My name is Tryphena Lilac Mather, and I'm a psychic.
|[I sit in an uncomfortable metal chair. I do not want to be here.]
female voice: Tryphena Lilac Mather?
[That’s me. I do not respond.]
female voice [again]: Tryphena Mather? Tryphena Lilac Mather?
another female voice: she’s in the back, penultimate row, next to the boy in blue.
[Thank you, teacher. Now I have to talk to them. I do not want to talk to them. I already know what they are going to say. I already know what they are going to do. I already know everything.]
female voice: Ms. Mather?
another female voice: Tryph, answer her.
[It is a command. Not an option. I raise my head, meeting the intrusive woman’s gaze. She stares back with menace. Get a life.]
female: Tryphena, I need you to come with me.
[The whole class is staring at me. I can see one guy think: WHAT DID SHE DO? Another kid, a girl, three rows over loosens her fists. She was afraid that the woman came for her. I meet only sympathetic looks and curious stares. Why do people have to be so damn nosy?]
me: I know. [I stand. I do not say another word. The woman and I walk out of the classroom, down the hall, and into the principal’s office. From there, the woman takes me to a small room. Let the interrogation begin.]
. . . . . . . .
female: My name is Petite. [She is petite. In that case, my name should be Psychic.] I need you, Ms. Mather, to answer a couple questions for me. [Her name should be Detective Wannabe.]
me: [silence. I will say nothing.]
Petite [pasted smile, unbreaking]: I can see we will have a tough time here as long as you continue to fight me.
me [blink]: I am not fighting you.
me: Call me Tryph.
[She ducks her head, in annoyance, in triumph.] Petite: Alright, Tryph…Can you answer some questions for me?
me: Of course.
Petite [smiling, as if understanding my game]: Will you?
me: Of course.
Petite [lips tight, confused]: When will you answer?
me [Her partner will knock on the door in a few minutes.]: Soon.
. . . . . . . . .
[Meanwhile, while we are waiting…] me: Why am I here?
Petite: Surely, you already know, Tryph.
me: But why me? What pointed in my direction?
Petite: Don’t play dumb, Ms. Mather.
me [blink. She thinks she can play my game?]: Dumb?
Petite: We both know you are psychic.
me: I knew you were going to say that.
. . . . . . . . .
[Her partner walks in right on time. His name is Fillmore. He has two cups of coffee. In thirty minutes, he is going to ask for a bathroom break. He smiles at Petite.]
me [nod once]: Fillmore.
[He gives me a disconcerted look. How do I know his name? He looks at Petite. Did she tell me?]
me: Relax, I’m psychic.
[Fillmore chuckles. He is a nonbeliever. This will change. Within the next five minutes, too.]
Petite [clearing her throat, signaling to Fillmore I am not joking.]: Fillmore, this is Tryphena Lilac Mather. She goes by Tryph.
Fillmore [politely]: Nice to meet you. [He sits down, stroking his silky purple tie.]
[Naturally, he is lying. He wants to be at home, with his wife, in bed, doing her. That’s what he spends his time doing- her.]
me [blink]: I will answer now.
Petite [smiling in pleasant relief. She just didn’t want to resort to violence.]: Good. [Let the interrogation begin.] Are you familiar with a student named-
me [sighing]: Yes. Just cut the crap and ask me the important ones.
Petite [shocked. She had forgotten she is dealing with a psychic.]: Certainly…Fillmore. [She recovers from her shock as Fillmore lays a tape player in front of me. Oh, Thisbe, what had she done?]
me: What is this for?
Fillmore [smart ass]: Playing tapes, Tryphena. Ever seen one?
me: Know where to put them too.
Fillmore [jaw taught]: Listen. [He hits the triangle play button. Her sweet voice explodes from it, crackling and harsh. She is breathing into the mic.]
tape player:…[intake]…[letout]…[intake]…I am going to die in seven hours…[intake]…[letout]…I can’t do anything about it. She predicted it. She said it will happen. How can I argue with a psychic?...[letout]…[intake]…I should be doing my Spanish speaking practice, but if I’ll be dead by this time tomorrow, what’s the point?...[intake]…[letout]…This is my last effort at reaching out for help. It’s useless, but I must try.
[Oh, Thisbe, what have you done?]
me [eyes closed]: Stop the tape. [Hadn’t I seen this? Yes. Meeting in this stupid little room with detectives and their black coffee? Yes. Listening to her voice?
A mental glitch? Or a trick?]
Petite [leans forward]: Tryph, what’s wrong? Too much to hear her voice? Too much to hear your little girlfriend’s voice again? Does it remind you of something? Perhaps: why you killed her? [She is enjoying this too much. But she is right.]
. . . . . . . . .
me: Petite, she wasn’t my girlfriend- my friend, yes, girlfriend, no.
Fillmore: That’s not what she says.
me [turning sharp eyes on Fillmore]: What does she say? [scornfully, sadly, incriminatingly.]
Fillmore: Listen. [He hits the button again.]
tape player:…[intake]…I don’t know why I’m going to die. She didn’t tell me that- or how. Just that I am going to die. I have been thinking- a dangerous pastime, I know- but nonetheless, I have been thinking. I think I know who it will be, who will kill me. Yes, Tryph, I know you will kill me. [a peal of laughter] I am not psychic like you, but I can connect the dots. You know this from experience. I was able to see that you love me. I was able to see that I love you. I was able to see that you have a special gift. I was able to see that you won’t use it for good. I was able to see that you are my death. I have only one question for you: Why?
