and stare off blankly into space. If those kids even knew what had happened only two doors over. The sound…the blood…

Snapping out of it, Trinity squeezes her eyes shut and shakes her head, trying to rid of the memory but will never be able to, as it engraved itself into a part of her mind, a part that reminds her every day. Instinctively, she looks around. She sees the green bushes in each corner of her fenced-in pool, perfect places for someone to hide if they crouched low and stayed still. She sees the thick forest farther in the back of her yard, extending across all of her neighbors’ yards and probably reaching miles back.

So many places to hide…and watch from…

Rattled with fear, Trinity bolts inside, locking the door behind her. She skitters up to her room, shutting her door quickly and sitting safely on her bed, pulling her knees into her chest.

It’s already been one month since the murder and Trinity is still stricken with fear and paranoia. After she escaped that night, she had run to her house and dialed 911 immediately. The jump from the window made her legs stiff from the absorbed shock, and she had trouble getting up from her crumpled position on the driveway. But it was life or death, so she had forced herself to get to safety. The cops had arrived only minutes after, but they only found one person in the house; or rather, one body.

Trinity cannot stand to think of what happened to Justin. She couldn’t face the fact that he’s dead; stabbed in the chest. He’s gone; her neighbor, her best friend’s brother. And Trinity almost can’t believe how coincidental it was that she was there when it happened. It was that night.

Shivers run through her body as memories of that night float around in her mind. The murderer got away and no police, no agents, no detectives, have been able to track him down. He’s still out there.

And he got a good look at Trinity’s face. She cringes every time she has to think of his eyes staring into her soul. She had been sat down with detectives and police, questioned endlessly about that night. As the only witness, they had to rely on her to get the full profile of this man. But he had a mask, so she has absolutely no idea what this criminal looks like, except that he is tall and bulky. And he had wanted to kill her, too. She saw the murder. If anyone, it would be Trinity that he’s after next, since she saw the whole thing.

Jaime and her family went through hell that night. They couldn’t comprehend the fact that their son, Jaime’s brother, is gone. Not only gone, but murdered. It just isn’t right.

By now, Trinity and Jaime are back to school, done with the funeral, done with the police questioning. But nothing seems normal anymore. Jaime doesn’t understand why Trinity was there that night, and Trinity has no explanation but the truth. As for Trey, she had to tell him the truth. As of now, they are on a “break,” but Trinity can tell that it will be longer than a break. After everything that’s happened, though, that doesn’t even seem important.

All Trinity can think about is those dark eyes behind that mask and the fact that he’s still out there, capable of murder. Every night Trinity goes to bed in fear, worried that her door will burst open at any minute or someone will jump out at her from her closet. She swears that she sees the bushes rustle at night when looking out her bathroom window while getting ready for bed. But she tells herself repeatedly that she’s just paranoid and it’s only the wind or an animal.

School has become a blur. Week by week, Trinity stares blankly at the chalkboard as her teachers lecture about a new lesson or a research paper coming up. She absorbs nothing and gives barely anything in her work. She is constantly looking around her while doing her homework at home, unable to focus on the topics. She just always has the feeling that someone is watching her.

One night, Trinity is brushing her teeth and she looks impulsively out the window into her backyard. Normally, this is just automatic, and she sees nothing and goes back to getting ready for bed. But this time, she sees movement. The bushes in the far corner of the pool area rustle a bit, and suddenly, a dark figure emerges.

Trinity’s toothbrush drops onto the tile floor. The figure glances up at her and then flees, jumping swiftly over the gate and off into the woods. Trinity immediately screams her parents’ names, running downstairs and yelling that someone was watching her from their backyard.

“He ran into the woods!” she screams at them, pointing her finger towards the back. “It was him; I know it. Who else would be hiding there watching our house?”

Her mother puts her arms around her and calms her down while her dad calls the police to come check it out. But when the officers show up, they scope out the yard and the house, finding nothing and no one.

