“Time to get up!”
Shauna was startled awake. She’d been dreaming. She was in school and she had to get to class but she couldn’t find it. All she could find were stairs. Every time she turned the corner there was another staircase but it never led to her class. Shauna didn’t know why her dream self wanted to find her classroom so badly. In real life she’d be happy if she didn’t have to go to school.
Her mother left her bedroom door open and walked away. In five minutes she would be back to pull the covers off of Shauna’s body. Shauna felt paralyzed. She couldn’t face another day. She didn’t want to sit in front of her locker at lunch, eating alone. She didn’t want to go to gym, where Cerise would ignore her. She didn’t want to go to Economics, where Erica Mackey would call her a disgusting loser. She wanted to grab Erica Mackey’s hair the next time she saw her. She would pull her hair until it was yanked out of her skull. Bald Erica Mackey would shriek in pain and fall backwards onto the floor, her scalp spurting blood. Everyone would walk over her, stepping in her blood and leaving red footprints on her body. She would be howling in pain and everyone would laugh and laugh and laugh.
“Up, up, up!” Shauna’s mother pulled the blankets off the bed.
Shauna climbed out of bed and went to the bathroom to pee. Back in her room, she fell on her bed and crawled under the covers. Her mother eventually came back and yelled at her, pushing her to the floor. The bus would be here in ten minutes. Shauna grabbed the first clothes she could find, the same outfit she’d worn the day before.
She sat towards the front of the school bus. There was less likelihood of someone pushing her or saying something to her if she was close to the driver. She absentmindedly rubbed her shoulders as she waited to get to school. For some reason her shoulders were always sore.
She stepped off the bus with her head down and the boy behind her pushed her aside.
“Get out of the way, skank!”
Shauna stumbled and rushed aside. She kept her head down as she walked into the school.
Erica lit up and leaned against the smoking wall. “So Chrissy, made any good voodoo dolls lately?”
“Funny,” Christina said tightly.
Karine changed the subject, asking Erica what was up with her. Erica talked about how her mother was giving her a hard time lately. She’d finally seen Erica’s navel ring and wanted her to remove it, which was totally random since she didn’t seem to mind the tongue ring. But maybe she’d never noticed the tongue ring since she was so out of it half the time anyway.
When Andrew and Steve joined them, Andrew commented that he’d never seen Erica’s belly button ring and she lifted her shirt to show him. He pulled at her top, pearing down at her cleavage and asking if she had nipple rings as well. She pushed him away while laughing.
Terry walked up to the group lazily, a cigarette between his lips.
“Well look who it is,” sneered Erica.
Everyone braced themselves.
“Terry, have you seen any good voodoo dolls lately?” Erica smiled sweetly.
Christina froze, panic in her face.
“What?” Terry peered at Erica quizzically.
Erica was about to say something else but Karine deflected her interest by asking her to elaborate on her mother’s dislike of her piercings.
“I dunno, fuck,” Erica shrugged. “That’s how mom’s are. I mean most moms. You’re seriously like so lucky your mom is never around, Karine. I wish mine would leave me alone all the time.”
“Yeah,” Karine nodded and Steven put his arms around her.
“Speaking of which, when are you having a party?” asked Andrew.
“I dunno. My mom’s gone for like, most of October.”
“Cool, it’s about time we have a party,” Andrew grinned. “Oh hey, check it out: Lard-ass and Jihad.”
Andrew jumped in front of two of those nerd guys as they were trying to get into the school. He shoved them aside, telling them to watch where they were going. The Indian kid almost fell and he grabbed the fat kid for support. Then the fat kid pushed the Indian kid away and they kept punching each other as they went inside.
Cerise walked into the girl’s locker room hesitantly. She hated gym. There was so much potential for humiliation. She was always among the last to be chosen for teams and having to undress in front of other people was like some sort of Jack Bauerian torture tactic.
