It was always comforting to contemplate suicide. Shauna liked imagining the different ways in which she could do it. Maybe something dramatic like jumping off the overpass. If the fall didn’t kill her then the cars running over her would. But that might be too painful. And too much trouble to go all the way to the overpass. Better just to swallow a bunch of pills. But that was such a pussy way to go. Besides, she didn’t exactly have access to any pills so slitting her wrists was the only option. It would hurt but maybe in a good way. She could do it in the tub while Stan was at work so when he came home she’d be dead in a pool of blood stained water. That would be totally awesome.
She was taken by surprise when Stan came home. Was it that time of night already? Shauna must have lost track of time. She was watching one of those shows about making big cakes. Stan popped a DVD into the machine and took the cigarette out of Shauna’s mouth, finishing it off himself. What an asshole. A second later there was a knock at the door and Bill came in. Stan declared him to be just in time and the movie started.
Seriously? They were gonna watch a porno? Wasn’t that completely gay? For a guy to watch porn with another guy? Was her presence meant to make it less gay? Shauna hated Stan’s porn. It was always so full of dicks. Shauna had no interest in watching dicks waving around all over the place. It was so gross.
After a while she got up and went to the bedroom. Was it her imagination or did Bill watch her walk away? She crawled into bed and put a pillow over her ears to block out the sounds of porn stars moaning. They were only on the second floor so jumping out the window probably wouldn’t kill her. Tomorrow then. She would wait until she was alone and enact her bathtub suicide plan. It’s not like she had anything better to do.
Cerise knew she couldn’t avoid everyone forever so she finally went back to eating at the Munch Box. The boys were there along with Sarah and that Lee guy. Much to Cerise’s surprise and relief no one gave her a hard time. It also worked out quite nicely that as soon as Cassie arrived she announced she’d broken up with Jojo, thus deflecting attention away from Cerise.
“Yes!” exclaimed Willy upon hearing the news.
Everyone looked at him quizzically.
“I mean… aw screw it, I mean yes. Good riddance to bad rubbish.”
Cassie looked like she wasn’t quite sure how to react to that. After a while of awkward eating in which Lee talked about bio weapons, Jonah came along and Cassie immediately got up. The look between them was excruciating and Cerise fought back tears. She wondered if Terry was feeling as badly as Jojo looked.
Cassie walked away and Jojo sat down in her seat, looking like a wounded puppy.
“Did we just lose Cavity?” asked Vani in shock.
“For you?” screeched Willy, looking at Jonah accusingly.
“I like Cavity,” pouted Jay.
“Me too,” nodded Karl, confirming that she was good at the game.
“Yeah, she rocked. She was all, you sunk my battleship fother-mucker! Pew, pew, pew, pew!” Jay shot an imaginary gun at Jojo.
“Yeah, you suck, Jojo!” Willy growled.
Cerise couldn’t believe the guys were being such assholes. It wasn’t unprecedented behaviour; in fact it was pretty standard. But still, you’d have thought they’d have matured a bit since high school. Sarah was obviously just as appalled as Cerise because she totally blew up, angrily asking the boys if they were seriously going to be such assholes.
“It is our way,” snickered Karl, though he spoke with less confidence than usual.
“Fuck your way!” Sarah hollered, pushing the remains of her food aside and standing up and stomping away.
“Whoa, someone’s on the rag,” laughed Willy.
Cerise didn’t even bother saying anything when she left. There didn’t seem to be any point.
At first she was going to follow Sarah but then she found herself in the green room. There were a few kids there including Cassie.
“Hey, are you ok?” she asked, sitting next to her on one of the benches against the wall. Was it her imagination or were these benches getting increasingly uncomfortable over time? It was like the cushioning kept getting depleted. Or maybe she was such a horrible person she just felt uncomfortable no matter where she was.
“Yeah, I’m ok. Did Jonah say anything after I left?” asked Cassie.
“No, but the guys were total assholes to him. So both Sarah and I took off.”
Cassie sighed deeply. “All guys are assholes, aren’t they?”
“Is that why you broke up with Jojo? I mean Jonah?”
Cassie sighed again, even more deeply. “No. I’m the asshole in this break-up. He never did anything wrong. I was just bored is all.”
Cerise nodded. She could sort of relate, about being the asshole, if not about being bored.
“Hey wow, who died?” asked Tom as he joined them.
“I broke up with my boyfriend,” explained Cassie.
“Oh,” said Tom awkwardly, sitting on a chair across from them. He took out a pack of gummy candy and offered them both the open bag.
They both reached in and chewed on the gummies.
“Another?” Tom offered, handing Cerise the bag.
She took a candy and passed the bag to Cassie. Cassie took a candy and gave the bag back to Tom, who gave it back to Cerise a second later, insisting she keep it. He even pulled a pack of caramels out of his pocket and tried to give those to her too, but she declined even though she really liked caramels. It was just getting a little weird.
Cassie and Cerise gave one another a look and then left the green room together, mumbling something about going to the bathroom. Instead they walked towards Hochelaga while Cassie declared Tom to be pretty blatant in his efforts to woo Cerise.
“You think he’s into me?”
“Well I’m not the one with the gummy bears am I?”
Cerise sighed and shrugged. Soon enough they were at Sarah’s locker, where she stood staring into her backpack.
“Hey, you ok?” asked Cerise, offering Sarah a gummy.
