It was like a flashback to high school. Everyone running around the dressing room frantically, super excited about the dress rehearsal. But Cerise wasn’t feeling it this time around. For one thing the play they were doing was totally lame but mostly she was sad about Terry. He would probably still come to the play because of Karine but he wouldn’t be there for her. He wouldn’t give her flowers and there would be no congratulatory kiss or hug or cuddle. She was alone and it sucked.
But she had her friends. Cassie was excited enough for both of them and she squealed and giggled as she tried to put on her French revolutionary costume and ended up putting it on backwards. Cerise laughed and helped her put it on correctly. Cassie would be Jenny this evening but this afternoon it was Cerise’s cast and her costume was a simple blouse with a greenish vest, brown culottes and a jaunty grey cap.
As she disrobed and put on the costume she was faintly aware of eyes on her. She looked up and from the boys’ side of the room Tom turned red and quickly looked away. Had he been watching her? Did she care? Whatever, everyone could watch anyone get undressed in here. It was like last year; at first you feel weird with everyone watching but then you get used to it surprisingly quickly. Still, just to make a point, Cerise kept her eyes on Tom. He looked up at her a few times but then always looked away. She watched as he sheepishly got undressed and put on his background player costume. His body was kind of flabby, more so than she would have guessed. In clothes he always looked normal, not fit exactly but standard. It wouldn’t kill him to hit the gym.
Finally she turned to the mirror and saw herself in the ridiculous Jenny costume. If she was dressed as a boy why had they changed Jerry to Jenny? Why not just leave the character as a boy? Maybe she’d been cast simply because she had shortish hair and barely there breasts. With the newsies cap on she seriously looked about ten-years-old.
And there was Karine, flouncing by in a beautiful pink dress, her hair a cascade of curls under a white bonnet tied with a bow. Déja-freakin’-vu.
Cerise sauntered out to the green room with everyone else, and waited for her cue.
“Wow, our costume really sucks,” said Cassie, looking at Cerise’s outfit. “And it’ll look even dumber on me.”
Cerise wanted to protest but everything Cassie had said was true. Cassie was so short and skinny that she would swim in the costume. She’d look even more like a little boy playing dress-up than Cerise did. They laughed about it, mocking each other for being such ugly boys and Tom interrupted by assuring Cerise she could never be ugly.
Even Cerise, as clueless as she was about boys had to admit that Tom was into her. Could she be into him?
“So you get Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. And I get Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday Matinee,” said Cassie, reading from the play schedule, kindly ignoring Tom’s attempts to flirt with Cerise.
“I’m glad I don’t have the matinee,” responded Cerise, also ignoring Tom for now. “I hear the kids throw pennies and shit.”
“I know. But you’ll be in the crowd scene so you won’t be spared.”
The stage manager, a boy Cerise had never bothered to get to know, came in and called for the cast C opening scene crowd to take their places. Cassie jumped up excitedly and Cerise advised her to break a leg.
The green room was nowhere near empty but it was now less suffocating. Still, Tom chose to move closer to Cerise rather than further away.
“You going to the cast party?” he asked nonchalantly.
“I guess so, who’s having it?”
Really? How did Tom know this but Cerise didn’t? She supposed it was her own fault for being so out of it lately. “That’s typical. She was notorious for throwing parties in high school.”
“Yeah, they were legend. As far as I remember they kinda sucked though. Although I only ever went to one.”
“So you’re gonna go?”
“Isn’t everyone going?”
“Well you want a lift? ‘Cause I’m gonna drive so… yeah.”
“Yeah sure,” said Cerise, even though she didn’t really need a lift. It would be a simple thing to hop on the 211 since it went right by Karine’s house. But maybe she should give Tom a chance. He was certainly a sweet guy and there was nothing egregiously wrong with him. And it’s not like she had any other options at this point.
Was it Jay’s imagination or was Cavity wearing like, a shit load of makeup? She bounded up to them in Hochelaga super excitedly, and they all sort of recoiled at the sight of her looking like a harlequin whore. They being Jay, Vani, Willy and Lee. Karl was notably absent and had been all day.
“We just did a dress rehearsal, that’s why my face is all spackled. We’re doing another dress tonight so I haven’t bothered cleaning it off yet, although I’m being Jenny tonight, which is totally Jerry, who’s like, totally a boy so I could probably stand to tone down the rouge a bit but whatevs, so what are you guys doing on Friday? I have a performance in the evening but then I’m free and you guys always game all night, right?”
They all stared at her for a second, absorbing her speech. She still wanted to game with them even though she’d broken up with Jojo?
“You still wanna game even though you kicked Jojo to the curb?” asked Vani.
“I didn’t game with you guys ‘cause of Jonah,” she said, seemingly offended by the notion.
