“He was so mean!” Christina sobbed.
Her tears came in a tsunami of uncontrollable gulps. Chrissy was way too sensitive. Karine and Erica had tried to warn her about Terry but she’d been too smitten by his hotness to play it cool.
Karine tried to find some paper towel to wipe away the streaks of mascara running down Chrissy’s face but they were in the second floor girls’ washroom so of course it didn’t have any paper towel. It was the grossest bathroom ever but that’s exactly why it was a good place to hang out privately; people avoided it if they could.
“We tried to warn you,” Erica sighed as she leaned against one of the chipped sinks.
“But he was so mean! It was like he didn’t even care! Like he never cared!”
“Oh Chrissy,” Karine pulled Christina’s hair away from her wet face. “I’m sure he cared. But I mean, that’s just how he is.”
“Yeah, I’m sure he cared,” said Erica with a roll of her eyes.
Karine glared at Erica and dabbed at Chrissy’s face with toilet paper. She assured her that she was better off without Terry, since he was a jerk and had always been a jerk. Everyone knew he was a player and Chrissy could do better.
“And there are other fish in the sea. Blah, blah, inspiration,” Erica smirked. “Chrissy, the hell did you expect?”
Karine shot Erica another annoyed look. She could be so counterproductive sometimes. Chrissy was really, seriously in pain here and all Erica could do was gloat. What a bitch.
“Everything seemed fine on the weekend,” Chrissy gasped through her tears.
“But that’s just how Terry is. He does whatever suits him at whatever time,” Karine explained.
It was true. Terry was a good friend, but as a boyfriend he was a real prick.
“He’s not capable of higher brain function,” Erica said a little more helpfully. “No guy is.”
“You can’t take it personally,” Karine insisted.
“How can I not?”
“Yeah really,” Erica snickered. “It kinda is personal.”
Karine deployed yet another exasperated look at Erica, who shrugged happily and examined her fingernails. Karine assured Chrissy that this entire Terry fiasco should be taken as a learning experience. Now Chrissy was stronger and she finally realized that you couldn’t let guys have the upper hand in relationships.
“You make it sound like a competition.” Christina looked confused.
“Well yeah!” Erica said. “Duh!”
“But I don’t wanna be in a competition. I just want a boyfriend!”
Erica shook her head condescendingly. “But it is a competition ok? It’s all a game. And if you want to win, you can’t let guys think you like them.”
“That’s crazy,” Christina declared.
“No, it’s true,” Karine agreed. “It’s the law of the least interested. If a guy knows you care then he’ll walk all over you. You can’t ever let yourself really care. And if you do, you can’t show it.”
“Are you saying you don’t really care about Steven?”
“Well it is Steven,” Erica chuckled.
Karine sighed and tried to explain. It wasn’t that she didn’t care about Steven, it was just that she didn’t let herself get all Cosmo about him. She liked him and everything but he liked her more and that was important for maintaining control.
“You have to make them want you,” advised Erica.
“How?” Chrissy wondered as she washed her tear stained face.
“Only give them enough to keep them coming back for more,” Erica said.
“But what if I want more?”
“You have to not want more,” explained Karine.
“If you’re doing things right then you won’t want more,” agreed Erica.
Christina looked confused. “Are you guys talking about sex or like the emotions of it?”
Karine shrugged, not really sure herself. She suggested they all go to her place after school and make a Terry voodoo doll and swear off guys forever. Erica suggested they perform a boyfriend cleansing ritual and even started circling her arms around Chrissy’s head while chanting something nonsensical. Chrissy looked annoyed at first but finally she laughed and agreed to the after-school plans.
“What’s weird?” Cerise asked Jay. They’d just walked outside of the school and she was trying to move towards the overpass, hoping they could walk home together. But he’d stopped and didn’t seem willing to move.
“I didn’t see Karine go to her bus stop. I wonder where she is.”
“Oh.” Cerise tried to contain her disappointment.
Jay managed to notice Cerise’s bewildered look and insisted that he didn’t really care, it’s just that he used to have a bit of a crush on Karine and he knew she took the 211 home but she wasn’t at the smoking wall and she didn’t go to the bus stop so… not that he cared. He really didn’t. He supposed she might walk home since didn’t live that far. Kinda far but not crazy far.
“How do you know where she lives?”
“I don’t,” Jay insisted. “Well, I do but, it’s… I mean, I know it’s stupid but I kinda one time followed her home. I mean, you know. I was just curious. I mean, I wasn’t stalking her or anything. I just, I kinda had to go in that direction anyway.”
“Right,” Cerise smirked.
“She lives with her mom. But her mom’s like, never home so she basically has the house all to herself. Last year she was always having these parties and it was like, how many parties can you have. You know?”
“Not that I was like paying attention or anything. I mean it just seemed like a lot of parties is all.”
“Her dad’s dead,” Jay announced awkwardly. “He died in grade 8. I mean, when Karine was in grade 8. Not when he was in grade 8 ‘cause that would be weird. I think it was a car accident or something. But I’m not really sure. I mean, I never asked. It’s not something you just ask. Like, hi Karine, how’d your dad die?”
