“Because of your skater shoes.” Terry read the piece of paper wrapped around the cookie and neatly folded it, placing it next to the others on his bedspread.
He stuffed the cookie in his mouth and unwrapped another one. Cerise liked him because he was gorgeous, because of his hair, because he makes her laugh, because of his kindness, because of the way he takes care of his little sister, because of his warm hands, because of his strength, because of his patience, because of his gentleness, because he listens, because he doesn’t mind how crazy she is…
Yeah right. He ate the last cookie and looked at all the notes. Eighteen little notes. Eighteen reasons she liked him. Liked, past tense.
Cerise tried to be normal at home but everyone could tell something was up so she had to tell her family that she’d broken up with Terry. They all wanted to know why, especially Julie, who freaked out so strongly about the prospect of Terry no longer coming around that Cerise’s sadness turned to anger. She was sort of relieved for the switch in emotions and enjoyed telling Julie to get over herself.
It was weird to drive to school without swinging by Cerise’s house first. Terry wondered if he should pick her up anyway but then realized that was totally retarded because Cerise had totally broken up with him for a totally stupid reason and everything totally sucked!
Cerise had to wake up extra early to catch the 211 to school. She was seriously an idiot for breaking up with Terry. Maybe if she secretly murdered Andrew Lester she could get back together with him and everything would be ok.
Well, might as well start smoking again. If Cerise didn’t want to be with him then he had no reason to quit. Might as well just get lung cancer and die.
As soon as Cerise opened her locker she saw a picture of her and Terry stuck to the inside. She would definitely need to come up with an untraceable way to kill Andrew Lester.
“Hey, I thought you quit,” said Nick Morgan as he joined Terry outside of Casgrain and lit up a cigarette of his own.
“Yeah, I did,” Terry shrugged. “I always pick it back up when Cerise breaks up with me,” he said, surprising himself with his honesty.
“She do it a lot?”
“Yep,” he admitted.
“Crazy,” Morgan sighed, but not unkindly. It wasn’t like he was saying Cerise was crazy, it was more like he was saying the situation sucked.
Terry appreciated the distinction. “Yep,” he nodded.
“You ok?” Tom whispered to Cerise in the wings.
She nodded wordlessly.
“You’re quiet today.”
“If you don’t wanna tell me it’s ok.”
She smiled sadly and he smiled back.
At lunch she was sitting on the staircase closest to the theatre, reviewing her art history notes when Tom sat next to her without saying anything. He handed her a poutine and also had one for himself.
“Thanks,” she said, not bothering to protest at the generosity or offer to pay for it or anything. She didn’t have the energy. She just started eating, suddenly realizing that she was indeed quite hungry.
“All your friends are at the Munch Box,” he said casually.
“I don’t wanna see anyone right now.”
“Want me to leave?”
“No, it’s ok. I didn’t mean you.”
“Oh, so I’m not anyone? Gee thanks,” he grinned.
“You know what I meant,” she smiled.
“Yeah I know,” he smiled back, eating his poutine.
Cerise wasn’t at the Munch Box even though everyone else was. Terry almost turned around to go eat in the cafeteria or something but then they’d all see him leaving, which would be even worse than sitting with them without her. He stood in line behind some chick in one of his classes; he couldn’t even remember which one. She turned around and acted pleased to see him and they made small talk about upcoming exams or whatever. She was pretty cute and obviously interested. He could totally hook up with her if he wanted to. It’d been forever since he’d gotten laid. Nothing stopping him now. Might as well go for it. What should he get for lunch today? Usually he shared a club sandwich and a poutine with Cerise but today he’d make it a BLT and fries. He could do whatever he wanted now that he didn’t have that ball and chain tied to him anymore.
“So I’ve been trying to write some new songs for Parisses Squares,” said Tom.
“Yeah?” said Cerise out of politeness more than actual interest.
He nodded and crumpled up the Styrofoam remains of his lunch, then tossed it towards the garbage can and missed by a mile. “Well that was embarrassing,” he sighed, getting up and picking up the trash, carefully placing it in the bin.
“Yeah so it’s not going so good, mostly because I suck. I mean, not just at basketball but at song writing too.”
“You also suck at self-esteem,” she teased.
“Which brings me to you,” he smiled.
“Yeah, I bet you could help with the song writing and the self-esteem, ‘cause if you agreed to write songs with me then I’d feel better about myself, probably.”
“Ok but I don’t think I can help with the basketball skills. I suck pretty bad myself on that front.” To prove her point she gulped the last of her lunch and scrunched up the container, casually tossing it towards the garbage bin. She missed even worse than he did.
“Aww, you just did that to make me look good,” he smiled, getting up and throwing away her trash. “See, you’re already fixing one of my problems.”
“Yeah, I’m awesome,” she nodded with a grin. “You know I do kind of write poetry sometimes, I mean, nothing serious. I never intended to show it to anyone.”
“I’d love to look at it,” he said, seemingly sincere.
“Maybe it could be modified into a song or something,” she shrugged in embarrassment.
