“I refuse!” Willy insisted. “I refuse to do it!”
“You’ll have to do it,” stated Cerise. “Everyone who’s gonna graduate has to do it.”
Cerise and the boys were walking to Jay’s house after school for another gaming session.
“Was it pain?” Vani wondered.
“It was total pain. You’ll see.”
“Square dancing?” Jay seemed scared. “It’s like some sort of evil Nazi torture device.”
Karl was equally dismayed. “Just when I think the crazytude of this place can’t get any more wackotic.”
“Totally,” nodded Cerise. “It was like watching someone getting maimed and then being maimed oneself and then being forced to main puppies and kittens.”
“Pain,” Willy nodded.
“Crazy pain,” Jay confirmed.
“Pure pain,” Karl sighed.
“Super mega pain,” Vani slumped his shoulders.
Karine and Steven sat on the couch in front of the TV. The remains of their pogo sticks and Lipton Sidekick dinner were sitting on the coffee table along with some magazines and several remote controls. Video on Trial was playing in the background while Steven kissed Karine’s neck. She was enjoying the sensation of his lips against her throat but her eyes were half open, trying to see which Britney video Trevor Boris was mocking. Steven pulled away from Karine and stroked her hair affectionately, love very plainly in his eyes.
“You know, if you got pregnant, I’d totally marry you.”
“What?!” Karine made no effort to hide her horror, jumping away from Steve.
“I’m just saying…” Steven looked worried.
“I’m on the pill, Steve!”
“I’m just saying if it happened I’d totally support you. I love you.”
“Oh my god, Steve, I’m not gonna marry you. Christ!”
“I’m just saying! I mean don’t you love me?”
Karine shook her head in exasperation. “Look Steve, if I got pregnant I’d get an abortion so fast you’d never even know it happened.”
“You wouldn’t even tell me?” Now he was angry.
“I am so not having this conversation.” Karine turned to the TV and picked up the remote, turning up the volume.
“God, I don’t get why you’re so pissed.” Steven placed his arm on Karine’s knee. “I’m trying to be nice.”
“Please, seriously. Let’s just drop it. I’m not in the mood for this.”
“For fucking anything!” she yelled.
Steven was shocked and sat back, looking at Karine with concern. He asked her if she was ok. She relaxed and insisted she was fine. It was just that school and work were starting to get to her.
“It’s more than that,” Steven guessed. “Why are you being so weird lately?”
“How am I being weird?” Karine struggled to keep her voice even.
“You’re always being like, all bleh all the time.”
“Just because I don’t wanna get married and have kids…”
“Forget that. It’s just that you’re always all whatever.”
“What does that mean?”
“I dunno. You’re being all weird and distant and like not tired but like, I dunno, bored?”
Karine tucked her legs under her and looked down. “Well, I dunno. Maybe I am bored. Maybe I’m sick of like, everything being the way it was last year. And the year before that.”
“What do you mean?”
“God, we’ve been together for like ever. Don’t you ever get sick of it?”
“Sick of what?” The panic in Steve’s voice was evident.
“The same old thing all the time. Don’t you ever get… ennuyé?” She didn’t want to say the word ‘bored’ but couldn’t think of an appropriate synonym so she chose the French equivalent.
“So you are bored?”
“Aren’t you?” Karine whispered.
“No!” Steven took Karine’s hand. “Not at all. I’m happy. Aren’t you?”
Karine slowly pulled her hand away. “Not really.”
“Well I’m sorry I’m not exciting enough for you.” His voice was high and angry.
“Well I’m sorry too.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means… I want to just… stop for a while.”
Steven sounded choked up. “Stop what?”
Was he crying? Karine looked up at him and he turned away, a hand furiously wiping his cheek. Karine didn’t want to hurt him any further but she couldn’t stop now. “Us,” she breathed.
“Are you breaking up with me?” He looked at her, no longer trying to hide the tears.
“I just think I maybe need to try being alone for a while.”
“I was just kidding with the marriage thing! I mean, we don’t have to break up! I was just saying! I love you Karine! I love you so much!”
He was crying for real now and wiping the palms of his hands over his eyes, gulping for breath.
“Steven, I’m so sorry. I don’t want to hurt you. I care about you a lot and you’ve always been the best boyfriend.” She rested her hand on his shaking shoulder. “But it’s been two years and I’m the only serious girlfriend you’ve ever had. Don’t you want to see what other girls are like?”
“No!” he yelled, horrified. “I want you!”
“Come on, Steve. Seriously. Did you think we were gonna stay together forever?”
Steven jumped up from the couch and stomped out of the room. Karine followed him to the front door, where he was furiously trying to get his sneakers on.
“We can still be friends,” Karine smiled. “We can still hang out.”
“You’re such a fucking bitch!” Steven yelled as he ran out the front door and struggled to get on his bike. Karine watched him ride away, still crying.
“She looks kind of upset today,” Jay remarked.
“Who?” asked Cerise.