She chose a locker a respectable distance from Karine Cavalière and her friends. Close enough to eavesdrop, but not so close as to really be noticed. They were talking about a party or something and Christina Penna wanted to make it a costume party since it was going to be in October but Erica Mackey thought that was totally gay, not just because Halloween was at the end of October and the party had to be earlier than that, but because they weren’t in the fourth grade anymore.
Christina then suggested they make it a birthday party for Terry and Cerise learned that his birthday was the 13th of October. Erica accused Christina of being completely obsessed and called her a retard who needed to get the fuck over it and stop making voodoo dolls and shit. Karine thought a birthday party wasn’t such a bad idea but pointed out that Terry would probably prefer to go to Clydes and play pool for his b-day so the party at her place should just be a regular party.
It was no wonder Jay was completely insane for her. Karine looked like she could be a model. As Cerise changed out of her military shirt and jeans, she spied Karine changing out of her miniscule jean skirt into equally skimpy shorts. Her tank top was replaced with a tight tee. Her legs were long like a gazelle’s and muscular, tight and fit. How could she be so thin and yet still have such large breasts? How come some people got to be perfect and others looked like wet sacs of dog vomit? Cerise made sure to suck in her gut as she quickly pulled down her jeans and replaced them with track pants.
How could she be so beautiful? It wasn’t even possible for a human being to have such perfect skin. Yet there she was, her shapely legs long and creamy white like milk, suddenly exposed as she pulled down her jeans. She lifted her tiny foot and pushed it into the leg of her track pants, bending slightly at the waist, her soft, round bum pushed out, covered by nothing more than the thin, blue cotton of her underwear. She put the other leg through and pulled up the pants, covering all that perfection. She had two adorable dimples on her lower back, right above her bum, still visible over the waistband that hugged her silky hips. The curve of her back was like an invitation to a caress. The muscles in her shoulders flexed as she pulled off her shirt. She was like a marble statue, so flawless, so glossy. Her lithe arms swam through the sleeves of her gym shirt as it was pulled over her head. She shook out her hair, her delicate fingers pushing through the silky soft strands of gold. Even the act of tying her shoes was somehow sensual. Her nimble fingers flying as they pulled the shoelaces tight. The tendons in her hands dancing up and down like the strings in a piano.
Cerise slammed her locker shut and Shauna held her breath as she walked by. Shauna’s eyes darted around, hoping no one had noticed her staring at Cerise’s half naked body. Gym hadn’t even started and already she was sweating. She waited until all the other girls in the locker room had entered the gym. Shauna always waited to be alone before changing. Not that she even changed that much. She kept the same t-shirt on and only replaced her cargo shorts with jogging pants and her docks with running shoes.
“What would you do if you got a chick pregnant?”
Every boy in the locker room heard him and they all looked up in unison. Seeing that Andrew Lester had asked the question, they went back to changing, unsurprised.
“You got a chick pregnant?” Steven shook his head at Andrew.
“Again?!” Terry was incredulous.
“No!” Andrew insisted, turning away from the guys to fiddle with his gym shirt.
“Yeah right,” Terry scoffed. “You prob’ly have a million bastard kids running around
by now.” Montreal
“It’s a hypothetical question,” Andrew insisted.
“Who did you knock up?” Terry sighed while pulling on his track pants.
“It’s hypothetical! Forget it.”
Steven sat on a bench and tied his shoes. “Why do you wanna know what we’d do? ‘Cause if I got Karine pregnant I’d totally marry her.”
Andrew and Terry stared at Steven in amusement.
“Gimme a fucking break,” Terry chuckled.
“Well what would you do?” Steven asked, annoyed.
Terry thought about it for a moment. “Well I guess it depends on what the chick wanted. I mean obviously I’d be like, abortion, hello? So if she was cool with that then I’d take her to get it done. But if she wanted to keep it I’d be a dad I guess. But if she wanted to go all Juno and sell it to the highest bidder I don’t think I’d be into that. Unlike Andrew I’m not cool with having my spawn running around and like, not even know them.”
“So you’d like, be involved?” Andrew asked in disbelief.
“Yeah,” stated Terry like it was obvious.
