When everyone got up from their seats and started milling out of the theatre, Cerise figured class must be over. It was the first day back at school since Christmas break and Cerise had been in a fog all morning.
“You coming to the Munch Box?” asked Karine.
“Not likely,” mumbled Cerise as she followed Karine out to the hall.
“Come on,” Karine insisted. “I know you don’t wanna see him but if you don’t go then everyone’s gonna think you care that he broke up with you.”
“I do care.”
“You can’t leet him know that.”
“Why shouldn’t he know it? Why shouldn’t he know how much he hurt me? And what if I sit across from him and like, start to cry or something? It’d be too embarrassing.”
“Oh my god, we so have to toughen you up,” said Karine with a roll of her eyes.
Cerise shrugged. She knew Karine was right but she just didn’t have the energy to face Jay yet. She said she was going to eat lunch on the stairs and Karine said she’d join her after she’d gone to buy her lunch.
“One question, Jay.”
As if he didn’t know what the question was going to be.
“Why’d you break up with Cerise?” Sarah went on.
Jay shifted uncomfortably in his seat at the Munch Box and said he didn’t want to talk about it, which did nothing to dissuade Sarah’s inquisitiveness. She and Cassie and the guys all stared at him expectantly as Sarah asked if it had anything to do with Karine.
“Karine? Why do you say that?” he asked, trying not to show his panic. Had the guys said something?
“Well it just seems odd is all,” Sarah said with that sense of superiority she always carried around. “Everything between you and Cerise seemed fine so you must have a reason.”
“Because! I just did that’s all! Fucking drop it!”
“Geez, Jay,” Karl sighed. “The least you could have done was think up a cover story.”
“Oh! So there is a reason!” Sarah said triumphantly. “You guys know?”
“Well,” began Vani, which just heightened Jay’s sense of panic. Whatever Vani was about to say could only make things worse. “Jay just couldn’t handle the fact that Cerise was Terry’s ex. He was afraid Terry would beat him up.”
Yep. Vani always made things worse.
“Really? That’s the reason?” Sarah asked while Cassie laughed aloud.
“No it’s not!” insisted Jay. “Vani just made that up!”
“Wow, I never knew you were such a coward,” said Sarah, getting up to go stand in line with Karine, who was ignoring all of them.
“I’m not a coward!” Jay called out.
“Don’t deny it, Jay, we know you’re a giant pussy,” grinned Willy.
“We have news,” announced Karine as she, Sarah and Cassie joined Cerise on the stairs in Casgrain.
Cerise looked up expectantly.
“Ok so like, apparently, like according to Vani…” Sarah began.
Karine interrupted. “Jay broke up with you because he’s scared of Terry. Scared Terry was gonna like, beat him up or some shit.”
Cerise looked at her friends skeptically and they all confirmed it. Jay was apparently denying it but it was obviously true because he was being all weasely and stuff. Cerise insisted that Terry would never do such a thing and Sarah agreed.
“Well, he might,” Karine shrugged.
“No he wouldn’t!” Cerise protested. “I mean Terry’s a good guy. He wouldn’t beat someone up for such a stupid reason.”
“Do you miss him?” asked Cassie.
“Of course,” nodded Cerise. “I can’t believe we broke up. I mean, I can believe it. He was right to break up with me ‘cause I treated him like shit. I betrayed him by like pining over Jay, who goes and like totally breaks my heart two seconds later! It actually serves me right. It’s like karma or whatever.”
“You’re missing the point!” said Sarah. “Jay is a total coward! You can’t be all like upset he broke up with you! You’re better off without him!”
“We all are,” nodded Cassie. “So like, do you think Terry would actually beat him up?” asked Cassie.
“Of course not!” insisted Cerise.
“Well…” Karine shrugged.
“This doesn’t even make,” mused Sarah. “You and Jay were together a month and Terry didn’t do anything,” said Sarah. “Why would Jay suddently get scared now?”
“Maybe Terry threatened him,” suggested Cassie.
“No, I would have heard about it,” said Karine.