Fillmore [pausing the tape]: Yes, Tryph, why? Why did you kill your little friend, Thisbe?
me: Is she really that little?
Fillmore: Answer the question.
me: You are wrong. I did not kill her.
Petite: Thisbe says differently.
me: Thisbe was grabbing at straws. I couldn’t have killed her seven hours after this. I was in my dorm, finishing my homework. She was off campus, taking one last hurrah through the city, saying one last goodbye to everything she loved.
Fillmore: Did she say goodbye to you?
me [turning sullen eyes to him]: She said goodbye to me first.
Petite: How do you know that she was in the city?
me: I told her to go.
Fillmore: Why didn’t you go with?
me: It wasn’t my turn to die.
Fillmore [giving me a fake smile]: And when do you die, Tryphena Lilac Mather?
[I give them a secret smile. I have always known when I will die. I have never told a soul. Would not want to die prematurely.]
. . . . . . . . .
Petite [to Fillmore]: Stop wasting our time. [She wants to go home. She is working up a migraine.]
me: Go ask the nurse, Petite. She can help you.
Fillmore: Why would she go to the nurse?
me [exchange a glance with Petite]: She has a migraine. [Idiot.]
Fillmore [in slight awe, takes a new look at his partner. He never knew she suffered from migraines. His mom did, too, before she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. How sad- death.]
. . . . . . . . .
Fillmore: Do you need to go?
Petite: I can wait.
Fillmore [opening his mouth.]
me: Don’t worry. When Fillmore takes his bathroom break in about twenty-five minutes, you can go then. I’ll hold down the fort.
[They both give me dumbfounded looks. What? Never seen a psychic?]
Petite: Thank you.
me [smiling]: Can we get back to torturing me now?
Fillmore [slowly]: Torturing you?
me: Yeah, you brow beat me for liking Thisbe, and Petite just annoys the hell out of me. Can we get this over with? I kinda wanna do my homework.
Petite: When will we be done, Tryph?
me [pausing. The time had changed. It was just going to be for the afternoon. Until I impressed them with my skills. Sheesh, what’s my deal?] We are going to be here all night.
Petite: What will we learn?
me [smiling]: You’ll find out soon enough, Petite.
Fillmore: These are just mind games. You are not actually psychic. Tryph, you do this just to get attention.
me [bristling]: Do I, Fillmore? Is this just a charade? That would be the easiest answer. No case, no complex thinking- just a simple open and shut case. I’m the murderer and my Thisbe, my lover, is the victim. Why? Well, naturally, school rivalries and mental stress, and look at this girl she makes up stories and acts like she is psychic there must be something wrong with her she must have killed the poor girl the poor girl who happened to go into the city and drug overdose and die while she was supposedly having a last hurrah and technically while she was supposedly at school doing work but these girls are really just messed up defects black sheep tumors in life and must be removed anyway so who cares if they take each other out that makes it much more story-appropriate anyway. Fillmore, you are wrong.
Fillmore [sternly]: Thisbe did not die from a drug overdose.
me [blink]: Of course she didn’t. If she had, it wouldn’t be called murder. But she was heavily drugged when the coroner did the autopsy. But it was the blows to the head, the bullet in her chest, the semen in her vagina- yes, they all pointed to a bloody rape and murder. Why come after the psychic then? Hhm? Well, now the clues just don’t match up. What the hell happened?
Petite: That’s what you are supposed to tell us.
me [jutting my chin at the tape player]: Ask the tape player. It knows.
Fillmore [once again, hits the button. Thisbe’s voice spreads from the tiny speakers, distorted and fuzzy.]
Thisbe:…I’m going into the city today, after class. Tryph talked me into it last night. She told me that if I was lucky I wouldn’t notice being killed. I decided to try everything: drugs, alcohol, getting laid, thievery, anything to lose myself, numb my soul before death…[intake]…I can’t tell Tryph this, but she will know eventually…What would she think of me?...[intake]…[letout]…Guess it doesn’t really matter. It’s too late to change my mind now.
[Fillmore stops the tape, cutting of Thisbe’s sweet voice.]
Petite: What did that tell us, Tryph?
me: What am I? A freaking translator?
Fillmore [giving me a frown]: Answer the question.
me [leaning away]: She went into the city, hit up some drugs, got laid, robbed a jewelry store, and got shot by the policeman when she refused to stop running and to hand over the merchandise. She had been planning on taking the jewelry to a bar and exchanging it for a few drinks, but that plan fell through the moment the policeman shot her.
Fillmore: That killed her?
Petite [rifling through a stack of papers]: No.
Fillmore [confused. How did Petite know that answer to that? She has the autopsy report. Moron. Petite shows him the file. It says that Thisbe died from a heart attack.]
. . . . . . . . . .
Fillmore: So, Tryph, what caused Thisbe to have a heart attack?
me: Well, not counting the drugs and bullet, practically anything.
Fillmore [impatient with my smart-aleck response]: Helpful information, Tryphena.
me [studying him]: No. You need to take a bathroom break, and Petite needs to go get migraine medicine.
[The partners exchange glances. Who to stay with the psychic?]
me: I’m not going anywhere. What purpose would that serve me?
[They are reluctant to believe me. But they do. They leave simultaneously, leaving me alone with Thisbe’s voice and a tape player.]
. . . . . . . . . .