“Easy to say when you’re not in that situation.”
“Ok seriously, who’s pregnant? Does she go here?”
Andrew sighed as he slumped down on the bench and picked up his running shoe. “No, she doesn’t, ok.”
“Hah!” Terry exclaimed triumphantly. “I knew you were talking about a real thing.”
“So who is she?” asked Steven as several boys in the locker room casually stood around, closing their lockers very slowly and inaudibly.
“No one new. The same chick from grade 8.”
“You got her pregnant again?” Steven asked.
“No, retard!” Andrew fumed. “She had the kid! I figured she’d get an abortion but like all of a sudden she shows up at my house with her stupid kid and she’s all trying to make me give her money.”
“Shit,” Terry breathed.
“You haven’t seen her in all that time? I mean the kid must be two by now.” Steven’s eyes were wide.
“Look, how do I know he’s even mine? She’s just trying to scam me. The kid doesn’t even look like me. I mean he’s black.”
“Dude!” Terry practically screamed. “She’s black! You know you’re the father.”
“She could have fucked a million guys at that party for all I know!”
“Wait.” Steven held up his hand. “She said she was getting an abortion but then didn’t?”
“Well, she didn’t really say she was gonna, but I figured she would. I mean who has a kid when they’re fourteen?”
“Dude.” Terry frowned.
“Fuck, she’s obviously just some slutty scam artist, I mean right?”
“Fuck dude, you are a serious asshole.” Steven looked appalled.
“Seriously. Dude.” Terry looked at Andrew with disapproval.
“Fuck you both,” Andrew slammed his locker closed. “That bitch is a fucking slut and her stupid ass kid isn’t even mine!”
“Dude,” Terry restated the word slowly. “You gotta man up. You have to pay her like, child support or something.”
“Yeah,” Steven agreed. “If I got Karine pregnant I’d totally marry her.”
Ms. Rosenbaum was fiddling with a stereo system from the ‘80s as the class sat around lazily. The Green Girls were hanging out with Marla Fitzpatrick and Cherry the Raspberry was leaning against a wall all alone, examining her fingernails. She was such a loser. Not as bad as the greasy girl but still.
The bell had totally rung but Terry, Andrew and Steven still hadn’t emerged from the locker room. They were probably making plans for Karine’s party, just as Erica and Chrissy were trying to do. Erica kept trying to solidify a date for the event but Karine was noncommittal. She confessed that she was tired lately and wasn’t sure she even wanted to throw a party. Erica and Chrissy were appalled of course.
“I dunno you guys… listen,” she leaned in towards the girls. Erica and Chrissy mirrored her movements. “I’ve kinda been thinking about Steve lately.”
“What about him?” asked Chrissy.
“Well we’ve been going out since like, Sec 3. Which is pretty much like, forever.”
“So that’s awesome,” said Christina.
“It’s pathetic,” drawled Erica.
“Why?” Christina wondered.
“It’s called variety. Look into it.”
“Exactly,” Karine agreed. “It’s like maybe I should move on.”
“But you guys are like, the perfect couple,” Chrissy protested.
“Perfectly disgusting,” Erica chuckled.
“I think it’s sweet,” Chrissy smiled.
“I think it’s boring.” Erica’s face was distorted in its patented smirk. Her eyelids drooped and her right eyebrow, overplucked into a thin line rose while the left side of her mouth edged up in amusement. “I would never want to tie myself down to one guy.”
Like she even could.
“I kinda think Erica might be right,” said Karine. “Being with the same guy for so long sorta is kinda boring.”
Christina was unconvinced. “Well I liked having a boyfriend. If I could get back together with Terry, I like, totally would.”
“Yeah good luck with that,” Erica’s smirk turned into a laugh.
“Oh my god, there he is! He looks so cute in track pants!”
Terry had entered the gym with Andrew and Steve. They were deep in conversation and Terry looked sort of angry. Andrew was trying to ignore him. Erica told Chrissy to get over her voodoo doll obsession or she would rip out her eyes with her bare hands but Chrissy was right, Terry did look cute in track pants.