“I dunno, Cavity,” Lee sucked in air between his teeth. “You may be too tolerable without Jojo around. My understanding is that the game is all about pain and suffering.”
“Why do you guys call me Cavity?”
“’Cause you’re so sweet, duh,” said Lee, with what was probably a smile, though on Lee it might also count as a grimace.
“Oh well I guess it’s a compliment then.”
“Naturally. I can’t imagine anyone having any reason to insult you,” Lee went on.
Cavity smiled and giggled and they all sort of turned to Lee. Was he trying to mack on her? Well he certainly wasted no fucking time! What the hell? If Cavity was gonna start going out with one of them it should be Jay! ‘Cause Jay was, well, just ‘cause! He was more entitled to a girlfriend than Lee! Lee was just a newcomer! A hanger-oner! Jay was here for keeps. Jay was… well, Cavity was perhaps more suited to Vani because they were both oompa-lumpas but really, Lee? Not Lee. Surely not Lee.
Cavity giggled some more and then flitted off again and Willy made some fart noises while half-heartedly trying to mock Lee’s flirtation efforts but they all knew Lee had game. Somehow, inexplicably, even though he was a completely obnoxious shit-head he’d won over Cavity and Willy was just jealous. Jay could at least take comfort in the fact that as piss poor as his own love life was Willy’s would always be non-existent.
And so would Jojo’s now that Cavity had come to her senses. He joined them all later that afternoon even though they weren’t in their usual hang-out place. Karl was still mysteriously absent so Jay, Vani and Willy tried a few likely spots but he was nowhere to be found. Jojo on the other hand had somehow managed to sniff them out and almost immediately asked them what they were up to on Friday.
They all stammered and spoke over each other, insisting they had nothing planned and certainly weren’t going to be gaming. At this point it was maybe even true since Karl seemed to have been sucked into a black hole or something.
“You guys aren’t going to be gaming?” asked Jojo, slow to catch on as ever.
“Nope,” insisted Jay.
“Noooo,” mooed Vani.
“No,” growled Willy.
“No?” asked Jojo.
“No,” insisted Willy.
“Oh. Well wanna do something else?”
“No!” hollered Willy with such finality Jay didn’t feel it was necessary to chime in. Sometimes Willy was good to have around even if he did stink up the joint.
“Well ‘cause you guys could come to my house if you wanted. We could watch movies and stuff you guys. I have lots of DVDs you guys!”
“No thanks,” said Vani with a pained smile.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, we’re sure.”
“Ok well what are you guys doing now?”
“Uh, we have class,” said Jay as Vani simultaneously announced they had a study group.
“Take a hint, Jojo! We don’t like you anymore now that Cavity ripped out your heart and pissed in the… well, in the cavity left behind. Fuck, I think that’s the single most clever thing I’ve ever said.”
“It’s true, you’ll never top that,” agreed Vani.
It was true. Willy had managed to be both witty and cruel all at once and it was a thing of beauty. Jojo was on the verge of tears and ran off in a hurry. It was a glorious and terrible thing to witness. If only Karl had been there to enjoy it.
Finally, finally they were able to locate him. He was in the library of all places, reading a book or some such.
“Karl! Jojo just tried to join us for Friday,” announced Vani and Willy practically tripped over himself trying to recreate his takedown.
“I told him he had a cavity in his heart, no I mean I said Cavity pissed in his heart. Fuck, no, it was awesome, it was awesome. I said the best thing. I said Cavity had his heart and pissed in it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Willy pissed on Jojo and then said he had a cavity. It was pretty weaksauce actually,” explained Jay.
“Shut up! It was awesome! Vani, tell Karl what I said!”
“Something about piss. It doesn’t matter. Cavity’s gonna come on Friday.”
“Come to what?” asked Karl, seemingly bored. Or maybe angry. It was hard to tell.
“Oh. I don’t wanna game on Friday,” said Karl, still angry/bored.
“I don’t feel like it.”
“Well it’s not really up to you, is it?” asked Vani with authority.
Karl sighed and closed his eyes briefly. Did he have a headache or something?
“What is your major malfunction?” asked Jay.
“Nothing. I just have exams coming up.”
“So we’re gaming then,” said Vani.
“Yeah, yeah,” nodded Karl, defeated.
“No seriously, it was really awesome. I said Cavity ripped out his heart and stomped on it, I mean pissed on it, I mean, fuck, what was it? It was really good.”
“Willy, would you shut up?” Jay demanded. “You made some non-sequitur about bonobo monkeys and we all stared at you wondering when the nice people from the institution would be back to collect you and take you home. Would you settle down now?”
Willy sighed and stomped his foot. What a moron.
