“Karine, what are you doing here?” asked Sarah as she and Paul walked onto the deck at BYC, where Karine was lounging at a table sipping a coke.
“Oh I had the day off so I figured I’d come here before going to the bakery. When do you get off?”
“I’m off now pretty much. We’ve gotta fill out a bit of paper work but then we’re good to go.”
“Cool, take your time, I’ll be here.”
“Cool.” Sarah and Paul walked into the clubhouse and a moment later Cassie arrived and headed to the tool shed where she hugged Jay.
Karine made sure to act like she wasn’t watching but surveyed the whole scene from behind her sunglasses. Jay went back to work and then Cassie walked towards the clubhouse as Karine looked at her phone, pretending like she didn’t even know Cassie was there.
“Hi Karine!” Cassie sat next to Karine.
Karine looked up and then whipped off her sunglasses, her eyes wide. “Oh my god, Cassie, are you ok?”
“Huh? Yeah, why?”
“Well just, you know, ‘cause of you and Jay.”
“What about me and Jay?” Cassie asked in confusion.
“Oh just…” Karine trailed off and then darted her eyes around. “Oh nothing, nevermind.”
“What?” Cassie insisted.
“Nothing,” Karine tried to look embarrassed.
“Karine, seriously? What is it?”
“Well it’s just, I mean, god I shouldn’t even tell you. It’s just that I thought he did it already.”
“Who did what?” Cassie narrowed her eyes in concern.
“Oh god, fuck. Jay. He was saying how he wanted to break up with you.”
“What?!” Cassie shrieked in a burst of anger.
“But hey, I’m sure he changed his mind!” Karine offered.
“Why the fuck would he break up with me?”
“I dunno,” Karine said with sympathy. “Something about how you’re moody or something. Or how he’s just not that into you. I don’t even know, it was all bullshit.”
Karine was surprised by how enraged Cassie looked. She really didn’t think the little munchkin had it in her. “That little shit!” Cassie said between gritted teeth.
“I’m so sorry, Cassie, I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“No, I’m glad you told me! It gives me the chance to break up with him first, that fucking ass!” She burst up from the table and stormed off to the tool shed. God, sometimes it was so easy.
Karine put her sunglasses back on and watched as Cassie confronted Jay, waving her little arms around like a mutant monkey. Jay looked shell shocked as he listened to the smackdown. Karine only wished she were close enough to hear the tirade. Sarah and Paul came back out to the deck and sat down and watched Cassie storm away from Jay, walking right past the clubhouse, through the parking lot and out to the street. Sarah called out to her but was ignored. They all turned to see Jay looking despondent.
“What the hell’s going on?” asked Sarah.
“I dunno,” shrugged Karine as she suppressed a smile.
It totally sucked to be dumped. Jay was actually surprised by how badly he felt. True, he’d been thinking of breaking up with Cassie anyway but having her do it first just really sucked. He felt like such a loser.
He drove to the bakery in silence with Karl in the passenger seat and Karine, Sarah and Paul in the back. They were all quiet but Karl was looking super smug, that stupid bastard. At least Karine was here. She was being super nice. When he’d joined the gang on the deck and told them what happened, she’d been really sympathetic. Karl had said it was about time Cassie came to her senses and Sarah said she was sorry even though she kind of looked half amused but Karine was being amazing. She even hugged him.
He dreaded getting out of the car when they got to the bakery. He didn’t want to have to tell the story again.
“What’s going on?” Cerise asked immediately, apparently sensing that something was wrong.
“Cassie broke up with Jay,” Karine said softly.
“Hah!” burst out Vani. “I mean how unfortunate.”
“No, you meant hah,” laughed Willy.
“Yeah, pretty much,” admitted Vani.
God, why did he have such shitty friends?
“That sucks,” said Cerise. “Maybe she could sense you were losing interest.”
“She said I was bad-mouthing her behind her back,” said Jay helplessly.
“Well, you kinda were, Jay,” pointed out Karine.
“I’m such an idiot!” Jay hollered.
Karine put her hand on his arm and it felt like electricity. “Jay, it’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up about it. It had to end eventually. And there’s plenty of other fish in the sea.” She ruffled his hair and he was relieved her hand didn’t get stuck.
Vani chuckled. “We don’t swim in a sea, we swim in an aquarium, like not even at the pet store, like in some old dude’s house and he like doesn’t even like clean it. So it’s all scummy and no new fish are ever introduced. All we can do is watch the old ones die.”
“Your analogy falls apart,” said Karl. “But I think you’re saying our options are limited, which indeed they are.”