[They will be gone for the next five minutes. That’s all the time I need.]
me [swallowing a lump, hit the play button]: Thisbe…
Thisbe: I have to say just one more thing before my time is up. I love you, Tryphena Lilac Mather, more than you can ever know. I love you and want you to have a long and happy life. [Tears well up in my eyes. Damn. Thisbe, my life will never be happy without you.] But I have a confession to make, Tryph. [Oh, no, here it comes.] I will never be completely happy with you. [I close my eyes. I knew it.] I am not just going to sneak out today to have one last hurrah and die in numbness. I am going to see him for the last time, tell him goodbye, and give him the greatest gift I could ever give someone. [Her heart, she gave him her heart. It never belonged to me.] I’m sorry, Tryph, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to lead you on like that, but…you are not enough. [Numbness creeps into my body, seeping through my mind, sifting through every thought, every caress, every life. No matter what I do, no matter what I say, I cannot satisfy the needs of my loved ones. They will always hunger for more, constantly parched and gasping through dried throats. I will never be enough.] I love you, Tryph. Goodbye.
. . . . . . . . .
[The recording crackles and comes to an end. That’s how she ends it. That’s how she left me. That’s how she died. Major heartache.
Of course, the heart attack that killed her was unrelated to her mental heart attack. It was hereditary. Her mother and her mother’s mother and her mother’s mother’s father had all died from heart attacks. But she wouldn’t know that. She didn’t even know her mother.
I sigh and stop the tape. I knew how this was going to end. And I let it. I did nothing to stop it- if anything, I helped. Because, unlike Thisbe, my lover, my heartbreaker, I remained faithful to her until the very bitter end. And when I condemned her, told her of her death, I shoved Thisbe out of my life. I couldn’t handle her death. She knew it. She knew I liked her more than she could ever like me. It didn’t matter that she could lie through her teeth and whisper sweet words on her deathbed- no, that didn’t matter at all. What matters is that she saw straight through me. She wasn’t psychic and still knew me better than anyone else.
She knew I loved her. She knew I am psychic. She knew that I will use my gift to bring the downfalls of others. She knew that I am a fragile human being, barely capable of love. She knew and yet we trucked onward.
It is amazing actually, the relationship we had, being good and companionable partners, knowing love, really, only by name.
Yet I still wasn’t strong enough to save her. Not from death- no, as a psychic, I am subjected to the truths of life- but from a dying heart. She needed so much more than I could give. We really should not have been pretending to be capable of such a precious, God-given thing: love.]
. . . . . . . . . .
[Fillmore returns first. He enters the small white room, creeps along the wall I am facing, and sits back down in his metal chair.]
Fillmore: Did you have a nice time?
me [wiping away tear remnants]: It was just dandy. [I hate detectives.]
Fillmore: So can you tell me anymore about our mutual friend, Thisbe?
me [resigned]: Nope.
Fillmore: Tryph, I can easily pin this as murder on you. Would you want that?
[A life of prison flashed before my eyes. No thank you. Especially when the only charges are being incapable of love.]
me: Would you?
Fillmore: I’m not the one who killed my love.
me: For the last time, I did not kill her, Fillmore. Her heart attack was inevitable.
Fillmore: But you goaded her, guided her onward.
me: Are you accusing me of helping her kill herself? Fillmore, did you hear me? She died of a heart attack. Do you know how hard it is to induce one of those?
Fillmore: You said it yourself, Tryphena. All that crap she had in her would have been enough to give her a heart attack.
[Now he decides to listen to me- to condemn me.]
me: Fillmore, you- [Petite walks in. She is holding a small cup with a red liquid in it. She barely looks at either one of us and sits down. In our silence, she looks up, glancing in my direction.
I blink. In a year, Petite is going to giving birth to a healthy baby boy- Haydn, she’ll name him. I smile at her.] Congrats, Petite.
Petite [a confused look]: For what?
me: Your son.
Petite: I don’t have a….[realization dawns on her.] When? And…and what his name?
me: In a year to this date, a beautiful baby boy, named Haydn, will be born.
Petite [smiling widely, wishing she could clap her hands together in joy]: Haydn! I love it. [She has a dreamy look in her eye. I hope Mr. Petite is up for some action. They’ve got work to do.] Oh, thank you, Tryph!
me [almost blushingly]: You’re welcome.
Fillmore: Can we continue now?
[I stare at Moron for a moment. I wish I would receive psychic information on him. Like maybe of when I get to shove his head up his-]
Petite: Of course.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Petite: Tryph, can you please explain the situation to us? What happened yesterday?
me: I woke up, looked across my room, and as soon as I saw her, I knew it was her last day. I woke her to her favorite song, paid for her breakfast, bought her purple lilacs- her favorite flower- before she realized something was up. I didn’t know how to tell her that her life was almost over. [How do you tell someone that they are going to die soon?] At first, Thisbe just shrugged it off, but when I continued going out of my way for her, she knew I was telling the truth. [I smile to myself. She knows me so well, eh? Prophets can never lie.] She broke down and cried. We spent the morning classes in the dorm, crying together. When we finally pulled ourselves together, she asked me what she should do. I told her live it up. She didn’t have much time. She agreed and left immediately. I thought that she went straight to the city, but apparently she went to Spanish first, made this recording, and then went to the city. You know the rest from there.
Fillmore: If you skipped the morning classes, why were you marked as there?
me [Have I mentioned I’m good with computers? Being technologically savvy and being psychic seem to go hand-in-hand.]: I hacked the system and marked us as present. A lot of kids do that. [Now we won’t be able to. The system will be changed. Oh well, I need a good challenge to keep my mind off of things.]
Petite: Really? A lot of kids do this?
me [nodding]: Yes.
Petite: Do you skip a lot?
me: Only when Thisbe and I decided to take a holiday or if Thisbe or I were sick.
