“Cerise, you’re gonna be late for school,” said Angela, knocking on the bathroom door.
“I’m not going to school!” yelled Cerise. “I’ve got period poo!”
In spite of Angela’s hippy dippy peace and love bullshit, she was remarkably insensitive to her daughters’ suffering. She’d been raised in a strict Scandinavian household where pain was seen as an opportunity to develop strength. As a result, the Laframboise girls were imparted with the attitude that if the injury wasn’t visible it couldn’t possibly be real. This is why Cerise was almost grateful for her menstrual diarrhea. Almost.
Though her cycle could last anywhere from nineteen to twenty-nine days, it was fairly predictable in that the second day of her flow would be accompanied by intense fatigue and even more intense cramps. Left to her own devices she would spend the entire day in bed, interspersed with trips to the bathroom. Unfortunately Cerise’s mother didn’t think cramps and tiredness were valid excuses for missing school. She couldn’t really argue with diarrhea though.
Wikipedia offered no comfort when it explained that cramps were a result of contractions in the uterus caused by prostaglandins that also cause contractions in the intestines, hence bowel movements during menstrual flow. Neither did her mother offer any comfort when Cerise limped back to her room on legs that had gone numb from sitting on the toilet for so long. Cerise never would have admitted to being afflicted with such a humiliating condition to anyone besides her female relatives, but she gratuitously used it as an excuse with her mother.
“I’m gonna die,” she wailed as she cradled her abdomen, crawling into bed.
“I highly doubt that.” Angela rolled her eyes.
“I can’t go to school today!”
“You don’t look so bad.”
“Fine, I’ll call the school.”
Angela sighed and walked off and a moment later Simone appeared with the electric blanket, a glass of water and an extra-strength midol. Though it is generally believed that women who live in tight quarters will have their cycles sync up, this was not the case in the Laframboise household. Angela was premenopausal and sometimes wouldn’t menstruate at all and Julie, through some sort of miracle of unfairness had been blessed with a long cycle and a light, painless flow lasting no more than four days. Like Cerise, Simone had been cursed with highly unpredictable and painful periods but was now on the pill, so her cycle was regulated.
“Thanks,” said Cerise as she swallowed the midol.
“No prob,” said Simone as she plugged in the electric blanket and draped it over Cerise’s stomach. “Later, loser,” she said, leaving the room.
It was one of those crazy rainy days where you can't even use an umbrella because it's so windy. Terry stared out the window at the deluge and then at Cerise’s empty chair in homeroom. He automatically whipped out his cell phone to text her but remembered that she didn’t have a cell. She seriously needed to get one. He could text her email but who knew when she’d check it? He needed to be able to reach her immediately. He stopped himself when he was halfway through his message and then deleted it. He was being a total loser. She was probably just at a dentist appointment or something. Or maybe she was sick. He hoped it wasn’t anything serious. He hoped she hadn't gotten caught in a crazy flood or something. He’d check his email at lunch to see if she’d written him. No need to get all desperate.
Sarah didn’t know why she was so nervous. What was the worst that could happen? He could laugh in her face or insult her as per usual but even Karl wasn’t that much of a jerk. And Sarah was pretty sure that he secretly liked her; why else would he give her such a hard time? There was of course the possibility that he would refuse to go to the grad ball because it was a school sanctioned event and blah blah blah but would a sixteen-year-old guy really turn down a date?
“Hey,” said Sarah, joining Karl at his locker.
“Hey,” he replied evenly.
“So what?” he eyed her suspiciously and she tried not to giggle.
“Rip down any good posters lately?”
He smiled in embarrassment. “Nah, I think my poster ripping days are behind me.”
“Yeah,” he shrugged in a way that could be interpreted as an apology, or maybe it was just wishful thinking on Sarah’s part. “You know, I gotta admit, the duct tape thing with Vani was pretty mega.”
“It was Cerise’s idea.”
“It’s cool that you went along with it though. I wouldn’t have thought that of you.”
“Oh, ‘cause I’m such a joiner, right?” Sarah scoffed.
“Guess I shoulda figured you’d join that sort of thing too,” he smirked.
“You’re such an ass!”
“I know,” he smiled devilishly. “Speaking of which, I was thinking about doing another prank.”
“Not to us!”
“No, no. I guess that rivalry has pretty much run its course.”
“Hey, where is Cerise today anyway?” asked Sarah.
“How the hell should I know?”
