Terry expected to pick up
as soon as he got to her daycare but one of the workers there wanted to speak to him first. Britt sat in the “alone corner” in the oppressively colourful room while Terry got an earful. Brittany
“She hit another girl with a cabbage patch doll. Their heads are quite heavy. The dolls I mean. The blow gave the girl a bruise.”
Terry wasn’t sure how he was supposed to respond. Should he apologize on Britt’s behalf? “Do you know why she did it?”
“From what I gather they were playing house. And the other girl didn’t want to be the dog.”
wanted her to be the dog?” Terry suppressed a smile. Brittany
“That’s right. Does she ever act out at home?”
“She’s three. She acts out all the time,” Terry said, trying to cover his irritation.
The teacher looked concerned and said that it was fairly common to see a certain degree of violent behaviour in children, especially boys but
seemed unusually high-strung. Especially for a girl. Terry nodded and she went on to ask about Britt’s home life. “Her parents recently got divorced, didn’t they?” Brittany
“Yeah, so she’s upset. Acting out to get attention, right? So what are we supposed to do about it?” Again he tried to maintain his calm.
“She needs a stable structure. A solid routine. Firm discipline. And she needs to know both of her parents will continue to be there for her. That they both love her.”
“Well…” he wondered if he should mention that his dad had never been there for Britt, even before the divorce. “We’re doing the best we can. I mean I’m still there, that’s something. I took care of her before the divorce and I moved in with her mom so I could keep taking care of her.” This teacher lady didn’t need to know the real reason he’d moved in with Vicky. “So that’s something, right?”
“Absolutely. But maybe
could benefit from some counselling. I could refer you to a child psychologist.” Brittany
“She’s not nuts! She’s three-years-old!”
“Listen, I appreciate the advice, but I’ve gotta get Britt home.”
“If you could have her mother call me…”
Terry nodded and fetched
, pulling her up into his arms as she squealed in delight. He knew he should be glad that this daycare worker cared so much. He’d heard plenty of stories about daycares where they seriously didn’t give a shit. But still, was all of this really her business? And was Britt really so far gone that she needed professional help? He’d thought he was doing a good job with her. It was hard to admit that might not be enough. Brittany
“Wait, ok, start from the beginning,” said Cassie, interrupting Sarah as she rambled about the Karine/Jay situation.
They convened in the washroom in Hochelaga, which was always crowded but no one ever cared about what they were talking about and Karine was very unlikely to appear.
“Right, ok, so one time at the bakery after Jay drove you home, I can’t remember how it came up but he was saying he was gonna stay with you even though sometimes you were annoying.”
“Like he’s not?” fumed Cassie.
“I know, right?” Sarah rolled her eyes. “So like Karine was totally there for that. She totally knew he wanted to stay with you. But then like the very next day she shows up at the yacht club, which is like, totally not like her.”
“Yeah, and she acts all like sympathetic to me and I’m like, what the fuck? And she’s like, oh I thought Jay already broke up with you, ‘cause he’s planning on it so of course I broke up with him first.”
“Of course, duh. But he wasn’t actually gonna. I bet you anything Karine made it all up.”
“But why?” asked Cassie.
“Well, later that day she was all consoling him. I mean we all were, or I mean, some of us were. The guys were obviously making fun of him. But Karine was being super nice. And like, got a lift home from him and stuff.”
“So you think Karine wanted Jay for herself?”
“It’s weird, right?” Sarah admitted. “I mean they went to grad together but she ignored him the whole night and hooked up with someone else. I mean almost like she was trying to mean-girl him. And like, when I was going out with Jay it was Karine who told me to break up with him. She said it’s ‘cause Cerise was upset ‘cause she had a crush on him or something but Cerise was like the most supportive person when it came to me and Jay. So maybe it’s just a case of Karine not really wanting him but she wants him to want her.”
“That’s like, so petty.”