Months go by and things get worse for Trinity. Her grades are dropping; she becomes isolated from everyone at school and does nothing but worry alone in her room at nights and on weekends. She has been completely absorbed in fear, letting paranoia get the best of her. Every little noise, every little movement around her, causes her to whip her head up and look around for a large dark figure with a mask. She isn’t able to think straight, unable to be herself. She goes to school in sweats almost every day, making no effort to look good for school. She just doesn’t have the desire, and even if she did, she wouldn’t be able to focus on it for more than a minute. Despite her lack of good appearance, all she can think about is herself. She feels in danger everywhere she is and knows that danger is after her. When others try to help Trinity--her parents or close friends at school--she doesn’t listen. She doesn’t want anyone telling her that it’ll all be okay because it won’t.
Whispers go around school about her condition, spreading rumors that she is going to therapy and may have to go away to a rehab center for her paranoia and emotional problems. These comments mean nothing to Trinity, not going through her mind since everything in there is blocked by the dark figure that was in her yard. The only person she hasn’t shut out completely is Jaime, maybe because she’s her best friend, her next-door neighbor, or just because she’s just as emotionally affected as Trinity. She is going through a harder time than Trinity, but Trinity doesn’t see it that way, having no desire to comfort someone other than herself. She is only able to care about herself.
One day in late winter, five months after the murder in September, Jaime calls Trinity, asking her if they can talk. Trinity declines at first, in no mood to ‘talk.’ She knows exactly what Jaime wants to talk about and is not in the mood for that conversation, even though it’s been months since the incident. Trinity does everything she can to avoid talking about that night, a night that forever reminds her that a criminal is on the loose, plotting his revenge on her for calling the cops and getting away. But Jaime plays the sympathy card, telling Trinity that she needs her best friend back and someone to help her with her loss, not able to stand being in that house anymore. Trinity reluctantly agrees and within minutes, Jaime is at her door.
At first, things are a bit awkward, considering Trinity’s odd condition and Jaime’s emotional loss. They begin talking about school and sports, discussing Jaime’s upcoming try-outs for spring field hockey and Trinity’s season with soccer. Trinity’s team did well this year but not Trinity herself. In her unstable condition, she couldn’t focus on the game. Another senior was named captain, but Trinity wasn’t disappointed the least bit; she felt no affect at all by it, even though it was what she’s been waiting for all junior year. After all, she did this to herself, isolating herself from others and the things she loved most.
Suddenly, Jaime brings up Justin. “I really miss him, Trinity,” she sighs, looking out Trinity’s bedroom window as her eyes begin to water.
Trinity, caught off-guard at Justin’s sudden mention, doesn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry,” she finally says lightly, almost indifferently.
Tears stream down Jaime’s face, running over her red cheeks. “I don’t know how this happened,” she whispers.

Trinity abruptly becomes annoyed with the upcoming topic and the way Jaime craves Trinity’s sympathy. Her eyes dart around her bedroom as if expecting someone to attack her right then and there, and she hisses with bitterness, “At least you’re not next.”

Jaime’s expression changes in an instant. Anger flashes through her eyes, her dark brown eyebrows furrowing together. “How could you even say that? Do you have any idea what I am going through?” Her voice rises into a scream. “I just lost a part of me! And now all you can think about is yourself?”

“No one is out to get you!” Furious and crazed at the same time, Trinity explodes. “You’re not the one who watched it happen. I’m the only witness, his target! It’s only a matter of time before he…” Her last sentence is a whisper, trailing off before she could state the truth. The truth of what might happen…or will happen. Trinity shivers in fear, looking around her again, paranoid.

Jaime gives Trinity a look of shock and disgust, but her voice is low and even. “How long have we been friends, Trinity? Best friends.”

Trinity looks at her, confused at the change in her voice and at the question just thrown at her. “Since, like, ever,” she responds, focusing on Jaime’s squinted eyes that were staring at nothing in particular, wondering what she could be thinking.

Jaime’s head drops, looking at her lap as she sits cross-legged on Trinity’s blue duvet. “Since, like, ever,” Jaime whispers, sounding like a mockery to Trinity. “You can say that we’ve been friends forever, but when it comes down to it,” Jaime looks up, her tear-soaked eyes narrowed in disbelief and hurt, “it’s like that doesn’t even matter to you.”

Trinity, taken aback, is overcome with confusion. “What are you talking about Jaime? You mean so much to me.”

Jaime lets out a short burst of laughter, shaking her head. “So much,” she repeats, “but not as much as you care about yourself.”

Now that the truth came out, Trinity opens her mouth, flabbergasted. The words stung. They may be true, but when it finally came out, it felt like Trinity just got punched in the stomach. Immediately, she wants to deny it, her self-instinct kicking in. But she realizes that would only back up what Jaime just stated.

“Jaime. . . I—” Before Trinity could continue, Jaime cut her off.