“I dunno! I just thought maybe you knew!”
“Maybe Porta-potty chick like stalked her to death. She probably murderized her and hid her in her fridge.”
“That’s not even funny, Karl!” Sarah laughed. “’Cause it could like, totally be true.”
Karl laughed and closed his locker. He was about to walk away but Sarah stopped him.
“Um, there was actually something I wanted to ask you.”
“What is it?”
“Well, you know grad?”
“Where we like graduate?” he smirked in amusement.
“I mean grad ball.”
“Grad ball?” he asked stupidly.
“You know, what Americans refer to as prom.”
“Yes, it’s short for promenade. It refers to a long held tradition of high school graduates going to a fancy-dress ball and dancing and sneaking alcohol and catching STDs.”
He couldn’t help but chuckle. “Ok yeah, I’ve heard of it.”
“So you going?”
“I wasn’t planning on it,” he said, his facial expression difficult to read. He was either confused or annoyed.
She wanted to take a deep breath but forced herself to appear casual. “Well do you wanna?”
“Do I wanna what?”
“Go to grad,” she replied. “With me,” she added after a beat, not sure he would understand unless she spelled it out for him.
He stared at her in disbelief.
“’Cause I was thinking we could go together,” she went on, giving him time to adjust.
“Uh, you and me?”
“Yeah,” she said in exasperation.
“Like go out… together?”
She simply sighed and cocked her head.
“Are you… kidding?” he asked.
Sarah realized that he wasn’t being dumb, he was just genuinely surprised. He really thought she might be punking him.
“For real, Karl. You and me. I mean come on, who else am I supposed to go with? One of these plebes who like, can’t even tie their own shoes much less have a philosophical debate? Karl, you’re like the only guy in this school who’s like my intellectual equal.”
“That’s true,” he nodded.
She knew she’d get him if she appealed to his ego.
“Well then, I suppose I have no objection,” he shrugged.
“So that’s a yes?”
“Psych!” she yelled. “I’d never go with you, you fucking loser!”
He cringed and Sarah laughed boisterously. She hadn’t been able to help herself from teasing him.
“No, no, I’m kidding. I totally wanna go with you. We’re getting a limo so you have to pay your share for that. And the tickets cost too. And you know you have to rent a tux, eh? It’s like a formal thing.”
“Yeah I know, I’m not retarded,” he said, clearly relieved it wasn’t a joke.
“You know I don’t… I don’t really like it when people say retarded. It’s kinda rude.”
“You’re so politically correct,” he said, but not unkindly. “Wait, how expensive is this thing gonna be?”
“It’s not that bad, it’s a once in a lifetime thing, Karl, just fucking do it.”
“Ok, so I’ll see you later!”
“You must be freaking out,” smiled Karine as she joined Terry at lunch.
“Why?” asked Terry.
“’Cause I heard that Porta-potty chick totally killed Cherry and like, buried her in her backyard.”
Terry gave Karine a ‘gimme a break’ look but once again wished Cerise would get a damn cell phone. He’d checked his email but there was nothing. What the hell? Maybe Cerise was seriously sick and even in the hospital or something. Or maybe there’d been an accident or a death in the family. Surely if she was just home sick she could find the time to mail him. What if Porta-potty really had attacked her?
It was only after school that she finally wrote him, explaining that she wasn’t feeling well and had slept through the entire day. He was relieved she was ok and felt like a retard for worrying so much.
“Where were you yesterday?” asked Sarah when Cerise joined her at the wall the next day.
“I took a personal day. Bad cramps.”
“Oooh,” Sarah cooed sympathetically. “That sucks. Terry totally missed you.”
“At lunch everyone asked him where you were and he didn’t know but the way he said he didn’t know, you could totally tell he wished he did know.”
“Well I mean, he said it pretty neutrally, you know Terry, but I could tell.”
Cerise smiled happily.
“So I asked Karl to grad ball.”
“He said yes I presume?” Cerise smiled.
“Yeah,” Sarah grinned.
“I knew you guys had the hots for each other from like the first time you guys snarked each other out.”
“Yeah. I’ve always liked him but he’s so immature.”
“All guys are,” shrugged Cerise.
“Speaking of which…” Sarah rolled her eyes as the boys came up to the wall.
“She lives!” screamed Vani as he skipped up to them.
“We thought Porta-potty chick had murderized you,” said Willy.
