Porcelain Skin

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Trevor and A Movie

“So, what’s your movie preference?” Trevor inquires as I lounge behind him on his gnarly, old couch.

The room looks slightly more decent than it did last time I was in here. At least most of the garbage has been removed, and the smell is a bit improved. I secretly suspect that was Trevor’s doing.

“Suspense, or... chick flick?” I respond as more of a question than an answer.

He turns around from where he’s kneeling on the floor looking through DVD’s on the shelf to give me an exasperated look.

“What? I like the contrast. I want to be either sitting on the edge of my seat or snuggled up absorbing all the ‘gushy feels’.” I explain.

“Suspense it is then.” He returns to flipping through our options and then pauses. “Unless you want to watch ‘Mean Girls’.”

I laugh, and he spins around as if unsure why I find this funny.

“Really? You like ‘Mean Girls’?” I question.

“There are very few guys that will admit to it, but yes, I fully enjoy that movie. I’m not ashamed,” he tells me proudly. He gives me a crooked grin and then turns back. “It’s funny.”

We finally settle on ‘The Diner’, since I’d never seen it. Once that’s decided, Trevor leaves me to make us a snack. Apparently, a snack to him means dinner to the rest of the world, because when curiosity takes over, I follow him into the kitchen to find him putting a pot of noodles on to boil and scrounging around the cupboards.

“Whatchya makin’?” I ask. I’m finding myself strangely comfortable with him now that we’ve both come to the mutual agreement to play nice.

“S’getti.” His voice sounds strained as he stretches onto his toes to reach the furthest corner of the cabinet. With an “Ah ha!” he pulls out a jar of Prego, spinning around to present his findings as he holds it out for me to see. I give him the deadest expression that I can muster, and his chest visibly deflates. “What?”

“Spaghetti from a jar?”

He seems disappointed by the placid, sterile tone in my response, and then his eyes alight with vigor as a mischievous smile envelopes his face, transforming him from a disheartened soldier to a playful boy.

“Don’t you cook?” He squints at me as if daring me to deny it.

“Yes?” I match the questioning inflection of his voice.

A smile forces his cheeks to wrinkle near his glimmering eyes as he puts his hands together in a begging position and bats his lashes repetitively. I’m surprised he actually remembers that fun fact from our first psych project.

“Please?” he finally petitions.

I just watch him as I enjoy this side of his character. He doesn’t seem impressed when I don’t immediately agree to his plan.

“Don’t make me get on my knees,” he warns.

“Okay, okay, okay,” I say, throwing my hands up in the air in mock irritation before allowing my face to relax into a grin. “Watching you beg is surprisingly unattractive.”

He gasps dramatically.

“What supplies ya got?” I ask.

His expression falls into a look of complete bewilderment. “Supplies?”

“Yeah, like food supplies,” I clarify as I walk towards the fridge and swing open the door. “Tomatoes, seasonings, paste?”

“Paste?”

Turning around, I quirk an eyebrow at him. “You’re a lost cause,” I sigh, with disappointment flowing out my now puckered, twisted lips.

After finding absolutely nothing of substantial nutritional value in the fridge, I shut the door and turn to prop myself against the side of it.

“Well,” I tell him, “if you want spaghetti, and you want me to make it for you, then we’re gonna have to go on a quick jaunt to the store.”

His shoulders slump and he groans loudly like a spoiled child before he offers me his alternative great idea. “How ’bout I stay behind, make some popcorn, and clean up a bit, while you go --”

“No,” I interrupt.

He frowns at me.

“Huh-uh,” I mutter, shaking my head. “I hate. Hate. Grocery shopping. So if I’m going to do this for you, you’re coming with me.” I smile wickedly at him because I know he has no escape.

Twisting around dramatically, he stalks into his bedroom and emerges seconds later with keys dangling from his fingers.

“Come on, bossy butt,” he says, sweeping his arm in front of him in a ‘lead the way’ gesture.

I smile triumphantly as I march past. Who knew he was such an immature child underneath all that brusque armor?

----

“Onion.”

“Check.”

“Oregano.”

“Check.”

“Paste,” I say, holding up the small jar and wobbling it so close to his face that he goes cross-eyed. He flings my arm away. “Just making sure you know that I’m not putting hair products in your food,” I joke... but seriously, maybe next time.

I scan my mental list of ingredients. “Tomatoes.”

“Check,” he groans, making a show of his boredom as he flings his body over the side of the cart, feigning exhaustion.