She hadn’t been at the smoking wall this morning. All her friends were there, even her stupid boyfriend but she was conspicuously absent. Jay thought she might have been sick today but then he saw her at her locker, looking kind of sad. Maybe she was fighting with her friends. That Erica Mackey chick was a pretty serious bitch so maybe she said something mean to Karine to hurt her feelings.
Cerise looked at Jay like he was retarded and he insisted that he hadn’t been paying attention or anything but that he’d just noticed, not from trying to notice, just randomly, that Karine looked kind of out of it today, but he didn’t really care, since it didn’t really matter and anyway, Cerise’s character in the game was doing pretty shitty and she needed to start taking a more active role and earn some experience points so she could get a proper gun.
Cerise agreed to come over every day after school so she could earn that gun. They started walking to class but ran into that asshat, Steven Reid.
“What are you looking at?” he demanded.
“Nothing,” Jay said meekly while stepping aside to give the asshat room to pass.
Completely unprovoked Steven banged his fist on Jay’s hand, forcing him to drop his math book and pencil case. Then he walked away all proud of himself like it was a big accomplishment to be such an asshole.
“God, what an ass,” remarked Cerise while picking up Jay’s stuff.
“I know!” Jay cradled his hand, trying not to let Cerise see how much it hurt. “Karine can do so much better.”
Meet me in the fishbowl ASAP!
Karine sent the text to both Erica and Christina and then waited impatiently for them to show up. When they did, they asked what the big deal was and why she hadn’t been at the wall in the morning.
“I broke up with Steve.”
Christina gasped and Erica laughed.
“For serious?” Christina sat next to Karine, her mouth still open in surprise.
Erica sat in the chair across from them and declared the news to be hilarious.
“God Karine, why?” Christina whined.
“I told you yesterday! I’ve been feeling like I needed a change.”
“Well it’s about time,” smirked Erica. “Let me be the first to congratulate you, Karine. You’re finally ready for the big leagues.”
“What does that mean?” Christina asked.
“We’re totally going clubbing this Friday and we’re all gonna hook up!”
“We do that all the time anyway,” said Christina in undisguised annoyance.
“But this time Karine won’t be a skanky whore cheating on her loser boyfriend when she sucks some random guy’s cock.”
“Nice.” Karine rolled her eyes. She would have denied cheating on Steven but there was that one time last year when she’d gotten a bit drunk at a club and a guy in University had picked her up and she’d gone to his apartment and they’d sort of hooked up. She hadn’t done anything major with him, just… well ok, it had been pretty major. They’d had full on sex but they’d used a condom so it barely counted.
Word travelled fast at BHS and by second period pretty much everyone knew that Karine Cavalière and Steven Reid had broken up. Jay was ecstatic. Finally Karine had come to her senses.
They were in Enriched English and Karine seemed fine. She was texting with her phone when she’d come in but Mr. Weir always made them hand in their cell phones before class so she’d had to stop. Now she was sitting at her desk, twirling her hair in her fingers.
Weir was explaining that their book reports had to be presented as debates so they’d be paired up into teams of two. They could choose whatever book they wanted to do the report on but Weir had to approve it first. Sarah wanted to know if the debates had to be a pro and con type thing, like one person saying the book is good and the other saying it’s bad. Weir said that the presentations didn’t have to be book reviews. They could also explore an issue in the story and debate two sides of it. Then Sarah asked if the debates could be like a play with each person taking on the persona of a character in the book and whatever, sometimes Sarah really was too much of a brown-noser.
When she was done finding out exactly what was and wasn’t allowed, Weir took a coffee cup off of his desk and said that he’d filled it with everyone’s names. They would draw for their partners. Everyone groaned but Jay knew he had a better chance this way than if they could choose their own partners.
Since the class was organized alphabetically, Vani was the first to choose. He picked Jonah Cupryk. Nice. Vani was obviously pissed but Jojo looked pleased enough.
Karine was next. She dipped her hand into the cup and Jay worked very hard to telekinetically float his name to the top.
Don’t be Jay. Don’t be Jay. Don’t be Jay. Don’t be me either. And really don’t be Jay. Cerise repeated this mantra in her head as she stared at Karine’s hand fishing through the cup.
Karine lifted out a piece of paper. “Jason Harris,” she sighed with obvious disappointment.
“It’s fate! I mean how else do you explain it?”
Cerise and the boys all rolled their eyes as Jay bounced up and down in his cafeteria seat.
“I just can’t believe it! Karine and me! Partners!”
“It’s just a stupid English presentation,” Cerise sighed.
She seemed to be unreasonably unsupportive during Jay’s time of triumph. Jay told them how mega the situation was because they had a month to work on their presentations. Just think of how many meetings it would take to do it all! First they had to pick the book and then read it and then decide what the debate would be about and they would need to practice and everything. This situation was definitely mega.
“Yes, yes.” Vani rolled his eyes. “We’re all very happy for you. Meanwhile I’m stuck with frakking Jojo!”