“Even if he did, for Jay to like, break up with you over it is totally pathetic!” insisted Sarah.
“Totally!” Karine and Cassie exclaimed.
“You know, come to think of it, he was pretty pathetic with me too,” said Sarah. “I figured it was just nerves or embarrassment or whatever, but like, the first time we had sex, he was actually a complete asshole to me after.”
“God, seriously? What a fucking ass!” Karine exclaimed.
“I’m glad I never slept with him,” said Cerise. “I can’t believe I ever went out with him!”
“Me neither,” echoed Sarah and Cassie while Karine nodded assent.
“God, just relax,” counselled Leanne. “It’ll be ok.”
Shauna was hesitant and she protested for the billionth time but a second later Leanne was dragging her into a room in Hochelaga. It was a lounge of some sort, with mismatched chairs and various bulletin boards and a vending machine. Those girls that Leanne knew, that Shauna had met once at Cunningham’s, they were there, the pretty one and the one who looked like a boy. And there were four guys, one of whom looked super girl and one whom Shauna recognized. Wasn’t he that guy always hanging out with Cerise and her hockey boyfriend?
“Oh hey Shauna,” said the girl who looked like a boy. Her name was maybe Kim? “I didn’t know you were queer,” she said in a bitchy tone.
“She’s just here to sit in,” explained Leanne while Shauna squirmed and sat next to her on a ratty little sofa.
Leanne led the group and they all said their names, even Shauna, even though Leanne had said she wouldn’t have to. The other girl’s name was Brenda and Cerise’s hockey friend was Nick. He was one of those guys who was so good looking he could be a movie star. He had black hair and tanned skin and a big smile with straight, white teeth. It was weird to think he was gay, ‘cause if he were normal he’d be perfect. He started the talking part of the meeting by asking Leanne if she’d had fun at the New Year’s party.
“Yeah, it was ok, you?”
“Yeah, it turned out to be really good,” he smiled. “I came out to a friend.”
They all congratulated him like it was really awesome and he smiled and shrugged like it was no big deal. He went on to explain that it was his close friend Terry, the one he’d been telling them about.
“Oooh! The guy you have a crush on?” asked Kim in a sing-song voice.
“I don’t have a crush on him,” he blushed. “I just think he’s hot.”
“He’s a bit of a pretty-boy isn’t he?” asked Leanne.
Nick narrowed his eyes and she giggled and prompted him to go on. He said how this past year he’d become really good friends with Terry but he was worried that he might be homophobic.
“Why ‘cause he’s a jock?” asked the girly boy. “That’s just a stereotype and it’s no better than straight people thinking we’re all a bunch of queens.”
“Says the most fey guy I’ve ever met in real life,” scoffed Kim.
“And if you were any more butch you’d have a dick,” he countered.
“Play nice you guys,” said Leanne. “It’s valid to be fey or butch or anything in between.”
“Oh my god, Leanne!” Brenda stuck out her tongue in a show of exhaustion. “Don’t you ever get tired of validating everyone?”
“Anyway!” Nick said in a raised voice.
“Yeah, let Nick go on,” Leanne instructed.
“Yeah, so like I was worried ‘cause he makes gay jokes sometimes and he has these weird friends who also make gay jokes that are kinda… well sometimes I think this one guy is gay ‘cause he’s like obsessed with Terry but then again, he seems to like girls too.”
“So maybe he’s bi. I’m bi,” said Brenda. “You know, I think if you really think about it, everyone is bi.”
“Oh my god!” Kim exploded. “Broken record much? We get it! You’re bi! But you’re gonna have to time travel back to the ‘90s to find someone who gives a shit!”
“Let Nick finish!”
“I’m done,” he shrugged. “The point is just that I was worried Terry would freak but he totally didn’t.”
“That’s great!” said Leanne enthusiastically.
“Yeah, at first he was surprised but then he was really cool about it. Said I should have told him sooner. He even joked around with me about it. And he encouraged me to come out to all his friends. He said they wouldn’t care.”
“Well that’s awesome! So Cerise is one of those friends, right?” said Leanne pointedly.