“No such luck, eh?” snarked Jay.
“Shut up, loser,” Cerise replied.
“So where were you?” asked Karl.
“Nowhere, I just wasn’t feeling well, that’s all.”
“Oooh, did you need to get treatment for an STD you caught from Mr. Wonderful?” asked Jay.
“Yeah, you’re funny,” said Cerise with an eye roll.
“Whoa, a herpes outbreak, freaky,” said Vani.
“Didn’t you watch the Degrassi episode where Emma gets gonorrhea? That show is supposed to be a life lesson, Cerise.” Willy shook his head in disappointment.
“Shut up you guys, you’re so immature,” said Sarah.
“Was it a cold then? ‘Cause you’re probably still contagious,” said Karl.
“God, quick giving her the third degree, she just had her period,” said Sarah in exasperation.
“Sarah!” Cerise nudged Sarah in annoyance. “Shut up!”
Cerise was embarrassed but at least it had worked. The boys were shamed into silence and all looked around awkwardly.
“Gross,” Willy finally whispered.
“You’re never gonna get a girlfriend,” said Cerise, pushing him backwards.
“Cooties!” yelled Vani and Willy laughed uproariously.
Cerise sighed in annoyance and retreated into student union with Sarah. God, guys were such losers. At lunch she almost decided to avoid the boys altogether but then she thought it might be fun to give Karl a hard time.
“Allo les boys,” she said with a smile as she joined them in the caf.
“Hey,” they all responded.
“So Karl, how’s it going?” she asked sweetly.
He eyed her in annoyance, clearly aware of what she was getting at. “It’s going fine, Cerise.”
“Oh yeah, what’s new?”
“Well, we made good progress on the Meltano mission. We started writing a major leaflet campaign to protest that movie we saw and uh, in other news we’re going to grad ball and we made Willy sit in the corner for speaking out of turn and…”
“Wait a second,” said Vani, his mouth full of tater tots. “Rewind mo-fo. We’re going to the what now?”
“Grad ball,” said Karl nonchalantly.
“Well I’m going anyway,” shrugged Karl defiantly.
“And you decided this how?” asked Jay.
“Yeah really,” said Willy. “I thought we were banning it. Like everything else we ban because of the joyless reality of our soulless existence.”
“There’s no such thing as a soul, so everyone’s existence is soulless. And even if souls did exist you’d have sold yours by now so quit your grousing…”
“It’s been a long night for all of us,” Vani and Jay said in unison.
“So who’re you going with, Karl?” asked Cerise innocently.
“Well uh, Sarah actually,” he replied awkwardly.
“In what Universe?” aked Jay with a chuckle.
“Consorting with the enemy are you?” asked Vani. “I approve. It sounds quite naughty.”
“Are you serious?” asked Willy.
“Yep,” nodded Karl. “She asked me.”
“Because she lost a bet?” snarked Jay.
“As if she would ask you. You’re full of shit,” said Willy with undisguised resentment.
Karl simply shrugged and Vani concluded that he was serious.
“Wow. Bizarro world. Does this mean we’re all evil?” asked Jay. “Or all good?”
“Did she check out your ass, too?” asked Willy.
“But Karl, I thought you were too cool for joiners like Sarah,” smirked Cerise.
“Well she may be a joiner but she’s still a girl,” said Karl matter-of-factly.
“Yeah, and she’s a hot girl!” confirmed Vani.
“Wicked hot!” agreed Willy.
“You just said wicked hot,” said Karl in disgust.
“Well she is wicked hot,” Willy pouted.
“Never speak,” Karl dryly instructed.
“So all your principles go out the window once you have a chance to go out with a hot girl?” asked Cerise in amusement.
Karl spread out his hands as though it was self-evident. “Well yeah. Clearly.”
“Duh,” said Willy.
“Personal principals mean nothing when you have the chance to hook up with a hot chick. It’s the way of the world,” said Vani.
“Guys are so unevolved,” snarked Cerise as she stood up. She joined Terry at the entrance to the caf and walked off with him.
Jay watched Cerise walk off with Terry Trebithinkshe’ssocoolbuttotallyisn’tsky and rolled his eyes at her hypocrisy.
“Man, this is gonna be so cool!” enthused Vani. “We get to wear tuxes! Now’s my chance to become James Bond.”
“I hafta rent a tux?” asked Willy.
“You don’t have to do anything,” said Karl. “No one said you were going.”