Fillmore: You never skipped on your own?
me: Is this really pertinent?
[Petite and Fillmore exchange glances. Why?]
Petite: We are just trying to find out why one of your classmates is dead.
me: I told you! She died of a heart attack! Why can’t you just let it go! Allow her to rest in peace, please!
Petite: Tryphena Lilac Mather, you are a psychic who loved the victim.
Fillmore: So you’re a huge suspect for more than one reason.
. . . . . . . . . .
me: Name them.
Fillmore: You have motive for killing Thisbe- jealousy. You have ways to kill her- manipulation through this psychic ability of yours. You also have a sick mind- liking a girl [I shudder. He makes it sound so grotesque.] and thinking you are psychic-
me: Oh, cut the crap, Fillmore, you know I am psychic. I’ve proved myself over and over again. You also knew what I was about five minutes after we met. Don’t think you can accuse me of being mentally ill when you know it isn’t true!
Fillmore: Tryphena, you killed your love.
me [enraged]: Why can’t you look past that?! There is more than this case going on!
Petite [calmly]: Fillmore, Tryph…please, we have work to do.
me [burning eyes]: Why should I answer any more questions? All you do is jab at me with insults.
Petite: Tryph, please, we have good reasons, just be patient.
Fillmore [looking pleased, hiding behind his partner, smiling at me through yellow teeth]: It’s all a matter of time.
me: Then hurry up. [anguished] I want this to end.
[Petite and Fillmore give me inquisitive looks.]
Fillmore: That can be arranged.
. . . . . . . . . .
me: What do you mean?
Fillmore: We can make all of this end. We can make this go away.
me [looking at Petite]: Why?
Petite: You have a gift, Tryph.
Fillmore [leaning toward me]: An exquisitely convenient talent, Tryphena.
me [thinking…]: You are offering me an end to being psychic.
[It is not a question. That is exactly what they are saying.]
Petite [giving me a sad smile]: In a sense.
Fillmore: We can use your talent.
[They can use me.]
me: No thank you.
Fillmore: But you won’t remember any of this.
[I’ll just be an empty shell.]
me [rigid]: No.
Petite: Perhaps, we should give you some time to think about it. After all…Thisbe did just pass away last night.
[Tears immediately spring up in my eyes. I choke, jaw tightening. She is dead. Gone. Because I couldn’t give her what she needed.
Do I want to forget all of this?]
me [turning away]: Why?
Petite: Why what? [Her voice is gentle.]
me: Why do you need to use me? What do you need my power for?
Fillmore: Are you kidding me? A psychic ability could predict an attack, a change in the stock market, even death. It would be a handy asset.
[Handy asset. I’m pretty sure Moron means handy resource or valuable asset- not handy asset.]
me: You are going to use me for your own gain?
Fillmore: No, the government’s.
me: Why should I support the government?
Petite: Now, Tryph…
Fillmore: Because you are subject to it.
me: Really? Last time I checked, my psychic visions don’t come from the government.
Fillmore: But the laws that bind you do.
me [silent. This is a wasted argument. Fillmore and Petite work for the government.]
Petite: Tryph, please, just listen long enough for us to explain.
me [I have no choice. I already know how this night is going to end.]: Then speak, Petite. Your moronic partner here isn’t doing his job.
. . . . . . . . . .
Petite: We have been tracking you for about-
me: Two years now. I know.
Petite: How do you-
me: I knew I would be tracked back when I entered middle school. A psychic vision? More like I accidentally let my secret slip out.
Fillmore [snickering]: What? That you like girls?
me: Would you get off my butt about that? [I scowl at Moron. His blue eyes laugh at me.
I blink. In three years, Fillmore will have a son, Philander. He will fall in love with a man named Jeffrey. Fillmore will write Ander out of the will, cut him off from the family. Ander will move in with Jeff. They will love one another, adopt a kid- a boy- and both be excellent fathers. Fillmore is truly an idiot.]
me [sadly]: Fillmore, I am so sorry for Ander.
Fillmore [confused]: Ander?
me: The son you never want to have but will. [smiling ruefully] Philander will be your gay son.
Fillmore [a pasted smile on his face]: You feed me crap to scare me. You know what, Tryphena Lilac Mather? I hope, for your sake, that you aren’t psychic. I would thoroughly enjoy seeing you behind bars.
Fillmore: It serves her right, Petite. She doesn’t belong with society.
Petite: We cannot lock her up without any charges!
Fillmore: We have at least one dead body.
. . . . . . . . . . .
[I have no control over my visions. I do have control over who I tell them to and when. I just blew it, telling Fillmore about Philander, but honestly, I couldn’t take anymore of his shit. It was driving me beyond livid.]
me [head in hands]: I do apologize, Fillmore. I shouldn’t have told you about Philander. [smiling again] But there isn’t anything to worry about. You’ll forget about what I said.
Fillmore: I’m not so sure.
Petite: Please! We are going to be here all night! Stop your bickering!
me [giving Petite a smart-aleck smile]: You psychic, too?
Petite [startled. Why do I catch everybody so off guard? Are they really not prepared for me?]: Tryph, will you at least help us?
me: Help? Help you how?
Petite: A psychic would be a valuable resource to our government.
me: I will not be used.
Petite: We won’t use you. Just whenever you have a vision, you tell us, we pay you, and life goes on.
me: I get paid?
Fillmore [almost grudgingly]: Yes. Ten thousand a vision.
me [Holy crap! That’s a lot of money, especially since I have so many visions…Man, I could be rich.
No, a little voice tells me, Tryph, that’s too low.