Sarah looked up and asked them the same question as she pulled a couple bears out of the candy bag. Both Cassie and Cerise shrugged noncommittally.
“So do you think I should break up with Karl?”
“Well, it seems like the break-up season, right?”
“You’re gonna break up with Karl just because it’s all the rage?” asked Cerise, allowing herself to be amused by the idea.
“Well no obviously,” said Sarah. “It’s just that… I dunno. Sometimes it’s almost like we’re too similar. It’s like we compete at everything, you know? I don’t wanna have to compete with my own boyfriend.”
“Compete how?” asked Cassie.
“Well like with school. It’s always who can get the higher grade you know? A throwback to when we were like, rivals in high school.”
“Yeah, that was annoying,” nodded Cerise.
“But on the other hand it’s like we have nothing in common. I mean, I’m all into doing stuff and he’s all into like, not doing anything. He just hates everything. I mean, he’s so negative about fucking everything! Except like, the game which is like, so lame.”
“Have you ever played it?” asked Cerise, slightly defensive.
“Yeah right! Like he’d let me! Which is so fucking insane, right? I mean you guys play so it’s not like a ban on all girls, it’s just me. What the hell is that about?”
“Karl actually said you can’t play?”
“Well I guess I never really asked, but he should have offered! I mean I’m his girlfriend! Why doesn’t he want to do shit with me? ‘Cause like I’m never invited to do his guy stuff and he never wants to do any of the stuff I like. Like, I’m always all wanting to go places and wanting to try new things and like, join groups but he just nay-says fucking everything!”
“With Jonah it’s the opposite!” Cassie interrupted, suddenly quite irate. “He’s so clingy. It’s like, I couldn’t ever do anything without him being there. Like, I join the activist group so he decides to make a fucking documentary about them! I only joined in the first place so I could have something of my own! And then he like, takes ownership of it.”
Cerise found that sort of sweet, but she kept her opinion to herself as Sarah confirmed it was totally annoying.
“It’s like, why can’t they just find a happy medium?” Sarah asked.
“Terry liked doing stuff with me. But it was cool if I went to hang with the guys without him,” Cerise admitted.
“Well yeah,” Sarah cocked her head. “Terry was like, the perfect boyfriend. I mean no offence Cerise but he totally was.”
“No he wasn’t. He was always trying to get me to do shit I didn’t wanna do.”
“Like what?” asked Cassie with concern.
“Like go to bars.”
“Oh wow, trauma,” said Sarah bitingly. “He wanted to hang out with you in a social situation? What an asshole,” she rolled her eyes.
“Well I don’t like bars ok and he’d like always be hanging out with… with stupid people I don’t like and stuff.”
“Well you have to compromise in a relationship, Cerise,” said Sarah.
“Yeah, it can’t just all be how you want it to be,” added Cassie.
“Yeah, his opinion counts too,” confirmed Sarah.
Cerise sighed. She wasn’t sure what was more annoying. How almost everyone loved Terry so much or how Jay hated him. Why did he inspire such deep feelings in people? Obviously Cerise cared about him deeply but sometimes she felt like she wasn’t quite in on the secret of what was up with Terry Trebichavsky.
Sarah approached Karl tentatively. She would have preferred doing this while they were alone, but she didn’t want to do it in her house. That would just make it worse. And she certainly didn’t want to do it at his house, where his robot sister would no doubt be eavesdropping.
She texted him, asking him to meet her at his locker and then when they were face to face she angrily accused him of letting Cassie play his little game.
“What?” he asked in confusion.
“Your game thing!”
“You mean the game?”
“What about it?”
“So how come everyone in the world gets to join in except me?”
“I’m just sparing you the horror,” he said like it was obvious. “You’d hate it. It’s just a spectacle of debauchery. Vani’s self-involvement coupled with Willy’s body odour.”
“Oh, so I don’t even get to decide for myself? You just decide for me?”
“It’s not your type of thing,” he insisted. “It doesn’t involve community service.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” she asked, gritting her teeth.
“You’re into helping people and I’m into blowing them up.”
“So that means I can’t even hang out with you guys when you play?”
“You can if you want to but trust me, you’d hate it. It’s an experience in pain. I don’t even enjoy it. I just do it ‘cause it’s a tradition. An obligation. But it’s pain. I mean, remember how you couldn’t even sit through Dune? Well the game is like that except the special effects consist of shadow-puppets courtesy of Lee.”
“Yeah, Lee, who you’ve known for about two nano seconds. You invite him to play and now he’s so entrenched in the tradition he gets top billing. But I’ve never been invited once! So I guess that really says it eh? I just don’t fit in to your world.”
“Uh…” he stammered.
“And you obviously don’t fit in mine since you’ve never even tried.”
“So fine, whatever. That’s pretty much why I think this has to end.”
“I think we need to break up.”
“Just because you haven’t seen Willy lose consciousness while Vani plots how to take over the world?” Karl asked incredulously.
“You’re not even getting it.”
“Look, if you wanna game, then game. I really don’t care!”
“No, you really don’t, eh Karl? And that’s the problem. You don’t care. About anything. Least of all me.”
To anyone else Karl would have seemed unfazed but Sarah could detect the nuances in his facial ticks and she knew he was angry and forcing himself not to react. But she wanted him to react. She wanted sadness but even anger was better than nothing, if he’d just express it.
“So you’re not even gonna say anything?” she asked desperately.
“What should I say?”
“Nothing I guess,” she sighed, turning on her heel and walking away.