“I know, but it’s totally her M.O. I mean in high school her and her friends were like notorious for that shit. One time they even made a blog about this girl, Marla and it was all lies. It was so mean. She’s just a bitch.”
“What a fucking ho!” fumed Cassie.
“It’s so fucking petty. ‘Cause like, Karine isn’t even trying to get with Jay. She’s dating Brady now! Like that’s not enough for her? Maybe she’s seeing Jay on the side, like in secret but she’s too embarrassed to admit it ‘cause like she thinks she’s above him or something.”
“God, totally. What a fucking snob.”
“I know,” Cassie growled. “What a fucking bitch-ass-whore.”
“If you can’t admit it to yourself, at least admit it to me.”
Shauna blew smoke into Leanne’s face. “Why can’t you just leave me alone?”
“Shauna, you texted me five minutes ago. Obviously you don’t wanna be alone.”
“I mean leave this…” Shauna lowered her voice to a whisper. “This lesbian shit. I’m not like that. I’m not like you.”
“Would it be so horrible to be like me?”
Shauna didn’t know what to say. She knew gayism was supposed to be ok now. It was cool even. And her parents watched Modern Family. But they also said the two gay guys on it were disgusting. If she became gay her parents would hate her even more. They’d beat her up or give her a lobotomy or something. Not that she had anything to worry about because she wasn’t like that. At all. “You can be like that but, I mean, just ‘cause I like Cerise as a friend doesn’t mean I like her like that.”
“What do you think about when you masturbate?”
Shauna felt her cheeks turning red. “I don’t…”
“Come on, Shauna, everyone does it.”
Shauna thought about her leg scratching and how good it felt. But that didn’t count as masturbation because she wasn’t touching her private parts. And even when she did touch her privates, if Cerise came into her head, well it was just coincidence because Cerise came into her head all the time for no reason. It certainly wasn’t because she was into her like that.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” said Leanne with a half smile.
“Maybe you should.”
“I don’t wanna talk about this anymore,” Shauna said in a whimper, acutely aware that she was about to cry. She tossed away her cigarette and hefted open the door to Casgrain. She wasn’t going to cry and Leanne couldn’t make her.
“Well look who’s here,” smirked Karl as they walked into Cunningham’s.
They all turned to see Karine sitting at the bar with Brady Bunch asshole loser dude.
“Is that why you wanted to come here?” Vani asked Jay. “To spy on Karine and her new lover?”
“Eww, he’s not her lover. And I didn’t even know she was gonna be here,” lied Jay.
“You’re like, totally stalking her,” Willy laughed.
“Uh-oh, puh-poh, Jay’s got the stalking bug!” Vani did a little dance and Karl and Willy joined in, all chanting that Jay had the stalking bug.
“Shut up!” Jay hissed.
“Check it out, they’re totally kissing,” Willy grinned.
Indeed, the douchenozzle had his tongue shoved all the way down Karine’s throat.
“Someone’s getting’ jiggy tonight and it ain’t Jay,” snickered Vani.
“Did you really think you’d ever be able to get together with her?” asked Karl with genuine curiosity.
“I admire your dedication to the dream, but eventually even dreamers must face reality,” nodded Vani.
“Aren’t stalkers on the list of those we hate?” asked Willy with a smug grin.
“Jay’s got the bug, the stalking bug,” Vani sang. “Jay’s got the bug. The stalking bug.” They all sang and poked him in the ribs as Jay turned and walked outside.
Cerise knew Britt was bad but apparently her teacher thought she was like crazo intense bad because she recommended she see a child psychologist. Terry wasn’t too pleased by the idea but Cerise thought it had merit. She never wanted to go to Terry’s place anymore for fear of Britt hitting her. She was just a kid but it still hurt! And it was just awkward to be so hated by someone who didn’t even have the decency to hide their wrath. Poor Terry. He was so stressed. He wasn’t even affectionate anymore. She couldn’t even remember the last time they’d made love. Ok, it was his birthday, so not that long ago, but they used to do it everyday. Now it was maybe once a week.