“Yeah,” agreed Cerise.
“That would suck. You know, having a dead dad.”
“Yeah,” Cerise nodded.
“It must be hard for her,” Jay sighed wistfully.
“Maybe that’s why she’s such a bitch,” Cerise couldn’t help saying.
“She’s not a bitch!” Jay seemed genuinely offended. “She’s just popular and pretty. And I mean that’s how they are. You know, people who are popular and pretty. It’s not her fault.”
Was he serious? Was he really going to make excuses for Karine Cavalière’s total bitchitude? Was he really going to use her attractiveness as an excuse for that bitchiness? It was with a sinking heart that Cerise realized she had a crush on a complete and utter moron.
“Well she was pretty mean to me in gym,” said Cerise petulantly.
“No seriously, like what’d she do? What’d she say?”
“I dunno, just like calling me
Cherry and stuff.”
“But everyone does that.”
Cerise looked at Jay wryly and he smiled and shrugged. “Well sorry but it’s true. It doesn’t make Karine a bitch.”
“Well it’s her attitude. It’s the way she says it.”
“I dunno! God,
Cerise interrupted with a loud sigh.
“Yeah well,” Jay shrugged. “Maybe she was just having a bad day. I mean you can’t blame her ‘cause she has to hang out with that stupid boyfriend of hers. It’s bound to make anyone go insaniac.”
Cerise couldn’t even say anything to that. She wanted to be angry with Jay for being so incredibly stupid but she couldn’t even muster up the appropriate emotions. All she felt was sadness, which was compounded by the boys darting out of the school and accosting Jay, accusing him of abandoning his station at The Wall and losing his dedication. They all rushed off together, completely ignoring Cerise and she was forced to walk home alone again.
When she got home she went straight to her room to cry. She looked in the mirror at her stupid, ugly face. It was no wonder Jay hated her and loved Karine. Karine was beautiful, with green eyes and high cheekbones and full lips and perfectly arched eyebrows. She even looked like she could be on TV. Cerise by contrast was completely and utterly hideous.
Unless she was smiling she always looked upset because her lipline was naturally downturned. But it was somehow hard to remember to smile when meeting people because she got so nervous. Did she come across as a bitch? Did people think she was always frowning even if she wasn’t? And when she did frown it was even worse because her forehead had what Simone called the Romulan scowl: deep grooves that appeared above her brows and made her look like an alien anytime she was upset. That’s the main reason she always kept her bangs long.
At least her hair was a pretty colour, so she really wasn’t totally unattractive, although in the sunlight her natural red highlights became visible and while strawberry blonde hair was nice in theory, Cerise didn’t want to be associated with another fruity word.
Things definitely could have been worse. She really wasn’t too ugly at all, if she was being honest. Her big, dark blue eyes were nice even though they were framed with thin, pale lashes that could definitely benefit from mascara, if she were inclined to make the effort towards finding some products she wasn’t allergic to.
Lipstick was also a problem, as every one she’d ever tried made her break out in an itchy rash. Fortunately gloss was safe and managed to give her lips a nice, rosy shine. Her cheeks also had a natural flush that didn’t require enhancement, which was actually kind of embarrassing because if she ever blushed she turned into a giant, walking tomato.
Cerise sucked in her cheeks. Her cheekbones were high and if she could just lose ten pounds her face would be attractively heart shaped instead of being so childishly round. Oh well, at least she had a nice nose. Both Julie and Simone had inherited their mother’s hawk nose but Cerise had a perfect little button nose, not that it was useful for breathing out of. With all her allergies Cerise couldn’t sleep unless she was breathing from her mouth and the dentist said she was at risk for gingivitis because of it. Everything in her life sucked.
Cerise examined her eyebrows, remembering her mental note to check her hairyness levels. Her brows were nicely shaped and because her hair was so pale, she’d always felt that the few errant hairs didn’t need plucking. But now that she thought about it, she should probably pluck them anyway, just in case a boy ever got close enough to her face to notice them, which would probably never happen since she was such a loser, but still. She snuck into Simone’s room to borrow her tweezers and pulled out the unnecessary hairs. When a few tears dropped from her eyes she was glad to have a physical reason for the pain.
She decided to take a shower after the grooming since the hot water might calm her down. It was a hot day but Cerise liked to take hot showers anyway. She knew this wasn’t good for her dry skin but she enjoyed the heat. At least her dry skin meant she didn’t need to worry about acne. Her skin was so extremely dry that in the winter she even used Vaseline as a moisturizer.
She scrubbed herself with a poofy sponge, enjoying the smell of the fruit-scented body-wash. Angela thought it was amusing to buy cherry or raspberry scented products but Cerise absolutely refused to use them. She always threw them out of her mother’s shopping cart and replaced them with less offensively fruit scented things. Her shampoo had a pleasant citrus aroma and after washing her hair she covered it in conditioner since she was prone to static, though it wasn’t as bad since she’d cut her hair relatively short. The short do was also less maintenance, which meant she could sleep in just that much longer in the morning.
