It was such a dick move to tell Terry about Cerise’s extra-curriculars in this way but Karine couldn’t exactly keep him in the dark forever. He had a right to know that Cerise had moved on. Maybe it wasn’t his business that Cerise had gone all the way but maybe it kind of was. He needed to know that his relationship with Cherry angel was over and he should get on with his life.
She patted his back and told him as much, not naming any names but subtly suggesting that he should start dating again. Maybe date someone who would be a good friend to him.
“Yeah, I totally should,” he nodded.
“Yeah?” she asked, trying not to sound too excited.
“Well yeah, I mean fuck, what am I gonna do? Pine over Cerise for the rest of my life? Fuck that!”
“Yeah, you should totally get back out there.”
“Yeah, I know!”
Karine smiled brightly. “Ok so like how ‘bout tonight? How ‘bout we go out? Just us two? We can go to a pub and just hang out like we used to. It’ll be fun.”
“Yeah, ok,” he sighed.
She wasn’t sure if he understood her full meaning. By his reaction he probably just thought it was a friend thing and not a date. So that was fine, no rush, especially considering Peter walked up at that very moment and kissed Karine on the cheek, which reminded her that they’d kind of decided to become a couple. Right.
“So?” asked Stan, totally blocking Shauna’s view of the TV.
Maybe if she kept staring straight ahead he’d eventually get tired and leave. Maybe he’d figure she wasn’t really there, ‘cause she kind of felt that way sometimes, more and more often lately.
“Hello? Shauna! Fuck! Are you there?”
It was a fair question. He sat down next to her, almost on top of her, forcing her to sit up and readjust her blankets.
“Have you thought about what we talked about?”
“What do you mean?” she sighed.
“How we talked about you getting some help?”
She seriously had no idea what he was talking about.
“Shauna, I think you’re like depressed or something. I think you need some serious help. I mean, I wanna help you but I don’t know what to do.”
“You don’t have to do anything.” By this point she’d completely lost track of what was happening in her show, not that she really cared. It was just one of those TLC things about people having babies. Babies were totally stupid; Shauna would never have one.
“Maybe you should talk to your family.”
“No!” she yelled immediately. “I’m never going back there!”
“Are you even gonna like see them for Christmas?”
“You sure? You haven’t talked to them since you moved in.”
“Well it’s kinda weird.”
“I don’t like them.”
“No one likes their family, Shauna. But we still see them at holidays,” he said condescendingly.
Condescending was a word Shauna had learned from Cerise. Back in the day Cerise would often say that she didn’t want to sound condescending but… and then she’d say something that made Shauna feel like an idiot, like the time she’d explained that seahorses were real but unicorns were fake. So condescension was when you were trying to make someone feel dumb without coming right out and saying it. Stan did that kind of thing all the time but in a jerkier way than Cerise used to.
Now Stan was talking about how he wanted Shauna to join him at his parents’ house for Christmas and how his whole family would be there and stuff and Shauna must have looked like she felt ‘cause he got angry at her for not wanting to go even though she didn’t say anything.
“So what the fuck are you gonna do, Shauna? Are you just gonna sit on my fucking couch for the rest of your life? Well, are you?”
She shrugged. It seemed like a pretty good suggestion.
“Are you gonna go back to school?” he said in his condescending voice.
“Then you have to get a job!”
She nodded even though she had no intention of doing anything of the sort. He was right of course; she needed to do something with her life. But right now watching TV seemed to be about the limit of what she could handle.
“It’s one or the fucking other, Shauna! I’m not gonna just support you for the rest of your life! You do shit! You don’t even do anything around here! You’re fucking useless!”
He stood up, towering over her. Maybe if she just pulled the blankets over herself more tightly he’d go away. He lunged at her and pulled the covers away, grabbing her arm and pulling her to her feet. She couldn’t stop the tears from forming and didn’t even care to try. He recoiled slightly and then wrapped her up in his arms, saying crap about how everything would be ok and how he’d take care of her and how she shouldn’t cry. If she were holding a knife at this moment it would be the perfect opportunity to stab him in the gut.
