Karine was busy checking her hair in her locker mirror when Christina joined her. She looked much happier today. It seemed their hang out session yesterday had helped. They’d listened to music and tried on Karine’s clothes, which was always fun since Erica could never fit into anything.
Chrissy looked around, making sure they were alone and she pulled a doll out of her bag. It had yellow yarn for hair, green buttons for eyes and was wearing jeans and a little green jacket over a white t-shirt.
“What is that?” Karine asked.
“It’s a Terry voodoo doll,” Chrissy giggled.
“Oh my god! You actually made one? I was kidding!”
“I know. But I couldn’t resist. Don’t you think it’s cute?”
Karine laughed and examined the doll. It was a pretty good likeness. Terry had a khaki jacket he wore in the spring and fall. Looking closer, Karine saw that Chrissy had drawn lines and dots on the jacket to indicate zippers and buttons.
“I also made him a little hockey outfit, but I like this one better,” Chrissy explained. “He’s hotter in normal clothes.”
“Yeah,” Karine agreed. “So did you like, stick it with pins and stuff?
Chrissy giggled in embarrassment. “No! I was gonna. But then I just like, slept with it and had like, really good dreams.”
“Oh my god. You are so out of it” Karine laughed.
“I know but come on. It’s kinda cute don’t you think?”
Karine smiled kindly. “Yeah, it totally looks like him. But don’t let Erica see that thing. She’d totally have a field day.”
“I know!” Chrissy stuck the doll back into her bag and looked around suspiciously.
Karl had been cryptic all through lunch. He said he’d prepared something to ruin Madame Rotten but wouldn’t give more details until the run was over. Once they were safely at The Wall he went to his locker and returned with a folder marked ‘Top Secret’.
“Here it is, Project SOIF.”
“Project thirsty?” asked Cerise, reading the French word soif.
“It’s an acronym,” Karl explained as he handed everyone a black duo-tang. “It stands for Slack Off In French. And that my friends, is how we will crush the soul of our arch nemesis, Madame Rotten.”
“Ooh, this is getting good, carry on my Arian friend,” Vani encouraged.
“Project SOIF is a systematic plan to undermine Rotten’s efforts to teach us French. Whenever she tells us to conjugate a verb, we will not conjugate! Whenever she wants us to compose an essay, we will not compose.”
Vani jumped in. “Whenever she tells us to memorize a play, will we memorize that play?”
“Oh no, my friends,” Karl grinned. “We will not memorize that play. We will scoff at the very idea of play memorization! Because from this day forward we will be Slacking Off In French! To Project SOIF I say! Project SOIF!”
Vani caught on and pumped his fist into the air, chanting Project SOIF. The others followed suit, and even Cerise joined in.
“What is going on here?” asked Sarah as she popped her head out of the student union room.
Karl abruptly closed his duo-tang. “Nothing! Nothing’s going on! Abort! Abort!”
He jumped up and started running away. Vani was close behind, followed by Willy and Jay. Cerise stood up slowly and looked at Sarah. She smiled and shrugged as Sarah rolled her eyes, retreating to the student union. Cerise followed the boys.
They exited the school’s front entrance and carefully walked onto the lawn, convening at a picnic table resting under the shade of a tree. It wasn’t a very big tree so only half the table was in the shade. They all sat down and Cerise made sure to take a spot out of the sun.
“I wonder where Karine is,” mused Jay. “Doesn’t she usually sit here? I mean her and those chucks?”
“Seriously,” Vani agreed. “Maybe we shouldn’t sit here.
“They’re not here now,” Cerise pointed out.
“What if they come back? They’d kill us.” Willy looked around worriedly.
“Whatever,” said Karl. “If we see them coming we’ll just leave. Let’s not get all paranoid.”
Cerise agreed and asked for clarification on Project SOIF, wondering what it involved.
“I’m glad you’ve asked, my fruit-flavoured friend. Soon, you shall see. Please refer to your individual manuals. Remember people, this is top secret information so I don’t wanna see it falling into the wrong hands, ok?”
Jay hummed the tune to Mission Impossible while he opened his duo-tang and Vani began reading.
“If you are reading this, then you are a member of the secret organization known as Project SOIF. By reading this manifesto, you are accepting to be a member of team SOIF. You are swearing to complete secrecy and vow not to reveal the contents of this manifesto to outside parties. You are accepting complete responsibility for your actions and cannot accuse team SOIF of any wrong-doing. If these terms are not acceptable to you, you must now stop reading this document, denounce yourself as no longer part of team SOIF, and swear never to reveal what you have just read to anyone, for any reason.”
