The Hate Triangle

Submitted into Contest #42 in response to: Write a story that ends with the narrator revealing a secret.... view prompt

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Mystery

We sit cross legged on the ground, on the soft, worn carpet. Zina looks up at the sky, palms turned upwards. Millie looks over at Zina, wringing her hands, anxiously, waiting. I lie down, hands behind my head, eyes closed. I smooth back my unruly curly hair. Beth calls up to us from the courtroom. I bite my lip and stand up cautiously, deliberate to take as long as I can without seeming uncooperative. The others do the same. Millie pretends to check her watch, Zina pretends to be looking for something. We take a deep breath, walk down the long spiral staircase with elaborate Ivorian carvings and step into the room, deciding we can no longer avoid our fate. We don’t have a lawyer, that’s not how it works here. We are the only ones who can save us. We are the ones who decide what to say, what to leave out. Beth bangs her gavel loudly on her marble desk, sending the sound echoing off the glass walls and high ceilings. She poses her question, head held high, knowing that what she decides will determine everything.


“What happened that night?” It’s a simple question but the answer couldn’t be more complicated. Millie answers first.


“I was going home from the choir at the church.” I’m already rolling my eyes. She was always one to make it seem she was a perfect angel. “I decided to stop at the library to pick up some books for school. I don’t know why, but the crazy fool, Florence, jumped out of nowhere, attacking me, pulling my hair, insulting me. Telling me I deserved to be dead. She told me she wouldn’t stop until I was.” She sticks her nose in the air and glares at me. She knows just as well as I do she’s leaving out the key part of the story. “Then my girlfriend,” She looks over and sends Zina a fleeting smile, “Zina Harlow, came out of nowhere. With a gun. She tried to shoot Florence, but at the last second, Flo jumped away and it hit the tree behind where she had been standing. It ricocheted off, coming at me full force. I tried to move away but I couldn’t move, I was paralyzed with fear. It wasn’t Zina’s fault. She was trying to protect me. That’s all I know.” Millie finishes her piece and glares at me again, full force, daring me to oppose her. I don’t regret anything though. If I had to, I would do it over again. Beth looks at me, expectantly. I bite my lip and begin to explain. 


“It started a year ago, junior year. Millie and I used to be friends, but one night she went to a party. I didn’t accompany her like I usually did. I had better things to do. She got hella drunk, spewing barf like a fountain ‘round Zina’s house. Zina’s parents didn’t care what she did. She hosted parties like four times a year. They were wild, everyone knew that. Anyway, since I wasn’t there, there was no one else to drive Millie home. She decided to risk it. She thought she wasn’t too drunk. She thought everything would be just dandy. Well it wasn’t. My brother was coming home that night from a gymnastics tournament. The cars collided. They had to use the jaws of life to get him out but by then it was too late.” I take a deep breath, forcing myself to go on. “She never even apologized. She never got a ticket when she should have gotten a jail sentence. She ran. You know why she wasn’t caught? You know why someone else was arrested instead? She was too drunk to know which was her car, she walked right into someone else’s, the car door had been left wide open, keys in the ignition. This innocent person went to jail. They pleaded him guilty.” I wrinkle my nose in utter disgust and shake my head in disapproval. 


“So you decided she should pay for her crime?” Beth asks. 


“Yes. I wasn’t actually going to kill her. But when Zina held the gun, my mind went out of control. I took the gun that Zina had dropped in shock. I shot her-Zina. The police came. I resisted. They used a taser, I moved, the taser shot me in the soft part of the head, where the cheekbone ends and the skull starts on the side. I blacked out.” A cold fist grips at my heart. I wouldn’t change it though, I honestly wouldn’t. We all turn to stare at Zina. 


“I started dating Millie only after the car accident Florence was talking about. We'd been going out for seven months when she tried to kill Millie-” I interrupt her. Beth scowls disapprovingly, but I have to set things straight.


“I didn’t try to kill her!” I practically shout it but I don’t, I know then my fate would have been sealed. Instead, it comes out as a mere whisper. 


“Please Florence, it’s Zina’s turn to speak.” Beth stops me. I shut up. She sounds like a grade two teacher mad at a student talking out of turn. I almost snicker at the irony of it.


Zina takes a deep breath, regaining her confidence. “I was stunned. I fumbled with the gun, trying to shoot it but my fingers couldn’t completely grasp the barrel. I shot it wrong and it missed, bouncing off the tree and hitting Millie. I couldn’t be more sorry for that. I dropped the gun in shock. Florence picked it up and aimed at me. I tried to roll away from her but my wheelchair got stuck on a rock. She shot me. I blacked out.’’ Zina finishes speaking and we all turn toward Beth, holding our breath. She consults her sheet of notes and nods her head. Her eyebrows twist in confusion before her shocking blue eyes widen just the slightest bit in understanding. She purses her lips before declaring the final statement.


“Florence Carmine Martinez, 2000 to 2018. Millie Mont-Morency, 2000 to 2018. Zina Rose Harlow, 1999 to 2018.” Beth poses her pen on the cold marble and clasps her hands in front of her. 


“Florence, you were upset. You posed an empty threat. You shouldn’t have attacked Millie, but I understand your view. You are to be released from purgatory and sent to the first wing of heaven.” I force back a smile, relieved. “Millie, you shouldn't have driven that night, you shouldn’t have run from the crime. Honestly, I don’t know what worse choices you could have made that night. But that is not the crime you are here for. You reacted very strongly to Florence’s threat but you were scared. I can understand that. You are to be released from purgatory and sent to the first wing of heaven.” Millie looks relieved, the stress of the last month, waiting for the court to be held draining away. “Zina. You have many holes in your story. Why did you have a gun in the first place? How did you know your girlfriend was in distress? You are to be kept in purgatory until another court can be held in a month.” Beth finishes, stands up properly, chin held high and walks from the room. Zina’s jaw drops open in surprise and anguish before anger sits in and she glares at me 10 000 watts. I sorta feel bad for her, for being accused of my crime but I still don’t regret it. 


Lie: I wasn’t going to kill Millie. Truth: I was a hundred percent going to kill Millie. Lie: My mind went out of control. Truth: I was blood hungry. Lie: Millie never apologized. Truth: She tried to apologize too many times to count. I just wouldn’t forgive her. Lie: I think Zina’s to blame. Truth: It’s complicated.


May 22, 2020 11:48

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