Shauna pushed open the heavy door to Penfield… or was it Casgrain? Who gave a shit? Everywhere in this school was the same, all just a bunch of shitty hallways and shitty classes with shitty people. She was only in her second week of school and already she was sick of it. She stepped outside into a warm sunny day and lit up a cigarette. She wasn’t sure if this was a sanctioned smoking area but there were always tons of butts on the ground here so she figured it was ok.
This was Shauna’s favourite place in the whole school because even though a lot of people apparently smoked here it was usually deserted when Shauna took her breaks. Sometimes she’d have to walk a little further afield and lean up against a tree if there were people using the wall but usually she could stand right outside the school and take shelter from the rain or sun or whatever.
Things weren’t so bad, she supposed. Her mom was more or less leaving her alone as long as she wore the clothes she laid out for her each morning. Shauna would simply change when she got to school, using the bathroom at the far end of the school, which was the least crowded. She’d put on her trusty old docs, and a hoodie and cargo shorts. She had a few variations of each tucked away in her locker. She felt much more comfortable in these clothes and everyone ignored her when she was thusly dressed so it was perfect.
She was about halfway through her cigarette when another girl stepped outside and stood across from her. She fumbled through her bag and then looked up at Shauna, asking if she could bum a smoke. Without replying, Shauna took a cigarette out of her pack and handed it to the girl. She had thick dark hair going to about her shoulders and big dark eyes and kind of caramel coloured skin. Shauna wasn’t sure what her ethnicity was; she could have been Mexican or Indian or anything. Her clothes were kind of like Trista’s: all flowing skirts and silky scarves. Actually, upon closer inspection her skirt seemed to be a really poufy harem pants deal. It was kind of stupid looking but the girl seemed very pleased with herself.
“Thanks,” she smiled widely. “I’m actually trying to quit. I only started to piss off my parents but then I found out they smoke weed like all the time so then I was like, I guess this isn’t so rebellious after all.”
Shauna nodded politely.
“God, it’s so good,” the girl went on. “Or bad I guess. I mean we’re just ruining our lungs. I went to that bodyworks exhibit they had at the science museum a couple years back, did you see it? It was crazy. They showed the lungs of coal miners and smokers and they were literally black and all shrivelled up. It was so gross. They also showed fat people. That was gross too. I quit smoking and lost twenty pounds after that. But then like a year later I started up again with the smoking and eating! Fuck, I’m such a lazy shit.”
Shauna didn’t find this girl to be particularly heavy, though certainly not skinny either. She was sort of pleasantly plump. Shauna smiled and nodded and thought about saying something out loud but then Cerise was there! She was walking towards Shauna and even making eye contact and everything!
“Hi Shauna,” she said, stopping in between her and the harem pants girl.
Shauna smiled weakly. “Hi.”
“So you go here now?”
“How do you like it?”
It was terrible. “It’s good.”
“Yeah. Ok, well… see you around I guess.”
Shauna nodded as Cerise smiled and hefted open the door, disappearing inside.
“So there’s some history there I’m guessing,” said the harem pants girl.
“Yeah, I know how it goes. My name’s Leanne by the way.” She extended her hand.
Shauna shook it. “I’m Shauna.”
“You first year?”
“I’m third. Pretty pathetic, eh?” She laughed. “I think I’m gonna be here forever!”
Cegep was usually only two years unless you did a technical program. But Shauna got the impression that this Leanne girl wasn’t doing a technical program.
“Yeah, I think they invented the failure fee concept for me, you know?”
Shauna smiled, finding this girl much less intimidating now that she knew she was probably just as stupid as Shauna herself.
“What program are you in?”
“Social,” Shauna replied.
Shauna laughed along with Leanne even though she wasn’t really sure what was funny.
It was one of those days that most people considered gorgeous. Crazy sunny, crazy hot. Cerise, Karine, Cassie and Janice all had a break so they decided to come outside to prepare for their Sound of Music auditions. Or rather, Karine, Cassie and Janice had decided and Cerise went along with them even though she hated sitting out in the sun. Fortunately they took shelter under a tree so it wasn’t so bad.
“Check it out, there’s Terry!” announced Janice.
They all looked across the track and field lawn thingy or whatever it was called and saw that Terry was jogging with Nick.
“Oh my god, they’re working out, how hot,” Janice went on.
