It was getting rather chilly these days but Cerise loved Fall. The pretty Autumn colours and the crisp smell in the air made everything seem fresher and more hopeful. She didn’t even care that she’d sat through another useless late night rehearsal, doing nothing but watching Karine and the other principles rehearse while she sat in the wings whispering with Cassie and Tom.
She thought about calling Terry and getting him to pick her up but instead she took the bus to his house and she studied for an upcoming art history test during the ride. Vicky let her in when she got to Terry’s house and she descended into his room unannounced.
“Um, knocking maybe?” yelled Terry in irritation, jumping up from his bed but relaxing when he saw it was Cerise who’d barged in.
He smiled broadly and swept her up into his arms, kissing her eagerly. Gross! He tasted of smoke, and reeked of it too. She pushed him off and complained of the smell. He lifted his t-shirt to his nose and sniffed it, frowning. Then he stared at Cerise like a deer caught in headlights.
“God, I hate it when you smoke!”
“I didn’t even…” he said meekly, avoiding eye contact.
“So now you’re lying to me?” she said in irritation.
“It was just one cigarette, not even fully one, just part of Andrew’s.” he shrugged defensively.
That just made it worse. Cerise scrunched up her face in disgust, not sure how to respond. She wanted to give Terry an ultimatum right then and there: stop hanging out with Andrew or else but how could she do that? She wasn’t allowed to tell Terry just how evil Andrew was and him being a smoker wasn’t really a good enough reason to ban him from Terry’s life but what else could she do? She obviously couldn’t let Terry continue to associate with a rapist.
“You always smoke when you’re with that fucking… eurk! And only when you’re with him.”
“Well it’s the peer pressure dontcha know?” he tried to be funny. “I just can’t handle it.”
Cerise glared at Terry for a moment and decided to go for broke. “I don’t want you to hang out with him anymore.”
“Jesus Christ! Just because he gives me a cigarette?”
“Like that isn’t enough? Smoking… it’s an assault, Terry,” she said, formulating this theory as she said it aloud. “It’s not like drinking, which only affects others indirectly. Smoking affects others directly. Like with second-hand smoke. Every time you smoke you pollute the environment and you force other people to breathe in your cancer. You know there’s even such a thing as third-hand smoke. It oozes out of your pores; it lingers on you for days. Even if you brush your teeth and shower, you still secrete nicotine and that gets absorbed into my skin when I’m with you. So when you smoke you’re forcing me to smoke and I’m sorry but that’s just immoral.”
She couldn’t tell how he was reacting to her rant. Did he think she was being ridiculous and over-reacting or was he ashamed of his bad habit?
“I try really hard not to do it, Cerise. I promise I’ll try harder,” he finally said, looking quite pained, although she still couldn’t tell if he was annoyed or ashamed. Maybe both.
“I wish I could believe you. But even if you did stop for real there are other reasons I don’t want you hanging out with Andrew.”
“Like what?” he asked, this time clearly irritated.
She sighed and finally put her book bag down, and sat on his bed. He sat next to her. “Like, just… stuff.”
“Like nothing. God, Cerise, why are you on this again? I thought you said you were gonna chill on the Andrew thing.”
“And I tried. I tolerated him at your birthday and it was ok I guess, but, fuck, I just can’t. You just, you just don’t know him as well as you think you do.”
Terry rolled his eyes so dramatically he almost looked like he was doing a Karl impression. “And you do? Gimme a break! You don’t know shit about him! I’ve known him for five years!”
“He’s just, fuck! I don’t know what I can say to make you understand. He’s just so creepy. He’s mean. He’s a misogynist, Terry.”
Terry scrunched up his face, clearly unfamiliar with the word.
“He’s not respectful of women.”
Terry snorted. “So he’s a player, so what? That doesn’t make him evil, ok? He’s no fucking different from me. Stop being such a prude!”
As soon as he’d said it Terry wished he could take it back. Why did he always say the wrong thing to Cerise? And how the hell was he going to get out of this one? She was already flying off the handle, telling him to fuck off and standing up, collecting her bag, making for the stairs. He grabbed her arm and then let go when she shook him off. Her face was red.
“Fuck you! How could you say that to me? When you know… you know how…. Just screw you, Terry!”
“I’m sorry, please, calm down,” he tried to sound soothing, tried to take her in his arms. She shook him away and started crying. Oh god, waterworks. Now what was he supposed to do?
“I don’t wanna calm down! I don’t want you to hang out with him anymore and that’s all there is to it!”
Was she really seriously going to be so irrational about this? Where the hell did she get off telling him who he could hang out with? If she thought a few tears would be enough for her to get her way she had another thing coming.