She’d honestly never meant for anyone to look at her writing. She had enough self-awareness to know that teenaged poetry was universally bad and would never expect anyone to take her shit seriously. But all the same she jogged over to her nearby locker and found her notebook, which she brought back to Tom. She flipped through the pages until she found the piece that would be least embarrassing to share, or at least something Tom would probably get.
“It’s not about anything in particular,” she mumbled as he read her poem. “Just a bunch of references and stuff.”
He laughed and she winced but it seemed that he was laughing with her rather than at. “This is good! It’s funny.”
“I guess,” she shrugged.
“Do you have a tune in mind for it?”
“No, I don’t know anything about writing music.”
“Me neither but that never stopped me,” he chuckled.
“Well maybe you can figure something out for it. I mean if you want.”
“For sure! Hey, is this part about that temporal causality loop episode of TNG?”
“Yeah,” she smiled, pleased that he’d picked up on that.
“That was a good episode.”
“I can’t believe you totally destroyed all my plans for world domination!” exclaimed Vani.
“I couldn’t let you kill all those poor people!” said Cavity.
“Big loss anyway,” said Jay in between bites of his grilled cheese. “You’ve already conquered a million other worlds.”
It was nice to be sitting at the Munch Box with just the core group. Well, the guys plus Lee and Jojo and Cavity. Terry Trebigorrillasky had been there for a second but he ate his food at the speed of light and then walked off without explanation, which suited Jay just fine. And Cavity was turning out to be a pretty good replacement for Cerise. She’d only been playing like a day but she’d already shown more dedication than Cerise ever did. Now if only they could get rid of Jojo, all would be right with the world.
“Only forty three.” Said Karl.
“Yeah, only forty three and Betazed was an important one!” whined Vani.
“It’s not Betazed,” said Karl.
“You have to watch out for those telepaths!”
“What’s Betazed?” asked Cavity.
“It’s a planet of telepaths in Star Trek,” explained Jojo.
“But I thought we were in the Stargate world,” she said in confusion.
“We are,” sighed Karl. “Vani just calls these telepaths Betazoids because they’re so touchy feely and stupid.”
“Ok, so you know how Vulcans do that mind meld thing?” asked Cavity. “Doesn’t that make them telepaths too?”
“Yeah, it does,” nodded Karl, seemingly impressed.
“So how come no one ever talks about how Vulcans are telepathic? It’s always about the logic but mind melding, I mean that’s pretty cool.”
“Yeah but they don’t mind meld to like share feelings and shit,” insisted Karl. “Their primary export is still logic.”
“Are you talking about Vulcans again?” asked Sarah as she squeezed into their table with a tray holding a sandwich and water bottle. “God, get over it, Karl. You’re not Vulcan.”
“But I can always aspire,” said Karl wistfully while Sarah rolled her eyes.
“So speaking of killing rats,” said Lee. “We watched a cool video in bio today where they were exposing the brains of rats and…”
“That’s horrible!” exclaimed Cavity. “That’s totally animal cruelty!”
“Yeah, isn’t it great?” smirked Lee.
“It’s all about the bunnies,” chuckled Willy.
“People shouldn’t do experiments on defenceless creatures,” Cavity insisted.
“Yeah but they have like these ethical rules,” said Jay, using air quotes. “Where like you can’t experiment on people so animals are really the only option left.”
“I know, it’s so bullshit,” nodded Lee. “If only we could let nature take its course, in no time we’d have Soylent Green, just like everyone secretly wants.”
“It would solve a lot of the world’s problems,” nodded Jay.
“Famine and overpopulation taken care of in one fell swoop,” agreed Lee.
Cavity looked perplexed so Jojo explained what Soylent Green was and she got all huffy and shit. So funny how she took their ramblings so seriously. So cute.
Vani apparently agreed because he affectionately told Cavity that her love for lower life-forms was quaint and endearing. She thanked him, mildly puzzled while Karl insisted her views were misguided.
“In the end it’s all about the war against the machines,” said Jay.
“Oh my god,” said Sarah with genuine irritation. “Is anything not about the fucking war against the machines with you guys?”
“What do you mean?” asked Lee. “Like the war against the zombies? That’s never gonna happen either unless we can finally start experimenting on humans.”
Vani nodded in agreement. “We should gather like a hundred or so babies and put them on an island and just leave them to their own devices. See if they develop language on their own.”
Karl considered this proposition. “You’d have to put in some sort of furry robot to take care of them though. They’ve already proved with monkey experiments that people go nuts without physical nurturing.”
“Aw man, see?” Lee nodded his head. “Furry robots? War against the machines, man, war against the fucking machines. It’s already started and we don’t even know it!”
“So you admit people need nurturing,” Sarah said pointedly to Karl.
“Unfortunately yes,” he nodded. “But if we could only do those blasted experiments we could start working on breeding that out.”
“Genetic engineering. It’s the wave of the future,” said Lee.
They all nodded in agreement. Even Cavity went along with it, giggling all cute like. But Sarah seemed less amused.
