When Leanne walked right past Shauna without stopping or saying hi, Shauna immediately assumed she didn’t want to be her friend anymore. But then she reconsidered; maybe Leanne simply hadn’t seen her there standing in the hall near Leanne’s locker. Hesitantly, but quickly, so as not to lose her nerve, Shauna called out to her friend, or ex-friend.
“What?” Leanne said in annoyance.
Shauna stopped and shrugged. “Nevermind.”
“What is it, Shauna?”
“Do you um…” Shauna looked around. “Wanna go for a drink after school?”
Leanne sighed and approached her. “Are you gay?” she asked.
“I can’t hear you.”
“I don’t think so. I dunno.” She wouldn’t cry. She simply wouldn’t.
“Oh god, Shauna. You break my heart, you know that? Yeah, we can go for a drink.”
Shauna smiled and bit her lip, not wanting to seem too eager, but wanting Leanne to know she appreciated her friendship. Maybe she should be gay just so she could stay friends with Leanne. Wasn’t having a friend and being gay better than being straight and alone?
“I just think it shows you still dig Cerise,” said Nick as he sat on the couch browsing on Terry’s laptop.
Terry sat on the floor playing Tinker Toys with Britt. She wasn’t quite old enough for Legos yet but she’d get there. “I never said I didn’t. But she still went out with that ass-fuck. And I don’t wanna be with someone who doesn’t wanna be with me.”
“She does wanna be with you. And maybe you shouldn’t say ass-fuck in front of your sister,” counselled Nick.
“Please, I’m sure she’s heard worse on the playground.”
“Ass-fuck,” said Brittany.
“See?” Terry smiled. “Anyway, let’s stop trolling Cerise’s Facebook and look up some gay dude’s Facebook. There has to be someone at school who’s gay and not a total loser. Like look at the profiles of people who go to JAC. See if any of them are guys interested in guys. Or we could even go on Plenty of Fish or something.”
“I don’t like Ceweez,” pouted Britt.
“What? Why not?” asked Terry.
“She a ass-fuck!”
“No she’s not. I actually might not mind it if she were. Might be worth getting back together with her…” Terry smirked.
“You’re such a loser,” Nick laughed.
“She ahways wanna pway wif you! And you nevah wanna pway wif me when she pway wif you!”
Nick chuckled as Terry explained that the games he played with Cerise were grown-up games. Britt said she wanted to play grown-up games too and Terry and Nick exchanged glances.
“She’s gonna be a handful when she gets older,” Nick said with an amused smirk.
“I know,” Terry nodded. “Can you imagine her as a teenager? God, I’m dreading puberty.”
“Imagine all the guys you’re gonna have to beat up then,” Nick snickered.
“Seriously,” Terry chuckled. “I get tired just thinking about it. Although I bet she’ll do her own beating-up. She’s pretty tough. Aren’t you? You’re a tough girl, aren’t you?”
“I tuff wike you!” Britt squealed, baring her teeth and flexing her little baby arms as she’d seen Terry do.
Both Terry and Nick were still laughing as Vicky came in. Britt ran to her and they hugged. Then Britt ran back to her toys as Vicky took her coat off.
“You’re home early,” said Terry. “I haven’t even put Britt to bed yet.”
“I told my date I was going to the bathroom and then I just left the restaurant.”
“That’s classic!” laughed Nick. “He must have been pretty bad if you didn’t even play out the whole date.”
“He was awful. And way too old for me. I’ll never date anyone more than ten years my senior again.”
“Seriously, it’d be like dating a freaking museum,” nodded Terry.
“I can see the appeal of an older man. They’re wiser, more experienced. Less immature,” suggested Nick.
“Not necessarily,” smirked Vicky.
“Yeah, men are always immature losers no matter how old they are,” said Terry. “Now an older woman, that might be cool. She could like, teach me stuff, know what I mean?” He wiggled his eyebrows.
“Yeah, we know what you mean,” said Nick with an eye-roll.
Vicky chuckled and picked up Brittany, carrying her to her room for a bedtime story.
“I don’t think Terry hates you,” said Karine. “Or Jay. Though if I were you I’d hate Jay. Fuck, I’m me and I hate Jay.”