“You’re really covering your ass on this thing, eh Karl?” Jay smirked.
“I’ll say,” Cerise agreed, flipping through the pages. “There’s even a disclaimer! Team SOIF as a whole does not necessarily share the same views as its members. All members act on their own accord and take responsibility for their own actions. Project SOIF has no religious, political or linguistic basis or affiliation. It is not biased, nor prejudiced against any group. The references to French are not meant to have any bearing on France, the French people, the French language or any other possible interpretation other than an Enriched French class taught by one Madame Roptin.”
“Um,” Willy seemed confused. “How much work did you put into this thing? Exactly how is this slacking off?”
“Ah Willy,” Karl sighed. “So young, so naïve, so incapable of using deodorant effectively. The whole thing works on a points system. You get points for performing certain actions that lead to the waste-age of class time.”
Saying J’ai soif was worth 10 points. Karl explained that someone could ask to go get a drink of water by first saying they were soif. Putting Madame Rotten to sleep was worth 30 points and successfully preventing her from waking up was another 30 points. If they could get Rotten to say something in English, they would earn 50 points but it was only worth 30 points if they spoke in English without getting reprimanded. Even if they did get reprimanded, it was still worth 20 points, but she had to specifically say en français.
“Oh man,” laughed Willy. “80 points for calling her Rotten to her face? As if anyone would ever do that!”
“Hence the challenge,” smiled Karl.
“This is totallyotally awesome diddely dawesome,” said Vani while bouncing up and down excitedly.
“It’s the most organized slack-off ever,” snickered Cerise.
“Yeah, you really don’t get the point of anarchy, do you, Karl?” asked Jay with a snicker.
“I’m not trying to be an anarchist. I’m trying to crush the so-called souls of as many humans as possible before I die.”
“Bang up job so far, right Willy?” giggled Vani, nudging Willy in the ribs.
Willy swatted him away and tried not to look insulted.
“Man, this is gonna be so much fun,” Vani went on, stroking the manifesto with affection.
It did sound like fun, thought Shauna. Too bad she was too stupid to be in Enriched French. Not that she’d be able to join in their game anyway, they’d never let her. Cerise obviously hated her.
Shauna was smoking a cigarette, pressed up against the outer wall of the auditorium, facing the parking lot. Cerise and her stupid new friends sat on a picnic table facing the street. Every so often Shauna would peer around the corner of her wall and sneak a peek. Even without looking she could hear most of what they were saying. Cerise’s stupid new friends were loud. Some secret project, probably everyone in school was gonna know about it. She might even tell Madame Rotten, if she knew who Madame Rotten was, or if she were ever inclined to speak to a teacher voluntarily.
Every so often the gang went out for lunch, ‘cause eating at school got old. They were at a diner in
Pointe-Claire village, all squeezed into one booth, which was awkward because of Erica’s total fatness. Terry and Andrew sat across from one another, closest to the windows. Karine sat next to Terry and Steve was next to her. Christina was squeezed in between Andrew and Erica’s massive ass.
Karine noticed that Chrissy was deliberately avoiding eye contact with Terry, which was hardly necessary since he was completely ignoring her as usual. Poor Chrissy, she’d barely even touched her food. And the fact that Terry hadn’t stolen all her fries by now was an obvious
ication that he was seriously uninterested in her. ind
They’d all ordered the burger platter but Terry converted his fries to a poutine and he ordered a plate of onion rings for the table, eating most of them himself. Karine finally pushed away her plate when she’d eaten most of her fries but only half of her burger.
“It’s called food, Karine. You eat it,” Erica scowled.
“I did eat.”
“You had like, nothing.”
“What do you care?”
“I’m just sick of watching you play little miss anorexic,” Erica chided. “It’s like, so Olsen twins.”
“Just because you have food issues doesn’t mean everyone else does.”
Andrew chuckled. “Cat fight! Stand back!”
“And just because I don’t eat like a pig doesn’t automatically make me Nicole Ritchie,” Karine went on.
“Yeah ok,” Erica rolled her eyes. “Whatever, Karine. We’ll all wait here while you go purge.”