She joined the guys and Sarah at the Munch Box for lunch and texted Terry, asking where he was. He’d be there in a second, he replied.
“Where is everybody?” asked Jay.
What everybody? Everyone was here as far as Cerise could tell, except for Terry. But Jay wouldn’t care about Terry. Oh, he must be asking about his one true love. “Karine is having lunch with Brady,” she explained as Jay nodded sadly.
“Jay’s got the bug,” Willy smirked.
“The stalking bug!” Vani, Karl and Willy all chanted.
Cerise giggled and asked for clarification.
“He totally dragged us to Cunningham’s last night so we could witness Karine macking on Greg Brady.”
“You followed her there?” asked Sarah with great interest.
“Jay’s got the bug, the stalking bug!”
“Well you certainly got over Cassie pretty quickly there, eh Jay?” Sarah smirked.
“Jay’s got the bug, the stalking bug!”
“Now Jay’s a stalker?” asked Terry as he sat next to Cerise. “Who’s he stalking?”
“Karine,” explained Vani.
Terry simply stared at Jay who concentrated on his poutine, as the boys continued to chant. After eating, Terry said he was going to go outside for a walk. Cerise got up to join him, which didn’t seem to please him too much.
“What’s wrong?” she asked as they stepped outside. Cerise loved Fall, it was so pretty and the air smelled crisp and clean and she loved crunching dead leaves under her feat. But it was cold and she wished she’d been able to go to her locker first for her jacket.
“I’m just stressed. I need a cigarette.”
“Terry, no, don’t start smoking again!”
“I need something to calm me down!” he insisted, pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. Cerise couldn’t believe it. “So you gonna get pissed now?” he asked angrily as he lit up.
She looked at him, unsure of what to say. “So how’s Britt?”
“Can you just lay off?”
“So like you don’t even wanna talk to me anymore?!”
Terry sighed and went on. “Vicky thinks the child psychologist thing is maybe a good idea. We could get my dad to pay for it. He wants joint custody. She was all saying how she could grant him that and then he’d pay. But you could make him pay anyway. I dunno, she’s all going against everything she originally said. I think she wants to get back with him.”
“Oh no,” Cerise shook her head.
“I know, it’s retarded. She’s all like saying how Britt needs a father and I’m like, yeah, ‘cause my dad’s such a good father. I mean, the way he lied to me my whole life about my real mother, that was some real quality parenting there.”
“You said that to her?”
“Yeah and she was like, good point.”
“But on the other hand,” Cerise began delicately. “Maybe if your dad was more in the picture it would lessen some of the burden on you. I mean is Vicky gonna call you every time there’s something up with Britt?”
“Why shouldn’t she?”
“Terry! We hardly see each other anymore. Between rehearsals and hockey and Britt it’s like we only see each other at lunch and it sucks.”
“I know it does, but fuck, what am I supposed to do? I have responsibilities!”
“But that’s my point. Britt is not your responsibility. I mean you’re stressed out of your mind, smoking again.”
“I knew you couldn’t let that go,” he sighed, taking one last drag and tossing away the butt of his smoke.
“You’re always in a bad mood lately. We never have any fun anymore.”
“Not everything in life is a bed of fucking roses, Cerise. You only wanna be with me if it’s fun?”
“I’m not saying that,” said Cerise. “I’m saying that you’re freaking me out. I’m worried about you.”
“No, you’re worried about you. You’re worried that you’re not having fun anymore. Well I have an idea. Why don’t you go play with your good friend, Jay? Maybe you can have fun with him.”
He walked away in a huff and Cerise didn’t bother to follow. What a jerk! And why bring up Jay, what did he have to do with it? She’d denied it, but really, why should she keep going out with him if it stopped being fun? She loved him and she wanted to support him, but if he was going to be a total asshole all the time then what was the point?