“Yeah. I mean, they broke up but yeah, she’s in that group.”
“So it’s a pretty sure thing that Cerise wouldn’t have a problem with homosexuality.”
Shauna sunk deeper into the couch, hoping it might swallow her up.
“Yeah, I think she’d be cool about it,” said Nick with a smirk.
“Well that’s good to know,” said Leanne, smiling down at Shauna.
God, she’d known it was a mistake to come to this stupid meeting.
Cerise felt like a zombie. She was trying to get back into her school routine but she just wasn’t feeling it. Even though it had only been a couple of weeks she felt like Jay had dumped her a million years ago. Time was passing soooo slowly. Shouldn’t the year be over already? She was so tired.
Karine kept telling her she had to get over it, and to fake it until she made it but even though Cerise could intellectually acknowledge that Jay was a piece of shit and not worth pining over she still felt like shit. The fact that he was a cowardly asshole just made him dumping her all the more humiliating. She thought back to how uncomfortable she’d been with him, how awkward their relationship had been when they’d tried to be a couple and she knew they were better as just friends but now she didn’t even have that. They were such a cliché. Everyone knew that the best way to ruin a friendship was to try to make it a romance. It never worked. And that’s what sucked the most; Jay had been a good friend and now he was nothing. He was maybe even an enemy. She never wanted to see him again.
She’d taken to eating lunch in the green room and was hanging out there pretty much all the time. Today everyone was losing their minds.
“Have you guys read this shit?” asked Janice, waving around their script.
“Yeah,” said Karine sadly.
“It sucks!” Janice screeched.
“I know,” Karine nodded. “It sucks hardcore.”
“It’s retarded,” agreed one of the boys.
“And it’s totally boring,” said Cassie.
“And Fred’s rewrites are insane. I mean I saw the original in movie form. They made a movie about it in like, the ‘40s. But I was halfway through the script before I made the connection ‘cause that’s how much is changed.”
“I know, he tried to like update it to like modern times but it just doesn’t work.”
“He’s so out of touch. All the slang is still the ‘40s slang. It makes no sense.”
Cerise had no idea what anyone was talking about. She hadn’t read the script yet and wondered how everyone had gotten through it so quickly. When had they gotten it? She rifled through her bag and found it, chastising herself for being so out of it. Just because Jay was a stupid cowardly loser was no reason for her to mess up her schoolwork. She’d have to prepare her audition soon; she really needed to read this thing.
Everyone went on with their complaints, saying the story was boring and irrelevant. Apparently in the original all the characters were girls but because half the class was boys Fred had made some of the characters males. Janice thought this was retarded because none of their lines were changed and they came across as pussies.
Karine complained about various other anachronisms, including the main plot point. She didn’t even know which part she wanted, since the protagonist was a wishy-washy weakling.
“I know, why does she even fall in love with the main guy? He’s an ass! At first I thought she was just using him for her career but then they get together in the end like it’s a good thing,” said Cassie.
“I know, that’s supposed to be the happy ending? It’s totally bullshit!” agreed Janice.
“You guys, I think this is supposed to be a comedy,” said Karine with a frown.
“But it’s so not funny.” They all agreed.
“It sucks that this is our last show. I mean for those of us who are second-year.” Karine contemptuously shrugged at the first-years. “We should be going out with a bang. We should be doing a big extravaganza like last semester. How come we’re doing this piece of shit?”
A theory was put forth that Fred didn’t have the energy to do a big show because he was going through a divorce. Perhaps this was why his rewrites seemed so half-assed. Or perhaps he just sucked as a writer and Hugh was too nice to tell him. Or maybe Hugh was the problem. Maybe he was the one getting divorced. Or maybe they both just sucked as teachers.
Cerise resolved to read her script that night. She needed to get her act together in spite of the suckitude of her personal life right now. Karine was right; even though Jay had hurt her she couldn’t let him get the better of her. She had to be above it all. And throwing herself into her schoolwork would be a good distraction, even though the play this year apparently sucked. She’d audition for the protagonist and she’d be the best wishy-washy weakling ever!