“You can’t dictate who I hang out with! You can’t just like, forbid me from seeing a friend, I mean, even if it was a chick that would be way uncool. I mean you just can’t do that, Cerise!”
“I know but…” she sputtered, wiping her eyes.
“Ok, how ‘bout this?” he said, a brilliant idea entering his head. “If I can’t hang out with Andrew then you can’t hang out with Jay.” He crossed his arms and smiled with self-satisfaction. He was a total genius sometimes.
“What? What the hell does Jay have to do with anything?”
“Nothing. Except I can’t stand him. So you veto one of my friends then I veto one of yours.”
She was stunned. He was so totally brilliant.
“I thought you were ok with him now,” she said quietly.
“You thought wrong, so you’re not allowed to be friends with him anymore.” He was actually surprised by how good it felt to say that. He kind of hoped she would agree to the idea.
“But why?” she asked meekly.
“I think you know why,” he said with narrowed eyes.
She seemed to be considering it. “But Jay is one of my best friends. I mean, I know he’s a jerk but still.”
“And Andrew is one of my best friends. And I know he’s a jerk, but still.”
“You’re just being spiteful,” she barked.
“Yeah, maybe I am. But you’re being unreasonable.”
“No I’m not!” she insisted.
“You can’t even give me a good reason! You just don’t like Andrew and that’s not good enough, Cerise! Seriously, don’t you see how crazy you’re being?”
She gritted her teeth. “Well I guess I’m just fucking crazy then. And I guess I’m just a prude.”
“Please don’t get all melodramatic, Cerise. Can we please just be normal for two seconds?”
“Screw you, don’t tell me how to be.”
“And don’t tell me who I can be friends with!”
She closed her eyes and for a moment she looked completely exhausted, like the energy of having this conversation was too much to bear. She looked at him, no longer angry, just tired. Like this relationship wasn’t worth the effort. Terry just knew she was going to break up with him again.
“Well you won’t have to worry about that anymore, ‘cause yeah, just forget it. Forget everything. Forget us. Bye, Terry. Have a nice fucking life.”
He let her climb the stairs, unwilling to go through this bullshit again. But a moment later he sucked it up and ran after her. He caught up to her on the driveway of his house.
“Really, Cerise? You’re breaking up with me again?!”
“Well how ‘bout we make it for good this time?” she said, still seemingly exhausted.
He wanted to yell and scream and seriously punch something. It took all his effort to keep himself from blowing up. “Please don’t do this!” he pleaded, hating himself for begging her. Hating himself for actually considering her ultimatum.
“Are you gonna stop seeing Andrew?” she asked.
His rage was renewed. “No!”
“Then I’m doing this.”
He let her walk away. He was tired too. That girl seriously took way too much energy to deal with. She was completely fucking insane. When he got back to his room he slammed the door behind him and then punched the nearest wall. His fist went right through the drywall, making a massive, fist shaped hole. Ok, so that just happened.
Shauna was beginning to strongly suspect she didn’t like Stan anymore. The more she thought about it the more it seemed he was a complete and total loser. True, living here was still better than living at home but surely there was a third alternative that was even better than shacking up with a horny asshole, shithead fucknut. Like living alone for instance. Of course to do that she’d need to make money and to do that she’d need to get a job and she had no idea how to go about doing that and had even less motivation to learn.
She’d never mentioned the Bill incident. The afternoon she’d woken up to find him staring at her. She wasn’t even sure it had really happened. Maybe she’d imagined it. Maybe she was going totally insane. Well, if she was it was Stan’s fault. Living with him was totally stressful, almost as bad as living at home.
When Stan asked if she wanted to go out to
Clyde’s or something she declined, not so much because she didn’t want to go but because she didn’t want to go with him. She braced herself for the inevitable rant and sure enough he went on and on about what a shitty girlfriend she was and how she was a mooch and how he wished she would get her shit together.
He stared at her. “Don’t you even have anything to say?”
She shrugged in response.
“Say something!” he demanded.
“You’re right, I’m a mooch,” she confirmed.
“Fuck! Why do I even let you live here?”
“I dunno, why do you?” she asked defiantly.
He sat down next to her on the couch and took her hands in his. “Because I love you, Shauna. God knows why, but I do. Fuck, I wish I didn’t. You’re so fucking useless. And you’re ugly and you’re not even a good lay. You just lie there. No matter what’s happening you just lie there. You know no one in the world will ever love you. You know that, right?”
She nodded. It was true.
“You’re lucky to have me,” he went on. “No one else will take care of you like I do. You have absolutely nothing going for you but I love you anyway. I just want you to be happy. You know that, right?” He stroked her cheek and smiled.
She nodded. It was true.