“All you think about is yourself,” Jaime continues, her eyes still slicing into Trinity in an icy stare. “I just lose one of the most important people in my life, and all you can do is think about who is out to get you. You have no sense of empathy, it’s like your mind is blocked from feeling it. You’re my best friend, Trinity, and I need you. I need you more than ever right now, and you can’t help me when all that’s running through your mind is you, you, you! Nothing has happened to you Trinity, don’t you get it? You only think someone is out to get you because you are so self-absorbed and think the entire world is revolving around you! You are too worried about yourself that you’ve forgotten what’s important.” And with that, Jaime jumps off of the bed and whisks out of the room.

Trinity is frozen in shock, partly at the rampage by Jaime and partly at the truth of her words. Before she can act, Trinity hears the front door slam. Immediately, she realizes she is alone and feels open and vulnerable to whoever is after her. At that feeling, Trinity understands what Jaime was saying. After all of her hurtful yet true words, Trinity still manages to take her mind off of what Jaime is going through and think about herself.

A few weeks later, spring comes early and Trinity is starting to rethink her condition. Maybe this man isn’t after me, she thinks. He did get away, so why would he come back? Trinity tries to realize how ridiculous she was being and tells herself that she needs to move on. Jaime is right; nothing has happened in the past six months since the crime. After thinking over this for several days, Trinity decides that she needs to get back on track for school. She’s going to Boston University in the fall after her early application and acceptance last year and begins to get into the swing of things again.

But her mind doesn’t seem to want to go back to her old self again: the attention-craving, egotistical side of her. After everything she’s been through, she realizes how unimportant those things are, the materialistic things she used to obsess over. Yeah, her reputation at school has been knocked down several levels, but high school is almost over; what’s the point in even trying to look top in her appearance at school? After months of internal torture and never-ending fear, Trinity somehow forgets about all of that. The looks and popularity have been wedged into the very back of her mind, covered up with the incident and terror. After a half year of almost pure isolation and paranoia, she realizes she can live life without all of that plastic detail in it. It’s school she needs to focus on now; her future at college.

One late afternoon, Trinity is lying in her living room, home alone, as she finishes up a paper for AP History on her Macbook. It’s a month later and spring is in full bloom, showing off its colorful flowers as they sprout up from the rich, dark soil. The trees are green again, reflecting the setting sun with a dazzling glow and dancing in the breeze. Her life has begun to heal from her condition, giving her confidence and bravery to turn her back on the last several months. She made peace with Jaime again and is now on speaking terms with Trey. But there’s no guarantee that they will be together again; her life can’t just be all perfect at the snap of her fingers. And Trinity understands this for once.

Now, Trinity is finishing her third paragraph and takes a quick break to check out things on Facebook. Now that she has reassured herself and begun to focus on school, the incident and the man behind the mask have been painted over in her mind, leaving a fresh new pallet for the things she’ll need to know for school.

Trinity scrolls down through the news feed, and by this time the sun has just about set, leaving the sky dark in the youth of night. A large gust of wind pushes the trees outside, causing a branch to tap lightly at the glass on the back door. Trinity looks up at the noise, realizes it’s just a tree, and casts her eyes back onto the glowing screen in front of her. She is so engrossed in what’s happening on her laptop that she doesn’t hear the heavy breathing outside her window. Resting her chin on her palm, she reads the status of a girl from her AP History class:
five page essay for history? kill me now

Trinity laughs silently in her head, grinning a bit as she clicked ‘like.’ With her mind set on this subject, she is shocked and caught completely off-guard when the back door smashes open, sending broken shards of glass everywhere. Trinity shoots up onto her feet and sees the same eyes staring at her from behind a mask. The same man that killed Justin. The same man that now wants to kill her and has probably been plotting it for the last six months.

Trinity is completely frozen as she looks into the eyes of the biggest fear she has been trying to forget for months. They’re back. He’s back. He takes a few steps towards her, his black shoes cracking the glass beneath him, sending a horrifying noise through Trinity’s ears as she remembers that night when she had to break the window.

“Thought I was gone, huh?” a low, dark, ragged voice comes from the mask. “You almost caught me that one night. If you hadn’t seen me in your yard and sent those police dogs after me, I would’ve gotten this over with a long time ago.”

Trinity stares at him with wide, horrified eyes, now even more terrified at the words coming from his mouth. That night I saw him in the bushes, she remembers to herself.

“Wh-why?” she stutters, unable to speak straight. “Why d-did you kill him?”

He clenches his fists in his black leather gloves, letting out something like a growl from the back of his throat. “Because!” he snarls. “We made a deal. And he didn’t uphold his side of it, so he got what he deserved.”

Trinity’s mouth drops open, realizing now that Justin knew this man. Was it for drugs? Money? It had to be something big if he was willing to kill over it. And kill again.

