All the second-years huddled in a circle in Karine’s living room, hugging and jumping up and down, singing My Inner Ninja. It was the end of an era. Their last play together. Karine was going to miss these guys so much!
“Oh my god, you guys!” wept Cassie.
“I know!” wailed Janice.
“I’m gonna miss you guys!” said Laura, and Karine hugged her even though she was a total bitch. But still, she was gonna miss this bitch!
“What’s the drama? Why’s everyone freaking out?”
Karine turned to see Christina standing behind her, holding a beer and munching on a pretzel.
“Oh my god, Chrissy! It was our last play! Everything’s over!”
“Ok,” said Christina as they hugged. “So is Terry here?”
“So you broke up with Paul?” asked Cerise in concern.
She and Sarah were sitting on the couch in the den, eating popcorn. Cerise was feeling much better now that she’d taken a shower and was resting with a hot water bottle behind her back.
“Yeah, I just couldn’t deal with him having no ambition,” nodded Sarah. “Maybe that makes me a snob but there you have it.”
“Even if it does make you a snob, so what? You’re an ambitious person, it only makes sense that you should be with someone equally ambitious.”
“Yeah! That’s what was so great about Karl. Even though he acted like he didn’t care about anything he was still really ambitious. He was going places, you know? Like, PhD, Post-Doc, everything. He’ll probably win a Nobel Prize someday.”
“God, I don’t even wanna go for a Masters. Or a Bachelors even!” moaned Cerise.
“Oh come on,” said Sarah with doubt.
“I just, I dunno. I feel like I have no path,” shrugged Cerise. “You and Karl, and even Karine, it’s so clear. You know what you wanna do. I have no idea. I’m gonna take English Lit but then what? I mean, to what end? And do I even wanna do that? I’m not well read, Sarah! Everyone thinks I’m so smart because I’m into sci-fi and I don’t wear makeup but I’m not that smart, I’m just ordinary. If Paul isn’t ambitious enough for you, then I’m not either!”
“Cerise, you’re plenty smart. You’re not giving yourself enough credit.”
“I don’t wanna go to school. I don’t wanna read books and write papers. I just wanna sit around and watch TV.”
“That’s not true,” countered Sarah. “You’re just upset ‘cause you’re all bloated or whatever. And ‘cause you’re not with Terry or Jay so you’re just feeling down on yourself.”
“Maybe,” shrugged Cerise. “Maybe I just need a change of pace for a while. Maybe I should go see my dad in Quebec City. Like just for the summer or whatever. Or even just for a few weeks.”
“Yeah, if your whole point in life is to be as bored as possible,” said Simone, entering the room with a tray of hot chocolate. Simone set down the tray and they each took a mug. “Actually, Cerise,” Simone went on. “I was thinking. You know how I’ve been itching to move out?”
Cerise nodded and turned to Sarah. “Simone wants to move downtown so she can be closer to school.”
“I’m in Fine Arts at Concordia.”
“Oh, I hear it’s a really good program,” said Sarah as she scooped up a mini marshmallow with her tongue.
“It has its moments,” shrugged Simone. “Actually, it’s kinda lame. I mean, I like the work but the people drive me crazy. I mean I know it’s hypocritical ‘cause I’m a bit of a scenester myself, I dunno, straddling the line between goth and hipster but artists, fuck, they’re crazy! If ever I thought I had any neuroses, that idea wiped away when I met these people. They are whacked in the head! The most pretentious, self-important, neurotic, but like, fake neurotic, all making up reasons to be upset. Fuck! I hate them!”
Cerise and Sarah giggled as Simone described a few of her classmates.
“Is it so bad that you’d wanna switch programs?” asked Sarah.
“Nah, I’m already two thirds done. I’ll see it through and then, fuck, go work at McDonald’s or something, ‘cause that’s how much my degree will be worth. But anyway, I’m sick of the commute. Living in the West Island is total bullshit. I’m totally gonna move downtown, I’ve already talked to dad about it and he’s gonna help out with rent and shit, but he thinks I should get a roommate ‘cause you know, it’s cheaper, but like, I’m not gonna live with those fuckers in my program! So like, why don’t you move downtown with me? I mean if you’re gonna be going to Concordia next year, it only makes sense.”