“We are in a pet store,” said Jay. “We can see the fish in the other aquariums but we’re in the loser aquarium and it doesn’t even have like, one of those little skulls or treasure chest dealies… it’s like, there’s a bit of plastic seaweed and that’s it. And sometimes a fish accidentally jumps out of another aquarium and lands in ours but those fish always get bought and so it’s usually just us swimming around and bumping into the walls wishing we could get into a better aquarium.”
They all nodded, finding the analogy to be spot on. Karine giggled and said that perhaps one day he might succeed in getting bought himself. He really hoped she meant she’d buy him or let him swim in her aquarium or whatever. But she was probably just being nice.
Terry offered to drive Karine home since he wouldn’t be staying at Cerise’s. She accepted the lift and when they got to her place she asked him if he wanted to come in for a drink and then looked surprised when he accepted.
“So how come you’re not staying at Cerise’s tonight?” she asked as they walked into her kitchen.
“I’ve been sleeping in the
too often. Vicky’s getting all pissed ‘cause it’s disrupting Britt’s routine. Besides, I wanted to talk to you.” West Island
“Don’t tell me you and Cherry had another fight.” She took two beers out of the fridge and handed one to Terry.
He sat down at the table. “No, we’re fine. I wanted to talk about you actually.”
“Hah, for once!” she snarked, looking a bit nervous.
“So you were pretty supportive of Jay in his time of need today.”
“Yeah, so?” She sat across from him but avoided eye contact as she picked at the label on her beer.
“Mighty convenient that he and Cassie broke up.”
“What are you getting at, Terry?” she asked with impatience.
“Oh come on! You have a thing for Jay!” he laughed.
“No I don’t!” she insisted.
“What the fuck, Karine? Why can’t you just admit it?”
“There’s nothing to admit!”
“If you’re gonna deny it, might wanna be a little less obvious.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“You’re mega flirty with him all the time. I bet by now even the guys are starting to pick up on it.”
“Really?” she asked, mildly panicked.
“Why are you even denying it?” he asked, truly wanting to know.
“Fuck Terry, you’ve said enough times how you hate him and his stupid hair and how he’s a loser and everything.”
“That’s just ‘cause I thought he was into Cerise, or she was into him,” he admitted.
“So you don’t actually think he’s a loser?” she asked sincerely, looking down at her hands.
He did actually think so but he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. “Does it matter what I think?”
“Yeah it matters.” She looked up at him and he could see that she was going through something real. “I care about your opinion. And I mean, fuck, everyone’s opinions matter. People who say they don’t care, that’s just ‘cause they’re too proud to admit it. I mean yeah, I kinda like him I guess but it would be totally fucked up to get together with him.”
Terry simply shrugged.
“I mean right? Everyone would make fun of me.”
“Then why do you flirt with him all the time?”
“I dunno. ‘Cause it’s fun. ‘Cause I miss the way it used to be.”
“What way?” he asked.
“You know, the way it was in high school. Jay had a crush on me for like, the entire five years practically. It was kinda fun. I mean, I always thought he was a loser but… I dunno. I guess I secretly liked having an admirer.”
“You had tons of admirers. Why are you fixating on him?”
“’Cause he’s around? ‘Cause you’re taken?” She looked down in embarrassment.
Terry wanted to reach out to her but wasn’t sure if that would be sending the wrong message.
“’Cause…” she went on. “’Cause I like him! I think I actually really do!”
Terry couldn’t help but chuckle.
“God, it’s not funny, Terry! I like Jason Harris, the stupid hair guy! The guy we made fun of in high school, the guy who couldn’t get a date until Sarah Wong took pity on him! I’m such a loser!”
“Well there are worse guys in the world,” said Terry though he couldn’t really think of one at the moment.
“No! No there aren’t! The only worse options would be Willy or Vani or Karl!”
“Well Vani’s not so bad. Short as hell but funny.”
“Jay’s funny too!”
“Yeah, I guess he’s ok,” shrugged Terry.
“No he’s not! He’s a fucking loser! I mean fucking Cherry the Raspberry is into him!”
Terry narrowed his eyes, instantly losing all sympathy for Karine’s stupid dilemma.
“But you were kind of thinking about breaking up with her anyway, right?” asked Cerise as she and Jay sat on their joint front lawns.
“I guess. Yeah, I guess it’s fine. Just kinda feels like shit to get dumped is all,” he admitted.
“Yeah. You want a plug-in?” she offered.
“You need to recharge?” she said, pulling her hair away from her neck.