“Where’s Cerise?” She looked around. “And where’s Terry?”
The next day Cerise spent her lunch break on the stairs again and again Tom brought her lunch. This time he had Glosette Raisins for desert, which was one of Cerise’s favourites.
“Whoa! I don’t need the whole pack!” she laughed as he poured way too many chocolate covered raisins into her open palm.
He scooped some out of her hand and tossed them into his mouth. “So I’ve been thinking of joining the army,” he said randomly.
“Just kidding,” he grinned.
“What the hell?” she laughed.
“I haven’t really been thinking about anything. I’m trying to write music for your Star Trek poem but usually I collaborate with Jeff. He’s bass and he’s busy at University right now so the band is kind of on the back burner.”
“Yep,” he shrugged.
“I broke up with Terry,” she said suddenly.
“Oh?” he nodded, wide-eyed. “Sorry to hear that.”
She shrugged and munched on the raisins.
“It’s kind of a long story.”
“I’ve got nothing but time. As pathetic as that is.”
“I dunno. Well, I do know. I broke up with him because... it’s gonna sound insane.”
“Well, he has this friend, this guy who’s like... I can’t tell you why he’s bad news because it’s not my place to say but just trust me when I saw he’s really... he’s fucked up. Like criminally. So I kinda like, told Terry if he didn’t stop hanging with this guy I’d break up with him.”
“And he chose the guy? Over you? What an idiot.”
“No, he’s not. I mean, I wouldn’t have accepted an ultimatum like that either. It’s a totally unfair thing to do.”
Tom shrugged as though conceding the point and she went on to say that she’d had no choice because she simply couldn’t associate with someone who would be friends with a guy like that.
“Did you tell Terry what this guy’s problem is?”
“No, that’s the thing. I can’t tell you and I couldn’t tell him either. It’s kind of a secret and it’s not mine to reveal.”
“This is all very Chuck. I mean like, spy stuff.”
“I know it sounds stupid but it’s really serious.”
“I wasn’t making fun,” he assured her.
“Do you watch Chuck? I used to but gave up on it. It can be funny sometimes but the stories are so over the top and ridiculous. Shit, this situation is totally Chuck. It’s just dumb. But I still don’t know what the solution is. I don’t know what to do. Should I get back with him and just accept that fact that he hangs out with a complete fucking- gonna go to hell, assuming hell actually existed, which it doesn’t, so he’ll never even get what he deserves-asshole? Or do I stick to my guns and hope that he’ll eventually realize that this guy’s a wackjob? Or do I tell him the secret which isn’t my place to tell? Keeping in mind that if I told the secret I’d be betraying someone else and breaking a promise.”
“Man that’s like, legitimately intense. One thing’s for sure, Chuck is cancelled, so maybe if you wait long enough things will just sort themselves out. Or not. I dunno. I really don’t know, Cerise.”
It was so nice when people pronounced her name right. So often they would pronounce it like Sahreece, when it should really be Suhreez. She supposed the distinction was subtle but whenever someone got it wrong, it got on her nerves even though she chastised herself for being annoyed by it. Tom said it perfectly and she appreciated that. He was a good listener; he was being a good friend.
“Give it some time. Maybe everything will work out.”
“Maybe,” she agreed.
“You know, there is another option.”
“You could immerse yourself in your work and become a prolific songwriter, and you could team up with a slightly dorky guy who’s a little stuck in the emo sensibility even though that whole thing is on the way out. And you could tour the world as this like, amazing duo a la Captain and Tenille or Roxette.”
She chuckled in response.
“But for real though, if Terry knew why you don’t want him hanging around this psycho guy, do you think he’d agree not to hang with him?”
Cerise considered this. Would Terry stop hanging out with Andrew moLester if he knew he was a rapist? Yes, certainly he would. “Yeah I think he would.”
“Then he has to know what the deal is. Not telling him is unfair ‘cause he’s operating without full knowledge. Ask the person with the secret if you can break your promise. I mean, if you can’t tell Terry why this guy is all out of it then why not ask the secret person to reveal their secret? Know what I mean?”
“Yeah, I’ve thought of that but…” Cerise trailed off. “She’d say I was making this all about me. Which I am. I’m taking it personally and making it my issue when it’s really hers. If she even finds out why I broke up with him, she’ll probably be really pissed. I don’t wanna go back to being her enemy.”
“Damn, it just gets more and more complicated.”
“I guess you think I’m being melodramatic.”
“No, I don’t. It sounds genuinely serious. A for real big deal.”
Cerise sighed heavily. Was it really that big of a deal? Could she try to speak to Karine? She hadn’t really interacted with her since they’d gone to see Christina. She knew she’d have to eventually, but she didn’t want to bring up the Andrew thing with her. It was all so awkward and gross. And if Cerise felt this badly, imagine how badly Karine felt? She was dealing with a real problem, an actual traumatic, life changing experience. Where did Cerise get off trying to make it about her and Terry? She was a shitty friend and a shitty girlfriend and she didn’t even deserve Terry anyway. Everything in the world just totally sucked.