Cerise couldn’t help but examine her body in the mirror as she began the ritual moisturization that kept her skin from being all gross and flaky. She would never, ever get breast implants because there was no way she was going to give in to misogynistic marketing and the social pressure to be a Barbie doll but maybe if she met a genie and got three wishes one of them would be to have bigger breasts. She cupped them in her hands and shoved them upwards, wondering what she’d look like with cleavage. She’d caught Jay staring at Karine’s breasts before. What might it be like to have a perfect body? Maybe if she waited a few years she’d grow some more. Or maybe not. All the women in her family were flat-chested. There was no escaping her crappy DNA.
If only the fat in her belly could somehow migrate north. Her huge protruding stomach made her look pregnant, or like white trash. She turned sideways and sucked in her gut, liking the way her abdominal muscles suddenly became evident. She stuck out her chest and noticed the outline of her ribs appear. Now if only she could go through life without breathing, she’d look ok.
She let out her breath and her stomach sagged out. But if she stood up straight and pushed her shoulders back she still looked alright. She turned around and strained to see her backside in the mirror. Was it totally conceited to think she had a nice butt? It was kinda cute and she liked her hips too, even though Julie made fun of her size 8 pants. Cerise traced her fingers over the white stretch marks on her hips, knowing she should be grossed out by them, but actually feeling proud. The roundness of her hips made her feel like a woman.
Too bad she didn’t have any muscles though. She really needed to start working out. Julie was totally athletic and even Simone was nicely toned but Cerise was all flab. But exercise was so boring and she couldn’t play sports because she was too uncoordinated and had no sense of balance. This might be due to her small feet. They were a size 6, which was exceptionally small considering her height. Both Julie and Simone wore size 8, which sucked because it meant she couldn’t borrow their shoes but it was also good because it meant they couldn’t borrow hers.
Cerise knew she shouldn’t be proud of her tiny feet since she should reject the whole Cinderella, damsel in distress thing, but she couldn’t help it, her feet really were very pretty, or as pretty as feet could be. She should buy some sandals. But then she might get freckles on her flawless feet and that couldn’t be risked.
Cerise’s fear of freckles contributed to her wardrobe choices as much as her modesty did. Even though her skin was dry and pale at least it was only her face that was freckled, and her arms to a lesser degree. Her legs and torso were freckle-free and completely white. She didn’t mind the paleness, especially not since the Twilight books had come out. When she’d been younger she’d been called Ghosty and
but being called a vampire was kind of cool. Though it wouldn’t be so bad to be a little darker. Just dark enough so that her veins wouldn’t be so visible. Was it completely gross that thin blue lines could be seen snaking down her chest? Probably. If a boy ever saw her naked he’d most likely puke from the horror. Casper
How weird was it that people with dark skin always wanted to be paler? Wasn’t it a thing in black culture to want to be pale? People with dark skin were lucky to be able to tan and… Cerise stopped herself, horrified by her own cultural insensitivity. How could she even compare her meaningless problems with the centuries of racism that people of colour had to endure? What would the Green Girls think if they knew she was so wilfully ignorant?
She really was a horrible person for scrutinizing her ugliness like it mattered. Hell, she wasn’t even ugly, not really. Plain maybe but not some horrifying troll creature. She was basically attractive, white and middle-class and had always led a privileged life. She should be happy, not crying over that ass-wipe Jay. The biggest problem she’d ever encountered was her parents’ divorce and that hadn’t even been that big of a deal.
Her parents hadn’t even fought. They’d just grown apart and slowly stopped interacting. It had been awkward and for about a year there was a weird silence in the house, like everyone was afraid to acknowledge that Angela had started sleeping in the guest bedroom and their dad Robert no longer ate dinner with the rest of them. But then Julie had broken the silence and started randomly yelling at everyone for everything and then their father left. He got a job in
Quebec City and moved away and one day Angela announced that they were officially divorced and they were moving to a small house in . Julie had lost her shit but Cerise had been happy. It was the perfect opportunity to switch schools. Beaconsfield
Cerise’s sense of guilt grew as she acknowledged, not for the first time that there were millions of kids out there devastated by their parents’ separations and she had profited from it. She didn’t even miss her dad. It was easier to live in an all female household. They could talk about their periods and clean their underwear in the bathroom sink and watch girly TV. She wondered if her father missed her. Probably not. They’d never really had much of a relationship. It was her mother who’d raised them, not her father. All he’d ever done was work late and go to hockey games and stuff. Whatever, what were fathers good for anyway? She knew this was probably a blasphemous thing to think, especially now that she knew Karine Cavalière’s father was dead but still, she wasn’t the least bit bothered by her father’s absence from her life. Not the least bit.
Cerise threw on some shorts and a tank top, clothes she would only dare wear in the privacy of her own home and skipped downstairs to make herself a big bowl of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream. She plopped herself down in front of the computer in the living room and checked her email. No messages obviously.
The house was a split level so it was only a few steps to get to the basement, where she flopped down in front of the TV and turned the channel to Space. She should probably do some yoga or something instead of contributing to the bulk of her belly but Stargate was on and she’d only seen this episode three times. It was the one where Daniel Jackson came back from ascension totally naked!