“Maybe I should buy a tux and then wear it around the house and speak in a Scottish accent. Shaken not stirred,” said Vani in his best Sean Connery.
“You could wear it at school too. I bet that would get you shaken not stirred.”
“I’m pretty sure the Sri Lankan Green was kidding about only dating Muslims. I could still wear her down,” smiled Vani.
“It’s good to have dreams,” said Jay wistfully.
“It was so cool to hang out with them on Friday. Terry’s so cool,” smiled Vani, caught up in his own homosexual dreamworld.
“Everytime you say his name I feel like I have a chest burster just trying to get out.” Jay clutched his chest in disgust.
“What is your major malfunction with him?” asked Vani in annoyance.
“Have you forgotten grades 7 through 10?” asked Jay incredulously.
“He’s been decent this year,” shrugged Vani.
“Well let’s nominate him for sainthood then.” Jay rolled his eyes.
“He calls me Hangman!” said Vani with stars in his eyes.
“I’m with Jay on this one,” said Willy. “Terry’s an ass. He was giving me the stink eye all Friday. It was creepy.”
“Well that’s the clown calling the hockey mask creepy,” drolled Karl. “Newsflash, Willy! He was giving you the stink eye because you stink!”
“It was so much cooler before she started going out with him,” mused Jay.
“Well get over it,” instructed Karl.
“So maybe the black Green will go with me,” said Vani. “She didn’t say anything about not dating Hindus.”
“I’m pretty sure she operates under a strict no-midget clause though,” said Karl.
“Hey, I totally grew an inch this year! I’m like nearly 5’5”. That’s way taller than Michael J. Fox and he’s still considered attractive even though he has shaky-shaky syndrome.”
“There’s a long list of people with various syndromes considered more attractive than you, Vani. Let it go. Besides, the Greens are annoying, you’re better off going with Willy.”
“So now I’m allowed to go?” asked Willy.
“I hear Jojo is still available,” smiled Karl.
“It’d be cool if Cerise were going with us,” sighed Jay.
“You mean it’d be cool if she were going with you,” smirked Karl.
“No, I mean all of us, like a group thing.”
“Jay, you lost your chance. If you wanted to go out with her you should have asked her out like eight months ago,” said Karl with an eye-roll.
“I don’t wanna go out with her,” Jay insisted. “I just…”
“Don’t want her to go out with Terry Trebichavsky,” said Karl.
“Yeah,” Jay nodded.
“You’re fucked up, Jay,” said Karl without an ounce of sarcasm. “Your thing with Cerise, it’s actually kinda creepy. I suggest you get your head out of your ass before your surpass Willy in the weirdo freaknut department.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Jay in confusion. “I don’t have a weird thing with Cerise. I just liked it when she was our friend and I think it would be cool if she came with us to grad, in like a group!”
“Even I know that’s messed up,” said Willy. “I wouldn’t wanna share my date with you guys.”
“Yeah,” nodded Karl. “We don’t wanna share your real doll either.”
Chrissy sat next to Andrew at their picnic table and explained that he needed to get a red bow tie to match her dress and he agreed with an unsurprising lack of interest. Steven asked if that meant he had to get a pink bow tie but Karine assured him he could just get black.
“Oh my god! We should make our dates be all matchy too!” squealed one of Sarah’s clone.
Karine could never remember which one was which. She missed the days before the Green Girls started joining them for lunch. It used to be so peaceful. Well, not peaceful really, not with Erica’s constant bitching but now it was always loud and annoying. Cerise actually wasn’t all that bad when she was alone or just with Sarah or just with Terry but those two Green Girls were something else. And how bizarre that Terry had set them up with his hockey buddies? Cherry really had him wrapped around her little finger; he was even doing favours for her friends. It was positively disgusting.
“Like I’m so sure your dates are even gonna show up,” snarked Erica.
“What do you mean?” pouted one of the clones.
“They’re hockey players. If they manage to follow the GPS directions I’ll be surprised,” she smirked.
Everyone looked at her blankly.
“Hockey players are retarded!” she snapped lamely.
Wow, she was really losing her edge. That was the best she could come up with? Terry didn’t even bother responding. He just kept munching on Cherry’s neck like she was a side dish. Did he have no decorum? Sure, Karine and Steve made out in public but they weren’t gross about it. God, she must really taste like cherries the way he was always nibbling at her.
“Who are you going with, Erica?” asked Sarah.
