Cerise walked downstairs with Karine, or rather behind Karine, as though she could provide some kind of protection from the stares of others. But as usual, once they joined the rest of the party no one even seemed to notice her. Most of the people at this party didn’t even know who she was and those who did probably didn’t give a shit what she was up to.
But as soon as she joined Janice and Cassie she was accused of being a giant ho-bag. It was said in jest but still.
“Good thing no one uses that room, Cerise, ‘cause like, eww,” Karine scolded her mockingly.
They all laughed for a while and then Janice asked for details, supposing Tom was probably pretty good in the sac because it’s always those you least suspect. Cerise eyed Karine and they both burst into laughter. She knew it was mean but she admitted that Tom had been somewhat lacking in both skills and equipment. Janice pretty much lost her shit and proceeded to recount an amusing tale of a terrible experience she’d nearly had but had salvaged by being completely awesome and whatnot. She assured Cerise that Tom could learn if Cerise had the patience to teach him a few things.
“Um, Cerise?” asked Tom, sheepishly joining the group.
Janice shrieked and demanded that Tom not sneak up on her when she was talking about him behind his back.
“Maybe I should put a bell around my neck,” he laughed weakly. “Cerise, can I like uh, talk to you?”
Cerise nodded and they walked off together. God, it was so awkward. Cerise wanted the floor to swallow her up. There was nothing in the world she wanted less than to talk with Tom but what could she do? He asked her if she was ok and he seemed so sad, so hurt, so possibly aware of what Cerise had said about him. Had he overheard everything? How loudly had Janice been talking when she’d given her advice?
She tried to look him in the eye as she assured him she was fine.
“So like, um, like well fuck ok, like I mean, not fuck. I mean, fuck! I mean, was it like, the worst thing ever?”
Cerise opened her mouth to respond but couldn’t come up with a lie. She stared at him, mouth agape while he tried not to cry.
“Ok, so it was bad. I mean, I know I was bad. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I admit that. And I’m sorry. I but I mean, I can learn. I’m sorry if… I’m sorry if you didn’t like it.”
“No, it was fine,” she tried to smile.
He looked at her with a pained expression, like the lie was the worst part of the whole experience.
“It’s just that I’d never done that before,” she explained. “I was nervous and kind of out of it. I didn’t know what I was doing either. I mean, I was bad too, right? Like you didn’t seem to be enjoying it any more than me.”
Tom’s jaw dropped and his eyes bugged out. “No! It was awesome! I mean, I know it wasn’t great. I know I didn’t do much. But I, I mean. It was what I always wanted. Or what I’ve wanted since I met you.”
Cerise raised an eyebrow.
“I mean not that that’s all I want from you. I mean, I want us to be a couple, you know? I mean I was nervous so like, I think that’s why I sucked. I bet I could learn to be better. I mean that’s what Janice said, right? I mean there’s the internet and they probably have like classes and workshops and stuff…” he trailed off and then laughed at himself and Cerise couldn’t help but laugh along with him.
“Well practice makes perfect, right?” she giggled, not realizing what she was implying until it was too late.
“Right!” he enthused happily. “So we’re good then? We’re still going out?”
Cerise nodded and forced a smile.
“Ok good, that’s a relief,” he smiled goofily.
“Ok well, I’ve gotta go now. I mean, I’ve gotta go join the girls. ‘Cause um, that’s what girls do after they do stuff… with their boyfriends.”
“Boyfriend,” he grinned. “I like that.”
“Ok so see ya,” she took a step back. “Wait. You’re not gonna go all bragging to your friends are you?”
“Tom! I don’t want people all thinking I’m like a ho or whatever.”
“I can’t even tell my friends I lost my virginity? Can I tell them we’re going out?”
Cerise realized she was being a total bitch and gave him permission to tell whoever he liked whatever he liked, but she walked away with a knot in her stomach all the same.
“Your first lovers quarrel?” smirked Janice as she rejoined her friends.
“No,” Cerise sighed.
“So what’s wrong then?” asked Cassie.
“He thinks we’re going out.”
“Well aren’t you?!”
“I guess so,” shrugged Cerise.
“Oh, but in your mind it was just a booty call,” nodded Janice knowingly. “A one-night stand, cherry style!” She thrust her hips forward and then started grinding up against Cerise. “Where da cherries? Where da cherries be at?”
