Shauna managed to get herself to her feet and she ran away from the Glue Sniffers, who were apparently too embroiled in a fight with one another to notice her escape. Her run was more of a stumble but soon enough she was home.
She walked in the back door but her mother still pounced on her. Fortunately she didn’t have any visible bruises for her mother to notice, at least not yet.
“My god, Shauna, what happened to your clothes? You’re all wet, you reek of alcohol!” she raged. “Are you drunk?”
“No, there was a bottle of vodka in the backroom and it spilled on me while I was stacking books.” She was pleased with how quickly she’d come up with the lie.
“Why was there a bottle of vodka in the backroom?”
“I dunno mom, can I just go to bed. I’m tired.”
“Is Angela Simon some sort of alcoholic?”
“I don’t know mother! I’ve never seen her drink, so I doubt it. Maybe some random customer gave it to her. Some of the regulars do that, they give her gifts for no reason.” That much was true.
“Well, I hope she doesn’t expect you to pay the dry cleaning bill! Are those grass stains?”
“I fell outside, coming up the walk. I was taking a shortcut on the grass.”
“I’ve told you a million times not to walk on the lawn, Shauna! You know how your father gets! He doesn’t want it trampled!”
“I know, I’m sorry!”
“Well go shower and change before your father sees you!”
That had gone pretty well. But it had been agony trying to stand upright without cradling her stomach. When she got undressed she found a bruise developing on her abdomen and a few along her ribs. She showered and tossed her wet clothes into a plastic bag to deal with later.
She went straight to bed and decided to risk a cigarette in the house. Just this once.
“So how’s Cerise doing?” asked Karine.
“Good,” replied Terry. “They’re getting good reviews and shit.”
“That’s cool,” said Karine, stretching her legs out in the sun. “And you’re ok with her being shacked up with four dudes?”
“Yeah, it’s no big deal. I trust her.”
Karine chuckled slightly and he gave her a look but she just smiled.
“Ok fine, yeah, it kinda bugs me,” he admitted. “But whatever, she’s having fun.”
“Yeah,” Karine nodded. “Remember how when you first started going out with her back in high school, how like Erica and them gave you a hard time?”
Terry snorted with derision. “Yeah, Erica and them. You were just peachy keen about it.”
“Nice use of the term ‘peachy keen’.” Karine giggled.
He glared at her and she admitted that she’d been kinda bitchy about Cerise back then too.
“So what’s your fucking damage against her now?” he asked, hoping they didn’t have to go through this old battle again.
“God! Nothing! Fuck! Seriously. I was just kinda wondering… how did you put up with it? We gave you so much shit. Why did you stay with her?”
“’Cause I liked her,” he said matter-of-factly. Like duh.
Tonight they were playing in a pub in a suburb of
, some place Cerise couldn’t even remember the name of. Cerise always dreaded getting into Bernie’s van when it was her turn to sit in the back with all the overflowing equipment. She made a little nest for herself with some pillows but it was still highly uncomfortable back there. Toronto
She sat with her legs bent, clutching a bottle of nail polish between her knees.
It was risky to do one’s nails in a moving vehicle but
traffic was so intense that she knew it’d be a relatively smooth ride. Whenever Bernie advanced she’d freeze and then when he stopped she’d paint a nail. It was a pretty good system. Toronto
She had a new colour: cerulean blue and as she worked she listened to the boys argue about Star Wars. Bernie was convinced that the true path was that of the Sith and Jedis were total pussies. This seemed to rather offend Tom and Lloyd.
“Play the fucking game, dude,” said Bernie. Apparently if they were to play Star Wars online they would understand his point.
“That reminds me, we can’t forget to go to the Star Wars identity thing when we get home,” noted Tom.
Jeff was in the seat in front and across from Cerise. She could feel him watching her but she didn’t want to say anything for fear of making things even more awkward. So she finished her nails and then flapped her hands around to dry them, finally looking up. Sure enough he was full-on staring at her.
So as not to ruin her nails she gingerly picked up a magazine lying on the floor and threw it at him.
“Bitch!” he laughed, tossing the magazine back.
“Watch out for my nails! They’re wet!”
“That the only thing that’s wet?”
“Don’t be gross,” she groaned.
“Can’t help it, that’s the way I’m wired,” he grinned.
“Don’t act so proud of it,” she counselled.
“But we made fun of Cerise all the time. Even to her face,” said Karine.
