FICTION: The Trap by Jessica Graham

A middle child, born sad and cold

Hates the world all too much

Wonders why it’s all fucked up

Can’t excuse it and out of touch

Mind is clogged a little too much

A broken bottle seems fair to clutch

The pain is relaxing on its own

Not like the kind that breathes like air within your bones

“Do you think she’s crazy?” Mumbled officer Chad Williams as he made his way back into the building, where he met his coworkers who were sitting carelessly, chatting about a sport game of some sort. It was a quiet day at the station, the kind of quiet that happens before a storm, one in which wasn’t properly forecasted. “No, she’s not crazy, she’s lost.” Replied one officer, as he clicked a pen and returned back to his desk to pretend to do more work. “She’s definitely crazy man.” Replied another, who chuckled to himself and shook his head as if she was a girl who rejected having sex with him at a bar.

*

She was no hood rat, crack head, stoner or drug dealer. In fact, she was pure in ways people would only dream of. Growing up in a small town where dreams seemed to be more fearful than realities, she held a title, one in which brought her trouble, but purpose. Reagan loved trouble, and felt accommodated to the dark side much like a wolf in a sheep costume prior to making the attack.

She had seen some shit. Dark times, dark places and dark people. That never meant that they were bad people, but no one likes darkness- she learned, it’s too unpredictable.

It was that one day that changed everything for her. A gloomy day, not more than 15 degrees Celsius, and the air smelled of cheap tobacco. Reagan drove a nicer car than most kids in that town, and it was all hers. A 2011 Mini Cooper, with green interior and a paddle shift that let people know she was coming – over the speed limit to make a point. Her car now sat idle for ten whole minutes.

She clutched her stomach as if it were cramping, like she was told by her doctor to due in cases of severe anxiety. In the distance there were voices of people who would probably want to hurt her. The place gave her anxiety, and she often questioned if she only came for the sake of a thrill. For the sake of feeling something. It was called the trap. A house where an old pal Minor lived. He was a drug dealer.

He wasn’t always so bad, but after his mom died he seemed to give up on life. She told herself and her few fake friends from school, who turned small town gossip into small soap operas, that she stopped going into the trap – physically. Mentally, she never really left.

It was simple; the guys who lived at the trap were nothing but street names. No social media, no credit cards and no real social life. They made insane amounts of money. That was what was the most frightening part because it seemed too surreal. This meant a nineteen-year-old who stowed over $50,000 under his pull out couch. Terrifying. Minor was extremely nice, and welcomed all visitors into his home like every good host would. He had the most exotic pets, snakes, hedgehogs, pigs, dogs and many more than seemed to somehow mysteriously disappear.

There were four guys who were the main people of the tap. Their names were Zak, Minor, Sal and Tits. His name wasn’t actually Tits (obviously) but that’s what he preferred to be called. Minor was the leader of the group, and no one ever tried to cross him. Tits was the useless one who was only there because he was entertaining. Zak was the one who was most likely to die first. It was all a bitter reality because he transitioned from an insanely good looking, likable guy to a cokehead who was on the verge of death. Last but not least there was Sal.

It all began at a stupid high school party. On that day, Sal met Reagan and fell so deeply in love with her that it blossomed into an obsession that had a certain control over him. Reagan’s mantra was calm and cool, and she slid Sal’s love aside like it was some cute elementary joke.  Sal was sick. Very sick. Which is why he wasted his life away at the trap, because he would most likely not make it to age 20. A depressing bunch indeed, but at the end of every night they were the ones Reagan felt the most connected to, and felt most secure calling them friends.

Fake friends hate dark sides. Despised it. In the beginning, everyone saw Reagan as troubled, but no one seemed to want to hold her hand through it. The whole town just wanted to talk about it, then pretend that everything was normal when she was around. This is something that flowed commonly through most people in this town.

The only genuine connections seemed to be through the most troubled of kids. They faced real life, real problems and felt real pain. Fake friends were too scared of realness, which is why they judged everyone hard enough to push people like Reagan in to the gates of the trap. A reputation is hard to defeat, so soon enough people just assumed that Reagan herself was a cokehead, crack head etc. She seemed very ashamed of it at first, but soon she shook it off and allowed these troubled kids to replace the fake and pretentious ones. And her reputation spiraled out of control.

