The Front

Trillmon Baker sat in the passenger seat of his sister Heather's car as she transported him to the start of his new life. He was moving in with Heather so he could finish his high school career at St. Anne's Catholic School.

Heather's condo complex was nice enough – it even had a swimming pool – but having the family homestead sold out from under him felt like a betrayal even though Trillmon was grateful that Heather offered to let him live with her.

Heather pulled her sedan into the marked parking space outside of her unit on a pleasant late July afternoon and she helped Trillmon unload his belongings from the backseat and trunk of er car.

Trillmon noticed two teenaged girls approaching and he was surprised to recognize them as Sarah Schultz and Lauren Molson, both of whom were in his class at St. Anne's. Their class size wasn't that big so it was easy to be familiar with everybody who attended the school.

"Trillmon?" Sarah asked with surprise. "What are you doing here?"

She was bare foot, dressed in denim short shorts and a halter top. Her blonde hair was let down and Trillmon noticed how long it was – down to her rear end. She was short for her age and a bit plump in a rollie-pollie sort of way but she was attractive even though she didn't smile much.

Trillmon didn't know Lauren as well. She was what some at the school called 'butch' – her hair almost buzz-length and she was known to be a bit of a tough act around school.

"Trollman," Lauren said sarcastically as her way of saying hi.

"I'm moving in with my sister," Trillmon explained, gesturing to Heather who was holding a box in her arms.

"I didn't realize you three knew each other," Heather replied with a smile for Sarah.

"Yeah, small world," Sarah said with a smirk.

"Too small for me," Lauren remarked sarcastically.

"Well, welcome to Greenville Pines," Sarah said warmly.

"Come on, let's go," an impatient Lauren requested of her friend.

Sarah nodded and she and Lauren headed for Sarah's unit, three doors down from Heather's place.

"This is great!" Heather said with relief. "You actually know somebody here."

"I don't know them that well," Trillmon said with a sigh. "We just go to the same school."

"Well, now you have a chance to get to know them better," Heather said effortlessly.

"Maybe," Trillmon said hopefully.

"Two bad those two are an item though," Heather shrugged.

"Huh?" Trillmon asked with confusion.

"I've seen the way those two interact," Heather said. "There's definitely something going on."

"You mean, like they're gay or something?" Trillmon asked with shock.

"I'm just saying," Heather replied.

"But they go to a Catholic School," Trillmon said lamely.

Heather laughed. "You need to stop being so naïve, Trillmon," his sister advised.

Heather's unit – like all of the condos at Greenville Pines – was modern and spacious. The outside of the units were made of natural pinewood and there were several pine trees on the property. The buildings were only five years old so there was still a new feel to the place.

The units consisted of a large living rooms, a smaller dining room area, a kitchen and a half bath on the first floor. The second floor had a master bedroom and either one or two smaller bedrooms (depending on the units) plus a full bath.

In Heather's case, it was one smaller second bedroom for Trillmon. The room already had a small bed and dresser in it and they had previously dragged his computer table into the space, although it barely fit.

"Thanks for bailing me out," Trillmon told his sister once they unloaded all of his stuff from the car.

"Nobody should be the new kid their senior year," Heather said. "Sorry Mom couldn't wait ten frigin' months before further ruining your life."

"I hope I won't cramp your style too much," Trillmon said as he stood among the piles of his belongings stacked in the room.

"It will be fine," Heather said. "All I do is work anyway."

She left him to settle in and Trillmon spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking boxes and putting things away. He was able to bring a flat screen with him so it wasn't as if he and Heather would be spending a lot of time together. Basically, she was giving him a place to sleep and stay safe so he wouldn't become homeless. At least his mother agreed to pay the tuition for his final year at St. Anne's even though she was now living ten states away.

Trillmon rode his bike to work at his brother's paper supply company business. Heather lived a few miles further away from the store than Trillmon's old house but it was still a doable ride.

When he wasn't working or at football practice, Trillmon mostly hung out in his room listening to music or watching television. Heather brought home take out or she cooked a quick meal most nights. She was too tired to overly concern herself with Trillmon's life. Her end of the arrangement was to provide him with a place to stay.

Heather was working hard to prove herself as a bank teller, hoping to establish herself for eventual promotions up the chain of positions. She went on dates and out with her girlfriends most nights so Trillmon was mostly on his own.

He saw Sarah (sometimes Lauren was with her) around the complex from time to time – out at the pool, at the mailboxes getting the mail, or sitting on the front steps of her condo, but they hadn't chatted since the day Trillmon moved into Greenville Pines.

Trilllmon wasn't sure what he was supposed to say to Sarah (especially if she really was "with" Lauren) so he didn't say anything at all. Sarah hung out with a different group of kids at St. Anne's and she really wasn't into football so Trillmon's interaction with her was limited and, because she had never shown an interest in him, he wasn't about to put himself out there only to be mocked, ridiculed or rejected in response.

Of course, if Heather's suspicions were true, why would Sarah be interested in him in the first place?

Trillmon didn't feel the need to take a chance now anyway. But then again, they lived in the same condo complex now so maybe he should at least make an effort to be personable with Sarah to avoid any potential awkwardness at school.

One afternoon, Trillmon peddled his way into the complex after a shift at the store and he saw Sarah sitting on the front steps of her condo porch reading a paperback. She was once again barefooted, wearing short pink gym shorts and a tee shirt tied up around her stomach, her hair pulled back in a ponytail, her skin noticeably tanned from the summer sun. Trillmon saw that she was reading The Pigman by Paul Zindel.

"Oh, for Stevenson's class?" He guessed as he stopped his bike at the end of the walk, almost squishing Sarah's toes with the front tire.

"You read it yet?" Sarah asked, glancing up at him.

"Yeah," he confirmed.

"You like it?"

"It's a sad story," Trillmon admitted. "But I liked the humor."

"The kids are pretty messed up," Sarah said. "But I like Lorraine anyway."

"I really didn't identify with John except maybe for some of the peer pressure stuff and when the…" Trillmon stopped. "Oh, I'd better not saying anything more until you finish the book too," he realized.

"It's okay, I finished it," Sarah reported. "I was just re-reading a few passages for the report I'm writing."

"I got the first draft done," Trillmon said. "No hurry since we still have a while to go before school starts."

"Both their families are pretty screwed up," Sarah noted.

"I don't feel so alone about that now," Trillmon offered.

"Your family's screwed up?" Sarah asked with surprise.

"Why else would I be living here with my sister?" He asked.

"Oh," Sarah realized.

Trillmon let out a sigh as he climbed off of his bicycle. He used the kickstand to let it stay up and he cautiously and tentatively took a seat on the steps next to Sarah.

"So, what's your story?" Sarah wanted to know as she closed the book, setting it on the step next to her feet.

Trillmon gave her a glance, wondering if he should trust her – especially if Lauren was in the picture.