Cerise nodded and sipped on her hot chocolate. It was Saturday evening and they were hanging out at Karine’s house, having spent the afternoon with Cassie and Janice and Tom and a few others from class, trying to figure out how to improve the play. They hadn’t come up with any solutions.
“I mean, don’t you hate him?” Karine went on.
“I don’t think so. I dunno,” Cerise shrugged. “I mean, why should we hate him? Just ‘cause he didn’t like me the way I liked him?”
“Liked? Past tense?”
“I don’t think I still like him. I think I’m just you know, embarrassed by it all?”
“You sure you don’t still like him?”
“I dunno,” said Cerise sincerely. She honestly didn’t know how she felt about any of it. “Maybe I just wanted him to like me.”
“Well whatever, who cares? He’s a loser and we’re all better off without him.”
“What does that mean?” asked Cerise in confusion. “We’re all better off? Does that mean no one’s friends with him anymore?”
“Well I was only ever friends with any of the guys because of you.”
“And we’re only friends because of Terry and yet I’m not friends with Terry anymore.”
“Yeah, good point,” nodded Karine. “Get out of my house,” she grinned.
“Shut up,” said Cerise as she laughed. “But seriously though, do you think Jay would even want to stay friends with me now that his nose is broken?”
Karine giggled. “Come on, it’s funny that he’s all bested up, isn’t it?”
“You don’t get any kind of perverse pleasure from knowing he got hurt?”
“No,” Cerise insisted. “It’s just part of why it’s all so embarrassing. It couldn’t just be forgotten and like fade away or whatever. Like the humiliation of our little non-relationship. Terry breaking his nose just makes it into a huge thing.”
“You’re such a drama queen,” Karine giggled.
“I’m not the one being a drama queen! Terry’s the one who blew it all up!”
“It’s just so hard!” Vicky exclaimed in between bites of chips and sips of beer. “There are no good men out there! They’re all married or gay.”
“Works out for you then,” Terry said to Nick, who shrugged.
Vicky went on. “And the single ones are fat and old and pathetic and obsessed with Star Wars. I mean I liked those goddamned movies as much as the next person but like every single man on the planet has those customized light sabres! You know how much those things cost? Like seven hundred dollars! I know ‘cause they tell me. Like it’s a point of pride. Like a woman is gonna be impressed by that. And like, what is even the point of customizing them to the point where they bear no resemblance to what’s in the movies? I get wanting Darth Maul’s sabre or whatever, but when it’s like a Darth who never even existed? Like you’re the new Darth? Like can’t there only be one Darth at a time? Oh my god, I can’t believe I even know that. I think I’m a bit drunk.”
Terry and Nick chuckled.
“God, I hate men. Except you two of course. Terry, I swear to god, you’re the only decent straight man left in the whole world.”
“Not sure how many people think I’m decent,” shrugged Terry. “Or a man.”
“You’re more of a man than your father ever was,” Vicky insisted. “And if all that moaning I overheard coming from your bedroom all those years was any indication you’re also a better lover than your father ever was.”
Nick laughed so hard he spit out his beer like in a TV show or something. He grabbed a nearby Kleenex and wiped his mouth, still sputtering with laughter.
Terry chuckled as well. “You could hear?”
“Oh come on, like you didn’t know? Some of those girls were very vocal.”
“Sorry, I mean, if it made you uncomfortable or whatever.”
“Oh please, I was jealous if anything. All I had was a fucking vibrator!”
Again Nick laughed uproariously. “But didn’t you and Terry’s dad…”
“At first,” Vicky conceded. “But eventually he got tired of me. Men are like that. They want variety, quantity over quality. I guess it’s in their genes.”
“Not Terry,” smirked Nick. “All he ever wants is Cerise.”
“Probably because he can’t have her. As soon as she commits he’ll get bored. Won’t you?”
Terry shrugged with discomfort.
“Don’t, Terry, don’t lose interest. She’s such a nice girl. And she was the loudest one!” Vicky nudged Nick and they both burst into laughter.
“What did you do to that girl?” asked Nick between guffaws.
Terry shrugged and grinned. “I’d go down on her a lot.”
