“Can you at least fake a little enthusiasm?” Karine asked Terry and Nick as they helped her move furniture. “When’s the last time I had a party?”
“You have parties all the time,” said Terry.
“Correction. I used to have parties all the time. Now I never have them. Tonight corrects this problem.”
“I think it’ll be fun,” smiled Nick. “I mean you can’t not go to a party on New Year’s Eve.”
“See? Nick has the right attitude,” smiled Karine.
She actually wasn’t in that much of a partying mood, which is exactly why she was trying so hard to get Terry in the mood. She wanted to be the girl she used to be: the party girl, the girl who didn’t have a care in the world. Now she was just a loser with no boyfriend and no prospects who never had any fun.
“I just don’t feel like going to a party where I’m gonna be subjected to Cerise and Jay being all… coupley,” grumbled Terry.
“If you want me to tell them not to come I’ll totally do it,” said Karine.
“No, I don’t wanna be that guy,” he sighed. “I know I have to fucking get over myself. Besides, if they don’t come, who will? Fucking Janice and Brady?”
“Well actually, I broke up with Brady.”
“How come?” asked Nick with genuine concern.
“I dunno, whatever,” she sighed. “He was a jerk.”
The guys nodded and kept moving furniture but then she burst out with it. “He fucking tried to do anal with me without even like asking! He tried to just like, shove it in! I mean what the fuck?!”
They both stopped and stared at her, wide eyed. “Want me to beat him up?” offered Terry without a hint of irony.
“Of course not.” She rolled her eyes.
“So is it like, I mean, are you ok?”
“Yeah, of course. I just told him to leave, it was fine.”
“Well good riddance!” Terry announced.
“You didn’t like him?” she asked.
“Oh hell, I don’t like anyone anymore.”
“Well, since we’re on the topic of people we don’t really like… um,” Nick trailed off. “Would it be ok if Cerise’s stalker came to the party tonight?”
Both Terry and Karine said “what” at the same time.
“Well ‘cause I’m friends with that chick who’s friends with her. And she’s all intent on bringing her… I can just say that neither of them should come.”
“Well I don’t give a shit. She’s not my stalker,” shrugged Karine.
“Hell, I guess I shouldn’t care anymore either right?” said Terry. “I mean, Cerise’s own mother hired Porta-potty chick to work in her store. Why should I interfere?”
“Might even be funny to see if another fight develops. Nothing like that ever happens anymore. Remember back in high school that kind of high drama shit happened all the time,” said Karine.
“I don’t remember you being so up on the high drama back then.”
“Well not if it was directed at me.”
“But as long as someone else is being humiliated…”
“Then it’s all good!”
“You guys are such assholes,” laughed Nick.
Cerise was trying to decide what to wear for Karine’s party when Julie hollered that Jay was here to see her. He was way early but whatever. She chose an outfit hastily and got dressed as quickly as she could, then went down to the den to meet him.
“I thought we were going at like 8,” she said as she sat next to him on the couch.
He immediately stood up and began pacing the room.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, afraid of what the answer might be.
“I just… I…” he stammered.
She was getting impatient but also increasingly worried. Maybe she didn’t even want to know what was wrong. “Just tell me, Jay. What’s up?”
“Um, it’s, things are really complicated.”
He started crying. Cerise was stunned and didn’t know how to react. She didn’t even know what was wrong. Had someone passed away? She went up to him and led him to the couch, sitting him down and rubbing his back.
“Jay, talk to me. What happened?”
“It’s just things are really hard right now,” he sputtered.
“It’s just… I can’t really go out with you anymore.” He kept crying, blubbering loudly, and wiping his nose on his sleeve.
Well, that wasn’t what she’d expected. When he first got up and looked so worried, a part of her considered that this might be coming but then when he started to cry she figured something had happened to him or his family.
“It’s just… it’s not anything against you. I really like you. You know that… I mean, our friendship is super important to me.” The sobs were completely uncontrollable. He buried his head in her shoulder as he kept wailing. “I care about you so much, Cerise! It’s just, I can’t be with you. I mean, I can’t go out with you. I hope you’ll still be my friend. I hope you don’t hate me. I’m so sorry.”
Her hand was still on his back and she patted it to comfort him. It was ridiculous. He was breaking up with her and she was comforting him?! Shouldn’t she be the one crying?! What the hell was going on? He repeated an apology and rushed out of the house. Cerise remained on the couch, her hand hovering in the air where it had been rubbing Jay’s back.
What the fucking fuck?!
“I’ve been here before,” said Shauna as she looked up at the house in
“Oh yeah? When?” asked Leanne as she struggled to park her car, or her mother’s car or whatever. There was still tons of snow all over the place after that crazy snowstorm and the streets were narrowed because of it. Cerise loved snow.
“Grade 11. A party. Are we allowed to park here?”
