“It totally sucked,” Cerise lamented to Sarah.
She sat on the edge of Karl’s desk while she spoke to Sarah before French class began.
“How so?” asked Sarah.
“He ignored me the whole time. He just played pool with Karine and Andrew. I spent most of the night with Christina Penna.”
“She was totally drunk and was just like, intermittently complaining about her life and bitching me out for going out with Terry, ‘cause like, she totally used to go out with him and she’s like totally bitter that she’s not anymore.”
“Yeah, makes sense,” nodded Sarah.
“Yeah I guess but god, it was super awkward and weird.”
“That’s too bad. But maybe you can still make up with Terry.”
“I don’t want to! He was a jerk! He didn’t pay attention to me at all!”
“So you wanted to go on a date with Terry Trebichavsky and have him actually give a shit about your interests?” Karl suddenly piped up, leaning back in his chair and looking up at Cerise. “What a shock it didn’t go as expected.”
“Shut up, Karl! We’re having a conversation,” Sarah ordered.
“I’m just saying,” he smirked.
“Karl’s right,” said Cerise. “I couldn’t expect Terry to give a shit about what I’m into. I mean he invited me to go play pool, I should have known there was gonna be like, pool playing involved.”
“But see, that’s why you have to give him another chance,” said Sarah. “How was he to know that you’re not into that stuff if you didn’t say so? Maybe next time go to a movie or something.”
“Like he’s gonna go out with me again! I was a total bitch!”
“Good,” snarked Karl.
“Karl, shut up!” Sarah snapped. “See if he talks to you in gym.”
Cerise nodded and went to her desk as Madame Rotten walked to the front of the class and began writing on the black board.
“Madame Rotten, uh Roptin?” asked Willy, raising his hand.
“Oui, William,” she replied with a sigh.
“Yeah, is that the participe passé or present?”
“En français,” she said despondently.
“Ouai en, c’est tu le participe passé ou present?”
“Right, um, what does that mean?”
“Eum, brie et baguette,” Willy said with a smirk.
The class laughed and Karl asked to go get a drink of water, to which Madame Rotten replied that he always seemed to be thirsty. Jay, Vani and Cerise each mentioned that they were also thirsty and Rotten had to repeatedly insist they speak in French. She even went to her desk and fished out a bottle of aspirin and took two, without drinking anything. “Moi aussi j’ai soif, mais on ne bois pas dans cette classe! Compris!?”
“What if we like, die from dehydration?” asked Karl, seemingly shocked.
Rotten ignored him and continued her lesson, while Sarah eyed Karl with interest.
She caught up with him after class. “I know what you’re doing,” she said.
“Ahh, you’re an observant one, Sarah Wong,” he smirked. “I am indeed putting one foot in front of the other. If you guessed walking, you are correct.”
“I know you’re up to something with Madame Rotten. You have been all year.”
“So?” he challenged.
“So you’re driving her nuts.”
“That’s kinda the point,” Karl shrugged defiantly.
“I figured,” Sarah smiled. “Keep up the good work,” she said, walking off.
“What was that all about?” asked Jay once Sarah had gone.
“You tell me,” said Karl with a shrug.
“Well like, duh!” said Cerise, rolling her eyes and abandoning the boys to their idiocy.
Shauna made sure to get to the locker room as early as possible so she could change without anyone seeing her. She had become used to the other girls calling her Porta-potty chick while she changed but their taunts became more aggressive whenever she removed her pants. They always claimed to be able to smell shit. Shauna now always wore her track pants underneath her cargo pants and simply removed the cargos as soon as she got to the locker room.
Her system was to put on her running shoes before French, the class she had preceding gym. French class was on the second floor but towards the front of the building. Once it was over, she would rush downstairs and out the main doors, and then circle the building until she got to the side entrance, which opened into the hallway leading to the gym. It was cold to venture outdoors but faster than navigating the crowded hallways. The only girls who managed to get to the locker room faster than her were two chicks who must have had a class in the same vicinity. They weren’t too bad though and only snickered at her when she rushed in gasping for breath. She would remove her cargos and her hoodie, stuff her French books into a locker and get to the gym before the cuntnuggets could remember she existed.