We’ve literally only been here for six minutes. He gets a gold star for being the most dramatic human on the whole entire flippin’, freakin’, floppin’ GOSH, DARN, PLANET!!!

“I’m just gonna go... Crap!” Trevor bolts straight up, panic glaringly obvious.

“Really?” I groan. “If you have to go so bad, then go. I’m not stopping you. The bathroom’s right over there.” I point.

“No. I mean crap!” he repeats.

“Uh huh, I got that.”

“No. I mean...” he nearly growls at me for not catching on. “I left the noodles cooking on the stove.”

“Oh!... Crap!” I shoot equally panicky eyes his way to see him giving me a that’s-what-I-said-you-stupid-nincompoop face. “Okay, okay, okay, okay.” I don’t handle these types of situations very well, obviously. I’m looking around the store frantically as if that’s going to help our predicament at all.

“Oh, I know,” Trevor barks, and I can already hear the sarcasm dripping off his tongue. “How ’bout we go?”

“You keep being rude to me, and I’m going to poison your spaghetti,” I respond, but he doesn’t acknowledge me as we’re both sprinting our way through the aisle and searching for the shortest checkout. We find one, and then my brain decides to click on. “How ’bout you get the car, and be ready out front so we can just load and go.”

He points at me with a nod and then darts off—disappearing through the sliding glass doors.


We arrive back within minutes, but there’s no denying that the noodles are scorched. They’re like crisp, black strips of coal. I have Trevor scrape the mutilated spaghetti off the bottom of the pan and put on a new pot to boil while I chop onions, garlic, and tomatoes, and fry up the meat.

Twenty minutes later, the meal is complete, and we’re a breath away from sheer exhaustion. We load our plates and make our way to the couch. The DVD’s already set to play, so we take our seats in preparation for some mind-numbing thrills.

I’m acutely aware of the fact that Trevor has chosen the furthest end of the couch from me, but who can blame him. It’d be awkward if we sat side-by-side with a sea of open space next to us.

I’ve finished my meal, and have my legs curled up to my chest, but I’m barely paying attention to the movie for two reasons- One: Trevor is occupying the same room as me, and Two: I’m freezing. Literally can’t feel my toes or my calves.

“You cold?” he asks, startling me out of my trance. I’m in awe of his insightfulness.

“Yes,” I chatter as my teeth clink together. I’m about as cold-blooded as a dandelion. Like, it actually kills me. Most of the time my toenails are purple—I don’t paint them.

He doesn’t respond as he gets up from the couch and vacates the room.

I know he’s returned when I hear the shuffling of his feet on the carpet a moment later. That’s when I feel it - something slithering over my shoulders and wrapping around my neck. I freeze for a split second before terror explodes in my chest with a starburst of raging heat.

“No, no, no,” I’m gasping, nearly hysterical as adrenaline begins to replace the blood in my veins. I bolt from where I’ve been snuggled in the couch, tears instantly staining my face. I rip the soft, offensive fabric away from my neck and launch it across the room like a snake.

I’m trembling as I watch the lifeless attacker form a delicate heap on the floor. I shut my eyes willing the tears to stay back, but the moment my vision meets the back of my eyelids, pictures erupt like fireworks.

The room is immaculate like always. The table is void of any paperwork or clutter. There’s a setup of nick-knacks on the corner edge that are arranged to perfection. In the middle of the arrangement is a photo of familiar, smiling faces. A memory of a time of easy banter and lighthearted teasing, love, and warmth, and a promise of forever. The silence that has settled itself in the room is like that of a white blanket descending upon a naked bed. Light flutters across the aging carpet, alighting the room with a deceitful tranquility. An invisible sensation ghosts its way across my skin as I become aware of the only thing that’s not normal. Just that one piece of furniture that’s not positioned correctly. And then, I shift my gaze up from the floor....

I blink my eyes open abruptly. Trevor stands uncomfortably in front of me. Concern etched into his brows and the lines around his mouth. He’s clearly confused, but I don’t have the energy to apologize for my reaction. As if he would know why kindly wrapping a scarf around my neck would send me into a terror-induced attack.

Instead, I leave him standing in the middle of the den as I make my way to the bathroom. I dry heave over the toilet bowl for a moment before the feeling subsides. Automatically, I reach with quivering fingers to flush, even though I didn’t actually succeed at my attempt of ridding the feeling from my gut.