Why did they continue to hang out with Janice? Cerise felt bad for thinking it but she was seriously tired of her and her lustful longings.
“That Nick guy is super good looking,” said Cassie.
“I know,” they all replied in unison, giggling at their synchronicity.
“Is he single?” asked Cassie.
“Hands off!” announced Janice. “I’ve got first dibs!”
“Whatever.” Cassie rolled her eyes and stared down at her script. “I hate it when we do musicals. It’s so not fair for us growlers.”
“You’re not that bad, Cassie,” said Cerise with a smile she hoped seemed sincere.
“Yes I am. I suck! I’m probably gonna be a maid or some shit. Who are you guys gonna audition for?”
“I’m gonna go for…” Karine began.
“Maria.” They all filled in for her and she shrugged and laughed, feigning embarrassment.
“Well it’s not for sure I’ll get it,” she said.
“Oh please.” Cassie rolled her eyes.
“Maria is a nun. She has short hair. I have long hair,” Karine said dumbly.
“Oh well then, you have no chance!” exclaimed Janice.
“If only we could invent a technology that could cover up a person’s real hair length,” Cerise mused. “Some sort of device that could mimic hair and go over one’s true hair. Oh well, since no such thing exists I guess the role will just go to that skin-head chick.”
They all laughed.
“Well you could audition for Maria,” Karine said to Cerise. “Hugh and Fred like you and you spent the whole summer singing. You could get it.”
“I’m gonna go for Liesl I think,” Cerise replied.
“Oh you totally should!” Karine said enthusiastically.
“Oh my god, look at them! Those abs, fuck!” squealed Janice.
Both Terry and Nick were doing that thing where guys lift up their t-shirt to wipe the sweat from their faces, momentarily revealing their naked torsos underneath. Cerise had to admit they looked pretty good. Her boyfriend was so hot.
“So things going good with you and Cerise?” asked Nick as he and Terry took their third lap.
“Yep,” Terry replied.
“No chance of breaking up again?”
What a weird question. Was Nick trying to give him shit or what? Terry smirked and replied that you never knew with him and Cerise but so far so good.
“You really dig her, eh?”
Terry gave Nick a sideways glance. “Why do you ask?”
“Dunno. It’s just cool I guess that you’ve found someone you can really care about. And that it’s finally working out for you guys. I remember a couple years ago you weren’t with her and you were super bummed about it. It’s cool you got what you wanted.”
“Yeah,” Terry huffed. “So how ‘bout you. Seeing anyone?”
“Nah,” Nick said, sounding disappointed.
“I could set you up with someone.”
“With one of those chicks who’s always drooling over you?”
Terry laughed. “They drool over you too.”
“Yeah, when you got it, you got it,” Nick grinned.
“Oh god. Is it wrong to be turned on by something so homoerotic?” asked Janice.
Terry and Nick had stopped running and were now doing stretching exercises.
“You’re turned on my laundry lint,” said Karine with exasperation.
“So this is doing nothing for you?” asked Janice.
They all giggled.
“They’re watching us you know.”
Nick looked up and smiled. He and Terry waved to the girls, who sat under a tree at the edge of the field. They waved back.
“I can hook you up with any one of them.”
“I dunno,” Nick replied. “No offense but none of them really do it for me. Janice is like, sorry but I don’t go in for sluts. I know that sounds mean. And hypocritical.”
“No, I know what you mean,” Terry nodded as he stretched out his hamstrings.
“You just don’t know where she’s been,” Nick shrugged. “And she’s not that cute, you know?”
“I know. What about Cassie though? She’s short but super cute.”
“Karine? You gotta admit she’s way hot.”
“Yeah,” Nick agreed. “But she’s not really my type either. I mean she’s beautiful but she almost seems too girly. I kind of go for more like tomboys, you know?”
Terry nodded. “Yeah, I get that.”
“Cerise is cute actually,” Nick grinned. “She’s got the short hair, the military shirts… she’s just my type.”
“Hey! Is that why you were asking how things are going with us?!” Terry exclaimed in mock horror. “You trying to move in on my woman!?”
Nick laughed. “Yeah man, watch out. I bet she chooses the better man!” He flexed his muscles and did bodybuilder poses.
Terry laughed and followed suit.
“Ok, seriously?” said Cassie. “They’re just fucking with us now.”