It was the last week of school before exams and Cerise stared wistfully out the window as she walked towards the Munch Box with Tom and Cassie. It was snowing lightly, like the night of her first date with Terry, when they’d played in the park. That was a good night, before things got all weird and she freaked out on him. She was such a spaz. Why did Tom even want to date her? Maybe if she let her true spazzitude show through he’d want to break up. Should she try to be crazier or say some stupid stuff or something?
Tom and Cassie were looking at her expectantly and she snapped to attention. Something about Christmas. Christmas plans? “Oh uh, the usual,” she said.
“Which means what?” Cassie laughed. “We’ve only known you for like a semester.”
“Oh just my sisters and my mom and oh god, her stupid boyfriend. I guess they’re still dating. God, he’s such a skeeve. And apparently he’s bringing his daughter. And from what he’s said a total fruit. Apparently she goes here,” she tossed her head to the side, indicating the surrounding school as she sat down at a table.
“Yeah, family shit always sucks,” nodded Tom, taking the seat next to her.
“My family stuff doesn’t suck,” said Cassie. “But we’re Jewish so we don’t really do Christmas. We do a Hanukkah dinner though and well, yeah I guess it sucks. I mean, it’s always fun ‘cause all my cousins are cool but I do have this one crazy uncle who’s like a total alcoholic and he always manages to ruin the evening at some point. But until then it’s always good.”
“Yeah, there’s one in every family. For me it’s my mother,” said Tom. “I mean she’s not an alcoholic but she’s kind of bi-polar. You never know if it’s gonna be a good Christmas or not. All my extended family, well, they’ve just stopped inviting her to shit. So you know, we all hafta kinda not go. I mean like me and my dad and sisters.”
Wow, this was the first Cerise was hearing about Tom’s home life. Was it completely horrible that she sort of didn’t care? Well, she cared but no more than she did about Cassie’s home life. Was she expected to show some heightened level of emotional support to Tom now that they were a couple? She wasn’t sure she could manage that. Oh god, she might actually be expected to meet his family. She might even have to go to a Christmas dinner of some sort. With his crazy bi-polar mother!
Before Tom could make any such invitation they were joined by Jay, Vani and Willy.
“Morning,” said Vani even though it was past noon.
“You guys look pretty calm for people on the verge of exam week,” said Jay with a touch of bitterness. “I guess you guys don’t really have exams ‘cause you’re fruity theatre people.”
Cerise wanted to disagree but it was true, she only had one exam in art history and she wasn’t worried about it so she went ahead and gloated about her relatively lax exam period.
“Life is so easy for underachievers,” mused Vani.
“You’re a total underachiever, Vani,” Cerise snarked.
“Yeah I know. My life is pretty sweet.”
“Well I have a million exams!” Jay whined.
“Me too,” Willy agreed. “I thought social would be easy but it totally isn’t. I should have done Creative Arts like you losers.”
“Except you’re about the least creative person on the face of the Earth,” snarked Jay.
“Yeah, you can’t even figure out how to get out of an anti-suicide chamber.”
“Creative Arts isn’t that easy,” said Cassie. “I mean we may not have lots of exams but we have a shit ton of essays to write.”
“I know, right?” agreed Tom. “Thank god the play is over so I actually have time to write them. But seriously, I haven’t even read some of the books. I can’t wait ‘till this semester is over.”
“I know, me too,” nodded Jay. “I’m so sick of cegep.”
“Already? It’s only been one semester. You’re a loser,” scoffed Vani. “If Karl were here he’d be berating you in some manner which would properly convey the totalitude of your failure on this matter. This matter of cegepitude. I like it here and I declare John Abbott to be the pinnacle of cegeps. Perhaps even the pinnable of higher education, though I admit it couldn’t possibly be particularly high if Willy was admitted.”
“Yeah, where is Karl anyway?” asked Cerise.
“I’m glad you asked, my fruit flavoured friend,” said Vani, taping his fingers together à la Mr. Burns. “I congratulate you for bringing up a topic more directly related to that which I wish to discuss. Karl has been in something of a funk lately. You may have heard that his girlfriend of many months, one Sarah J. Wong, has broken his heart into a million little pieces. His heart of course was only a lump of coal to begin with so when it was hit with her hammer of break-upitude it crumbled into dust and is now infecting his entire biosystem.”
“Sarah’s middle name doesn’t star with a J,” said Cassie. “She told me it was her Chinese name, it’s like Ying or Xing or something.”