“So come on then,” he said, getting up and walking towards the door. Let’s go out.”
She thought about how if he just stood a little to the left and were to suddenly fall over, he’d impale himself on that stupid pointy sculpture thing she’d picked up at a dollar store. She’d wait until he’d bled to death before calling 911.
“Come on!” he insisted and she got up off the couch.
It was clear that Terry was beyond angry. He hadn’t even texted first; he’d just shown up unannounced and if he’d appeared two minutes later she’d have been in bed already. It was sort of inconsiderate of him to barge in like that but Karine realized he needed her so she let it slide.
“So what’s up your butt?”
“Don’t make jokes right now, I’m totally pissed,” he growled, sitting down and then thinking better of it and standing up again, going to the kitchen, opening the fridge and then slamming it shut, causing the whole room to shake.
“Watch it, loser!” she snapped, opening the fridge to make sure nothing inside had shattered.
“Sorry, fuck,” he grumbled.
“So what happened? Cherry break up with you again?”
He stared at her in disbelief.
“I was kidding!” she insisted.
“Well you’re right,” he sulked.
“Ok,” she said sympathetically, sitting on a kitchen chair. “What happened this time?”
He sat down too and said he had no idea what had happened. It was completely messed and she was being completely retarded and unreasonable and the whole thing got away from it and it was totally whacked out to hell.
“Ok,” she prodded.
“She’s all trying to dictate how I live my life, all like not wanting me to smoke and shit…”
“What do you expect? She’s all little miss perfect no drugs.”
“Well she’s just worried about my health, and hers. Like there’s a thing called third-hand smoke now apparently. But that’s not even it. She’s all like trying to dictate who I can be friends with!”
“But then I totally fucked up, Karine,” he whined.
Terry’s attractiveness quotient dropped about a billion percent whenever he whined about his stupid Cherry angel.
“I called her a prude,” he said sheepishly.
Karine snickered and he glared at her.
“It’s not funny! She went ballistic!”
“Well she is a prude.”
“No she isn’t! You don’t even fucking know how she is. I just, fuck, I don’t even remember why I said it. But I knew instantly it was the wrong thing to say. I mean she’s way sensitive about that, about all that sex shit, like her inexperience or whatever. It’s like a total sore spot and I shouldn’t have pushed it.”
“Yeah, I guess that is kind of mean,” she conceded.
“Well she said mean stuff too!” he huffed. “And she was really being completely unreasonable! This wasn’t my fault!”
“I never said it was! I’m on your side here. I mean Cerise has always been a nut job.”
“No she hasn’t! She just has a temper and I know that and I pushed her anyways. Fuck!”
“So what? It’s her own fault for losing her temper.”
“But that’s one of the things I like about her! I like how intense she is. How she takes shit so seriously. Even though it’s fucking annoying. But still, I shouldn’t have gotten mad. It never goes well.”
“Oh what, so she can get mad but you can’t? That’s total bullshit.”
“You don’t even know anything about it!”
“Well fuck, don’t jump down my throat!” Karine scoffed.
“Sorry.” He slumped in his seat and ran his hands through his glorious hair.
“So what are you gonna do?”
“I’m not gonna fucking do anything! She’s the one who was being all out of it! The ball’s in her court!”
“Ok,” Karine nodded.
“What do you think I should do?” he asked.
“Fuck, Terry, I dunno. I’m not even gonna say anything. If I say you were wrong you’ll say she was being completely unreasonable and if I side with you, you’ll go fucking nuts defending her!”
“I’m not defending her. She was totally wrong this time.”
“Ok well then, don’t do anything. Wait for her to come to you.”
“But what if she doesn’t?”
“Then get over it and move on?” She said it like a question because she knew it was wishful thinking.
“Karine!” he predictably whined.
“Well what? She’s been nothing but a thorn in our side ever since you met her. Just get over it.”
Terry folded his arms onto the kitchen table and dropped his head onto them. She rubbed his back soothingly and wondered how long this latest break-up would last.
“You look like you need a plug-in,” said Jay as Cerise joined him in his basement.
She didn’t even say anything. Just sat next to him and started crying, like actual tears, of like sadness or whatever. It was totally weird and awkward and Jay had no idea what to do.
“Uh, there, there?” he said, patting her shoulder.
“I broke up with Terry,” she sobbed.
God finally. Jay wondered how long this supposed break-up would last.
She stared at him and wiped her eyes. He had no idea what to say. About a kazillion years of awkward staring ensued and then she finally sighed and got up and left without another word.
“Ok, well, uh bye,” he called after her.
God, chicks and their emotions. Crazy cakes. Hopefully Cerise would be normal again the next day ‘cause Jay didn’t know if he could handle any more craziness.