Porcelain Skin

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Girl Talk

“Can I ask you a question?” Trinity is staring at me from where she’s sitting on her bed.

After nearly three hours sipping coffee at the cafe, our butts couldn’t handle the numbness any longer, so we headed back to Trinity’s dorm to order pizza. I’m currently laying on the floor shoving a piece into my aggressive mouth. Part of me wonders if I resemble Bruce in Matilda as I lick grease from my fingers.

“Sure,” I mutter around the Texas-sized bite of food in my mouth. I can sure be a disgusting pig when it comes to food.

“Why me?”

“Why you what?” I ask after swallowing.

Trinity shoots me a look that says she’s not impressed that I can’t read her mind. “Why me? Why’d you decide to pick on me out of everyone in the whole school?”

“Oh, don’t get too excited. You weren’t that special,” I tease. “I was rude to everyone who acknowledged me, but once you arrived you became my number one target. I was still a turd to everyone else, but I was a big turd to you.”

I take another bite of pizza and wipe the back of my hand across my lips. Man, some of the habits I’ve developed in my lifetime would even be embarrassing for a man. I need work. It’s no wonder Trevor never noticed me before now... I’m a cow in a girl’s body.

“Now, why did everyone else get the turd treatment, and I got the big turd treatment?” She genuinely looks offended.

I laugh at the look on her face, which causes an olive to shoot out of my mouth. This just makes me laugh harder. I’m not sure why I find stupid things like that funny. It’s basically the same reaction you’d get out of me if you said the word ‘fart’. Sometimes I really do wonder if I have the mind of a man. Women are supposed to be delicate flowers that turn their noses up at such inappropriate terms. Am I the only female in the world that finds joy in the sicker things in life? Well, apparently not because I glance up to find Trinity snickering as she eyes the rocket-launched piece of food lying abandoned on the carpet.

“You gonna get that?” She quirks a brow at me, trying to look serious, but the smile on her face is a dead giveaway.

“Yeah, I’ll eat it later,” I joke as I reach for another slice.

She guffaws while throwing a Kleenex at me; her silent way of telling me to clean it up, now. And, like a sad puppy, I crawl across the floor and wrap the lonesome scrap of food up in a tissue cocoon.

“Stop avoiding the question,” Trinity finally demands.

I sigh as I pick a pepperoni sliver off my pizza and stick it in my mouth. I feel her steady gaze boring into the side of my head. I shift from where I’m now sitting cross-legged on the floor to face her.

“Fine,” I groan and sigh at the same time. “Because you were perfect. I chose you because you were perfect.”

“Perfect?” She scrunches her nose up in revulsion. “Seriously?”

“Well, yeah.” I feel strangely intimidated by her abrupt dislike for my opinion, so I hurry on to explain. “You were what every single book or movie would describe the Queen-Bee as looking like. You’re stunning and cute. The guys want you and the girls want to be you. But, what really got me was that you were also the nicest person alive. You and Trevor both were just so friendly and accepting.” I pause to think for awhile. “I mean, obviously it wasn’t a conscious choice to push you until you broke. I’ve only come to that conclusion after years of trying to figure myself out.”

I watch as Trinity leans back onto her elbows while she listens intently. I drop my gaze to my fidgety fingers before continuing.

“I’ve only recently decided my reasoning for wanting to punish you. I think at first it was because I was jealous of your perfect life, and I wanted you to suffer. But, the day I discovered that you had left the State I softened. It was proof that I didn’t actually want you to break. I wanted you to stay strong to prove my own innocence.” I pause again and shake my head side to side slowly. “Gosh, I was stupid.” My eyes dart to meet her engrossed gaze. “What a stupid thing to do, right?”

“Right,” she responds immediately and I’m shocked.

I guess a part of me was expecting the sweet little Trinity from high school to jump off the bed and wrap an arm around me while rubbing comforting circles into my back. Nope. That Trinity doesn’t exist any longer. I made sure of that.

She notices my shocked expression and shrugs her shoulders. “What? It was stupid.”

