Trinity and Parker were on the subway, headed to a place in Midtown where they were going to meet up with two of Parker’s girlfriends. The train, like the bridge leading her and Ethan into the city, was fascinatingly grimy, loud and pretty uncomfortable. In comparison, the trains in the DC Metro system were opulent. Boarding the actual train when they made it down to the platform had itself been an adventure. By habit, Trinity stood aside to let people off and was shocked that no one else—Parker included—seemed to be preoccupied with such pleasantries. Instead, they shouldered their way past the exiting passengers, jockeying for position without regard for whomever they might displace.
Now, standing on the jostling train, wearing borrowed shoes and clothing, Trinity was still so distracted by her surroundings that it took her a moment to process Parker’s question. Parker, who was trying not to look at her as she asked, probably because the question was loaded and they both knew it.
“She’s a friend.” Trinity shrugged, wondering if her answer was true.
Skylar sometimes showered her with attention and affection, inviting her places, hugging and kissing her, toying with her hair and telling her she was “super-pretty”. She had given Trinity a few of her cast-off outfits, expensive pieces from Banana Republic and Lacoste, and even shoes from L.L. Bean and Bass, which she declared “way too preppy” for her current “style aesthetic.” Trinity didn’t even know what her own “style aesthetic” was, but she knew that it would be stupid to pass up perfectly good, barely worn clothes that she never would have been able to afford.
But the gifts and the attention alternated with periods of coldness, or even outright cruelty, when Skylar would make fun of the way she pronounced a particular word, or random things, like … her never having had raw oysters. There had been days when Trinity had awoken to find that Skylar had turned inexplicably hostile overnight, speaking to her only when absolutely necessary and in monosyllables; or sometimes not at all. Shooting daggers across the room with her eyes, Skylar’s lips would curl in unspoken contempt and Trinity’s heart would sink.
And then the next day or the day after that, the sunshine of Skylar’s friendship would shine on her once again, and Trinity’s mood would soar because despite herself, she craved Skylar’s favor, just like everyone else.
“I only ask because …” Parker took a breath. “Oh, what the hell. I ask because Skylar, is a fucking nightmare. I met her only a couple times, but she’s just … ugh.”
“She’s not so bad,” Trinity said. Again not knowing for sure that what she said was true.
“I don’t know. You live with her. But one thing I do know? Guys like Ethan always seem to get ensnared by someone like that. I rescued Mitchell from his own little Skylar.”
At that, Trinity turned, holding on to the pole a little tighter.
“She was his girlfriend for like, three years or something when we met. And even though I knew I was pretty much intruding on an existing … situation, I made it my mission to take him away from her.”
Before they’d left the apartment, Parker had opened a bottle of wine and had two glasses of her own, so she may have been saying more than she normally might have done. But Trinity wasn’t inclined to stop her. Occasionally brushing a wisp of her wavy auburn hair from her face, Parker’s green eyes had a heavy-lidded tipsy look about them.
“So yeah, I broke them up or whatever,” she continued. “But it wasn’t easy, let me tell you. Mitchell—like Ethan, I’m guessing—is one of those rare guys who like to ‘do the right thing’. And the agonizing he did …” Parker groaned and rolled her eyes. “I was like, ‘Jesus dude, just dump her and get on with it! She makes you fucking miserable and who cares how many years you’ve been together, just do it already!’ And finally he did. And hasn’t looked back.”
Parker shot her a beatific smile, then reached out and squeezed Trinity’s arm as though in final punctuation of her monologue.
“I don’t know why you’re telling me all this,” Trinity said.
Parker smiled again. “Because of the way you look at him.”
“The way I look at him? I don’t think I …”
“Oh, girlfriend, it’s all over your face. But I’m not trying to embarrass you or anything. It’s just that I have a good instinct about people, Trinity. I know I don’t know you at all, but something tells me you’re a good egg.”
Trinity laughed. “A good egg who shouldn’t hesitate to step to her roommate’s boyfriend?”
Parker gave her a coy look, and a shrug of one shoulder. “No. I would never say anything like that. That would be reprehensible, wouldn’t it?” She winked. “But what I am saying is, don’t let your morals prevent you from saving Ethan from someone who probably has none.”