“Oh my god, totally!” exclaimed Sarah. “That would be so cool, Cerise! If you lived downtown, and then if I was going to McGill we could hang out between classes!”
Cerise nodded. It was indeed a good idea. She hadn’t even thought about moving out of the house, but it did make sense. Simone complained about the long commute downtown all the time, how it was such a pain in the ass to take the train every day. Cerise figured she’d use the travel time to do homework but to actually be living downtown would be super cool! “Oh my god, we so have to do this!”
“What?” shrieked Julie, popping up out of nowhere. “You guys would just move out and leave me here all alone?”
“Well, yeah,” shrugged Simone.
“Julie, you complain about us all the time. If we moved out you’d have the place all to yourself.”
“You mean myself and Mom! That would suck, she’d ride me more than ever!”
“God, Julie,” drawled Simone. “Mom is so mild compared to normal moms. She doesn’t ride us at all. The worst thing she does is go out with that toolshed, Andre.”
“Like that’s not enough reason to move out of this hell-hole?!” Julie whined. “I could move with you guys, and go to a CEGEP downtown!”
“You’re not old enough to move out,” said Cerise. “I mean I’m not sure I’m even old enough.”
“I’m almost seventeen!” insisted Julie. “That’s like way old!”
“I am sixteen, going on seventeen,” Cerise sang. “Ever since I did Sound of Music I always get that song stuck in my head. It so sucks that Theatre Workshop is over! And that my last play had to be so shitty! Sarah, it’s getting late, don’t you wanna go to the cast party? Everyone’s there.”
Sarah shrugged and sipped her hot chocolate as Julie exploded and ran out of the room. “Mom! Simone and Cerise wanna move out together!”
“So are we going in?” asked Willy. “We can easily just walk in, you know.”
They all stood outside the door to Karine’s house, under the porch roof. At first they’d been standing on the street next to Jay’s mom’s car, but then it started to rain so they went up to the house. But they hadn’t walked in yet. Didn’t seem prudent.
“Karine’s probably so drunk by now that she won’t even notice,” said Karl.
“You think?” asked Jay.
“Let’s just go in!” shrieked Vani. And with that he opened the door and flew inside, in the least discreet way possible.
Karl shook his head in dismay but followed Vani, and then Willy followed Karl and Jay followed him. They shook off their wet shoes and strode into the house, nodding at random people they didn’t even know, trying to act casual. As they entered the living room they were immediately confronted with Terry Trebitallsky and his man-bitch, Nick Morgay. All it took was an eyebrow raise from those roughnecks and they all turned around and walked back out of the house and reconvened on the porch.
“So gaming then?” suggested Karl.
“Check,” said Vani, actually tracing an invisible checkmark in the air with his little hand.
So they got back in Jay’s car and went to Jay’s house.
Oh god. Terry reached out and gripped Nick’s arm. “Brace yourself,” he hissed, as Christina bounced up to them.
“Hey guys!” she smiled.
“Hey, Chrissy,” Terry smiled back with gritted teeth.
“Hey, girl,” Nick said, leaning down and giving Christina a double cheek kiss like they were all old and sophisticated and shit.
“So I hear you broke up with Cerise,” she said.
Wow, she certainly wasn’t gonna waste time. In a way he admired that. You had to give her credit for knowing what she wanted, and for being focused and persistent. Shit, was he like crazy horny or something? Why wasn’t he immediately repelled by Christina? Usually he couldn’t stand her. But it was probably unfair of him to rag on her so much. She was a nice girl and she’d never done anything to hurt him. All she’d ever done was like him and her worst crime was being too nice. Poor girl.
“Listen, Chrissy, I never really apologized to you, you know, for all that shit I did to you back in high school,” Terry said.
“Oh,” she said, stunned.
“I mean, I did some shitty things. I know that. I was a dick.”
“Oh,” she said again, as Nick watched with interest.
“So sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I was just a stupid kid. But you deserved better. You still do. I mean, you should be with someone who respects you. Someone who will, you know, value you or whatever?” He finished the comment like it was a question, like he wasn’t even sure what he was getting at.