I can’t help but start laughing at her honesty, and it doesn’t take long for her to join me.

“You were wrong about me by the way,” Trinity informs me after a moment. I glance up waiting for her to continue. “I wasn’t perfect. I had my issues. Boys mainly,” she’s nodding as she agrees with herself. “They were most certainly my weakness.” An embarrassed smile tugs her lips up.

“Well, I guess one of you Nixon kids had to have a flaw,” I tease.

Her mouth drops open in mock astonishment.

“Oh no no... Trevor is not perfect,” Trinity gushes as she fights to defend herself from being labeled ‘the flawed’ Nixon. “Do you know he has a violent past? Yeah. He does.” She sits up straight as she prepares to unleash his lesser qualities on me. “When we were little we used to play Robin Hood. He was Robin and I was Maid Marian.”

I snort when she says this.

“Oh come on, it was before we knew that they like... went together, as love interests. Anyway,” she huffs. “He used to stuff me into a sleeping bag and push me down the stairs telling me that it was the only way to escape.”

Mysterious noises are coming from my throat as I fight to contain my laughter.

“Oh, and also,” She’s nearly bouncing with delight as she vibrantly pours out his childhood secrets. “He doesn’t know this, but I happen to know that he used to spend—this was when he was like seven, okay—but he used to spend like ninety-five percent of his time naked. I don’t think he knows that I know that one. It’s like the moment his door was shut, he would rip off his clothes and run around his room playing ninjas or superman. Heck, he’d even play video games in the buff.” Her eyes widen suddenly and her head snaps in my direction. “Don’t tell him I told you that!”

She’s on a roll, and I just can’t bring myself to stop laughing long enough to respond. I just send her a thumbs up as I fight for air. I’m snorting and slobbering and groaning as I try to regain my composure. Seriously though, just imagine big tough Trevor as a scrawny meek little boy dancing around his room in the nude. Just having the time of his life as he relishes in his freedom. It’s funny.

“He used to play lions all. the. time!" She continues.

I’m finally able to quiet my laughter and regain some level of sobriety as I listen intently.

“He would fill the bathroom sink with water and that would become his watering hole,” she continues. “Occasionally I would join him, and he would be Simba and I would be Nala.” She waves her hand around in the air to dismiss the memories. “I’m sure every little kid played that one though.” She finally calms down enough to continue munching on her pizza.

“I’m so glad you told me all that,” I say. “I have so much ammunition now.”

Trinity laughs with me for a moment, but then her expression mutates into one of pure interest, and the room grows silent. I return my attention to my food to avoid awkwardly staring at each other. I take a bite just as her words break the silence.

“How long?”

I’m shocked by the sudden question, and glance up to meet Trinity’s curious gaze.

“Huh?” I mumble around the food in my mouth as I scrunch my nose in confusion. My fourth piece of pizza hangs from my hand in midair as I freeze to eye her. Cheese has inconveniently secured itself from the bite in my mouth to the piece in my hand.

“How long have you been in love with my brother?”

I’m so shocked by her forwardness that I’m forced to swallow before I’m able to fully gnaw off the cheese. The cheese gets stuck halfway down my throat while the rest stays firmly attached to the slice in my hand.

“Sorry,” Trinity giggles without remorse as she pounds my back.

My eyes are watering, my lungs burning. I need water. I’m coughing up my lungs. I hack as tears stream down my cheeks.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about?” I wheeze out once I’m finally able to detach the stubborn cheese from my throat. I glance to the side to see Trinity puckering her lips at me.

“Uh huh,” she says while slowly swinging her head from side-to-side, as if disappointed by my response. “Deny it all you want.”

I don’t respond as I guzzle down a glass of water, hoping that she’ll let the subject drop, but I’m not so lucky.

“Seriously, we just spent three hours talking about Trevor, and you think I didn’t notice your goofy love-struck grin. Come on.”

Silence once again fills the space around us until I just can’t take it anymore.

“Fine! Fine...” I huff. “Maybe, okay? I think so.” I take my anger out on my pizza as I tear into it while shooting Trinity the most terrifying glare that I can muster up.