They all laughed and then Cerise insisted she wasn’t a one-night stand type of girl.
“But I am?” hollered Janice. “Fuck you, bitch!”
“Stay focused, people,” Karine rolled her eyes. “Cerise, if you don’t wanna go out with him you don’t have to but like, I think you guys could be good together.”
“I think so too,” nodded Cassie.
They went back and forth in that way for a while, Cerise unable to decide if she liked Tom enough to date him and then remembering that she’d already agreed to do so and realizing she’d be even more of a bitch now if she broke up with him two seconds after agreeing to go out with him. Not to mention that breaking up with him meant she was a one-night stand type of girl, which Janice definitely was and needed to find someone to fuck ASAP otherwise she’d be a total loser.
Cerise finally declared she wanted to go home but then realized she had no way to leave because Tom was her ride.
All the girls laughed in her face, none of them acknowledging the seriousness of her dilemma. Even Cerise had to admit that having a boy be into her was a pretty paltry problem to have. She decided that she’d give Tom a chance. Just because tonight had been depressing didn’t mean it would always be that way. She’d give him a chance and maybe he’d grow on her.
“You make him sound like a fungus,” Janice snickered.
“No, I really do like him,” Cerise assured them all.
“But he’s no Terry, right?” Cassie asked.
“Once you go Terry you never go berry,” Janice jived. “Heehee! I made a funny. See ‘cause like, you’re Cherry the Raspberry and so like, Terry can never be you… ok so it doesn’t actually make sense but I am suddenly craving cocoa mini-wheats in a really serious way.”
They went to the kitchen for snacks and not for the first time, Cerise was grateful to have girlfriends with whom she could discuss her love life, now that she actually had a love life complicated enough to warrant discussing.
He was seriously a majorly douchtastic douche of total douchitude. Terry couldn’t stand himself at this moment. Whey the hell had he slept with that girl tonight? He hadn’t even been particularly attracted to her. Sure, she was hot but apparently that wasn’t enough anymore. They say you’ll never wish you had less sex on your death bed but if this little indiscretion cost him his relationship with Cerise then it was something to be regretted.
As if to highlight what an insanely temperamental douche he was, the poster on his wall that he’d tacked up to hide the hole his fist had made when Cerise broke up with him drooped down and after hanging there for a second, fell to the floor. He sighed and got up, walking upstairs and then to the garage to look for something with which to better disguise the hole. He didn’t really know anything about home repair but maybe some calk could fill the hole? Or maybe some insulation or something? And then he could paint over it? Or something?
He rifled through some junk but quickly realized there wasn’t much to rifle through. His dad was pretty organized and what he lacked in OCD, Vicky more than made up for. Everything was in its place and it didn’t seem as though they had any old paint or anything that might be particularly useful. Vicky and John had always been the types to throw away anything once they were done with it. What he really needed to do was search through his mother’s garage. If Vicky was OCD then Louise was a hoarder. She kept everything, regardless of how useful it could possibly be in the future.
But what was this? As Terry perused the neatly stacked shelves he found a box labelled “miscellaneous” in John’s handwriting rather than Vicky’s which was kind of odd because usually Vicky would reorganize anything John did because she was just that nuts.
Terry grabbed the box and went through it just out of curiosity. It was mostly boring stuff from the olden days, like an expos baseball cap, which was actually kind of retro and cool now. Terry almost considered claiming it except he wasn’t a baseball cap kind of guy unless he was working and needed some sun protection. Weren’t baseball caps kind of douchey otherwise? Like in a frat boy kind of way? Terry put the cap aside, figuring he’d make a final decision on it at a later date, maybe getting Cerise’s, no, Karine’s advice on the matter.
There were other nostalgic things like ticket stubs for concerts and sports events and a couple birthday cards and just random shit. But at the bottom on the box was another box; a shoe box. Terry opened it and found it full of photographs. That was weird. Usually Vicky was pretty obsessive about photos. Terry had seen her organize entire photo albums of pics from the pre-digital age and she even liked to print up digi pics and scrapbook them.
Terry casually went through the photos and gradually realized with a growing degree of nausea why they were hidden in a box in the garage and not out for display.