Was he trying to butter her up so he could hit that again, or was he being sincere? In a way, Chrissy didn’t really deserve to be with someone who would treat her right because she didn’t treat herself right. Whoa, that was some insightful shit right there. But it was true. Chrissy let herself be dogged, so why not dog her? But no, Terry had to rise above that shit. He had to be a good guy, ‘cause he didn’t want to be with a chick who was into bad boys. He wanted someone who would challenge him, who would fight back, who would demand respect. Is that what he was trying to get Chrissy to do? To be stronger, so they could be together? She was undeniably hot. He’d totally be into her if she just changed her entire personality.
“Well, yeah, that’s ok,” she smiled happily, giggling like he’d said something funny. “So like, you want a beer?”
“Um, yeah, I guess,” he shrugged.
She announced she’d go get him one and skipped off to the kitchen.
“I don’t think what you said really sunk in,” mused Nick.
“Yeah, fuck, she really is a moron, isn’t she?” Terry said sadly. “I don’t wanna take advantage of her but fuck, she makes it so easy.”
Before Nick could respond, Christina was back with three beers. She gave one to each of them and then asked about hockey, stroking Terry’s arms, asking if he was still working out. He flexed when she touched him. Shit, he was gonna fuck her tonight, wasn’t he?
“Roll off, roll off, roll off!” the guys sang as they threw down their dice.
“Ooh, I suck,” whined Vani as he saw his die land on a two.
“Must be Jay’s influence,” snickered Willy.
“Yeah, maybe you should go sit in the corner, Jay. To repent for your wrongdoings,” suggested Karl.
“But I’m the one who fucking won the roll off!”
“Whoa! Calm down!” instructed Karl.
“Shit, are you back to being Motor-Control Boy?” asked Vani with concern.
“He was never not Motor-Control Boy,” snorted Willy as he inhaled a bag of Doritos.
“Stop fucking blaming me for everything,” Jay said calmly, taking a deep breath and going on. “People hating us isn’t my fault. At least not entirely. Willy, you’re the one who’s always shit-disturbing. And you guys going along with it doesn’t help.”
“It’s you everyone hates,” countered Willy. “We’re just innocent bystanders caught in the cross fire.”
“It’s true, Jay Jonah Jameson,” nodded Vani. “You broke up with Cerise, so she hates you. You broke up with Cerise, so Terry hates you. You broke up with Cerise, so Karine hates you.”
“That’s why Karine hates me?” Jay asked sincerely. “Why would Karine care if I broke up with Cerise?”
“That’s actually a really good point,” said Karl. “Karine never cares about other people. She’s as cold as we are. Less rational certainly but still, it’s not characteristic for her to hate you just ‘cause Cerise does. I mean I would have thought that’d actually make her like you more.”
“She said she never even liked you, Harris,” said Vani. “Those were her exact words when she cock-slapped you. Maybe Cerise like, blames Karine for you dumping her and so now Karine is pissed ‘cause Cerise hates her so she’s hating you.”
“But why would Karine care if Cerise hates her?” asked Jay.
“She cares,” said Vani. “She’s female and she fancies herself Queen Bee. She wants to be the top of the female pyramid, so like, another chick hating her threatens her power. So like, she’s all hating you to maintain her position as top of the pops.”
“Yeah, that makes sense,” nodded Karl.
“I’m so good at analyzing the female psyche, seriously I should be a psychologist, or like a serial killer,” said Vani, as they all nodded in agreement.
“Ok, so you’re onboard the Cardassian ship,” said Karl, beginning the game. “An ensign says to follow him to the negotiation room.”
“Maybe it’s ‘cause I told Cerise,” suggested Willy.
“Huh?” they all turned to him. “Told her what?”
“About cats and dogs?” asked Vani.
“I told Cerise about the ultimatum and how Jay chose Karine over her.”
“You what?” asked Jay, forgetting to keep his tone calm.
Karl burst into laughter. “That’s awesome.”
“Hilarious indeed,” said Vani. “But also misguided. No wonder the chicks fucking hate us! Are you insane? You can’t tell people about the shit we do. They don’t get it.”
“Oh man, that’s awesome,” snickered Karl. “No wonder everyone hates us! Cerise must have freaked on Karine so she got all pissed and, it all comes together. Willy, you wacktard! You’re so priceless!”
“I just told the truth. I mean, why not?”
“You told a truth that was never meant to be told. You violated the code, the like, bro code or whatever,” said Vani.