“Everyone else is parked on the street. And it's a holiday so they won't snowplow tonight or tomorrow. I think we're good. So tell me about this party.”
They stepped outside and walked towards the house.
“It became known as the porta-potty party.”
“Bet there’s a funny story behind that,” laughed Leanne.
“Yeah, and I was the butt of the joke.”
“Oh. We don’t have to go in.”
“They’re gonna be here,” sighed Shauna.
“Cerise and her friends.”
“Well, they were at the Halloween party and that was ok. Wasn’t it?”
“So you think it’s fun for me to go to parties I know she’s gonna be at, so I can like, sit there and be ignored by her?”
“We can leave, Shauna. It’s no big.”
“I didn’t say I wanna leave.”
“It’s better to be ignored by her than not be around her at all, eh?” Leanne smirked.
Shauna simply scoffed and walked into the house. She looked around and couldn’t see Cerise but her big hockey boyfriend guy was hanging out with Leanne’s hockey guy friend, plus that pretty girl, Karine Cavalière and some other hipster chick. Cerise’s band dudes were there and her nerdy friends were hanging out with that Asian girl and the short girl and some others Shauna didn’t recognize. But Cerise was nowhere to be seen.
“I don’t think she’s here,” said Leanne.
“I don’t care,” shrugged Shauna.
“Yeah, that’s why you practically dislocated your neck looking around for her.”
“She bitched me out.”
“Last time I was here. That party. I came and… she bitched me out. For no reason. Said I shouldn’t be here.”
“Well that was like two years ago, right? When’s the last time she bitched you out?”
“Dunno. High school I guess. After the ski trip.”
“There’s so much about your life you haven’t told me.”
“There’s nothing to tell,” shrugged Shauna, looking at her feet. They’d taken off their boots at the front door and now she was standing around in socks with holes in the big toes. She felt like an idiot.
“There’s obviously tons to tell! I can’t help you if you never let me in.”
Shauna curled her toes and tried to pull them back into her socks and finally stepped on her own feet to rearrange the socks. Nothing worked.
“Ok, let’s get a drink,” Leanne sighed.
“So where are Cerise and Jay?” wondered Cassie.
Sarah had just been wondering the same thing and she joked that they were busy getting busy but she knew that wasn’t likely. Jay and Cerise were like the least affectionate couple ever. Come to think of it, Jay had never been overly affectionate with Sarah either. She wondered what was wrong with him. Maybe he was secretely gay. No, that wasn’t it. He was too unhygienic to be gay, besides which she’d found his porn collection on his computer once when he’d fallen asleep during a movie. He seemed to really enjoy bukaki, which was gross, but she’d given him a pass because all teenaged boys were gross.
Karl and Willy and Vani all exchanged looks of scepticism, or perhaps indigestion. Sarah asked them what was up and Willy replied that Jay had better be deciding his fate. Karl nudged him for that, telling him to shut his pie-hole and Vani said something about the war against the machines. Finally Jay appeared, looking as morose as ever.
“Hey Jay, where’s Cerise?” asked Cassie.
“I dunno,” he shrugged.
“Well weren’t you guys gonna come together?” asked Sarah.
“We broke up.”
They all stopped and stared.
“Oh my god, seriously?” asked Karl, shaking his head in disbelief. He seemed extremely disappointed, which was weird. Since when did he care so much about Jay’s love life?
Usually the guys celebrated the misery of one of their own and sure enough, Willy appeared even more smug than usual, chuckling to himself as Vani bugged out his eyes and let his jaw drop dramatically.
“You’ve only been together like a month,” said Cassie. “Why’d you break up? What happened?”
“I don’t wanna talk about it,” said Jay, walking away as if in a trance. A moment later he reappeared with a beer but walked past them as he made his way to a couch.
“So what do you guys think happened?” asked Cassie.
“Whatever happened you can be assured that it was all Jay’s fault and that he’s a complete fucking retard,” said Karl.
“I hate it when you use that word,” sighed Sarah.
“Except I’m being literal. He is mentally delayed. He lacks the comprehension of a pre-term gnat. The sheer volume of crack that guy is smoking defies logic. He should be dead by all accounts, due to asphyxiation from moronic emissions.”
“Word,” agreed Vani.
“Shut the fuck up. Your fucking obsession with Cerise is gross.”
Sarah turned to see who had said this and saw that Cerise’s bandmates were standing nearby. She inched closer to them to eavesdrop.
“I’m not fucking obsessed with her,” hissed Jeff, the hipster dude with the Bieber bangs. “I just wonder where she is. All her friends are here, including her latest useless boyfriend. And he’s looking all out of it. I just wonder why she’s not here.”
“Yeah, we know why you wonder,” said the drummer knowingly.
“Seriously, it’s called subtely, look into it. I’m surprised she hasn’t taken out a restraining order,” snickered the guitarist, or bassist or whatever. The one who wasn’t Tom.