“In Vani’s world everyone’s middle initial is J,” explained Cerise.
“Indeed it is, Cerise Juicy Couture Laframboise, indeed it is.”
“Ying and Xing are awesome names!” announced Jay. “Why would anyone go by Sarah when they could go by Ying or Xing? We should totally start calling her Ying or Xing. I’m totally gonna start calling her that.”
“I too shall call her that,” Vani agreed. “And we shall say it thusly: Ying or Xing. It shall become one word, Yingazing. So say we all.”
“So say we all,” nodded Willy and Jay.
Vani went on. “Back to me and what I was talking about which is this: I think a plan must be enacted regarding the Karl situation. A plan which will bring him back to the group, out of his dank bedroom, which I can only assume is dank as none of us have actually been to his house, or robot factory or wherever the hell he recharges every night.”
“So you wanna do something to cheer him up?” asked Cassie brightly.
Willy and Jay laughed and even Cerise had to snicker.
“Oh Cavity, how young and naïve you are. How unused to the ways of the shadenfreudian world. No my dear, we shan’t be cheering him up as you so adorably suggest. We shall simply be using him to partake of his mother’s cabane.”
“Is that some gross euphemism I don’t want defined?” asked Tom warily.
“Hahaha!” Vani fake laughed. “Ah humour, so effective at relieving tension in awkward social situations, which this most assuredly is, as I’m not entirely sure who you are or what you’re doing here.”
“Vani, we’ve been hanging out with Tom all semester!” said Cerise, though she was sort of amused by his rudeness.
“I’m Cerise’s boyfriend, asshat,” Tom sneered.
“Your name is Asshat?” snickered Willy.
Tom was about to reply but then thought better of it and agreed that yes, his name was Asshat.
“Hah! Assshat!” Willy cheered.
“Stop referring to yourself in the third person, Willy, it becomes tiresome for the rest of us,” sniffed Vani.
“You know referring to oneself in the third person is the first sign of mental instability,” smiled Jay.
“Mentally unstable like a fox!” Cerise said just a second before Vani, and they laughed and jinxed each other.
“Stargate quote,” Tom explained to Cassie and Cerise was impressed to discover that Tom actually recognized the line.
“Enough digressions!” Vani yelled, causing a few students to look over at their table in confusion. “We must conclude the matter of Operation Make Karl Let us Use his Cabane! You guys have to help me convince…”
“Don’t say ‘you guys’, it makes me think of Jonah,” said Cassie.
“Good point, well made. The expression shall be deleted from my data brain. Well, you lot have to help me convince Karl to let us all come to his cabane this Christmas vacation.”
“Yeah, it’ll be a fun break from our families to like, chill up north,” nodded Jay. “We’re thinking eggnog could be involved in some fashion. Perhaps chestnuts. Roasting on an open fire is one way to go. Wait, what if Karl’s fam is using it during Christmas?”
“No, they stay in town I think,” said Vani. “I dunno, that guy never tells us anything. But assuming the cabane is not already in use, we must make use of it. But how to convince the Webman?”
“So he’s still not over Sarah?” asked Cassie with concern. “But it’s been ages! God, I wonder if Jonah is still all funked out.”
“Who cares about Jojo?” asked Willy.
“Well I still care even though I broke up with him.”
“Why? He’s a loser.”
“Well it takes one to know one doesn’t it, Asshat?” Cassie asked snottily.
“Uh-oh! Puh-poh!” Vani chanted. “Cavity dissin’ the little Willy! Well done Cavitay!”
They got back to strategizing on how to get Karl on board with Operation Cabane but a moment later Karl appeared and pushed Willy out his seat, taking it for himself. Cerise decided to just go ahead and ask him if he had any plans for Christmas. He said he didn’t so she asked if they could all go up north and use his mother’s cabane. Karl stared at her in response and she wasn’t sure if he was thinking about it or was constipated or what.
“It just seemed like it would be cool…” she shrugged.
“Yeah, it’d be cool,” agreed Cassie.
“Yeah, really cool,” nodded Tom.
“Who are you?” Karl asked.
Tom scoffed and threw his hands up. “I’m Tom!”
“So the cabane?”
“Yeah, fine,” Karl shrugged.
