Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chapter 2~Misunderstood

Trilby saw the new boy jogging up ahead, his bushy brown hair flapping on his forehead each time he made a stride. His long legs made him naturally faster than she was, and she had to work to catch up with him, but she didn’t mind. She was full of energy after her victory, and thinking about the gratitude the new boy was going to feel for her when she gave him back his phone. The sound of her feet pounding on the spongy red track material invigorated her further, making her aware of her physical strength and speed. She had a tight little body and was still nimble from the years of gymnastics lessons she’d only recently abandoned. The air was chill and a little wet, as it often was in San Francisco, and bit her skin in a way that was not unpleasant. She knew the fog was curling and lifting her hair, and the effort of running was tinging her cheeks red, and she figured that she’d be a picture of beauty and vigor when she finally caught up to the good-looking boy. She wished she knew his name, so she could call out to him to wait up, but she hadn’t been paying attention (as usual) when Sister Cerdwin had introduced him to the class. So she shifted her body into third gear, and was closing the gap handily when the teacher’s whistle interrupted her again.

“Trilby! Come here!”

She looked around in annoyance. What did he want now? He pointed his finger forcefully at the ground in front of him and made stabbing motions. “Over here! Right now!” There was no pretending she hadn’t heard him. He’d seen her look. She would have to go and listen to his ranting--however inane. So Trilby but the brakes on, and turned towards the grassy center of the track, where Mr. Peters stood with his arms crossed over his chest, waiting imperiously. When she got there, she could see that he was angry.

“What was going on with you and Moto, over by the bleachers?”


“Don’t give me that,” he said sternly. “I could see you were fighting. It looked for a second like he was going to push you.”

“Nah. He wasn’t. We were just talking. It was nothing.” She had her hands in her pockets, and looked off towards the side casually. She was rocking back on her heels and then up on her toes with a pent up energy that swirled inside her like a living animal. The new boy was rounding the oval, coming back towards them. If she could get this conversation over with in the next 15 seconds, she could dart out and get in place next to him when he pulled even with the 50 yard line. “Mr. Peters, can I get back to running now?” she asked in a plaintive voice. “C’mon, I need my exercise! You’re damaging my health!”

Mr. Peters was not amused. “Whose backpack is that on the ground over there?”

“How should I know?” Her agitation rose as the new boy drew closer.

“What have you got in your pockets?”

“Nothing!” Suddenly, her attention snapped back.

“Empty them out.”

“C’mon, Mr. Peters. What are you harassing me for?”

“What’s the matter, Trilby? Why don’t you want to empty your pockets? Did I catch you red-handed?” She heard a note of smug satisfaction in his tone.

“No! Listen, Mr. Peters, This is going to look bad, but it’s not what you think. I saw this cell phone on the ground over there by the backpack, and I picked it up so no one else would take it. I was just now trying to catch up to the owner to give it back to him. I swear!”

“Hand it over.” His tone was harsh.

“Mr. Peters. Seriously. You don’t think I took this phone?!”

“Trilby. Seriously. You don’t think I’m an idiot, do you?”

As a matter of fact, she did, but she thought she better not say it out loud.

Mr. Peters was writing on his clipboard. He pulled off the top sheet and handed it to her. “I take it you’ve seen one of these before? You know what to do with it?”

She clamped her mouth shut and looked away. The new boy was jogging by at just that moment. He gave her a big smile, and waved. Her stomach lifted, and then sank.

“I want you to go back to the gym right now, change into your regular clothes, and then take this referral form directly to the dean. I can’t believe you did this, Trilby. After all the progress you’ve made since freshman year. You just couldn’t resist getting into more trouble, could you? I’m disappointed.”

“I didn’t do anything!” she spat, ripping the form out of his hand and stomping off the field towards the gym.


When Trilby showed up at the dean’s office, no one was in the waiting area, so she was ushered right in to sit in the “bad kid” chair. That was a good thing, sort of. At least she was spared the embarrassment of waiting outside the dean’s door while every random passerby got a good look at her and wondered what kind of trouble she had gotten herself into this time.