She doesn’t buy it; I can tell by the smirk that floats its way onto her pink lips.

“That’s wonderful,” she grins while picking up another piece of cold pizza. “But I asked how long you’ve been in love with him, not if you were. I already knew you were.”

I groan before throwing my pizza down on a wad of toilet paper that we substituted as paper towel. I turn pleading eyes to Trinity as I twist my body to face her completely.

“Is it that obvious? I mean, do you think Trevor can tell?” I’ve been getting to know Trevor now for about two months, and here Trinity guessed my feelings within hours. How could that be possible unless I was completely readable?

“Naw,” she assures while waving a hand to dismiss my worries. “I only noticed because I know what those looks mean.” She ducks her head to hide her face from my view, but I already know what she’s trying to say.

“You’re in love too,” I whisper softly.

She nods as a childlike smile crawls onto her lips. She pulls her legs up to her chest and rocks back and forth.

“Yeah,” she gushes with excitement. “I think he’s going to propose soon.”

I don’t miss her struggle to contain a squeal and my face instantly lights up.

“Trinity! That’s awesome!” I lunge onto her bed and force her into an unexpected hug.

She chuckles into my shoulder before wrenching her hands away from her legs and wrapping them around me. It’s so strange to be talking to this girl, let alone hugging her. It feels... refreshing. Like somehow this small gesture has extinguished all the pent-up bitterness and hurt that we’ve both been fanning to life all these years.

We pull away from each other, but I can’t prevent myself from studying her. This fragile little girl has grown up into someone who is confident and sure. It’s like she’s gone from a pair of delicate glass slippers to a well-worn pair of your most reliable Sperry’s. She’s been through hell, and though she came out looking rough and worn, she is beautiful and cherished. She’s finally comfortable in her own skin.

I broke her, and she put the pieces back together again. She’s an incredible example of strength and determination.

“I’m so happy for you,” I tell her. My voice is soft with a restrained mix of regret and joy. How could I have been so cruel to this beautiful person? How could I have been so blind to her love for people?

“Thank you,” she responds gleefully, apparently missing the sentiment in my words. She takes another massive bite from her pizza, and I watch her struggle to chew it before I speak.

“I’m glad I came down here,” I tell her seriously.

Her eyes lift to meet mine, and she tilts her head as she analyses me. I feel like a specimen under a microscope as she scrutinizes me with patient curiosity.

“Me too,” she agrees, offering me a genuine smile. “Ya know,” she says after a few beats of silence. “I think you and I could have made really great friends in high school. It hurts me to know that you were in such a dark place back then.”

“Oh gosh, Trinity, you are too nice. But,” I breathe out heavily, “I think you might be right.” I flash her a toothy smile. “I wish I could have seen that back then. I think my brain was just so clouded with misery that nothing else mattered except for releasing it.”

“Believe me, I get it. I’ve had my fair share of misery, and though I was never tempted to bully anyone because of it, I can see how it’s easy to deflect some of your pain onto others.” She plays with the crust of her pizza for a moment before shooting up from her seated position to stand at the end of the bed. “Okay, enough of this gibberish, let’s do something fun.”

I lift an eyebrow waiting for her to elaborate.

“I’ve got every season of the Gilmore Girls, and we are going to watch them.” She bends down to start searching under her bed before suddenly popping her head up over the side. “Obviously, we’re not going to watch all of them, but you know what I mean.”

We spend several hours in front of her TV laughing and giggling like high schoolers, but I’m honestly not really watching the show. I’m too stuck on how this entire scenario played out. I knew Trinity well enough to know that she probably wouldn’t lash out at me, but I never in a bazillion years would have expected her to befriend me. Like, here she was giggling with me. Giggling!

I peek at her from the corner of my eye and note the little smile that stays plastered to her face throughout the entire show. She’s happy even when she’s not conscious of it. That’s where we’re so different. For Trinity, happiness comes naturally. She doesn’t have to think about it. She just is. Mine, though, is forced. I have to remind myself to smile. Or at least, I did... until Trevor decided to take up residence in my heart. He must have a little fire going in there too because I’m unusually warm and fuzzy lately, and I think he’s solely responsible.