Being rich is too low for you.
Use your visions for good.
Getting money is a bad thing? I could keep some, give away some. How bad would that be? It flashes before my eyes: I am sitting, fat and unsatisfied, in my mansion. I shake my head. That’s not how I would be. I see: I am desperate for cash, making up visions just so I can buy more heroin. I grimace. No, never.
What good would money do me? I have nothing- really- to live for anymore. Perhaps, I should take up their first offer- forget everything.]
Petite: Is that enough? [She misreads my facial expression.]
me: It is…enough. Too much, even.
Fillmore [eyebrows raised]: You want less?
me [Do I want less?
I want…more from life. I want more than these dead end visions and heartbreak. I want love- a love that will last, a love that will remain constant, unchanging- I want a fairytale.
Can money buy me that?] I don’t want money at all.
Petite: You want to forget?
me: No. I want to live my life to its fullest.
Fillmore: You don’t want ten thousand a vision?
me: No. I want to earn my way through this world.
[They exchange glances.]
Petite: What do want from us?
me: To be left alone. [I look at Fillmore] And for the silly suspicions about Thisbe to be erased.
Fillmore: You did kill her- in a twisted sense, goading her out into the city, where she could die.
me: In a twisted sense, you gonna arrest me?
Fillmore [tight lips, ever slightly shaking his head]: No.
me: Then what’s the issue? Everybody has their moments when they do something for themselves.
Petite [interruptive]: Tryph, please focus. Fillmore, lay off her case. [She takes a deep breath.] Tryph, we didn’t pull you out of class, accuse you of murder, and offer you ten thousand a vision just to be turned away.
me: Well, then, what the hell do you want? As far as I can see, you’re gaining and giving nothing.
Fillmore: As far as I can see, you’re just a pain in the-
Petite: There’s more to the story, Tryph.
me [contemplating. Whose story? Thisbe’s? No. Fillmore’s and Petite’s?
I blink. In two minutes, I can be standing over Petite and Fillmore, Fillmore’s gun in hand. I’ve already knocked out Petite. Within a few seconds, Fillmore will have a bullet in his chest- not to kill, but to wound, to remind, to punish.
I shake my head. I am not going to like what they will say.] Whose story?
. . . . . . . . . .
[Fillmore leans back in his metal chair. He gets comfortable for story time.]
Petite: Fillmore and I are actually part of this special forces department. We have a psychic, a telepathic, and a telekinetic. Fillmore and I are the only non-gifted in the squad, but we maintain the normal front. Anyway, a few days ago, our psychic gave us a tip that another psychic will destroy the squad. Naturally, we began our search, looking for those closest to us. Our superior handed us the Thisbe case because of those involved in the case- meaning you as well as Thisbe’s boyfriend. [I cringed, mentally and visibly. Fillmore snickered at me.]
me [interjecting]: Her boyfriend?
Fillmore [smart ass, again]: Yeah, the boy she snuck out to say goodbye and have a party in the city with.
me [bristling]: I know that. I want to know what makes him so important to the special forces.
Petite: Ian McCulloch is a telekinetic.
me [blink. Ian McCulloch, a telekinetic, lover of Thisbe- she sure knew how to pick us, one psychic, one telekinetic.]
Petite [continuing]: He had caught our eye few months earlier when he stopped a building from toppling. Anyway, we talked to him about you. He said that Thisbe talked about you. [She gives me a shy look.] He knew that you liked Thisbe and are a psychic. He told us everything, leading us straight to you.
[I am going to have to have a word with this Ian.]
me: And you think I am going to destroy this squad of yours?
Petite [nodding]: We thought it possible. Ian blamed Thisbe’s death on you. He practically accused you of murder before we did.
[I am definitely going to talk with this jerk.]
Petite: But it’s nothing to get upset about.
me [shrugging]: No, of course not. It’s just that Ian is a tool.
Fillmore [leaning threateningly close]: He gets paid ten thousand a job.
me [eyes flickering in his direction]: I am not a dog to be trained. I’m not even a dog.
Petite: Let me finish my story. [She hesitated a moment to make sure that I didn't object.] Our psychic isn’t sure that you are the one, but you have posed enough threat that you could be.
me [incredulous]: You really think I’m the psychic to destroy you then?
Fillmore: We know it, Tryphena.
me [holding back my anger]: Petite?
Petite: Yes, we think you are that psychic.
me: Continue, then, with your story.
Petite: We are willing to do two things, Tryph, with you. One, we offer you a job. Two, we kill you.
me [tense]: Kill me? Isn’t that a little dramatic?
Petite: Not now. Now you know too much.
me [rolling my eyes. Some people are just not to be believed.]: Petite, you wouldn’t kill me.
Fillmore: I would.
[I turn my eyes to him. No warning, no vision tells me he is speaking the truth.]
me: You would not.
Fillmore [standing up swiftly, pulling his gun.]: Watch me.
Fillmore [rolling his eyes]: Petite, I’m tired of her crap. She’s not gonna take us up on our offer. We might as go ahead and kill her now.
Petite [horrified]: Fillmore no!
[Fillmore leveling the handgun with my head, thumbing the safety catch off.
This is not how it ends. I don’t die here. My vision said…
I look up into Fillmore’s eyes. I can still fight. Using my precognizant abilities, I sense his finger stretching for the trigger, seeing the action with my mind’s eye. I grab his wrist with sudden speed and force, twisting the fragile bones beneath my grasp. He gasps in pain, and I wrench the weapon from his feeble grip. In an instance, I am standing up, gun in my hands pointing at Fillmore then Petite then back again.]
