Jaclynne is sprawled out on her bed constantly Snapping away and receiving texts from Tahj. Texts that say I love you, come over. And she receives texts from Demitri that say the same, only more desperate. Jaclynne liked that; fed on that, even. She longed to feel needed, to be the center of someone’s attention.

Neither of them know. They can’t know. Especially not Tahj. It’ll make him angry and he cannot get angry. And Demitri…he’ll run off. He’ll act as if he never knew Jaclynne, and that would hurt. Jaclynne had this particular thought on replay. She decided not to worry about all of this until next weekend. Until then, she’d keep both boys around. Jaclynne spends much of her time and energy maintaining her relationship with Tahj and Demitri.

The next weekends rolls around and Jaclynne wakes up to a Snapchat message from getlitwitTJ18. Tahj. He says he’s coming over. So Jaclynne quickly texts Demitri and tells him to meet her at her home later. He agrees.

As soon as Tahj shows up, Jaclynne’s heart beats ferociously when she opens up the door to a beautiful sight, her fantasy—her favorite boy, holding two bags of McDonald’s. Oh my God, he’s so amazing, she thinks. Now the pair are eating and gushing over each other and they can’t stop flirting, and at that moment Jaclynne concludes that no matter how wrong this whole situation is, she cannot and will not lose Tahj. Hours pass and it is now time for Demitri to be on his way, but he shouldn’t be coming for another few minutes or so.

I need to get him out of here, Jaclynne thinks.

“Hey babe, don’t you have to go soon?” Jaclynne asks.

Tahj replies with “Yeah, but I’m not sweatin’ that right now.”

Externally, Jaclynne smiles and calmly cuddles back into his arms, but internally she’s panicking herself into an abnormal heart rate.

While the two are enjoying each other’s company, Jaclynne forgets all about her phone and doesn’t notice Demitri’s message that says, “Be there in half an hour”. Tahj is putting on his jacket and shoes and then stands at the corridor.

“I’m gonna miss you.” Jaclynne says.

“You know I’ll miss you more.” Tahj answers.

The pair share a goodbye kiss and just as Tahj is descending from the stairs of the apartment complex, the main complex door swings open.

It’s Demitri.

He’s here!? Oh God, he’s here!!! Jaclynne thinks, surprised and anxious. I told him to come—she looks down at her phone—oh no.

Demitri looks up at the man at the top of the stairs, who had paused his steps when he saw him. Then he looks up at Jaclynne, who is looking down at him with eyes of distress. He starts thinking, hm, I wonder who this guy is…and why’s she looking at us like that? Did he make her cry? So he doesn’t hesitate to ask.

“Jac, who’s this?”

“Yeah, who is this dude, Jac?” Tahj pipes.

“A-a friend.” Jaclynne could barely formulate a sentence without stammering or trailing off. She looks away at both men.

“Friend!?” Tahj snaps his head towards her in disbelief and anger.

Then, it hits Demitri.

And it hits Tahj.

They look at each other once more and then direct their attention to Jaclynne, who becomes teary-eyed and anxiety ridden just by looking at them. She has a lump in her throat and her legs are shaking. She is a mess.

“P-please, just let me explain…I love both so much…I just wanted you both in my life, I’m so sorry!” She starts to cry.

“So you thought you could just use us? You don’t get to have everything you want, Jaclynne! Sometimes you just have to make a decision or leave it alone!” Tahj yells.

“I should’ve know something was up.” Demitri says quietly. He hangs his head down and walks out. Jaclynne sobs when she sees him leave.

“I couldn’t help it, my intentions weren’t to hurt or play either of you, I swear!” she is once again stammering and crying so hard that she can barely breathe.

Tahj pauses and stares at Jaclynne while she is crying. He snaps out of his trance a few minutes later, doing something he never imagined he’d do to a woman. But he just couldn’t keep his cool. He didn’t know how to contain himself.

Tahj goes back up the stairs and pushes Jaclynne up against the wall, with his hands wrapped tightly around her neck. She cries out for help. Demitri hears Jaclynne screaming and gargling for air and rushes back into the apartment complex. His mind is in a whirlwind. He pries Tahj off of Jaclynne and does something he never thought he’d do to anyone.

He grabs Tahj and pushes him down the stairs.

Tahj slowly gets up unharmed, but Demitri takes this moment to run back down the stairs and tackle him. They both fall on the cold, hard ground, with Demitri on top of Tahj. They are rapidly taking hits at one another, their adrenaline surging. Tahj attempts to reach Demitri’s angry red face with his hands, but to no avail.

“Oh my God, D! Stop it, get off of him, get off! Stop!” Jaclynne screams. She rushes over to the two men fighting, who have now gotten up off the ground. Tahj is pulling Demitri’s hair and choking him. Jaclynne tries to physically stop the fight while screaming and crying.

“Please stop!” but it’s too late.

She attempts once again to pry Tahj away from Demitri, but he yanks her off with so much force that she falls to the ground.

Tahj and Demitri continue to mercilessly and senselessly beat each other, so badly that when they both give each other their last blow, they fall back to the ground. It is a bloody and bruised mess. And it is eerily quiet.

All three of them cough and breathe heavily for air. Moments pass, and there are no sounds coming from the complex nor the love triangle except for heavy breathing. No one else is there but them. Jaclynne is no longer crying, only teary-eyed as she looks astonished and frightened by what just happened.

Without words, Demitri stumbles to his feet and treads his way out of the apartment complex. He’s struggling to breathe the whole time.

Tahj crawls his way over to his phone which fell out of his pocket during the brawl, dials 911, and then faints.

Jaclynne sits in a ball with him, crying and mumbling to herself.

Jeffersonville High School, 2019