I comb my fingers through my hair and stand to face myself in the mirror. Those eyes stare back at me. They’re so identical that it sends tremors through my spine. Brown with a rim of green in the center. But that’s where the similarities end. The eyes in the mirror blink back at me. I can see the water swimming behind the dark lashes, and the life beating within their depths. The difference is that the eyes reflecting back at me are throbbing with dreams and a future, while the eyes staining my memories are draining... draining...

Drained.

I pull myself together with a deep inhale and a splash of cold water to my face. I dry off and turn to face the closed door. With one more breath, I turn the knob.

Trevor is sitting at the dining room table with his fingers shoved in his hair. He pops his head up from where it’s resting in his palms and stands as I timidly make my way into the room.

“I’m sorry,” I rasp.

We stand in a tense silence for several heartbeats, and I can feel Trevor watching me. I don’t meet his gaze.

“I should probably go,” I mutter as I start to make my way towards the door, but I stop instantly when I feel the brush of his heated fingers against my own. I glance down at the connection before focusing on his face.

“Please, don’t.” It’s a whisper, but it comes out ragged and desperate. “Please don’t leave like this,” he pleads.

I stare at him and then answer with a gentle nod, making my way over to the couch. My seat shifts as Trevor’s body weight relaxes next to me. This time he’s close. I can feel the firmness of his thigh pressed against the softness of my own. The frigid stiffness of cold that I’d experienced earlier evaporates like a flock of birds taking flight.

Now, I’m on fire.

“What happened?” he asks hesitantly.

I turn my head to the side to get a better view of him, and I’m taken aback by the level of guilt displayed on his face. His jaw is rigid, his lips tight, but his eyes are nearly drowning with regret. I’m so close to him, and due to the illumination from the kitchen light I can clearly see swirls of emerald, jade, and sage slicing through his irises.

“It’s... ah.” I swipe my forehead with my hand before laying it in my lap and turning my attention from Trevor to the scarf laying in a pile on the floor where I threw it. “I’m sorry. I just really don’t like people to touch my neck.” It sounds like a lame excuse, and it’s only the partial truth, but I hope he’ll let it go.

I look back over at him to see his eyes on the scarf near his feet. When he returns his attention to me, I can see that he doesn’t believe me, but he lets it go. I smile at him, hoping he reads the hint of gratitude and relief hidden within the lines of my lips. He nods once before sighing and relaxing back into the couch.

“How ’bout we try and get your mind off this,” he offers, as he grabs the remote. He turns to me with his eyebrows lifted in question, as if asking if I’m okay with it.

“Sure,” I whisper, tucking myself back into the couch and wrapping one of the blankets that Trevor had retrieved around my shoulders.

Trevor doesn’t scoot over as he resumes the movie, and I take this as a sign that he’s warming up to me. With all the courage I can muster, I lean a hair closer to him. I feel his muscles tense beneath the sleeve of his shirt, and I’m considering backing off when I feel him shift a bit closer. I hold my breath, expecting him to suddenly realize how close we are and move off. Instead, he looks down at me with a smile before wrapping an arm around my shoulders.

It’s the most blissful sensation that my body has ever experienced, and I realize that this is his way of showing me that he has, at least for now, let the past go and accepted the new and improved, if not a bit screwed up, Emma White.


I finally make my way back to my dorm. It’s nearly two AM, and even my bones are weary. I thank Trevor for accompanying me and then turn towards the entrance to Samantha Hall. Just as I reach the door, I hear Trevor speak.

“I had fun tonight.” There’s a hint of wonder in his voice as if he’s surprised by the truth of his own words.

I smile at his admission. “Me too,” I mumble, before turning and making my way to my room.

I unlock the door and shuffle my way inside. It’s dark, and I can hear Mercy’s heavy, even breathing as it penetrates the stillness of the quiet room. As quietly as possible, I shimmy out of my clothes, not bothering to find my PJ’s, since I’m too tired and I don’t feel like digging around in the dark. With just my undergarments on, I pull the sheets back and, quite literally, fall into bed.

The moment my skin makes contact with my sheets, I know something is wrong. They’re not smooth and soft like they should be. Instead, I’m met with a gritty, lumpy layer. I rummage around until I find my phone and shine it under the sheets.

Dirt. She’d layered my sheets in dirt.

I know how disgusting it is, but at the moment I am abundantly too exhausted to give a flying fart what I’m laying in. So instead, I throw my phone on the side table, roll over onto my side and drift off into a peaceful slumber. Bring it on Mercy Whateveryourlastnameis. Let the games begin.

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