“Oh my god, I wish!” Vicky exclaimed. “Most men hate doing that! They act like it’s a chore! I’ve only ever been with one man who seemed to enjoy it.”
“Was it Terry’s dad?” asked Nick with interest.
“Ugh, I don’t wanna know!” Terry covered his ears.
“No, John was a very selfish lover.”
“Good,” said Nick. “I mean not good for you, but for you, Terry. You’re always worried about being like him. Obviously you’re not.”
“I really don’t wanna compare myself to my dad in that way.”
“Do you really like it?” asked Nick. “I mean going down on chicks? Isn’t it like, nasty?”
“Well isn’t it nasty to go down on a guy?” asked Terry.
“No, it’s fun.”
“Well there you go,” said Terry. “Anything’s fun if the chick, I mean if your partner’s into it.”
“Yeah,” Vicky nodded. “That’s true. Well, as long as you’re both into it.”
“Yeah,” Nick nodded.
Terry nodded as well and wondered if Cerise had always been into everything they’d done.
“Ok, enough about me,” said Cerise, digging into the popcorn. “What’s new in your neck of the woods?”
Karine shrugged and said there was no one on the horizon. She was about to change the subject but then decided she might as well share. Cerise was the only girl besides Christina who knew about her situation so if she couldn’t talk to her about it then she’d have to keep it all inside. “I’ve been having dreams lately.”
“Like sex dreams but not the good kind.”
“Oh, you mean like…”
“Yeah, with him in them. And Erica too sometimes.
“God. Are you ok?” Cerise pushed away the popcorn and sat up straight, turning to face Karine.
“Yeah, I’m ok. I just don’t wanna be with guys right now.”
“Of course not.”
“It’s just like, why now? It’s been almost two years. Why am I dreaming about it now all of a sudden?”
“I dunno. I mean, I don’t think you ever really fully get over something like that, do you? I mean, not to be discouraging or anything. But it’s probably something that’s gonna be with you forever.”
“Although I guess there are ways to deal with it. Have you thought about like, therapy? Or like a support group or whatever?”
“I guess,” Karine sighed. “I wonder if Christina’s ok.”
“You think she’s still with him?”
“She might be,” Karine nodded. “And even if she’s not, I bet she’s fucked up. She always kind of was.”
“Maybe we should go see her again.”
“Yeah, but I think I should go alone this time.”
“Yeah, I get it,” Cerise nodded. “Maybe you can help her. And like, maybe helping her can help you.”
“Feel better now that you’re completely smashed?” asked Leanne.
“I’m not even,” said Shauna, though the spinning in her head might mean Leanne was right. Leanne might always be right. She was a righter. Always right. “You’re a righter,” Shauna said.
“I’m a writer? What do you mean?”
“You’re always right.”
Leanne laughed. “Maybe you should drink some coffee or something. You can’t go home this drunk, right?”
“When you’re right, you’re right!”
“Ok, let’s take a walk, that’ll do you good too. We’ll go to Starbucks or something.”
They left the bar and walked down the street even though it was super cold but Shauna didn’t even feel the cold and she took off her hat but Leanne told her to put it back on ‘cause it was freezing so Shauna did and then they went to Starbucks and got giant coffees and sat in giant chairs and drank the giant coffees and Shauna usually hated coffee but Leanne must have gotten her one that had tons of other stuff in it ‘cause it was pretty good.
“So tell me about Cerise. In more detail.”
“Why?” Shauna sat back in the giant chair. It was pretty comfy. Maybe she should move in here.
“I wanna know why you like her so much.”
“I don’t even.” She didn’t even like her that much. Not that much. Not really.
“Come on, Shaun. I’m not even trying to lead you down the rainbow brick road. I just wanna know what the fascination is. ‘Cause you know what? Honestly, I just don’t see it.”
“You don’t?” How could she not? How could anyone not see it?
“She’s so ordinary.”
“You said she was cute.” She was totally cute!
“I was just teasing you. Honestly I think she’s kinda plain looking. There’s nothing special about her at all.”
“You’re wrong!” Shauna insisted. “You’re not a righter, you’re a wronger!” she giggled. “She’s the most specialest!”
“Oh yeah? How so?”
Shauna sighed and sipped at her giant coffee. “Well…” she began.