Halen threw his fists into the air as he celebrated being the first swimmer to reach the far side of the pool. He was proud to have finally become the fastest swimmer on his middle school swim team. Halen had been training intensely for weeks to accomplish his goal. He climbed out of the pool and started drying his short rough blonde hair and long lean, pale, body. While in the locker room as he was finishing putting on his khakis and white polo, his teammates came up to him,
“Great Job H!” praised the captain.
“You’re getting faster beanpole,” stated a friend, while giving Halen a shoulder punch.
“You’re finally faster than me now,” said Halen’s rival from across the room, “took you long enough.”
“The hard work has paid off, huh?” smirked another.
“I see you, Michael Phelps,” stated someone else.
Halen responded, “Ha-ha, thanks, bros, I appreciate it.”
On his way home, as he was crossing a pedestrian bridge, he saw a kid named Mikey Foster who was sitting on a big rock by himself in the river that ran under the bridge. There were other smaller rocks that he would step on to get to his big rock that was around twenty feet away from the grass. He was fishing. Halen would see him fishing on that rock every day on his way home from swim practice. Mikey was short and chubby; he always wore old, dirty, black shirts with worn blue jeans. He had neck-length, dark black hair, and even darker bruises on his suntanned skin from other kids beating him at school. Halen knew Mikey because he used to be on the local swim team with him in elementary school, Mikey wasn’t very good, but he could always make the team laugh with his goofy swimming technique and clumsy character.
“Why didn’t he join the school team?” Halen asked himself under his breath. “He could have gotten better with hard work… just like me.”
Halen also liked fishing, he would always contemplate whether to join Mikey or not, but he would always remember that the bullies would also walk across that bridge, and he didn’t want to be seen with Mikey. At school, Mikey would get bullied because of his appearance, being poor, sitting by himself at lunch, and carrying around his old worn fishing pole in his book bag. He was called names and his lunch would be thrown away by the bullies. Halen saw this and felt bad that no one would say anything. The teachers would see it too, but they would just look the other way.
“I’ll definitely sit with him tomorrow at lunch,” Halen assured himself as he hurried home.
Lunchtime arrives the next day and the first thing that Halen sees as he steps inside the lunchroom is the bullies breaking Mikey’s fishing pole in half and throwing it away. Halen looks the other way and sits down at his usual table with his friends. I’ll talk to him later, he thought. Later that day as he was walking towards the bridge, he looked over and was surprised. Mikey was not there. It was the first time that he was not there on his rock fishing. The next day Halen didn’t see Mikey at school or on his rock. Halen would have to wait till Monday to try to talk to Mikey.
“He probably can’t afford another fishing pole, that’s why he hasn’t been at the river,” Halen assured, “I’ll bring my two fishing poles on Monday!”
“Mikey is dead,” said Mr. Henry.
“Mikey Foster from my fifth period?” asked Mr. Henderson.
“Yup, the police report said he must have been at the river fishing and accidentally fell in and drowned.”
“When was this?”
“What a shame.”
“It really is. Did you watch the game yesterday?”
Halen was distraught. He was scanning the lunchroom for Mikey when he overheard the teachers talking about the tragic news. He could not have been fishing, Halen told himself, he didn’t have anything to fish with. Halen skipped practice and stopped by the bridge with both his fishing poles. The sky was gloomy, it was about to rain. He heard a voice.
“You’re too late,” a boy around his age said.
Halen jumped back. “Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m his friend”
“You know,” the boy said sternly, “Mikey’s friend.”
“What’s your name?”
“My name is Peter, your name is Halen, and you were too late. Mikey is gone because you just watched him from a distance.”
Halen raised his voice, “It’s not my fault! I didn’t know –”
“But you did know, he just wanted someone to talk to, someone to stand up for him, someone to save him.”
“Why didn’t you help hi –” Halen froze in the middle of his question.
Peter was gone. Halen stayed at the bridge for a few hours. Before he knew it, it was dark. The river was covered in mist, and it was dead quiet. He was about to leave when he heard a small splash from the river. Looking all over, he couldn’t see what made that noise. All of a sudden, he felt a chill come over his body and he couldn’t move. Some of the mist was circling one spot, what made Halen start to cry was the fact that the mist was swirling right over Mikey’s rock. Halen felt a light force pressing him against the bridge railing, he felt like something was trying to tip him over.
“STOP!” he screeched.
The force let go and the swirling mist stopped. Halen ran home while hearing a faint voice telling him to come back.