In her street clothes, Trilby looked a lot more formidable, or so she thought. She was still only 5’ 1” and not much over 100 pounds, but she had on her leather wristbands, black jeans, black tee shirt, and big boots. And she’d taken the time to re-apply her black make up. Sometimes she felt like a perfect bad ass in this outfit. Other times she felt like a little kid in a Halloween costume.

“First off, Trilby, what is that you’re wearing?”

“What do you mean?” Trilby was flummoxed. She had not been sent here for a dress code violation. “This is my band’s tee shirt.”

“I don’t think it meets the school guidelines.”

“It does! There isn’t any nudity, swearing, hate language, or reference to drugs or alcohol. It isn’t backless, sleeveless, see-through, or low cut. And it doesn’t ridicule the pope. Sister Cerdwin saw me in it this morning and didn’t say anything. It meets every guideline!”

Santa Inez, a Catholic school, had only just dropped its school uniform the year before, and administrators were still deciding what they would allow their students to wear to school.

“Surely taste is a factor. That tee shirt is in very poor taste.”

“No, it’s not!” Trilby looked down at her black tee shirt, which was decorated with a wide open white mouth with red blood dripping from fangs and the word “Bitten” scrawled across the middle--the name of her band. “My friend Kore designed it herself. All the kids like it. It’s totally cool.”

Ms. Andra rolled her eyes. “Okay, Trilby. Let’s forget about the tee shirt. Tell me why you took the iphone.” The dean leaned forward in her big swivel chair behind her big wooden desk. She wasn’t a big woman, but she had big, buff arms and a stern-looking face. She wore a sleeveless black top (which violated the dress code) that showed off her biceps. She had her gray hair pulled back into a tight bun. She looked like a woman warrior.

“Nothing happened, Ms. Andra. I just saw the phone down on the ground, by the new kid’s backpack, so I picked it up and was bringing it to him when Mr. Peters called me over.”

“Mr. Peters said you were having some kind of altercation with Moto.”

“No. We were just talking.”

“You and Moto? Come on, Trilby. I know you don’t hang out with him. Was he the one trying to steal the iphone?”


“Why are you protecting him?”

“I’m not! I just saw the phone on the ground and picked it up. Scout’s honor.” Trilby held up two fingers in a peace sign, but turned around. It wasn’t that she had protective feelings for Moto. She’d just done the math. It was bad enough he was mad at her for confronting him about stealing the phone. He would pay her back for that. She could count on it. But if she ratted him out to the dean, there would be even worse hell to pay. Besides, he’d just deny it. There wasn’t any evidence to support her side of the story. She’d just bring the wrath of Moto down on her head for no good reason. No thanks.

“Okay, then you stole it. But theft is a serious offense, you realize. We’re going to to have to call your father, and suspend you for a week, during which time you’re going to have to do some kind of community service.”

“Come on, Ms. Andra. Can’t you just believe in me for once? Is it so impossible that the phone fell out of the backpack? If it was Marissa Minton telling you this, you wouldn’t doubt her for a second.” Trilby had a point. Student body president Marissa Minton would never be challenged on anything. Her parents practically ran the school. Her mother was the head of the foundation that donated big bucks every year so that students could have luxury items like paper and textbooks. And her dad, some kind of retired entrepreneur, donated his time and money to build pretty much every set for the theater program. He was always running around campus in a ballcap and toolbelt with a pencil behind his ear.

“That’s true, Trilby. But unlike Marissa, you haven’t got much credibility. Your reputation precedes you.”

“Well, that’s not fair. You’re not supposed to hold my past against me, because it’s not relevant in this situation. I don’t think it’s even legal.” Trilby was chagrined. Did Ms. Andra really think that cutting class was equivalent to stealing an iphone? And what was so terrible about getting a little tipsy at a dance? It was ridiculous the way they treated teenagers like convicts, breathalyzing everyone before they could go inside, then locking the doors behind them. It was a safety hazard, too. What if a fire broke out? Trilby wondered if the fire department knew about the school dance policy. Perhaps she should notify them.