Sal made his way into the passenger seat of the Mini. He was high. This wasn’t abnormal. He was going on about some trap gossip as Reagan pulled onto Front Street (the name was merely too ironic).

Suddenly, Reagan tuned into his words when she heard the word police. Ah the police. Around here, they were all the same. Judgmental and uncanny. She had my fair share of uncomfortable police conversations and they all ended the same. If Reagan wasn’t so innocent and rich looking, with her long blonde hair and blue eyes, she would probably be in jail. Sal said that him and the boys were busted for driving with weapons in the back of their car. They weren’t real weapons, just crowbars and pepper spray. They still got shoved around like a bunch of dogs and arrested.

Reagan let out a deep sigh, as she then realized in that moment that all her real friends were going to prison. Now, they sat in a church parking lot, a common place for teen troublemakers to sit, smoke and discuss the meanings of life. Sal was insanely brilliant, and could tell the most entertaining and intriguing to any stranger. Reagan sat on the curb with her knees to her chin, and looked at the dark sky as he told her the full story of his arrest. As she finished her cigarette, she instantly wanted another, and realized that she smoked it too quick to truly enjoy it.

When Reagan pulled up to his house to drive him home then return to her own, just in time to be gone long enough to make her lie that she told her mother seem real, Sal placed an old-fashioned lunchbox on her lap. Inside, there was a bunch of pretty trinkets… with pretty pills inside. There were pain killers, the ones that housewives abused, and blunt wrappers and rollers that looked expensive.

Reagan wasn’t a drug addict. She never invested in drugs; they just always sort of found her. Just when she needed them. She started young, way too young, and really allowed herself to find an escape through shutting all the bright lights out by popping pills. It was harmless (it always was) until the day she almost overdosed.

A summer morning that seemed to be completely unbothered and uninterrupted by such a substance, Reagan woke up on the bathroom floor drenched in cold sweat. She crawled into bed that night, colder than she had ever been. Unfortunately, this didn’t really open her eyes to anything other than how weak her insides were. She liked the idea that her insides were weak, and that her body wasn’t healthy. It seemed to match her mind, which constantly felt ill and in need of treatment. The stigma of a mental illness never seemed relevant to Reagan’s parents. Therefore, she liked being physically ill as well. And at that point, overdosing didn’t seem to bother Reagan, she was depressed and questioning the value of life through each pill she popped, and that was the only thing that made her feel truly alive.

Zak often discussed his depression. It’s funny to imagine someone so rough and tough but so depressed. He scored a 26/27 on his doctor’s depression scale, which meant he was basically walking around with a noose around his neck. Zak; was so sweet and kind. He always seemed so happy to see Reagan and always was tentative to see if she was ok.

*

But that was then and this is now. Now, she wasn’t allowed to see him, for her own safety, which only made her heart break more for him. He was in major debt, and had people after him. Scary people. The kind of people who would break into your mom’s house just to send a message. The last time she saw Zak she began to cry. Reagan hardly cried, since the overdose all she felt inside was complete coldness and numbness. He was so skinny, and held his cocaine like it was a newborn baby. He didn’t even break between lines… even Minor looked at him with bitter sorrow.

Minor now cut Zak off. Everyone at the trap was now in shadows of danger because of Zak’s debt, so it had to be done. It brought a very cold, hollow fall to the trap and things just weren’t the same. Tits was now in jail too. Reagan knew this was coming for Tits, but something about Zak’s downfall kept me up at night. Minor was very bitter now. This was one of the reasons Reagan stopped entering the trap. He acted as if both Zak and Tits were killed, and never let anyone in the trap but Sal. She still wanted to see him again, but she was too scared to see the realism behind it all. Reagan wanted to remember the trap as the happy family they once were. The family that replaced my fake friends and loneliness with acceptance of darkness.  She always knew more than she should.