Even after getting home, Halen still felt like he was in a nightmare. He laid on his bed stiff as a log, still hearing voices whispering in his head telling him to go back. He could not sleep all night, before he knew it, his alarm went off and it was time to go to school. During school, the whispering voices in his head turned into loud shouts. He would cover his ears and bury his head into his arms, but the yelling just got louder and louder. He had an eerie feeling like someone was watching him. As each class ended, the feeling got stronger. Halen almost expected someone to be around the corner, waiting for him. Not a single thought was on Halen’s mind besides yesterday’s horror and the voices in his head. Even though he didn’t sleep, his heart was still beating out of his chest and his eyes were wide open. When it was finally time to leave, he sprinted towards his house. However, just as he had crossed the bridge, he tripped and hit the back of his head on the hard ground. Halen was knocked out.
“Wake up, wake up Halen, Mikey needs you to save him,” Peter said while nudging him.
“Why is it so dark?” asked Halen groggily. “Why are you saying Mikey needs saving?”
“You’ve been sleeping for a while now,” responded Peter.
He then pointed towards the river. The mist was there again, but this time even thicker. It was raining relentlessly; Halen could feel the ground rumble as thunder roared in the sky. As Halen was regaining consciousness, he saw the thick mist swirl once again right above Mikey’s rock. Halen’s heart dropped into the pit of his stomach. He could not breathe. While rubbing his eyes with his fist, he saw a frightening sight. The mist above the rock was forming into the figure of a kid. Halen’s heart was thumping ferociously in his chest, and he was drenched in cold sweats and rain. He wanted to run away but his body was frozen.
He whimpered, “Mikey?”
“Please save him,” pleaded Peter.
“It’s too late!” cried Halen. “He’s already gone… there’s nothing I can do about it,” Halen said with tears in his eyes.
“I’m sorry!” Halen screeched. “I’m so sorry Mikey!” Halen wailed as he put his forehead on the grass and beat his fist on the ground.
“Don’t look away!” Peter ordered. “You look at him. Look at him!”
Halen lifted his head and looked towards the swirling mist. The figure’s shape was more defined, it was a short boyish figure.
“Stop! Please come back!” pleaded Halen. He suddenly felt himself getting closer to the river. It was Peter who was pushing him. Halen told Peter to stop, to let him go.
Peter kept repeating, “Mikey is dead. It’s your fault… you must pay.” over and over again.
As Halen was inches away from the water, he managed to push Peter away from him. Halen immediately sprinted past Peter and was desperate to get home. At that moment Halen fell forward. He didn’t slip, it was Peter who pushed him down. Halen tried getting back up, but Peter was grabbing Halen’s ankles. Holding an ankle in each hand, Peter was dragging Halen back towards the dark misty river.
“HELP! SOMEBODY HELP ME!” Halen screamed.
“Mikey also wanted help… but nobody looked his way,” Peter said.
“Please stop!” Halen pleaded.
His fingers were now bleeding from clawing at the ground, desperately trying to stop moving towards the river. His face was covered in mud, he could no longer tell how close he was to the river. His legs were restrained, his hands were bloody, and his eyes were covered. What can I possibly do? Halen asked himself. Is this it? he wondered.
“Yes, this is it for you,” Peter told him. “This is what you deserve.”
As Peter said that he threw Halen’s beat-up body onto his shoulder and carried him to the rock where the misty figure was. The rain had finally washed some of the mud off of Halen’s eyes, he could see blurrily now. Even with his poor vision, there was something he could see crystal clear. The misty figure was not so foggy anymore, he could tell it was Mikey. Mikey turned towards him. He could not believe his eyes.
Mikey then walked to the edge of the rock and stared at the rushing water.
“STOP! Please, Mikey, I’m so sorry.” cried Halen. “Let’s talk, please.”
Peter threw Halen down on the rock and said, “It’s too late to talk, you must save him.”
Mikey then jumps into the river.
“NOOO!” screamed Halen.
Halen flailed his arms and legs frantically trying to hit Peter. It was no use. Peter while carrying Halen, jumped after Mikey.
“You hear the news Mr. Henderson?” asked Mr. Henry.
“Yup, another kid was taken by that god-awful river,” Mr. Henderson replied.
“They need to close off that river, these kids don’t know how to swim these days, it’s too dangerous.”
“Yeah, they sure do.”
“Yeah… you watch the game last night?”
Glaspell, Susan. “TRIFLES a Play in One-Act by Susan Glaspell.” One-Act-Plays, One-Act Plays, http://www.one-act-plays.com/dramas/trifles.html.
Committed Suicide after Months of Bullying to File Wrongful Death Lawsuit against the School District, Attorney Says.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 15 Dec. 2017, https://abcnews.go.com/US/family-13-year-california-girl-committed-suicide-months/story?id=51820650