"Ok people. Try to look alive,” Ms. Rosenbaum interrupted Karine’s reverie with her booming voice. “Today will be everybody’s favourite. Square dancing.”
Rosenbaum pushed a button on the stereo and the lamest music ever started playing. Everyone in the class groaned in horror. Square dancing? Was she serious?
“Woohoo!” Andrew yelled and turned his arm as though swinging a lasso. “A hoe-down! That means I’m gonna get down with a ho! Get it?”
“This is sooo lame,” Erica sneered.
“Ok, ok. Settle down,” Rosenbaum stopped the tape. Yes, it was actually a cassette tape, like from the Stone Age or something. “I know nobody wants to do it but it’s a tradition. At graduation there’s always a ceremonial square dance. And as potential graduates it’s something you’re just going to have to learn.”
“Ceremonial square dance?” Erica was livid. “That’s retarded!”
“I didn’t invent it,” Rosenbaum sighed in irritation. “I just teach it.”
“It’s a stupid tradition that nobody likes!” Erica went on. “I say we trash it this year.”
Everybody in the class hooted and clapped in agreement.
“Yeah! Square dancing is for squares!” Andrew did a goofy jig to emphasize his point while the others laughed in appreciation.
Rosenbaum told them that if they wanted to change the tradition she wasn’t the one to complain to. Erica wondered why they had to learn it so soon, considering graduation wasn’t for another eight months. Rosenbaum explained that they’d be learning the basics now and would practice the dance a few times a month until graduation.
“Oh my god. This is like totally fascist,” Erica fumed.
“Fight the power!” Andrew pumped his fist into the air.
“Fascist or not, you still have to learn it! So come on.”
The teacher forced everyone to get into groups of six, with three boys and three girls. Shauna immediately started panicking. No one would want her in their group. The cuntnugget and all her friends made a group and the ethnic girls were with some random guys. Cerise paired up with a curly haired chick and three boys. They still needed a third girl. Shauna walked towards them slowly, her eyes pleading. Cerise and all the kids in her group looked completely grossed out but everyone else was in a group so they had no choice.
They had to stand boy, girl, boy, girl and hold hands. The boys flanking Shauna definitely sneered with disgust when they had to touch her. They all had to walk in a circle, first walking to the right and then to the left. Cerise looked bored and annoyed and she made a face to the curly haired girl and they both giggled. Her laugh was like an angel plucking the strings of a harp. Except more evil. ‘Cause Cerise was totally a bitch.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” Terry groaned.
Christina smiled up at him, probably elated to be holding his hand, even if it was during such a lame dance. Karine had to admit to herself that she didn’t mind holding his hand either. It was big and soft and strong, more so than Steven’s.
“Come on you guys! Doe-see-doe!” Andrew was skipping ahead of the beat and he flapped his arms wildly, almost lifting Christina off the floor as he yanked on her hand.
They all laughed and Rosenbaum had to physically push his arms down. She told him to behave and he pretended to look scared. This wasn’t actually so bad. It was retarded of course but so far this was a lot more fun than their usual gym classes.
The boy holding Shauna’s right hand dropped it. “God, why don’t you sweat a little more? Gross.”
He wiped his hand on his shirt and the boy holding her other hand did the same. Everyone in Shauna’s group snickered, even Cerise, that fucking bitch. Rosiebum walked up to them all pissed off like she was having an aneurysm.
“Let’s try not to look completely horrified by this experience, people. Let’s see some smiles. And hold hands, people! I swear to fu… hold hands!”
“But she smells!” The boy to Shauna’s right stepped away from her and protectively tucked his hands behind his back.
Everyone laughed and laughed and never stopped laughing. The cuntnugget and all her friends were doubled over, their mouths wide like evil devil people watching an execution. Cerise was just like the rest of them, laughing her ass off, backing away from Shauna like she had AIDS or something. Shauna hated them all. They would all burn in agony when she locked them all in the school and set it on fire.