“Well ok then. That’s cool,” Cerise smiled.
“Well that was easy!” Vani beamed. “Well done on my part!”
Terry wasn’t sure what his plan was but figured anything he came up with would be a mistake. He should just walk away and leave Cerise alone forevermore. But he just couldn’t help it. He had to talk to her; he had to know what the hell. He needed to understand.
Watching while she talked and laughed with her stupid new boyfriend at her locker, he waited patiently for her to be alone. Finally the dork guy took off and Terry walked up to Cerise.
“Uh, hey,” she stared at him, looking almost afraid.
He wasn’t sure what to say.
“Are you angry with me?” she asked.
“No,” he insisted defensively. “Why would I be angry at you?”
“Just seems like you are,” she shrugged, her eyes downcast.
“Nooo, I’m not angry. I’m real happy for you. You seem very happy. With your new boyfriend.”
“Um, yeah,” she said with a furrowed brow.
“So good for you.”
“No seriously. I hope you’re happy. You deserve it.” He tried hard to hide the bitterness from his voice. Truth was, she did deserve to be happy and he honestly did want the best for her even if it meant not being with him. Or at least he knew he should feel that way.
“Uh well thanks I guess,” she smiled weakly.
“I just wish I could’ve been that for you.”
“Oh god, Terry.”
“Just, I just… I don’t understand why.”
“Terry, we’ve discussed this,” she said, deeply uncomfortable.
“No I mean why couldn’t you be with me, the way you’re apparently being with him?”
“What? How am I being with him?”
Terry couldn’t say it. He knew he was a dick for even asking but he seriously didn’t get it and not knowing was killing him. He shrugged and looked at her pleadingly.
“What, was there like a press release or something? How the fuck does everyone know my business all the time?” she asked angrily.
“You’re right, it’s none of my business.”
“No, it’s really not!”
Terry wanted to hit himself in the face. How come every time Cerise got angry it turned him on? “Sorry,” he sighed.
“Terry, don’t take it personally,” she softened.
“Oh ok,” he gritted his teeth. “I won’t! Why would I? Just because we were together for like months and you never… but then with him for like a day and like…” he trailed off, recognizing what a douche he was being.
“God, it’s not about time frame!”
“What’s it about then?”
“It was never you, ok? It was me.”
Terry just snorted and rolled his eyes.
“Fuck, Terry! Don’t you understand?”
“Not even a little bit.”
“We’re so different, you and me. You’re so much more, like, you know, you’ve done so much more. I guess I just, wanted to catch up a little. Or I mean I felt weird catching up with someone who didn’t also have to catch up.”
Oh god, she was starting to cry. She bit her lip hard, forcing herself to keep it together. He wanted to hug her but knew that wasn’t the right thing to do anymore.
She went on. “Terry I didn’t wanna lose my virginity to someone who wasn’t also a virgin. I felt… I just didn’t wanna be like, judged. Like compared or…”
“So you didn’t trust me? Cerise, did I ever do anything to make you feel like I was comparing you to other girls?”
“Not directly but how could you not be? I was comparing myself to other girls! I know it’s irrational ok! I know it’s not fair to you! But fuck ok, sorry! I’m sorry I’m such a fucking train-wreck! Everything I think and feel is retarded, I’m so fucking sorry I ruined your life, Terry.”
Well at least she wasn’t crying anymore.
“You don’t have to get mad,” he said weakly.
“Well why are you mad then? God, I’m so sorry I deprived you of deflowering me. I’m sure it would have been a great notch in your belt.”
“Oh fuck you!” he snapped. “How can you even think that of me? You know it’s not like that! I don’t care that you didn’t wanna do it. It was never like,” he scanned his brain for the right word. “It was never a requirement. I just wanted to be with you, in any way you wanted. I’m just hurt that it was so easy for you to move on.”
“It wasn’t easy,” she insisted.
“Yeah whatever. We obviously don’t understand each other. Obviously never did.”
She sighed heavily, her eyes getting moist again.
“You obviously never got where I was coming from. It was never about sex, Cerise. I don’t care that I didn’t get to be the guy that… Cerise, I just wanted to be with you. I loved you.”
Oh shit, now he was the one who was gonna cry. He rushed away before he could become the biggest pussy of all time and didn’t dare look back.