---

I spend the entire weekend with Trinity, and we bond like butter to bread. But now, I can’t help but feel even more guilt and regret as I make my way back to my car. I hate what I missed out on in high school because of my blinding pain. If I had just given her a chance maybe I could have been happy years ago. Goes to show that people don’t think clearly when their mind is muddled with grief.

Thirteen hours later, I finally arrive back at Greenville’s campus. I drag myself out of my car and up to my dorm room. I’m relieved to find that Mercy is already in bed because I barely have energy for a simple greeting. I brush my teeth because there’s no way I’m going to bed with rotten breath, before flinging my limp body across my comforter. I lean my torso over the side of my bed and stretch my arm as far as physically possible to reach my bag. I don’t have the energy to actually get up and get it.

I pull my phone out of the side pocket and gasp when I see the list of missed calls and texts from... Trevor. Uh oh!

For some reason, after arriving in Denver, I had remembered to text Lindsey my whereabouts and then later again to let her know I’d be back Sunday night. But, after that, I just completely ignored my phone. I threw it in my bag and forgot about it—I’m actually surprised it survived the whole weekend without dying. What I forgot to do was inform Trevor on what I had been up to. After texting Lindsey I just assumed that my job was done. How did I forget to text the one person who means the world to me?

I scan through the texts smiling as they start off sweet, and feeling my lips melt downward as they grow furious. I guess his reaction is a sign that he cares, right? I send a quick response to let him know I’m safe and sound in my dorm room and then my eyelids give out on me. I’m pretty sure I fall asleep before my head even hits the pillow.


Something brushes across my nose and I twitch the tip of it, hoping to ward away the pesky insect that has worked up the courage to torment me. I’m slowly succumbing to the gentle grasp and soft edges of a beautiful dream when it flutters across my nose again. My hand involuntarily swings up, smacking me in the face. My eyes shoot open, and it takes a moment for the gigantic blob sitting in front of me to come into focus.

“Wakey wakey,” Mercy chirps. Her voice has just the right amount of perkiness to make me want to smash my forehead into her face.

“Whaaa?...” I groan as I turn to my side and bury my head into my pillow.

“I’ve got Milky Ways, Reeses, Skittles, KitKats and Twix...” she tempts.

I start to chuckle into my pillow.

“What?” I feel the bed dip, and I assume she’s flopped down next to me.

“You said Twix,” I mutter, and I’m pretty sure she can’t understand me at all as I basically whisper and laugh into my pillow. “Sounds like you’re a baby trying to say Tricks.” Apparently, I wake up stupid.

I hear her snort next to me, and I twist around to find her with a pile of red Skittles in hand. When she notices that she’s gained my attention, she lifts the bag of remaining Skittles up for me.

“No way,” I gasp as I jolt upright, making myself ready to pounce. “You can’t just pick out all the best Skittles and give me the leftovers. I will fight you for those.”

“Oh, I plan on giving these to you,” she says as she holds her Skittle-filled hand above her head and out of my reach, “for a price.”

I cross my arms over my chest and glare at her. “What price?”

“Here,” she says, as she groans to reach for something on the desk near my bed. “Sign this.” She hands me a piece of paper with her bubbly handwriting scribbled across it.

I will do whatever Mercy asks of me for 24 hours.

I glance up at her. “Seriously?”

She looks at me with innocent eyes and blinks rapidly a few times, nodding with enthusiasm.

“What do I get out of it?” I question.

“Skittles... duh. Well, and anything else in that pile.” She points to where she’s stashed the candy at the foot of my bed. She rolls off the mattress and makes her way to her side of the room where she proceeds to pull junk out from under her bed, one-handed. I can’t help but wonder if her entire left palm is painted red now from melting Skittles.

“Ah-ha!” she belts, as she pulls out a paper plate from who-knows-where. It’s not like it was safely packed inside a box or anything. Nope, it was just randomly mixed in with all the other crap underneath her sleeping quarters.