“Who are you going with?” Erica snapped back.
“Oh, I’m not surprised you don’t know who he is. All his classes are enriched so you don’t have any classes with him,” said Sarah in a completely straight tone.
Erica’s jaw dropped open in horror and everyone else snickered behind their hands, with Terry laughing openly even though he didn’t have any enriched classes either.
“So who are you going with?” Sarah went on.
“I haven’t decided yet,” said Erica from between gritted teeth.
“It’s only a month away. Maybe you should figure it out,” suggested Sarah.
She shared a look with Cherry and the clones. They all looked smugly amused. The Karl Weber guy and Jason Harris and the other two losers came running by and Cherry waved at them. Obviously Erica couldn’t let the moment pass without comment.
“Oh my god! Can you believe those losers? Every day they run by here like complete spastic retards. They are so pathetic. Anyone who would hang out with those freaks would have to be such a loser. I mean, it’s actually just sad,” she said, oozing contempt.
“Yeah,” nodded Cherry. “It’s so sad how some people are eh, Erica? They just lash out at everyone around them because they feel so inadequate about themselves and their inability to find a grad date.”
No one could hold back the laughter. Even Chrissy let out a yelp of joy. Erica responded by lighting up a cigarette and blowing the smoke in Cherry’s face. She coughed in response and Terry took her hand and led her to the nearest tree where they proceeded to eat each other’s faces off.
“You know, you could’ve maybe written me an email just to let me know you were ok,” said Terry, trying to sound casual.
He and Cerise were sitting on the couch in his dad’s house, watching their usual after school programming.
“I did write you.”
“Yeah, at like 3 o’clock! I was wondering the whole day where you were!”
“Oh, well sorry. I just wasn’t feeling too good. I didn’t wanna go to the computer. I was in bed all day. Sorry.”
“No, it’s ok. I’m spazzing out for no reason. It’s no big deal. You should get a cell phone though.”
“Yeah, I know,” she smiled, snuggling up to him.
He grinned and put his arm around her, lowering his face to hers. They kissed for a while and then he carried her downstairs. They made out on his bed and he unbuttoned her shirt, stroking her skin the way she liked until she was breathing heavily, pushing herself towards him. He undid her pants with one hand and pushed his fingers inside her.
“You’re so wet,” he breathed as he licked her neck.
“Oh my god!” She completely freaked out and pushed Terry’s arm away, jumping up from the bed.
They both looked at Terry’s fingers, which were covered in blood. Terry looked up at Cerise’s horrified face.
“I’m so sorry! I totally forgot I had my period! Oh my god,” she wailed, almost in tears.
“Cerise, relax,” said Terry, sitting up and reaching out to Cerise with his clean hand. “It’s just blood, it’s no big deal.”
“Really?” she asked doubtfully.
“I’m not scared of a little blood,” he smiled.
He got up and walked over to his hockey bag and took out his hockey towel, which had years’ worth of blood stains on it. He wiped his fingers on it and laid it down on the bed. “If you want we can still do stuff.”
“You have a specific towel for doings girls on their periods?” Cerise sat back down and looked at Terry dubiously.
Terry laughed. “It’s my hockey towel! Sometimes I get nosebleeds and stuff. Don’t worry, it’s clean, just a bit stained, that’s all.”
Cerise bit her lip in that cute way that indicated she was thinking. “So you’re not totally grossed out?”
Terry smiled earnestly. “It’s just blood, Cerise! I’m not scared of your blood!”
“Well it’s not just blood,” Cerise smirked. “It’s also uterine lining.”
Terry laughed. “I’m not scared of your uterine lining either,” he said, carefully pronouncing all the syllables so he wouldn’t sound like an idiot.
“Really? You still wanna like, do stuff?” She asked hesitantly.
“Well not if you don’t. I mean, I totally would, but only if you’re cool with it.”
“Well I mean, I’m cool with it if you are.”
“Well I totally am.”
“You know I actually read once that orgasms will alleviate menstrual cramps.”
“Anytime you need me to help alleviate your pain, I’m there for you,” Terry grinned.
Cerise laughed and fell back on the bed. “Ok, help alleviate my pain!”
She pulled off her jeans, careful not to let him see the bloody pad stuck inside her underwear, and sat on the towel.
“Good thing I wasn’t wearing a tampon, eh, when you fingered me? That would’ve hurt.”
They both laughed.