They all said goodbye to each other, congratulating one another on a good rehearsal even though it had been a shit rehearsal. Just like every rehearsal had been shit, because the play they were doing was shit.
Karine gathered up her things and put on her coat, falling into step with Cerise as they walked through the school to get to the back-door bus stop.
“So I guess that was that,” said Cerise. “Did you find it awkward? Hanging out with Jay again after all this time?”
“Wasn’t awkward for me. Was it awkward for you?”
“I dunno,” shrugged Cerise. “He seemed pissed, didn’t he?”
“’Cause the guys were being pretty harsh on him, constantly making fun of his nose and his motor control issues. It was pretty hilarious.”
“They’re so mean,” said Cerise with a slight chuckle.
They got outside and went to stand inside the bus shelter. “God, it’s fucking freezing!” said Karine as she pulled her hat down on her head. She rarely wore a hat since she didn’t want to mess up her hair but she just couldn’t handle this kind of cold. God, winter sucked.
“I know, these late-night rehearsals are so bullshit. We have to stay so late and for what? So the play can continue to suck regardless?” asked Cerise with gritted teeth, holding her scarf over her nose.
“I know, it’s so insane. I wish we didn’t have to take the bus… oh my god! Terry is totally here!”
“What?” Cerise looked around in a panic.
“Terry and Nick! They had a game tonight! I think in Baie d’Urfe! And then they were gonna go drink in Ste-Anne’s after so like we can totally get him to pick us up!”
“We can’t just expect him to come get us when he’s probably like partying with a bunch of hockey groupies.”
“Oh god, whatever. What’s the point of having a friend with a car if you can’t force him to drive you home when it’s minus fucking 30?”
Before Cerise could protest, Karine dragged her back inside the school and pulled out her phone.
“He won’t want me in his car, Karine. Terry hates me.”
“Oh shut up, you think everyone hates you,” said Karine as she dialled. “Hey Terry, it’s me. Can you pick me up? I’m at school, we had a late rehearsal. Oh don’t give me that, I know you’re not having fun with those red-necks. It’ll be way more fun just us and Nick. Ok, later, babe!” She hung up and then advised Cerise that he was on his way.
“You didn’t tell him that I was here too.”
Cerise followed Karine outside, rushing to Terry’s car and jumping inside, sitting in the back with Karine since Nick was in front. She hoped Terry wouldn’t freak out that she was in his car.
“Oh my god, this has been like the craziest winter ever!” exclaimed Karine.
“I know, it’s insane. First it’s freezing, then it’s boiling, then it’s freezing again! I blame the government,” laughed Nick.
“Hi Terry,” said Cerise. “Thanks for picking us up. I mean I can still take the bus. It’s just that Karine said…”
“Oh my god, Cerise, calm down. Terry doesn’t hate you, right Terry?” said Karine, displaying about as much tact as Janice might in this situation.
“Of course not,” smiled Terry, meeting Cerise’s eyes for a moment and then turning back to face the wheel and driving off. “Are we going out or am I taking everyone home?”
“I’m good to go,” said Karine.
“Whatever everyone wants,” said Cerise. Part of her wanted to get home as soon as possible and part of her wanted to keep hanging out with Terry. She hadn’t seen him in forever.
They ended up at a crowded bar and sat at a table where they were thoroughly ignored by all the waitresses. Terry and Nick went to the bar to get their drinks and Karine reminded Cerise to get her shit together in terms of applying to Universities. The guys came back with three beers and a red drink.
“A Shirley Temple,” said Terry, depositing the drink in front of Cerise. “You like them, right?”
“Yeah,” she nodded. “How much do I owe you?” she asked, taking out her wallet.
“Don’t worry about it,” he smiled.
“No, seriously,” she took out a five-dollar bill but he pushed it away, insisting that it was no big deal and that she could buy him his next drink.
“So where are you guys going next year?” asked Karine.
“Concordia,” Terry and Nick said in unison.
“I applied to McGill too,” said Nick. “But Terry wants to go to Concordia. The Loyola campus is super close to where he lives now.”
“Oh yeah, that’d be super convenient,” nodded Karine. “But it’s not like McGill is far.”
“That’s what I said,” agreed Nick. “But Terry doesn’t think his grades are high enough to get him into McGill.
“But I thought you’d been doing really good lately.”
“Yeah but still,” shrugged Terry.
“What program are you gonna do?” asked Cerise.
“We both applied to Sociology,” said Terry.
“Both of you?” asked Karine with a smile.
“Terry took it first semester and then I took it second and we both liked it. And we’ve done Anthro and Psych but we both like Soc best.”
“Oh yeah?” Karine snickered.