“Why have you been stalking me then?” Trinity whispers. “Why come back when you got away?”

“I had no choice,” he growls. “You weren’t supposed to be there. You saw what happened. I can’t let you go whining to the police and ratting me out. Besides, once I’m done with you, I’m out of here. They couldn’t find me before; they won’t find me again.”

Trinity pauses, realizing that her continuance of the conversation is delaying him from his intentions. As he talks, she slowly and slyly slips her iPhone from her back pocket, keeping her hand behind her as she dials 911 without looking. Texting so much seems to pay off. If I just keep him talking for a few more minutes…

“Who are you, anyway?” she asks, keeping her hand steady behind her.

Hello, this is 911, what is your emergency? Her phone speaks from her hand, too quiet and far away from him to hear it.

“Why should I tell you?” he bellows, taking a step closer.

“Why does it matter?” Trinity shoots back. “You’re gonna kill me anyway, aren’t you?” She says this last part loud and clear so the lady on the other side of the phone can hear.

The man chuckles darkly. “I guess you’re right.” He takes a few more steps closer, only a half a room away from Trinity now. His right hand reaches into his pocket, keeping it there.

“So you’ll kill me, and then what?” Trinity practically shouts, pretending like she’s saying it out of fear and anger rather than speaking loud for the police to hear. “How do you know you won’t be tracked down?”

“I’ll kill you,” he says more angrily, his dark eyes narrowing, “and then I’m running, far away from this crappy little town.”

Trinity is secretly satisfied that he said that statement so loudly. She now recognizes that she is relying on pure hope that the police heard this by now and are tracking her location. She moves back a few steps, unable to prevent the nervous tears forming in her eyes, and glances around her from the corners of her eyes to find her first weapon of defense. “Where will you go?”

“Why do you need to know so bad, you little rat?” he sneers, pulling his hand out of his jacket pocket to expose a knife, one that looks very similar to the one he used to kill Justin.
Suddenly, he closes the space between them. Trinity immediately picks up the small wooden coffee table by her right leg, chucking it at him with full force. The corner of it hits him smack in the eye, and he stops, covering it with his hand as he bends over in pain.

Trinity uses this chance to run, bolting out of the broken back door and into the dark yard, panting with fear. She looks back and sees the man start towards her, the knife shining exuberantly in the moonlight. He has a crazed look in his eye while the other one bleeds with dark, thick blood, smiling maliciously as he comes closer. Pulse racing, she runs around the side of the house, breathing heavily and constantly looking back over her shoulder.

When she gets to the front, she doesn’t know whether to feel confused shock or overwhelming joy. Either way, her eyes are relieved at the sight of a miracle. There, covering the front yard of her house, are police cars, their red and blue lights flashing blindingly, with police officers stationed all over, guns in hand.

“Freeze!” one yells, spotting Trinity. But she doesn’t stop until she is close to the officers, away from the maniac behind her. She spots her mom in the drive way, clutching her arms around herself as she sobs loudly. Immediately, Trinity runs for her, never more excited in her life to be in the safe arms of her mother.

The masked criminal shows up only a second after Trinity, running madly to catch her, angry that she got away. But he stops short when he sees the dozen police officers pointing their guns at him, yelling at him to put his hands in the air.

Trinity buries the side of her face into her mother’s chest, crying from utter fear. She watches as the man is pushed violently onto the ground by a cop, twisting his arms behind his back as he cuffs them and gives him his Miranda Rights. Another officer approaches the scene, yanking the handcuffed man from the ground, and they both lead him to a flashing car, pushing his head down as they shove him into the back of the flashing car.

Trinity’s heart swells with pride that she did all of this; she was smart in her time of fear that could have also been the final minutes of her life. Relief then washes over her, knocking out the fear as she finally realizes that all of the worrying for her life is over; the masked man is finally being put behind bars, safe from Trinity.

Her life seems figured out finally, with the incident put behind her and her old self forgotten. As she buries her face into her mother, still embracing her, she realizes that in those last minutes with that murderer, the only thing going through her mind aside from calling the cops were images of everyone she loved; her parents, her best friend, Trey, even Justin…she’ll never forget Justin, and her heart feels a pang of sadness at the thought of him.

Trinity now understands what is important in her life. Not clothes, or shoes, or parties, but the people in her life and the hopeful future of what’s to come. As Trinity closes her eyes while in her mother’s arms, she is finally able to put this all far behind her and think of the long, many years ahead of her, full of endless possibilities.

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