Petite [raising her hands defensively]: Tryph…Let’s be rational about this.
me: Okay. I’ll spare you. [I raise the gun and knock her unconscious with it. Her body slumps to the floor, motionless. Fillmore gives me a wide-eyed stare, fearful.]
Fillmore: Tryph, Tryph, spare me! Spare me, too! Please! [He staggers up against the wall, sliding toward the floor and corner.] Please! Tryphena!
me [gun remaining on him all the while]: Why should I spare you? Huh, Fillmore? What purpose do you serve other than being the biggest smart ass, most annoying little fuck to ever exist? Do people like that really deserve to exist?
Fillmore [lying in the corner, back against the floor, hands raised, screaming]: Tryphena Lilac Mather!?
me: Yep, that’s me. [I point the gun at his chest and shoot twice, shiny bullets imbedding themselves in his flesh, blood soaking through his shirt and staining his silky purple tie. I drop the gun to his side and walk out, heading down the same hallway I had come. I don’t go back to class. Classes are over. It’s nearly dusk. I’m going to the city. The police will be onto me now, using my prints from the gun. By the time I hunt Ian down and talk to him, it’ll be time to talk to the police.]
. . . . . . . . . .
[Nobody notices that I leave campus. Nobody cares. I ride public transportation into the city. I will meet Ian on the street. But where? I narrow my eyes for a moment, struggling to focus the blurry vision. On bloody Ashburton street? Where is that? I look up at the street sign. I am one lucky girl. Welcome to Ashburton street. I search the crowd, mentally and physically, unsure what I’ll find. I struggle again to clear the fuzzy vision. He is wearing a green shirt and blue jeans, black computer bag slung over his left shoulder. I open my eyes. Nobody matches that description. I start down the street. He is here somewhere.
I walk quickly past the stores and shops. I hurry across a street and pass an outdoor patio of a restaurant. Where is he?]
female voice: Thank you.
[I turn and look. A young man fitting Ian’s description is holding a dish in midair, hands-free. The hovering dish gently floats back onto a waitresses’ tray. The people around them applaud his good deed. Ian blushes and smiles. I frown. A guy like this accused me of murder? I approach him.]
me: Ian McCulloch?
[The guy turns and looks at me.]
me: I’m Tryphena Lilac Mather, Tryph.
Ian [understanding coursing through his veins]: Ah.
me: We need to talk.
Ian [hesitantly]: Okay. We can go to my place.
[His words send a chill down my spine. I didn’t know if that was a good or a bad thing.]
me: Lead the way.
Ian: Please don’t say anything until we get there.
me [puzzled]: Alright…but it’s urgent.
Ian [nodding]: Let’s go.
[He exits the patio restaurant and comes by my side. I smile at him, and we take off. Weaving in and out of people, Ian takes my hand so that we can’t be separated. My palm itches at the warm touch, and I shake my head, confused. What was wrong with me? Ian doesn’t seem to have the same reaction, so I ignore it and try to keep up with him. After a ten minute obstacle course on the streets, we head down an alley. Ian turns to me.]
Ian: This will be much faster.
Ian [pointing to the roofs]: Up.
me [jaw dropped]: What?!
Ian [chuckling]: Trust me.
me [unnerved. Maybe I shouldn’t have come.]: Alright.
[Ian looks at me, and suddenly I am airborne, soaring straight up toward the lip of the roof. He sets me down safely on the roof and follows. He joins me on the roof. Taking my hand again, he speeds off, leaving me no choice but to keep up. I run alongside him. As we near the edge, I feel him speed up, so I do the same. Right at the lip, he sends us into the air, flying across the gap, and we settle on the adjacent roof. The moment our feet touch the roof, we start running again. The thrill of flight and effortless running exhilarate me. I’ve never been so free. Finally, disappointedly, we come to a halt. A red brick wall is in our path. I look up and see a small house on top of the brick wall- which is actually one of four walls that hold up Ian’s house.]
Ian [smiling]: After you.
[I am confused. There are no stairs or ladders. I don’t know how to get- Suddenly, my feet are off the ground again. Ian is in the air beside me. We come to a stop at the front door, hovering in the air. Ian pulls out a pair of keys from his pocket and unlocks the door. He sets me inside the house and follows. He closes the door behind us and turns on the light. I see a small apartment set up: two bedrooms, a kitchen, a full bathroom, a living room. Suddenly, I see myself sitting on the leather couch, Ian with his arm around my shoulders, a toddler playing front of the TV. I put a hand over my mouth. No way. I turn to look at Ian. He smiles back.]
Ian: It’s a mess at the moment. I wasn’t expecting visitors. Please forgive me.
me [shrugging]: It’s fine.
Ian: So what do we need to talk about?
me [studying the floor. It’s a beige carpeted thing. Not very interesting.] Umm…
me: Thisbe would probably be a good place to start.
Ian [sighing]: Yeah. [He drops my hand. I had been unaware that he was still holding it. My hand suddenly feels very cold, exposed.] I knew you would eventually show up. [He goes to the leather couch and collapses on it.] She told me a lot about you, Tryph, you know that?
me [inching my way toward him]: Yes.
Ian [closing his eyes, leaning his head back against the wall behind the sofa]: I take it they’ve already talked to you, then?
me: Petite and Fillmore? Yeah…but I took care of them.
Ian [frowning, eyes still closed]: Took care of them?
me: Yeah, I turned them down, knocked Petite unconscious, and shot Fillmore in the chest twice. It didn’t kill him, but he’ll never forget me.