“Sociology, eh?” said Cerise. “That’s cool. Sounds interesting.”
“Yeah, it’s kinda cool,” nodded Terry. “I mean, I dunno if I’ll get in, even to Concordia. If not I guess I’ll get a job. What’d you apply to?”
“I haven’t yet,” Cerise admitted.
“The deadline is in like a week,” said Terry with concern.
“I know,” nodded Cerise. “But I don’t know what I wanna do.”
“Well you’re good at everything. Just pick something. Even if you don’t like it you can always switch programs later on,” Terry suggested.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“How ‘bout English?” he went on. “I mean you love to read and you write too. And you like to analyze books and stuff. You could do English Lit.”
“Yeah,” Cerise sipped her drink and smiled.
“Or Education. You were always so good at helping me study, explaining shit I didn’t get. Helping me write papers.”
“Helping you write papers? You mean writing them for you?” she snickered.
Terry smiled and blushed. “Yeah well, I write my own papers now! Thanks to you I know the difference between its and it is. Or at least I know how to use the grammar check thingy.”
Cerise smiled and Terry smiled back.
“You ok?” asked Nick once Terry had dropped off Cerise and Karine. Nick lived in the opposite direction but he was gonna crash at Terry’s tonight.
“Yeah, I’m good,” said Terry as he drove.
“You sure? You haven’t said anything in a while.”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“’Cause we could talk…”
“Oh my god, stop being such a fag!”
“Words hurt, Terry,” said Nick, wiping away a fake tear.
“Shut up,” snickered Terry, getting onto the highway.
They drove in silence for a while and then Nick asked again if he was ok.
“Oh my god, serious?!”
“Well you’re being all sad!”
“How am I being sad?”
“It’s all over your face!”
“Fine fuck, I’m sad! Satisfied?”
“Yeah, so let’s explore these feelings.”
“Fuck, you sure you wanna do Sociology and not Psychiatry?”
“You joke but I’ve actually thought about it.”
“So do it then,” said Terry.
“Nah, Sociology will be more fun. So anyway, tell me about how you feel. Seeing Cerise tonight after all this time must have been pretty intense.”
“I guess.” He sighed. “Yeah, I miss her. But honestly I think I miss the sex most of all.”
Nick laughed. “Oh yeah? You can get laid anytime you want, Terry.”
“It’s different when you’re in love. Seriously, it’s a cliché I guess but it’s true. It was always different with Cerise. So much better.”
“God, I can still feel her skin. She has the most amazing skin. It’s like fucking silk. It’s like, you wouldn’t even believe… and if I would touch her really lightly, like you know, really lightly, she would shiver, like actually shiver.”
“Well I won’t waste my time telling you to get back with her ‘cause I know you hate it when I state the obvious.”
“Uh-huh,” said Terry, examining the road signs with extreme interest.
“You just wanna torture yourself. You’re enjoying the fucking pain,” sighed Nick.
Terry let out a small laugh and Nick asked what was funny.
“I dunno, I guess… nevermind.”
“No, what?” Nick insisted.
“Do you think it’s weird to be into that? Like pain? Like S&M style?”
“Are you saying you’re into kinky sex?”
“A little. Not really. Just a bit. I only ever tried it with Cerise, and pretty mild shit. Just like, I’d have her scratch me and hit me. Nothing major. I never hurt her!” he clarified quickly before Nick could ask.
“Huh. So you really do like the pain,” said Nick. “I guess that makes sense. Yeah, you fucking love torturing yourself. You’re a fucking martyr, you know that? All like refusing to get back with her, just so you can act like you’re the victim somehow. Like she wronged you, when the only reason she ever left is ‘cause you pushed her away. And the only reason she got with Jay is ‘cause you straight up told him to get with her and then you fucking hit the kid like he did something wrong, like it wasn’t all your fault!”
“Are you done?” asked Terry, entering NDG and stopping at a light.
They got to Vicky’s place and quietly entered the apartment, tiptoeing to Terry’s room and silently taking their turns in the bathroom. Nick settled into the sleeping bag that had become a permanent fixture on Terry’s bedroom floor and Terry turned off the light, deliberately stepping on Nick as he got into bed.
“Ungh!” Nick exclaimed. “You should get back in the gym, loser, I barely felt that,” he whispered.
Terry chuckled quietly and quipped back that he’d be happy to take on Nick in any physical challenge to see who was weaker.
“Seriously, any physical challenge?” Nick snickered.
“Shut up, fag.”
“You harm because you hurt.”
They both chuckled, trying not to make too much noise. Terry waited until he could hear Nick’s sleep breathing and then he fished Stir-Fry the chicken out of the drawer next to his bed. He tucked the stuffed animal under the covers and closed his eyes.