“I’m just glad I wasn’t paired up with Sarah,” said Karl. “I thought for sure the Universe would want to kick me in the ass and stick me with her.”
“I don’t know what your big damage is against Sarah,” Cerise frowned. “I’m glad I got paired up with her. She’s smart.”
“It’s Enriched English. Everyone is smart. I mean relative to the other lamebots in this school.”
“Yeah,” Jay nodded. “Everyone thinks Karine is dumb because she hangs out with those chucks but she’s totally smart. She did a presentation on Greek mythology in grade 9 and it was like, really good.”
“Do you keep a scrapbook of Karine memories or something?” Vani smirked.
“Of course he does,” Karl said matter-of-factly. “We’ve all seen the shrine.”
“There’s no shrine!” Jay protested.
“Isn’t there, Jay? Isn’t there?” Karl lifted an eyebrow. “Are you sure you don’t have a picture of her tucked under your pillow? Or perhaps a secret file on your computer, with a whole bunch of pics of her, which you’ve photoshopped into nakeditude?”
Jay denied it and hoped they couldn’t tell he was lying.
“Jesus Christ,” Willy smirked. “You’re worse than Cerise’s stalker.”
“Hey, she’s not stalking me…” Cerise began but Willy went on.
“You seriously need to get over your Karine obsession.”
“Look I admit I like her but I’m not obsessed ok? I just think the Universe is trying to tell me something here. I mean this could be my chance!”
Karl pressed his hand to his forehead as though developing a headache. “Are you seriously so delusional that you think she’s gonna go for you now just because she broke up with Jocky McStereotype? I highly doubt she’s all celebrating the fact that she got paired up with you.”
“I don’t even have the energy to deal with this shit!” Karine exclaimed. “I mean Jason fucking Harris? Eww.”
The group was sensitive to the recent break-up, so they positioned themselves on their picnic table so that Karine and Steven would be sitting as far away from each other as possible. It still wasn’t far enough.
“Who gives a shit that you got stuck with him?” Steve spat out. “You’re the one who took Enriched English in the first place and everyone in that class is a fucking nerd so no shit you got stuck with a loser. It’s your own fucking fault!”
“Chill.” Karine narrowed her eyes.
“I can’t stand your fucking constant whining! I need to get out of here!” Steven jumped up from the table and stomped away.
Terry couldn’t help but be amused. Sure, it sucked for Steve but come on, Karine had simply done what she’d had to do.
“God, bitter much?” Erica said it amusement.
“Can you blame him?” asked Christina.
“Come on, what’d he expect?” Terry smirked, eyeing Karine. “She wasn’t about to stay with him forever. A chick this hot has to spread the joy.”
Andrew laughed and got up to stand behind Karine. “Aww yeeah, my turn right?” He thrusted his crotch towards her head.
“Like even!” she squealed, punching Andrew in the thigh.
“So who are you gonna hook up with now?” Erica asked slyly.
Karine claimed she wasn’t going to hook up with anyone, that she just wanted to be alone for a while but Terry knew better. He smiled at her and she smiled back. She’d obviously taken their diner chat to heart.
Shauna finished another crappy sandwich and stuffed her empty juice box onto her locker shelf. She walked through the deserted hallways of the school, enjoying the stillness during lunch hour, when almost everyone was outdoors or in the cafeteria. She hadn’t meant to walk in that direction but before she knew it, she was outside the caf. Cerise was sitting with all those guys and they were smooshing food onto the table. Cerise looked grossed out but she was also laughing.
Maybe if Shauna were to casually walk by the table, they wouldn’t notice her. She could just walk behind Cerise as though she were going to the lunch line, it wouldn’t be a big deal. She would just get close enough to be in the same air space. She wouldn’t touch her or anything. Maybe just smell her. Just close enough to reach out a hand and stroke the collar of her shirt. Maybe the tips of her hair would lightly breeze over Shauna’s fingers if she just let her hand dangle in the air.
Shauna knew she would never do such a thing but she inched forward anyway. Slowly, imperceptibly, she crept into the cafeteria and towards the table. She kept to the wall, there was at least a metre separating her from Cerise.
Suddenly they were all jumping up and running away. Cerise didn’t look in her direction, she simply ran off, literally sprinting as though Shauna’s mere presence had been enough to not only scare her away but all of her friends as well.
Shauna stepped up to the table and looked at the mess covering it. She wondered if any of this trash held the remains of Cerise’s meal. Had any of it been touched by her hands or maybe even her lips?
“Is this how we treat school property?”
Shauna looked up in confusion to see Mr. Weir looking down at her in angry disapproval. He scanned his hand over the mess and asked her what it was about. She stammered and claimed not to know but he told her to clean it up. He stood there staring at her as she found some napkins and wiped up the mess, gooey mashed potatoes mixed with juice and something else even grosser.
Shauna hoped very strongly that Mr. Weir would get arrested for child abuse and go to jail and get ass-raped by a guard and get AIDS and die and have maggots eat his eyes out.