Ian [lips turning up into a smile]: Good for you.
me [confused]: Are you…proud of me?
Ian [eyes opening]: You stood up to them. That’s better than what the rest of us have done. We all just give in, allowing them to run our lives.
me: They use you.
Ian [chuckling]: No shit they do.
ma [grinning]: Yeah…but I have a feeling they’ll sick the cops on me, especially since I left the gun there with my fingerprints all over it.
Ian: No problem. They can’t get you here. They probably won’t even think to look here for you.
me [grimacing]: Petite told me about you. They know I know.
Ian: Still, they can’t get up here very easily. Between the two of us, we easily have the upper hand. [I shiver at the sound of between the two of us and we. I like the thought of us.]
[I awkwardly stand by the front door. He looks at me.]
Ian: You gonna sit down or what?
me: I don’t know…
Ian: You hungry?
[He stands up and glides across the floor to my side, taking my hands in his.]
Ian: Relax, Tryph, I’ll keep you safe.
me: Why are doing this?
Ian [cocking his head]: Doing what?
me: Being so kind. You don’t act like…
Ian: Like you and I shared a girlfriend?
me [shyly]: Yeah.
Ian [smiling]: Well, I have a lot of respect for you. You never treated Thisbe badly. I’m not saying that you were perfect, but you never intentionally harmed her. I never had to worry that Thisbe wouldn’t be in good hands while she was away.
Ian: What? Expecting some jerk who would rather you be dead than her?
me: You psychic too?
Ian [chuckling]: Well, Tryph, I’ll be honest. I thought you would be a superbitch and annoy the hell out of me for encouraging your girlfriend to cheat on you. And for that, I just respect you more.
me: I…respect you too.
Ian: Not so quick to trust are you.
me: Actually, I hate trusting others.
Ian: Thisbe must have really hit you hard then.
me [smiling]: Yeah.
Ian: I’m sorry, for your sake, that she is dead.
me [turning away]: Don’t be. She picked you in the end. She may have been enough for me, but I wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted you.
Ian [hand sliding around my waist, pulling me closer to him, whispering in my ear]: Tryphena…
me [startled]: Ian? [I twist in his hold, my hand on his chest, I cannot remember how to breath] Ian, what are you doing?
Ian [nose softly rubbing my cheek]: Tryphena Lilac Mather, I…I want to know something.
me [breathless]: Yes?
Ian: Are you lonely?
me: What do you mean?
Ian [murmuring against my skin]: Are you lonely? Or are you happy as you are, companionless?
me [struggling to think]: I want…something.
Ian: What something?
[I blink. In mere minutes, we can be caught up in pleasurable moments. Do I want that? Do I want him? He was Thisbe’s, he was a traitor, he is amazing.]
Ian: What do you want, Tryph?
me: What do you want, Ian?
Ian [lips curved into a smile]: You really want to know?
me [whisper]: Yes.
Ian [leaning closer, lips pressed against my ear]: You.
. . . . . . . . . .
[I collapse in shock. Never before in my life have I felt this way about a boy. Never before in my life have I felt this strongly about anyone. I am in Ian’s arms of course, but suddenly we are horizontal, my back against something sturdy- the ceiling. He presses his lips against mine. I am swept away with the beauty of the moment, the newness of the emotion, the thrill in the pit of my stomach.]
Ian: What do you want?
Ian [laughing]: Welcome to my home, Tryph.
me [giggling responsively]: Thank you.
[I blink. Petite and Fillmore will be on the roof. They will be alone, both guns drawn. We will attempt to talk, they will attempt to bargain, they will attempt to force. They will shoot. In my mind’s eye, I see Ian fall to the ground dead. No! Petite and Fillmore take me away, not bothering to erase my memory. I shiver. Ian feels me go cold.]
Ian: What’s wrong?
me: Petite and Fillmore are coming. [Ian bristles and puts us back on the floor. I debate whether to tell him or not he’s going to die. I decide against it. I already condemned one relationship. Why ruin another, especially before it was able to go anywhere?]
Ian: Tryph, I want you to stay in the house okay?
me: I won’t. I’m going to be there.
Ian [pausing, reading my eyes]: Alright. When are they coming?
[I begin to shrug when a resounding thud echoes throughout the little building, ringing from the door. Ian and I exchange looks. A bullet just hit the door. Petite and Fillmore?]
Ian [loudly]: What do you want?
Fillmore: Come out! We know she’s in there!
Petite: The girl, Ian, the girl, Tryphena Lilac Mather. Bring her out.
Fillmore: And tell her- no, listen, little bitch, I know you can hear me! You will pay for what you did!
me [smiling]: I see he hasn’t changed a bit.
Ian: Shall we?
[I shrug, and he opens the door. Hand in hand, we float down to the roof and stop before their eyes. Petite has a bruise forming over her left eye- right where I hit her. Fillmore, slightly hunched, has a red stain on his shirt and a bandage right underneath- right where I shot him. I smile. This all seems slightly comical- a showdown.]
Petite: Tryph, Ian, we’ll give you one chance to cooperate, or we’ll be forced to shoot.
me: You’re going to shoot anyway. Why not just get it over with?
Petite: Why should we shoot you now? We haven’t heard-
Ian: We are not going to help you anymore or join you. We want to be rid of you.
[They noted how he spoke in plurals. How had we gotten together so fast? Perhaps a certain psychic…]
Fillmore: Shoot now? Alright, I can do that. [He trained his gun on me.]
Ian: Fillmore, don’t you dare.
Fillmore: Oh? You gonna protect her? Be her body guard? Well, I can just shoot you, too!