“Fuck!” Terry snapped. “Don’t you ever get sick of hearing your stupid voice, Erica? ‘Cause the rest of us sure do.”
Erica glared at Terry. “Mind your own fucking business, Terry. What makes you think you’re in this conversation?”
“What makes you think any of us care about the stupid shit you’re constantly complaining about?” Terry shot back. “God, just shut up, Erica! Just shut your fat, ugly face!”
Everyone was stunned. Karine slowly turned her head and peered at Terry. She wasn’t sure she’d ever seen him so angry before. Christina’s jaw was practically on the table and the fury in Erica’s eyes could have melted a penguin’s butt. Andrew looked like he was about to laugh and finally he did.
“Whoa! It worked!” Andrew said gleefully.
“No it didn’t,” Erica spoke calmly and focused her gaze on Karine. “Seems you were right about Terry. He is an asshole.”
“Seems to be going around, doesn’t it?” Terry scowled.
“Whatever,” Erica scoffed. “You really think you’re the shit, don’t you, Terry? But you’re a complete fucking dick. We all know what an asshole you’ve been to Chrissy all fucking her and dumping her. You’re such a shit-head!” She stood up from the table and ordered Christina to accompany her as she began walking away.
Christina looked like she might cry.
“Let’s go, Christina!” Erica yelled.
Chrissy slid out from the booth and followed Erica outside. Wow. Awesome. That Erica had actually been so deeply pwned that she’d left the table was nothing short of spectacular. Karine knew that Terry wasn’t exactly Erica’s number one fan but to actually bitch her out to such an intense degree was awesomeness personified.
Steven remained silent but Andrew was still laughing. A few patrons in the restaurant looked at their table, seeming equally amused.
“Dude! That was so awesome!” Andrew laughed. “Oh man. Erica completely lost her shit! Did you see that?! She practically popped a vein!”
Terry simply sighed and started to eat the remains of Karine’s burger. Steven kept his head down, apparently unsure of how to react.
Andrew settled down and they were all awkwardly silent for a while. Finally Andrew slid out of his seat. “Well fuck this,” he shrugged. “I’m gonna go watch Erica get her bitch on!” He skipped out of the restaurant happily.
“I knew she had no will of her own,” Terry mused as he polished off Karine’s fries.
“Who, Erica?” Karine wondered.
“No, Chrissy. She’s just Erica’s little lackey. Erica tells her to go and she goes. It’s pathetic.”
“So that whole thing was just some sort of test for Christina?” Karine stared at the empty bench across from her. “That was all about her?”
“No,” Terry sighed. “It was about you.”
“About Karine?” Steven finally spoke, getting up and going to sit on the other side of the table.
“Yeah, Steve,” Terry snapped. “You know, your girlfriend. And Erica was totally giving her shit and you just sat there taking it.”
“What was I supposed to do?” asked Steven, his voice rising.
“Uh, I dunno.” Terry leaned over the table to glare at Steve. “Maybe you should’ve just sat there jacking-off. Oh wait, that is what you did! And it wasn’t very helpful, was it?”
Steven looked around the restaurant, obviously embarrassed. “Why are you getting all pissed off at me now?” he hissed.
Terry shook his head in exasperation. “Whatever, dude.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Steven agreed and stood up. “Come on Karine, let’s go.”
“You go ahead,” said Karine, looking up at Steven.
“I said let’s go,” Steve insisted.
“And I said go ahead. So you go and I’m gonna stay!”
Steve shook his head in confusion, or perhaps anger. He shrugged and walked out of the restaurant, leaving Karine with Terry and the bill. The waitress brought it over with a sympathetic smile, not saying a word. Terry grabbed the bill and then took a wad of twenties out of his wallet, tossing them onto the table.
“Seriously Karine,” Terry said after slurping up the last of her coke. “You obviously don’t let Captain Ordinary push you around. So why do you let Erica do it?”
“Because I can always count on you to defend me,” she smirked.
Was it possible that Terry blushed at that comment?
“Seriously though,” Karine went on. “I don’t let her push me around. I was defending myself just fine before you jumped in.”
“Yeah, sorry,” Terry shrugged. “I guess she just gets on my nerves sometimes. She’s so fucking bitchy, sometimes I just can’t take it anymore.”
“Yeah well,” Karine smiled. “I’m sure one day she’ll, you know, die.”
Terry laughed and Karine joined in.