She releases her grasp on the Skittles and they tumble onto the plate. A few bounce with excitement before settling down.

She glances up at me with a sharp twinkle in her eyes. “Well?”

“I’m not signing that,” I tell her with conviction, shaking my head vigorously.

“Come on. It’ll be worth it. I promise.” She runs her fingers across her chest making an ‘X’ shape. “Cross my heart.”

“Tell me more, and then maybe,” I say, stretching my arms above my head.

“Okay, so I’m in the mood for a picnic, but I can’t cook worth a darn.” She puts her hands together and gives me puppy dog eyes. “Please!” She pouts her lip as if that’s going to make me want to help her. Just look at that face; it’s pathetic.

“Fine.” I guess it doesn’t take much to convince me when food and candy are involved.

“Awesome!” She lays the plate of Skittles on her bed and hops over to me with a pen. Literally—she hops. “Sign.” She holds the pen out for me.

Tentatively, I take it and scratch my name onto the agreement.

“Yay!” She claps her hands like someone with rubber bones and then reaches towards a basket on the floor. “Ready?”

“Huh?” I lift my brow as I narrow my gaze at the basket. What have I just agreed to? “I thought you needed me to make food?”

Mercy hooks the arm of the basket around her elbow and gives me a blank look. “Really? You bought that? Dude, I just needed you to come with me and be my slave.” She smiles wickedly as she tries to balance on one foot while stuffing the other foot into her moccasins. She switches feet to slide the other shoe on and then glances up.

“Come,” she orders.

I let my eyes slide down towards my outfit before looking back at her like a mother eyeing her ice-cream covered child. She doesn’t budge, other than a quick shrug of her shoulders that says ‘not my problem.’ I sigh before jumping off my bed and grabbing a pair of jeans from the floor. I promise they’re still somewhat clean. Actually, they might not be clean, but they don’t stink and that’s all that matters.

Ten minutes later we’re cruising through downtown as Mercy belts out obnoxiously to Tech N9ne’s ‘Worldwide Choppers’. I’m half disgusted by her song choice and half in awe at her ability to rap every single word. Who the heck is this girl?

My eyes skip along as we pass building after building, telephone pole after telephone pole, field after field, tree after tree, and then nothing. There’s literally nothing around us. She keeps driving out in the middle of nowhere until I spot a blocky looking structure come into view a few miles ahead. I squint, trying to make out what it is, but it’s pointless.

Two minutes later, I see it and slowly swing my head to Mercy who’s got a blinding smile across her tight lips. This girl’s got some serious issues. She forced me out of the comfort of my bed to bring me out into the middle of nothingness.

“Mercy? You wanna explain what we’re doing here?” I ask, letting my eyes roam over the old decrepit train in front of us. I won’t deny that a teeny tiny part of me is seriously excited about exploring it, but the other part of me wonders what I’m doing. It’s way too cold for outdoors, and yet Mercy wants to have a picnic?

“Nope. You’re not allowed to judge,” she says while flicking her sunglasses onto the dashboard. She pulls the latch on the door and looks at me sternly. “Come on. I know you want to.” She swings her body through her open door and stretches as if we’d just been driving for hours.

I shrug to myself, knowing that she’s right, I do want to check it out. I slowly pull myself out of the parked car. Mercy is already heading towards the entrance to the old train. I stand in place for a moment as I take in the rusty form. There are weeds growing out the broken windows, and rubble scattered all around the forsaken railroad tracks. I’m curious as to what caused an entire train to break down and then end up forgotten. It’s not like these tracks were always abandoned. This train must be the very last train to ever attempt this route.

I’m overcome by a sense of loneliness as I glance around the empty space that surrounds me. What happened to the people who rode this train? I shiver as I imagine finding them inside. We can only hope they made it out alive. A twenty-mile walk to the nearest town wouldn’t have killed them. I take a deep breath when I realize that most likely nothing serious happened. Maybe the train just died out here, and there’s no dramatic story tied to it. The whole thing is just mysterious, and absolutely not the place a normal person would choose for a picnic.