“You know, I could reiterate the part about you being an ass for going after my ex,” grumbled Tom.
“And I could reiterate the part about me not giving a shit,” said Jeff.
“We could kick you out of the band.”
“Gimme a break. You’d kick me out ‘cause of a girl?”
“’Cause of you going after that specific girl,” Tom said bitterly.
“Whatever, Tom. Get a life. Instead of worrying about my non-love life why don’t you go find yourself a new girlfriend and stop dwelling on Cherry bomb?”
“Yeah, ‘cause you wouldn’t know anything about dwelling on Cerise.”
“When I do it it’s cool. ‘Cause I do it while wearing sunglasses. At night.” Jeff put on some shades and the other guys laughed.
Sarah supposed it was an inside joke ‘cause they all started singing Sunglasses at Night in high-pitched voices. She giggled and distanced herself, not wanting them to know she’d been listening. Sarah couldn’t help wondering what all the fuss was surrounding Cerise. She was nice and pretty and smart and funny but she wasn’t the second coming. How come so many people were obsessed with her? It wasn’t fair. Why couldn’t Sarah attract that kind of interest? She was nice and pretty and smart and funny too.
Just as she was wondering if the key to success was nothing more than blonde hair and blue eyes, Karine, Terry and Nick approached and asked about Cerise as well.
“Oh my god you guys,” she paused for dramatic effect. “She and Jay broke up.”
“What?” Karine hollered.
Terry remained completely stone-faced as Nick’s eyebrows shot up in surprise.
“I know, right?” nodded Sarah. “It’s totally crazy.”
“What happened?” asked Karine.
“Dunno. Jay won’t talk about it. Should I text Cerise? She probably doesn’t wanna talk about it either.”
“But they were so well suited!” insisted Karine. “They belong together!”
“Wow, you’re taking this really personally,” noted Sarah. “I guess all that stuff about wanting to break Jay up with me and Cassie so he could get with Cerise was true, eh? I gotta admit I sort of thought that was bullshit but you seem really upset by this.”
“Yeah, weirdly upset,” nodded Nick.
“Well people should have what they want,” said Karine. “And Cerise always wanted Jay. So it sucks they’re not together anymore. I mean are we sure they’re officially broken up? Maybe it’s just a fight. You know how Cerise is, she fights with guys and breaks up with them but then like makes up two seconds later.”
“She’s only like that with Terry,” said Sarah, looking up at him. He seemed non-plussed.
“What if he broke up with her?” asked Nick.
Finally Terry spoke. “Yeah right. Why would he break up with the hottest, cutest, nicest, smartest chick to ever give him the time of day?”
“Hey, I’ve given him the time of day too!” said Sarah with some resentment.
“You know what I mean,” he said apologetically. “Besides, the only reason you guys broke up is ‘cause the guys made it happen. I doubt Jay can even tie his shoes without someone else walking him through it.”
“I gotta admit I’m surprised,” said Willy. “I mean, I actually thought he’d refuse to choose and then we’d get to expulse him.”
Vani and Karl agreed that they didn’t see this coming, though really, Jay could always be counted on to make the stupidest decision possible. Willy had rightful dibs on Cerise but for Jay to acknowledge the rightness of it was strange. Then again, he’d been able to convince Jay to break up with Sarah as well. Perhaps he was more powerful than he knew. Maybe Willy was really the center of this group. Karl was the GM and Vani was the star of the game but Willy was the one who made things happen in real life. Awesome.
“This is kinda stupid,” said Karl. “I mean, Cerise is never gonna go out with you, Willy.”
“So? Jay shouldn’t get to go out with her either.”
“So petty.” Karl shook his head. “I mean, whatever I guess but we should at least acknowledge that we are pretty much directly responsible for the ruining of a relationship.”
“We nothing,” said Willy. “I’m directly responsible.”
“So you admit it’s your fault?” asked Vani.
Willy smiled with self-satisfaction.
“He’s drunk with power,” said Vani in awe.
“Indeed, he is,” agreed Karl. “Could this be a case of negative reinforcement? Years of telling Willy he’s a piece of shit has actually made him evil?”
“Just like with prison,” nodded Vani. “The innocent go to jail and have to become guilty so they can survive.”
“It’s us, this group. The four of us. We’re diseased. We leave a wake of destruction everywhere we go,” said Karl.
“Truly nothing good can come of us maintaining our relationship,” agreed Vani.
“Cool,” grinned Willy.
They all looked at each other and then high-fived.
Shauna looked around as she drank her beer and then caught Leanne smiling at her. “What?”
“Have you ever considered that you might be in love with her?”
“No.” Shauna glowered.
“But you’re like, totally obsessed. And time and distance doesn’t seem to affect your obsession. You’re either completely psychotic or you’re in love. Which option is really more objectionable to you?”
It was definitely something to think about.