As a kid, Reagan knew more than your average adult. It scared the curious cat right out of her. Curious cats always die somehow. The trap became the database of all these horrible things, and she couldn’t say a word to anyone. Her stomach would turn every time she watched the news, and soon enough she started questioning everything she have ever believed in. Sal grew really sick, and his obsession grew sicker. Reagan would find relics of the trap placed on my doorstep on days that she had purposely tried to avoid it. It all happened too fast. Then eventually, her street reputation became a person in its own, and Reagan was questioned by the police for a stabbing that happened merely 10 minutes from her own home. She knew in her heart that the trap was involved in it somehow, she could just sense it. But she had no proof, and no way of finding proof because her fear took over at the idea that now someone had died. She was trapped.

After two hours of waiting with cops who seemed to define the perfect perception of a cop in a small town, Reagan was finally interrogated. Just like in the movies.

“What bad, horrible thing has happened in order for a nice looking girl like you to end up with these degenerates?”, asked Officer Williams. He was the head officer on this case, and he seemed to have no sympathy for the troubled. All Reagan could think of was the word Darwinism. Williams knew that Reagan was connected to the trap somehow, and the doors were now closing in.

“I used to be in love, ha you guessed it! Me? In love. Head over heels. I was with a nice boy, and he loved me more than I thought Sal ever could. Sal seemed to be obsessed with me at first sight. I couldn’t escape it, no matter how hard I tried officer.

“He hated Sal – the boy I loved, cursed the day he was born, and tried so hard to pull us apart. Then I guess when he left all I realized I had was Sal. So I befriended him. He’s sick you know?”

Looking back, Reagan in that moment realized her biggest fault was not breaking up with the trap. She became a part of it, and she didn’t even know it. Officer Williams seemed to think that Reagan was crazy- insane even. He thought that she was delusional, and had no real relation to the specific case, so he let her go. He couldn’t forget her though, and he watched her leave and pity filled his heart. That day, Officer Williams saw a side of Reagan that no one else could see, and that side was a broken wing for desperate affection and lost.

*

 

Reagan hated waking up. Every morning she felt weighted down by life, and avoided mirrors because she knew that she was looking older, and sadder. Losing him pushed Reagan right inside the doors of the trap. She thinks of it as being on the come down phase, which is the worst feeling in the world. You can literally feel the world dragging you down, and all you can think about is how much of a fuck up you are. She pulled myself together, tried to sober up, and went downstairs. Like always, Reagan found her perfect home hallow and empty. “Triggering,” Reagan thought to herself.

*

“Reagan!” squealed Liz Nelson. “Ooooooh my god! How are you? God! You’re so thin! Are you ok?!”  Reagan shot her a smile that shut her up. Then I made her way inside the party that she already regretted attending.

As she entered, there were faces of people who she used to know. The fake friends she used to worship, and their new fake friends. They looked at her the same way people looked at people who were about to be given an intervention. She smirked to herself as she realized that there was no justification to an intervention at this point.

“Reagan! Reagan!” More fake girls screamed as she hugged them carelessly.  They began rambling on about something, and she had already mentally checked out. Then she noticed across the room was Sal. Really high and staring at her. She didn’t feel the warmth she used to feel when she thought of him and the trap- so she just walked away and looked for the nearest window to smoke out of. During her fail of an escape, the boy Reagan used to know froze her in my tracks. The one who loved her, and promised her he would fix her.  He instantly looked down at his stupid shoes, and Reagan walked the other direction. She suddenly could feel tears building up behind her now sober eyes. Two days prior Sal told her a story about Minor’s older brother robbing an old lady for merely $5,000. For some reason this was all she could then think about, and it must’ve been obvious because suddenly her fake friends were bringing her water.

“You don’t know your limits…” one said under her breath.

“You seriously need help,” the other said as they all sat me down and made a scene.

“You guys are heroes!” Reagan replied in a tone that was so unwelcoming they just wrote it right off. After ten minutes of arguing how sober or unsober Reagan was, people were screaming and before Reagan even knew what was happening she ran to the bathroom to throw up. Come downs- they are the absolute worst.