Picnics are meant to be happy and sunny, not dreary, lonely and cold. Leave it to Mercy to go completely against the flow of normalcy. But again, this is why I love her.

I pull my jacket tighter around me and step through the rickety entrance and onto the vacant train. Mercy has already made herself comfortable in a worn booth that’s been overrun by nature, now turned brown from the cold. She’s done some gardening though and removed all the dead weeds from where they had previously been wound around the seat.

She smiles up at me like a child on Christmas when I approach.

“Sit. Eat.” She gestures to the tacos that she has spread out on a paper plate. My mouth instantly waters, and I’m no longer hesitant about eating in the haunted skeleton of an old train.

We eat in silence for a few moments, but I can feel Mercy’s scrutinizing gaze as she chomps noisily across from me. I glance up with raised eyebrows. She keeps staring as if she’s trying to figure something out.

“You’re loud.” I finally say as I eye her infuriatingly loud eating.

She smiles and takes another sloppy bite. “Why did you like him in high school?” she questions unexpectedly.

I can’t pull my eyes from her bulging cheek where she’s shoved the food in her mouth so she can speak around it.

“Hm?” I ask absentmindedly while taking another bite.

“Trevor. Why did you like him in high school?” she repeats.

I’m not following her train of thought, apparently, because I have no idea why she would ask me this. “Uh... because he was sweet and spicy?” I wiggle my eyebrows at her, hoping she’ll catch onto my attempt at a joke, but I’m not sure that’s what she was really asking, which is why it came out as more of a question.

“Obviously,” she groans as she wipes a glob of sour cream from the corner of the mouth and then sucks it off her finger. “I mean... I just don’t understand why you even had it in you to be attracted to someone. Like, you were in such a low and dark place back then that I’m not understanding why you would even care about having positive feelings for someone.” She pauses for a moment to think. “Does that make any sense? Like, liking someone creates good feelings, right? It makes you happy. So, how did you even grow to like him if you had no joy in your life back then? Like, if the only thing you ever felt was bitterness, then where did your feelings for Trevor come from? Did you—”

“Okay, okay. I get what you’re saying,” I finally jump in. “And... I don’t know.” I stare at the taco between my hands for a moment, trying to understand my own mind. It really doesn’t make sense. “I guess even someone living in the dark can still see the light when it’s right in front of them, right? I wasn’t blind. I could see how good of a person he was, and maybe somewhere deep inside I wanted that. I craved a little light in my life, and I hoped that he would give that to me.”

I stop briefly before saying what I truly believe the reason to be. “Maybe I wanted him to fix me.”

The words fall out of my mouth slowly, and I’m shocked by my own answer. Did I truly want that? Was I hoping his goodness would rub off on me and that somehow it would magically heal me? Is that why I noticed him? Because he just happened to shine a little brighter than anyone else?

“Interesting,” Mercy says with a knowing smile. With just that one simple question she has somehow unveiled something huge.

My gaze suddenly snaps to hers. “Do you think I’m using him now?” The words come out just shy of panicked. What if all this time I was just hoping that he would teach me how to be more like him. What if I’m only attracted to the idea of being as good of a person as he is, but have never actually been attracted to him as a person.

“No.” The confidence in her answer has me taking a breath of relief.

I don’t know why I always trust her opinion so much. Maybe because I know she’ll never sugar coat anything. She only says what she means, and she will tear your heart out with honesty if you ask for her opinion. So, if she says that I’m in love with Trevor Nixon, then I must be. Period.

“How do you know?” I ask anyway out of curiosity.

“Because, I happen to know what a girl in love acts like, and girl... you’re in love.” She smiles widely before grabbing a fresh taco and biting the entire end off of it. I watch her for a moment as her words sink in.

“You’re in love?” I ask quietly as I finish off my taco.

I pull my legs up to my chest and attempt to rub some heat into them. Mercy giggles and I nearly fall out of my seat. Mercy? Giggling? This never happens. She doesn’t even need to answer me now. Just her giggling is sign enough that she is, indeed, in love.