!” screamed Terry. “Don’t push that boy!” Brittany
Britt turned to look at Terry and stuck out her tongue at him. Terry sighed and Karine decided she’d never have kids. “And we made fun of you too,” she went on.
“So what?” said Terry. “Like I can’t take a little ribbing? Some people are just worth it, Karine.”
“Right. So you’d go out with anyone, no matter how lame they were, as long as you liked them?”
“Would you shut the fuck up?” he said angrily but quietly so as not to attract the attention of all the soccer moms and nannies. “Cerise isn’t lame. Why can’t you just…”
“I’m not talking about Cerise!” she interrupted. “God! Not everything is about you and your little girlfriend!”
“Then what the fuck are you talking about?” he grumbled.
“Do you think it’s snobby to have standards when it comes to who you’ll date?”
He sighed and looked at her square in the face. “You’re gonna have to spell this out for me, Karine ‘cause I’m not catching your vibe.”
She sighed too. It was so annoying how Terry just didn’t get nuance. “Would you go out with someone you always thought was a total loser just because they make you laugh and you feel safe with them?”
A grin slowly crept up on his lips. “Who the hell are you into?”
“No one! It’s hypothetical!”
“Yeah right. Which one of those fucking dorks are you jonesing for?” he laughed.
“No one!” she insisted, perhaps a little too forcefully.
“Oh shit! This is gonna be so good!” he cackled. “I am gonna get you back so good for all the shit you ever gave me!”
“Terry!” she whined, knowing she sort of deserved it. God, she was seriously such a loser.
“Is it Vani? ‘Cause you know, even though he’s short, he’s kind of a cool guy.”
“Eww, Terry. It’s no one. No one you know.”
“So there is some lame-ass guy you’re into.”
“No! You’re the only lame-ass guy I’ve ever been into,” she grumbled.
“Yeah, I always knew you wanted me,” he smirked, putting his hands behind his head and leaning back on the bench. God, he was so irritating.
“What?” Cerise asked in irritation.
“What, what?” Jeff replied with a smile.
“You’re watching me!”
“Sorry,” he smiled without turning to face front.
“You’re still doing it,” she sighed.
“Sorry,” he grinned.
She rolled her eyes and flipped through the random magazine but it was boring and he kept staring so she tossed it aside and glared at him. He smiled and crawled out of his seat, joining her in the back of the van even though there really wasn’t room for both of them. She frowned and tried to inch away from him but he sat practically on top of her.
“What are you doing?” she asked in a mild panic, completely unsure of what to do.
“Nothing,” he smiled.
“You’re on me!” she pushed him away and he laughed as he leaned in towards her.
She lightly punched him in the chest and then hit a little harder and he grabbed her hand, then leaned in for a kiss. She recoiled and hit her head on the side of the van. “Fuck, ow!”
“Sorry,” he said, this time with sincerity.
“What the fuck are you trying to do?” she asked.
“I’m just trying, I dunno,” he sighed, inching a bit away from her, but still too close for comfort. “I mean I know you have a boyfriend.”
“Yeah, I do. And he would probably punch you in the face for doing this shit.”
“Wow, he sounds like a real charmer.”
Cerise sighed. “Can you just fucking get off me now?”
“Listen, I’m just saying…”
“My nails are ruined now.” Her right had was ok but the index finger on her left was all scuffed up. She’d have to redo it. Or just live with it. Whatever.
“But just for the record,” Jeff went on. “Let’s say you didn’t have a boyfriend. Would you be interested?”
Oh god, was he seriously putting her in this position? How awkward and inappropriate. “I dunno, Jeff,” she said because an outright rejection seemed too harsh.
Jeff smiled. “Well maybe… I mean, maybe you could think about it. I mean, if you ever break up with Terry… not that you would but… if you ever do… maybe you could… think about it and uh… let me know.”
She nodded with a pained smile that probably looked more like a frown.
“I mean just so you know,” he said as he finally crawled back to his seat. “If you ever break up with him, I’m here.”
Cerise watched him sit and then looked over to Tom, who sat opposite Jeff. She couldn’t see his face but he was turned in Jeff’s direction. Jeff gave him a toothy grin.
“Are you fucking seriously doing this right in front of me?!” Tom erupted.
From the front seats Bernie and Lloyd practically choked on their howls of laughter. Jeff kept grinning and Tom turned around, leaning over his seat to look at Cerise. She gave him a sympathetic shrug and he asked her if she was ok.
She nodded and he sighed, turning back to face front. God, that was like the weirdest, most awkward exchange ever! Bernie kept laughing as he moved the van forward another inch.