Cerise saw Shauna sitting on a bench on the far side of the gym, picking at her fingernails. Her long, stringy hair was draped over her face and it was impossible to tell if she noticed all the kids who held their noses as they walked by. Cerise looked over to Terry, who stood with his gang. They all seemed happy, joking around about something. Andrew Lester had his arms around Christina and she was holding them. Maybe they’d gotten together.
Everyone groaned when the square dancing music began. Erica Mackey complained about it and Ms. Rosenbaum confirmed they’d be doing everybody’s favourite today. She told them to get into groups of six and hold hands. Cerise looked at Shauna sympathetically and let her join a group with her and Sarah. Finding three boys to join them was much more difficult. All the guys in class started distancing themselves from their group and the words shit and porta-potty were being whispered loudly. Rosenbaum forced a boy towards Shauna and he dramatically crouched to the ground and removed his socks, placing them over his hands. He pulled his shirt over his nose and breathed like Darth Vader.
Everyone snickered and Rosenbaum was almost yelling, trying to get everyone to settle down. Shauna was stone-faced through it all, her eyes vacant. Cerise felt horrible for Shauna and struggled not to let her own emotions overcome her. The last thing she wanted to do was cry in gym class.
Suddenly a large, strong hand took hers. She looked up and saw Terry looking down at her with a gentle smile. He pushed away the Darth Vader boy and reached out to Shauna, taking her hand as well. A gasp ran through the gym and then it settled into shocked silence. Everyone stared. Patrick from Drama class took Shauna’s other hand and Kevin from Drama completed their group.
They danced for a few minutes and Terry never took his eyes off Cerise. She matched his gaze but in her peripheral vision she could see Sarah’s face practically tearing apart from grinning. At a certain point they had to break their circle and form into pairs and Terry and Cerise naturally faced each other. They raised their arms up, palms pressed together. They linked arms and turned counter clock-wise, their eyes still locked on each other. Square dancing had never been so sensual.
“A little effort please!” Rosenbaum yelled as she turned off the music.
Cerise snapped out of her reverie and looked around. Everyone seemed bored and no one was holding hands anymore, except for her and Terry. His pinkie finger was gently stroking the inside of her wrist. She wished everyone would disappear so she could better concentrate on the exquisite feeling. She hoped to hell no one had noticed her goosebumps.
“This is so lame!” groaned Erica Mackey.
“It’s tradition!” insisted Rosenbaum.
“It’s a stupid tradition,” Erica went on, her arms crossed.
“It’s part of your grade and if you don’t do it you fail.”
“But it’s retarded and no one wants to do it,” whined Erica. “And no one cares. You’re like, totally ruining our grad.”
Everyone nodded and murmured in agreement.
“Your parents are looking forward to it,” said Rosenbaum.
“That’s not really true you know,” said Cerise.
Everyone looked at her and Terry gently let go of her hand. Rosenbaum asked her to repeat herself.
Cerise went on. “Our parents don’t really care. They just want to see us graduate. Whether or not we doe-see-doe is like, irrelevant. I mean, I bet most of our parents don’t even know about this tradition, so how could they miss it if we don’t do it?”
The class agreed.
Rosenbaum sighed. “You don’t want to do it? Don’t do it. I’m happy to fail you!”
“Yeah, big threat,” said Terry.
“Just say the word, Trebichavsky,” said Rosenbaum condescendingly.
He shrugged and Cerise rolled her eyes. “You can’t fail all of us,” she said.
“Would you like to test that theory?” asked Rosenbaum.
“We don’t have to do this!” said Cerise, turning to Sarah. “If we want to quit, we can. Sarah, if we want to change a tradition, can’t we?”
Sarah shrugged and said she guessed so.
“I mean gimme a break! We’re not in
, we’re not in the ‘50s! We shouldn’t have to dance like cowboys!” Calgary
Everyone laughed and Terry looked down at Cerise with a cheerful grin.