Petite [warning]: Fillmore…
[Ian steps in front of me protectively.]
Petite [her gun on Ian as well]: We can just talk this all out. There must be a misunderstanding here-
me [stepping out from behind Ian]: No, no mistake. We are through with you. Be gone!
Fillmore: That’s it. [He points the gun at my chest and fires. I cry out in surprise. No! I’m not supposed to die yet!
But the bullet never reaches me, no impact. I open my eyes- unaware they’d ever been closed. A shiny bullet is hovering in midair. Relief floods through me. Thank you, God, for Ian. I look over at Ian and give him a grateful smile.
Suddenly a second shot rings out. No! Ian slumps to the ground. My hands fly to my mouth in horror. I shake my head ever so slightly several times. No! Not Ian! No! NO!
I kneel at his side, holding his beautiful face between my hands.]
me: Ian? Ian? [I repeat his name over and over again. He can’t answer. He will never answer here on earth again. whispering, tears brimming over] No.
Fillmore [gun clicks, cocking another bullet into place]: Serves you right, bitch. [I look up at him. I see right down the barrel of his gun.]
Petite: Fillmore, what have you done? [Her gun is put away, her voice a whisper, she is staring, wide-eyed, standing behind Fillmore.]
Fillmore: This situation is under control, Petite.
me: Is it? Because the way I see it, this situation is so far out of control that a man just got killed! Fillmore! You just shot Ian McCulloch!
Fillmore: Yeah, and I’m about to shoot you.
me [taking a breath]: Fine. Go ahead. Shoot me. I’ve got nothing else to lose.
Fillmore [lips parting in a sickly pleased smile]: Thanks for the permission, kid. [He chuckles. It is so easy.
Too easy. I kick out with my right leg, knocking his feet out from under him. His gun goes off, shooting a shiny bullet against the brick wall, right above my head. I reach out for his wrist before his back touches the ground and twist as hard and fast as I can. The gun sprawls across the floor. Fillmore cries out in pain, grasping his broken wrist. I lunge after Fillmore’s gun, Petite dashing across the roof after it, too. I reach it before her. On my back, I push my shoulders off the ground and sit in a crouch, Fillmore’s gun on Petite. She pulls her gun.]
Petite: I won’t hesitate to shoot you, Tryph. Please, just be cooperative.
me: You already have hesitated. You should have shot me the moment I lay still. You are mine now.
Petite [cocking her gun]: I don’t want to kill you.
me [standing, keeping Fillmore’s gun aimed at her chest]: Then don’t.
Petite [fear clearly in her eyes]: I don’t want you to kill me.
[I reach out with my hand, palm up, beckoning for her to give me her gun. Fillmore cries out in anger and pain.]
Fillmore: Petite! Don’t do it! You’ll let her get away!
me [turning to Fillmore]: Oh, shut up. I’m tired of you. [I raise his gun and shoot him, this time in the leg. I wasn’t prepared to kill him. I could. It would be so easy to aim the gun at his smart ass head and pull the trigger. But I can’t. I can’t handle having blood on my hands. I can’t handle being responsible for somebody’s death.]
Petite: Tryph, please don’t kill me. Think of Haydn.
[Haven’t forgotten about Haydn or Philander. They are another reason why I cannot kill either of them. They have futures. I cannot deny them of their right to the future. I cannot take away their last hope.
I’m not like them. They would destroy without thinking. Because they don’t care about my future, my rights, me. I mean nothing to them. But I am not them.]
me: I won’t kill you, Petite. If I was going to kill you, I would have done it already. But [I raise the gun, surreptitiously reaching into my pocket for my pocket knife.] I do want you to have something to remember me by. [I flick the blade into the air and throw Fillmore’s gun back on the ground. Petite whips her gun up and presses the point against my temple.] Relax, Petite. I’m giving you a souvenir. I am not going to kill you. [The gun stays firmly pressed to my temple.] Alright, but I’m still going to do this. [I flip the blade around and trace a small lilac on her forearm. Within the flower’s outline, I write the initials: TLM.] There, now. You can never forget me. [The gun digs into my skin. I grit my teeth against the pain.]
Petite: What keeps me from killing you right here, right now? Hmm? Why shouldn’t I just take your life right now?
me [flipping the blade back into my pocket]: Because you don’t want to kill me.
Petite: I don’t? After everything that you’ve done to me and my team? I have no reason to kill you?
me: You have plenty of reasons, Petite, but you don’t want to. [My neck was starting to ache, cocked at the awkward angle.]
Petite: Perhaps you’re right, Tryphena Lilac Mather. Perhaps I’ll just leave you to start over, make new friends, make new enemies. Is that what I want? Hmm, Miss Mather?
me: Petite, you-
[A gunshot rings out. Fillmore is writhing in pain but shakily holding a gun, aiming at the two of us closely intertwined. His face is contorted, a peculiar expression knitting his brow.]
me [to Fillmore]: You missed me. [Turning to Petite]He really needs to- [Petite is dead in my arms. Her eyes, rolled up into her head; her neck, limp and unsupportive; her arms, cold and clingy. A small bullet hole is right in the center of her forehead. Perfect shot. I look at Fillmore. I pull the gun out of Petite’s noodle grasp, dropping her body to the ground.]
Fillmore [gasping, choking]: She…always was…in my way…Tryph…now we can…finish this…properly.
[Mirror images, we raise our guns, aiming perfectly at each other’s head, ready for the final strike. In the tall, crowded buildings a gunshot rings out, blending into the night’s muffled traffic noise.]