“I wish they would take off their shirts to do that,” complained Janice.
“They said we can audition with any song from the thing, right?” asked Cerise. “I’m gonna do Sixteen Going on Seventeen.”
“That’s a duet with Rolf,” said Karine.
“Hey, I could audition with Tom. Are we allowed to do that?”
“Dunno,” Karine shrugged. “I’m gonna do Favorite Things I think.”
“I’m gonna stab myself in the eye,” Cassie whined. “I fucking hate musicals!”
Nick and Terry sat down and stretched out some more. They were both being pretty lazy about this workout. Truth be told they were more hanging out than working out. Nick asked how Terry’s search for his bio-mom was going and Terry shrugged.
“Not gonna look for her?”
“I dunno. Would you?”
“I dunno,” Nick sighed. “I mean I get how it like, would suck, you know? Maybe you don’t wanna know like, the whole story. Like if you don’t find her you can just imagine what you want. But if you find her and she tells you her story then it’s like, I dunno, more real. What if she says something shitty?”
“Yeah,” Terry nodded. It was cool that Nick got it and he didn’t have to explain. “’Cause like, she left, you know?”
“Yeah so like, if she wants to talk to you she’ll come back. Like why should you have to find her, you know?”
They lay on the ground, using their t-shirts to cover their faces from the sun.
Cerise sighed in annoyance. “I bet he’s not even wearing sunscreen.”
“So what? He could use a tan,” said Karine.
“Terry’s fair-skinned! He doesn’t tan, he burns!” protested Cerise.
“He tans,” said Karine like Cerise was a moron.
“A tan is a burn! It’s sun damage! You’re all gonna get skin cancer!”
Karine grinned and yanked on Cerise’s arm, trying to pull her into the sun. Cassie and Janice laughed and followed suit, forcing her out of the tree’s protection. She squealed in protest and fought them off and they all ended up rolling around in the grass.
“Nice,” said Terry as he peeked out from under his shirt upon hearing Cerise’s yell. The girls were all like wrestling or something.
Nick laughed and they watched as the girls played in the sun.
Once she was back inside Karine looked at herself in the mirror and realized that she was actually getting a bit of a sunburn on her nose. She was more annoyed by the fact that Cerise had been right than the sunburn itself. In a day it would be a nice tan but fuck Cerise for calling it. Whatever. She grabbed her things and headed towards her next class only to bump into Jay in Hochelaga. Ok, it wasn’t really a bump. He was sitting on a windowsill reading a book like he did every day and this wasn’t really Karine’s usual route but she still had like ten minutes ‘till her class so she figured she’d walk by his locker just to stretch her legs a bit.
“Hey loser,” she said, nudging him so she could sit next to him.
“Hey!” he exclaimed happily, smiling and giving her room. “What’s up?”
“Shit all. You?”
Karine laughed. “We’ve been back for like a week, Jay, how bad can it be?”
“I dunno. I guess I just don’t like school. And it really annoys me that Karl likes it so much. Fuck, he’s such a piece of shit.”
Karine laughed again. “Yeah, I know what you mean. So we’re doing The Sound of Music in Teedub.”
“I hope it won’t be as long as the movie ‘cause fuck, that shit goes on forever.”
“It’s like two hours. Everyone’s all like saying that I’ll get Maria but I’m like, I dunno.”
“Is Maria Julie Andrews?”
“Well didn’t you get the main part both times last year?”
“So there’s a good chance then,” said Jay earnestly.
“I mean who else would they pick for the main part? Fucking Janice? Yeah right.”
“Isn’t the main chick a nun though?” he asked.
“Eww. I mean not eww but… yeah, eww. Thinking of you as a nun is messed up.”
“What, like I couldn’t be all nunny?”
Karine grinned. “Maria gives up nunning to get married.”
“That’s pretty hardcore. I mean to give up your shtick for someone else.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Would you do it? Give up your shtick to be with a guy?”
“I guess it would depend on the shtick and the guy.”
Jay nodded, looking down at his hands. His big, awkward, gangly hands. Karine wondered if she was on crack for even entertaining the idea of hooking up with him.
“Hey you guys.”
They looked up to find Cerise staring down at them.
“Karine, your nose is totally red. I told you to wear sunscreen.”
Karine rolled her eyes. “Ok, mom.”