Ms. Andra laughed. “This isn’t a court of law, Trilby. This is a high school, thank God, which means that I’m in charge, and you’re suspended. So you might as well start thinking about what you’re going to do for community service while I call your dad.”

Ms. Andra picked up the telephone and gave Trilby a severe look that Trilby pretended she didn’t understand. When Trilby didn’t move out of the bad kid chair, Ms. Andra made an impatient motion with her head. “Wait outside.”

Trilby sat outside the dean’s office with a scowl on her face, wondering what kind of slanderous perfidy the dean was telling her dad this time. This was all he needed--a disapproving call from an authority figure, telling him what a rotten child he had, and, by extension, what a horrible father he must be. This would really improve his mood.

Ms. Andra stepped out of her office. “He’s coming to get you now. He said it will take him about an hour to get here from Palo Alto. So you can go get any books you might need for homework and then wait outside on the steps in front of the school. Don’t go anywhere else, Trilby. I’m warning you. I’d have you wait in here, but your sulking annoys me.”

Trilby cast her eyes to the ceiling and pursed her lips.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Get going! And remember, I’m expecting four hours a day of community service from you. This isn’t a vacation. You’re responsible for all the schoolwork assigned in your absence. And I expect you to come back with a signed note from the managers of any places you volunteer, confirming that you put in a total of 20 hours.”

Trilby didn’t bother to answer. She slung her backpack over her shoulder and stomped out of the office and up the central stairs to her locker, making as much noise as she could on the way. Class was in session, so fewer people were bothered by her passage than she would have liked. Once she got to her locker, she wasn’t sure what to bring. She decided on taking the textbooks for classes whose teachers posted their homework assignments online. There was no way she was going to call or email her other teachers to explain that she had been suspended and beg for homework to do. She was kneeling on the linoleum, poking around in her locker, when the new boy came out of the bathroom and stopped to stare. Her ears instantly started burning. This was getting to be a habit.

“Hi,” Trilby said morosely, stuffing a giant anthology into the last available space in her backpack. Carrying this thing was going to give her scoliosis.

“Hi.” He looked a little confused. “You’re the girl in my English class aren’t you? And P.E.?“

“Yeah. I’m one of them, anyway. I’m Trilby,” she put out her hand.

He gave her that wide-mouthed smile again, the one she’d seen on the track. “I’m Max.” He put his hand out to shake, but didn’t let hers go right away, instead pulling her up off her knees to stand next to him. “Why are you packing up to go home? Are you sick?”

“No. I’ve been suspended.”

“Really? What for?”

“For stealing your iphone.”

“What?!” He dropped her hand.

Trilby laughed. “I didn’t really do it, though. I swear. I was framed!”

Max narrowed his eyebrows. “You mean you’re the one who took my iphone out of my backpack during P.E. class?”

“No, Max. I’m not the one, as I just told you. But I’m getting blamed for it, okay?” Trilby felt the familiar prickling at the back of her neck that meant she better watch what she said, or she might regret it later.

“Okay...” He didn’t look convinced.

“Someone else was stealing it, and I confronted him, and then he gave it to me, so it was in my pocket when the teacher called me over to ask what was going on, okay?” Trilby gave him her back off, buddy look.

“You mean that big guy you were talking to over by the bleachers?”

“Yes.” She was momentarily flattered that he had noticed what she was doing during class.

“You made him give you back my iphone?”

“Yes, I did. And don’t look so surprised.”

“I’m not surprised that you would ask him to give my phone back. It’s just that, well, I don’t see how you could make him do it. You look like you weigh about 97 pounds...”

That stung. “You know what, Max? You’re right. I couldn’t do it. I’m lying. I stole your iphone. So why don’t you just run back down to the track and thank Mr. Peters for catching me in the act!”

She tried to swing her backpack on and storm off down the hall, but it was so heavy, crammed with all her books, that she could barely get it off the floor. Max lifted it easily from the top loop and tried to help her shrug it on, but she grabbed it out of his hands and hugged it to her chest instead as she stalked back down the central stairs and out the building.

Come back next week for another chapter of Trilby Awakes.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home