“Oh, you mean the symbiont? Dude, that’s old news. I got a new symbiont.”
Cerise nodded, letting go of her hair. “Oh, that’s good.”
“Yeah, it’s cool ‘cause this one is way better. Yours was a total piece of shit by comparison.”
“No doubt,” she sighed. No doubt indeed.
“I mean you know Cerise is into him, right?”
“She was,” said Terry defensively. “Maybe. Not anymore. I mean, right?”
“I dunno Terry,” Karine sighed, obviously not wanting to switch the conversation to him and Cerise. “But either way I mean, it’s ok for someone like Cerise to be into Jay. But I’m me.”
“What does that mean?” he asked in a voice he hoped would indicate she was on thin ice.
“She’s like them. Geeky and shit. And I know we’re supposed to be in like, a post-nerd world where like everyone is a geek and like Spiderman is the coolest shit ever or whatever but seriously? I’m not into all that shit. Gaming and watching Star Wars or whatever. But they are. And it’s fucking lame!”
“You sound like Erika,” he scoffed.
“I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being how they are!”
“You just said it’s lame!”
“I just meant that it’s their world and not mine. I mean I don’t get it. I don’t get that stuff. Watching Game of Thrones is pretty much my limit when it comes to all this sci-fi shit!”
“Game of Thrones is fantasy. And supernatural. There’s no sci-fi, at least not yet,” he explained.
“God, way to miss the point, Terry! Shit, you’re totally being sucked in, aren’t you?”
“Sucked into what?”
“Oh, so like I can’t play hockey and watch Star Trek? That’s just stupid. We’re not gonna like institute a new apartheid based on degree of cool. There’s nothing wrong with the shit they like. And you know what? I’m so sick of having to defend Cerise to you!”
“God, I’m not even talking about her! She’s fine, ok? She’s cool now!”
“Oh, she’s cool now? So like she’s spent enough time with you that it’s rubbed off? Karine, you really need to get the fuck over yourself.” She glared at him and he went on. “If you like Jay and his stupid hair then just fucking go out with him and get over your damage. And if you can’t get over your damage then stop coming on to him all the time and give us all a break.”
Her lip quivered and Terry hoped she wouldn’t cry. Oh shit, there she went. The tears came out in a sudden stream and she wailed. He immediately drew her into a hug, feeling like an asshole but simultaneously resenting her for emotionally manipulating him.
“You’re right! I’m a horrible person!” she sobbed.
“No, you’re not, you’re just a snob, that’s all.” He patted her on the back.
“Fuck you!” she laughed and cried at the same time. “I’m seriously a jerk, aren’t I?”
“You don’t have to be. I mean you’re changing. We’ve both changed a lot in the past year. And you’re learning how to be nicer. But it takes time to get there.”
“God, don’t pull any punches,” she said sarcastically, pushing him away and wiping her eyes.
“Well I mean, shit Karine, you really are a bitch sometimes. Sorry, but it’s true.”
She looked at him like a lost puppy.
“I mean isn’t it your fault Cassie broke up with Jay?” he asked delicately.
“Yes!” she wailed, the tears flowing again. “I told her he was gonna break up with her so she’d do it first! I’m so evil!”
A snicker erupted from his lips. “Yeah, that’s pretty harsh. Kinda funny though.”
She looked up from her wet hands and smiled. “Yeah.” They laughed together and she went on. “And last year when you and Cerise were on the outs, I encouraged it. I kept you guys apart as best I could because I was jealous! Because I wanted you!” She grinned hopefully.
He stopped laughing and stared at her. “Are you serious?”
“You’re not evil,” he grumbled. “You’re supremely selfish but, yeah. I can’t believe you kept us apart!”
“Not forever though! I finally broke down and told you what the deal was with Andrew and why Cerise hated him.”
“Yeah,” he nodded.
“And even with that I was evil. When Christina told me that Andrew raped her too, I didn’t even try to help her. For all I know she still hangs out with him and I didn’t even try to do anything about it.”
“What could you do?”
“I dunno. I guess I could’ve gone and beat him up,” she grinned wickedly and he couldn’t help but blush as he laughed.
“So you still into me?” he smiled, wiggling his eyebrow. “’Cause maybe I can get Cerise to agree to like a threesome deal.”
“Oh shut the fuck up you loser!” She laughed as she pushed him away. “I don’t like your stupid nerd loving ass anymore!”
“Yeah, so you’re gonna work on that being nicer thing?” he asked pointedly.
“Shut up,” she sighed, collecting herself and blowing her nose into a Kleenex. “So like, do you think I should get together with Jay or what?”