“So are we still meeting after school today?” Cerise asked.
“Oh god, seriously?” asked Karine. “Did we really decide to do that?”
“Seriously. I don’t think it’s such a great idea,” agreed Jay.
“I really think it would be a nice gesture,” said Cerise in her stupid, whiny, holier-than-thou voice. God, she was such a little do-gooder.
“Nice gestures have a way of backfiring,” said Karine.
“Oh come on, you guys!”
“Ok, fine, fine, we’ll be there,” Karine responded for both herself and Jay. She looked to him and he nodded along as she’d known he would. There was something to be said for a guy who’d always do what she said. But hadn’t that been her dynamic with Steve? Wasn’t that why she’d gotten bored with him? Maybe she should get with a guy who’d be his own person. But then she’d never get her way.
“Ok well, I’ve got class. I’ll see you guys later,” Cerise announced. “Don’t think you can get out of it! You promised!”
“We didn’t promise,” said Karine as Cerise walked away.
“Yeah seriously,” agreed Jay.
He was always so agreeable.
Jay totally agreed with Karine on this. This stupid plan was totally stupid. Stupid Cerise and her stupid ideas. He felt so weird, so awkward, so embarrassed. He supposed there wasn’t anything to be embarrassed about, it’s not like he’d done anything wrong, but still, it was just weird.
It was him, Cerise, Karine, Sarah and Terry Trebitotallysunburnednecksky all stuffed into the douchemobile. At least Jay got to sit next to Karine. But he was also sitting next to Sarah, which was maybe a bit weird. When would he work up the courage to ask Karine out? She was totally flirting with him lately. Wasn’t she? Fuck, he just couldn’t be sure. Girls seriously sucked. Why couldn’t they just be straight-up about stuff?
Terry Trebiwearingpretentiousaviatorsunglassessky pulled over and they all sat in the car, staring up at the house.
“Last chance to back out,” said Karine.
“Oh come on,” said Sarah, getting out of the car.
“Seriously,” agreed Cerise.
“Those two are bad news,” said Jay. “Each one alone is all self-righteous and shit but with their powers combined they’re like super extra righteous. They’re like the fucking Tok’ra or something.”
Karine looked at him blankly and got out of the car. Fuck, he was such an idiot! He’d have to quit with the nerd references if she was ever gonna like him. He joined the others as Karine was asking what possible purpose this exercise could serve. Cerise said it would make them feel better, because hadn’t it been weighing on them? Karine said no, it really hadn’t and Jay was glad she’d spoken up so he didn’t have to. He’d seriously forgotten all about it. Why did Cerise and Sarah care so much? It made no sense.
“Willy should be here,” grumbled Terry Trebistatetheobvioussky.
“Willy is a cowardly piece of shit,” said Cerise. “He practically laughed in my face when I suggested it.”
“He’s a fucking spaz,” nodded Jay.
They walked up to the front door of the house and Karine made one last attempt to change Cerise’s mind. “If we do this, there’s gonna be consequences, you know.”
“Like what?” asked Sarah.
“Like maybe she’ll take us up on our offer and she’ll become cling girl again!”
“We can’t just abandon her,” reasoned Sarah in her most hoity-toity voice. “She probably has like, no one in her life.”
Jay didn’t see how that was their problem but whatever, it was too late. Cerise had already rang the bell and two seconds later Furry Jenn answered the door. Jay half expected her to be huge with child, even though that didn’t make sense. She sneered at them and asked what they wanted.
They all stood there silently for a moment and then Cerise spoke. “We just wanted to like, apologize for what happened… with like, everything.”
“We didn’t know what was going on,” Sarah said.
“Willy was saying a bunch of shit about you… and stuff,” Cerise went on.
“Yeah,” Sarah nodded. “We were idiots to believe him.”
“We basically just want to make sure you’re ok.”
“Oh yeah,” Jenn sneered. “I’m just fucking peachy, thanks for asking.”
“Ok, well um, if there’s anything you need or if… you know… I dunno. Even if you just wanna like, talk or something.”
Karine gripped Cerise’s arm, no doubt trying to tell her to shut the hell up.
“Yeah I’ll keep that in mind,” said Jenn dryly and then she slammed the door in their faces.
“What a pointless waste of time,” grumbled Karine. See, Cerise? That’s what being nice gets you.”