“Aw, Mercy. Who?”

She finishes off her own taco before mimicking my position with legs to chest. “I’m not sure if you know him,” she begins with a hint of uncharacteristic shyness. She peers up at me from underneath her lashes. “Seth.”

“Oh. Seth. Yeah...” I glance up at the ceiling of the train while I think. “He’s the guy who was with you that day we saran wrapped you to your bed, right?”

She laughs. “Yep. That’s him.” She brushes a strand of hair behind her ear. “Obviously he wasn’t too concerned about me, huh?”

I’m surprised by this admission. I didn’t realize that she had been waiting for him to help her out. I thought it had been some silent agreement that she wanted to stay in our plastic-made trap. I thought that maybe he just knew her so well that he knew she was comfortable and didn’t want to be released. Now that I think about it, though, it is a bit odd that he just sat there while she suffered under layers and layers of plastic.

“Did you tell him you wanted out?” I ask.

She shakes her head side-to-side, ashamed.

I start laughing before she can even respond to my question. “Merc, are you one of those girls who expects a guy to read your mind? Maybe he was waiting for an invitation to release you.”

She just shrugs. “Maybe.”

“How was he supposed to know that you wanted him to set you free?” I say, but my words have me thinking about my own situation. About Trevor, and how I had longed for him as a person. How I longed for his good character. How I longed for him to fix me. To free me from the darkness that was eating me.

“Emma,” Mercy says seriously. “A guy, no matter how good he is, can not give you freedom. That’s something you have to find on your own. People can point you in the right direction, but in the end, it’s up to you whether or not you let go of your past.”

I gape at her for several seconds before speaking. “How do you always know what I’m thinking?” I ask, completely floored that she was able to read my mind.

She smiles with a mysterious shrug but doesn’t respond. I momentarily wonder if I’m in one of those movies where people have their own personal guardian angels, and mine happens to be Mercy. Her wisdom is astounding at times.

After eating we explore the length of the train, but the adventure is pretty uneventful. Nothing jumps out at us. There were no creepy children crawling on the ceiling, men with broken necks swinging machete’s through the air, or dead bodies coming back to life. Overall, a pretty disappointing exploration.

We finally decide to leave when we can no longer feel our toes anymore, but my thoughts stay in the abandoned train. It’s crazy that a place filled with so much mystery could reveal so much truth. A place stuck in the middle of nowhere, that’s completely forgotten, somehow held the key to me finding my own answers.

As we coast into the campus parking lot, I’m once again curious as to whether or not Mercy knew that that was something I needed. It’s not like we hang out that much together, and yet she just knew that I needed some time to figure things out and to make sense of my own thoughts.

Mercy pulls into a free parking space and shuts off the car. By now, I’ve already missed my classes, so there’s no need to rush. Apparently, Mercy returned just in time for hers, though, because she barely has time to shout a ‘bye’ at me before she’s hightailing it through campus in an attempt to not be late for her speech class.

I smile at her retreating form before making my way up to my room. I heave the door open, feeling a sudden wave of exhaustion seep into my bones, and a sense of de ja vu hits me. It’s that feeling again; the one where something is out of place, but I can’t figure out what.

I scan the room and then allow my gaze to settle on the partially closed bathroom door, half expecting Trevor to exit. I continue to stare at it for much too long before realizing that nothing is coming out of it. I take a tentative step into the room and freeze. I take a closer look at my side of the room and stop breathing as my eyes scan my side of the room.

All of my stuff is missing.

The table is clear of all of my junk, including my computer; the side table is empty of any books; and my backpack, that usually sits in the desk chair, is gone. A sinking feeling swarms through my gut, and I quickly run to the side of my bed and reach underneath.

“No no no...” I cry, as my fingers brush against nothing but air.

I bend over so that I can peek under the bed and come eye-to-eye with empty space. It’s completely free of all clutter, and this clutter includes my box of goodies. My precious Skittles and magnificent Mars bars are gone... and there’s only one person to blame.

Mercy set me up.

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