Shauna spent a lot of time in the washroom. Even if she wasn’t taking a bath sometimes she’d just hang out in there and smoke and absent-mindedly scratch at her legs. Eventually Stan would need to pee or something and he’d pound on the door, yelling at her to get out. Sometimes she’d take her time and finish smoking her cigarette, delaying the inevitable. But other times he’d be really pissed so she’d get out and slink by him as he went off on one of his tirades. Often she would go to bed once he started yelling. His rants always made her so tired.
He hadn’t expected her to come, but still, when Terry skated out onto the ice he looked up to the stands at Cerise’s usual spot. Karine was there and so was Sarah but no Cerise. He hadn’t thought she would be but still, he thought maybe. Weren’t they at least going to stay friends?
She wished she had gone. They could at least remain friends. If a junior hockey game were the sort of thing to be televised Cerise would have watched it at home, though perhaps that was some sort of self-flagellation. It was best to have a complete break from Terry. Although she really wanted them to at least stay friends. She definitely should have gone to the game.
Tonight Shauna didn’t want to go to bed. Usually she had no trouble sleeping when she was this bored but she needed a change of pace so she sat in the front of the TV. Stan was taking a dump or something so he’d be a while. She changed the channel and settled on
’s Next Top Model. That show was hilarious but all the girls were too skinny. They were kind of gross. America
Stan came out and sat next to her, putting his arm around her like they were pals. He took the remote out of her hand and changed it back to whatever dumb sports show he was watching. She should have gone to bed.
He kissed her and stroked her, although the way he did it was more like vigorous rubbing, like he was trying to sand a deck. “How’s my little ugly duckling?” he asked. She hated this nickname. “Pretty, pretty hair,” he murmured. She should cut her hair. He pulled off her clothes as she watched the TV, wondering who was being eliminated on ANTM.
“Fuck, Shauna! Again?”
She looked down to see what he was talking about. Her bare legs, scarred and bloody were exposed, raw. She shrugged.
“Why do you do this?” He seemed about to touch her legs but thought better of it and recoiled.
It hadn’t been her original intent but his disgust was a welcome reaction to her mutilation.
“You look like you got mauled by a fucking tiger or something!”
“Leave me alone,” she said, reaching for her sweat pants.
He swatted her hands and grabbed them, inspecting her fingernails. “Why do you do it?”
“I was itchy!”
“When you’re itchy you scratch, you don’t fucking rip your own skin off! This is gross!” He sighed and pushed her away, ordering her to put her pants back on. “Go down on me,” he said, grabbing her head and pushing her down.
“Fuck off!” she said, pushing his hand away.
“Fine!” he yelled, reaching over to his laptop and opening it. “I’ll do it myself!”
He was going to surf porn. You’d think this would allow Shauna to use the TV but no, he never let her watch what she wanted, even when he was otherwise occupied. No wonder she preferred to spend her time in the bathroom.
She got up to go but seeing him jerk off was too much for her today. She snapped and yelled. “I hate you!”
She expected him to yell back but the rage in his eyes was indescribable. She ran immediately but couldn’t decide if she would hide in the bedroom or the bathroom. Her indecision was her downfall as he caught her in no time and pulled her back to the couch. She struggled but he held her down, telling her to shut up as she screamed for him to let her go.
“What the fuck did you say to me, you bitch!”
“I hate you,” she whimpered, already losing her resolve.
“God, Shauna, fuck you! He let her go and looked at her, his face registering only sadness and defeat. “I love you, Shauna! And this is how you treat me? I let you stay in my fucking place for free and this is what I get? You never wanna have sex and whenever we do you go hide in the bathroom and fucking mutilate your legs to hell! What the fuck is wrong with you?”
“Nothing,” she shrugged, trying to tune out. A moment later she was crying.
“There is something seriously wrong with you, Shauna. Seriously fucking wrong.”
I know, she thought. “No there isn’t,” she said.
“There really is, Shauna. You need like, fucking therapy or some shit.”
He gently touched her hair but she recoiled at his touch.
He looked greatly offended. “Why are you scared of me? How come I can never touch you? Have I ever hurt you? I would never fucking hurt you, Shauna. There is really something wrong with you. I really think you need to get help. Like, really.”
She wiped away her tears and he swooped her up into his arms, placing her in his lap, cradling her like an infant. He kept repeating how much he loved her and how much she needed to get help.
It was true, she supposed. She was fucked-up. Stan really did love her and all she could do was fuck herself up. All she could do was fuck up their relationship. She was seriously the biggest fuck-up in the world. Obviously she needed to get moving on that plan of hers, the one to off herself in the bathtub. No time to waste anymore. Stan was growing impatient with her and soon enough he’d kick her out if she didn’t become normal. No time to lose now. But maybe she’d just wait until the end of the current ANTM season. Then for sure she’d get her act together.