Cerise was spurred on. “It’s supposed to be our grad. We should have a say in what happens. Right, Sarah?”
“Yeah!” Sarah nodded. “We could go to Principle Lewis and failing that, the school board. I mean, if the whole graduating class agrees. We could have like, a petition.”
Everyone murmured their agreement and Andrew Lester even hooted his approval.
Rosenbaum yelled at them to settle down. “If you want to play activists, do it on your own time. I still have a class to conduct so let’s get going!”
She was about to turn the music back on but Cerise walked towards her.
“No!” she said loudly. “We don’t wanna do this!”
“At this point you don’t have a choice,” Rosenbaum gritted her teeth angrily.
“Gimme a break!” Cerise rolled her eyes. “This is high school, not juvey hall. And this is square dancing, not like reading or math. It’s not essential to our future survival in the real world. It’s not even good exercise. So I’m not gonna do this.”
Cerise could hear Terry chuckling in the background. Andrew was saying something about her being a cherry bomb.
Rosenbaum sighed heavily. “You’re this close to failing, Laframboise!” She held her thumb and index close together.
“You know what?” said Cerise defiantly. “You wanna fail me? Go ahead. I have a 93% average. If I fail gym I’m still gonna graduate with honours, so knock yourself out.”
Cerise walked towards the locker room and then paused at the door and turned around. Everyone was staring at her. Terry was beaming and Sarah looked impressed. Karine looked like she’d just stepped in shit. Rosenbaum was on the verge of an aneurysm.
“I’m gonna go write up a petition,” said Cerise. “I could use your help on this, Sarah.”
“Oh my god!” squealed Sarah, and then rushed over to Cerise. They entered the locker room together.
The next one to leave was Terry Trebichavsky and he was followed by Steven Reid and Andrew Lester and Christina Penna and Erica Mackey and Karine Cavalière. After that everyone left. Finally it was only Shauna who stood in the class, staring at Ms. Rosenbaum. Then even Rosenbaum turned and left the gym. Shauna waited until she couldn’t hear any more noise coming from the locker room before she went in to get her French books.
“Way. So incredibly way,” said Cerise in between mouthfuls of her sandwich.
Jay and the boys all looked at Cerise in awe.
“And Sarah joined in?” asked Karl.
“She wrote the petition!” nodded Cerise.
“A petition? Lame,” said Willy.
“Yeah, what next?” smirked Karl. “A major, and I mean major, leaflet campaign?”
“You guys. It is major ok?!” said Cerise.
“Yeah,” agreed Jay. “Sounds cool. It’s like a whole new world. A world in which petitions get made and a world in which I get bitten by a radioactive spider and develop superpowers and then I fight crime in my spare time and go off on tangents that have nothing to do with the subject at hand.”
“Yeah, that world.” Cerise rolled her eyes. “Anyways, you guys have to sign the petition. Sarah’s gonna get the whole school to sign, not just the grads.”
“You think it’ll actually work?” wondered Vani.
“Oh, it’ll work. With Sarah on board it’ll so work. She’s gonna bring the petition to the Principle as soon as we have enough signatures.”
“So? That doesn’t mean shit,” scowled Willy.
“But it’s Sarah!”
Karl agreed with Cerise. “That’s actually a good point. I mean the fact that it’s Sarah. Principle Lewis practically gets a hard-on every time Sarah’s name is mentioned.”
Cerise scrunched up her face in disgust and dropped the remains of her sandwich, which Willy picked up and downed in one bite.
“So you’re saying there might actually be a benefit to being a joiner?” smiled Vani.
Karl rolled his eyes but Jay admitted that there was indeed a benefit if they got out of square dancing.
“Awesome-diddely-dawsome,” smiled Vani. “So you just wiggety-whacked and walked right out of gym class?”
“Yeah! Me and Sarah and Terry and everyone!”
“Yeah! He was right behind me!”
“I bet,” said Jay with a frown.