The blood is what made her quiver the most. Her boney body stood trembling in a cold summer night like a sick, cold dog. It was everywhere. It was he, the one she used to know. Reagan then fell briefly to the floor in shock. On her hands and knees she saw the weapon in the hands of the one who was supposed to be her friend, the one from the trap. She instantly knew what had happened. Then it all hit her so hard she thought she was going to throw up again. She was always bad at feeling things but suddenly she felt a mirage of her own life appear in front of her. She felt sick because most of the images she saw were from my experiences at the trap. Who she was before, who she loved all were out of reach.

What had happened was Sal didn’t approve of the way Reagan looked at the one I loved- so he took matters in to his own hands. During her trip to the washroom, Sal went in for the kill because he really had nothing to lose. He saw his fate as a ghost, and wanted to make sure it haunted Reagan forever. Love. Such a funny thing- because it is so selfish. It means nothing to be jealous, but to be truly in love is as rare as it gets. Love may make you do stupid things, but you would never try to hurt someone you love. That feeling, when you automatically feel the wrongness or God shaking his finger at you. Love is supposed to suspend that. That’s how Reagan knew the trap wasn’t bound by love- but greed. It was a game, a small war, and one that no one could ever win. Especially when you are wearing your heart on your sleeve.

Reagan was drawn to the crime scene like a magnet. She didn’t even hesitate to throw herself in the chaos, because she wasn’t about to let her hidden love suspend her again. It all fell into place. She didn’t know why she always fell short to see people for who they were. She was so used to people’s masks that she forgot to remove her own. Reagan had to be held back by one of the fake friends.  They stepped in when they heard her screaming like a crazy person. Maybe she was crazy- hell maybe she was crazy to excite herself. Or entertain herself. Distract herself from reality? That’s all she could think of and it felt sour because she suddenly didn’t want any of it anymore. She just wanted to hold his hand and never let go. She wanted to freeze time, and run away from the small town that brought her huge horror. He always had an effect on her that made her feel safe and secure. Even when he was the one partially bleeding to death.

*

That was the day Reagan realized she had a heart after all.  Luckily, Sal missed because he was really high. The boy’s stomach bled, but not enough to kill him. It killed Reagan though, or at least she felt like it did. Her world of trust and traps was spinning in her head and wouldn’t land. She saw what her actions had done to not only herself, but to the people around her. Needless to say she didn’t leave my house for weeks. And she prayed her phone would break. Sal was arrested that night. He didn’t care. He would be dead before his trial even began.

Reagan made the mistake of being nice to everyone. She hated judging people so much that she allowed everyone to take advantage. Especially the trap. Her perspective didn’t grasp this until weeks of pure silence from her pureness.

Followed by a funeral. Sal died four weeks later. He committed suicide. Swallowed enough pills to kill a cow they said when his body was found. Reagan held the blame on my lap like a dog, and couldn’t release it until the actual day he was buried. Then, the dog disappeared because she realized it wasn’t ever hers to begin with.

The boy showed up. In stiches. The one Reagan once knew. She stared confused. A mess at best. Blank and numb while she was waiting for him to talk. He smirked (he always did), and sat next to her in silence. The silence was pure; she knew because it made her cry for the pureness she knew deep down was long gone. They sat there, the two of them, at a guy named Sal’s funeral. Reagan looked around for the trap, but she couldn’t find them. They didn’t even leave a silhouette, just darkness. She realized that she tried too hard to seek a friendship in something that didn’t exist. It was all a game, and she lost. A fever began in her mind as she was running through the walls of the trap, now trying to realize how the hell she even got in. Was Reagan an addict? Did she just hate herself? Did she even know these people at all? She overanalyzed so much; her fever must’ve been over 300 degrees. When he spoke it caught Reagan so off guard she thought she was starting to hear things. He whispered to her something that will haunt her forever.

“Life is precious, because we know it always ends.”

“I’ll always love you- but I don’t know why” Reagan replied as they exited the gates to the funeral home ten minutes later. Exactly ten minutes. She then nervously lit a cigarette and he put it out just in time to ask his mom to drive Reagan home. They smirked at each other the whole way home.

img_3766

Student at the London College of Fashion, writer from Toronto.

twitter

black tree

If you enjoy the words we publish, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up to our mailing list and never miss a new short story. Your support continues to make our mission possible. Thank you.