“See?” exclaimed Jay. “The code! The unwritten rules! The unspoken dibs! Everything is your fault, Willy! You’re the one who’s always stirring up the shit and fucking everything up!”
“Yeah, I gotta say, Willy. Masterfully done,” snickered Karl. “You really fucked shit up good. I mean you’re so incredibly fucking malevolent, it actually has to be admired.”
Jay didn’t admire it but was trying hard not to lose his shit.
Karl went on. “But you do it on purpose, don’t you? You’re such a fucking shit-disturber. You love the drama.”
“You just want everyone to be as miserable as you!” said Jay. “You fucking hated that I had a girlfriend so you fucking ruined it ‘cause you can’t fucking handle the fact that you’re a fucking chick repellant!”
Willy simply shrugged and smirked.
“I fucking hate you!” yelled Jay, jumping up and body slamming Willy. And he wasn’t joking either. At this moment he seriously wanted Willy dead.
“And they’re off!” announced Vani. “Motor-Control Boy came in with a deadly body slam but not to be outdone, Willy the Destroyer is aiming his butt in Jay’s face, armed with much gas. And yes, it is a stinker! People in China can smell the emissions.”
“Ok, hang on,” said Karl. “Let me just get out my iphone. Ok, I’m recording, carry on.”
“Whoa! A punch to the face! To the face!” Vani laughed. “Motor-Control Boy is playing for keeps and seems to have injured his hand, but it was evidently worth it, as Willy’s nose appears to be bleeding.”
Jay didn’t care that his hand felt like it had been run over by a truck. He was going to kill William Watts if it was the last thing he ever did.
Were they fucking serious!? Fuck both of them! Christina totally swore that she was gonna take a break from guys and Terry, well Terry… shit seriously?
Karine couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Christina and Terry, sitting on a couch, practically intertwined. She scanned the room for Nick, but he was talking to some randos. How could he leave Terry with Chrissy? Didn’t he know that Terry would only hurt her again? Hadn’t Terry moved beyond all this bullshit? Couldn’t Chrissy ever develop any self-respect?
Karine would never do that. Even though she liked Terry, she knew he was a player. She’d never hook up with him if she didn’t think it was for real. But Chrissy did think it was for real, didn’t she? ‘Cause that’s how fucking stupid she was.
Sighing audibly, Karine walked back towards the kitchen, only to stop in the hallway when she heard her name.
“She must have been a good lay though,” said that guy who played some rando in the play. She could never remember his name.
“She was ok on the normal shit,” said Brady. “But she wasn’t into anything even a bit kinky.”
Karine poked her head into the kitchen, just to see how many people Brady was saying this shit to and to her horror she saw a massive group of guys hanging on to his every word.
“She got all frigid and shit.”
“Karine, seriously? I never woulda figured her for a prude. She dresses so hot. And she hangs out with Janice.”
“I know but it’s all an act. She’s a total prude. Can’t fucking suck dick right, just fucking lies there when you fuck her. Fucking freaked at the idea of anal!”
“Oh yeah? What a fucking bitch!”
“Totally,” Brady confirmed. “She was like a fucking nun. So I was like, fuck that shit. I don’t care how fucking hot you are, I’m fucking done. Now I’m with Marise and like, yeah, she’s kinda fat, but she sucks dick like you wouldn’t believe. She swallows, she takes it up the ass, like, you can go ass to mouth, it’s fucking sick. She’s a total whore.”
They all laughed and she couldn’t hear what they said next, but she’d heard enough anyway.
Well, so this was happening, thought Terry as he led Christina upstairs. He knew he shouldn’t be doing this, but what the hell? They got to Karine’s bedroom but the door was closed, which was fine ‘cause he didn’t want to do it in there anyway. They walked to the little sewing room, and closed the door behind them. Christina didn’t waste any time. She ripped off her clothes in an instant and then disrobed Terry. Wow, she was eager. That’s what he’d always liked about her. She really knew how to get it done.
Wow. Had Cerise just decided to go live downtown with Simone? It seemed they’d made a solid plan and as long as the ‘rents agreed everything was good to go. They just needed to find a place and of course, Cerise needed to get a job. She couldn’t do what she’d done last summer, when she’d toured around with that stupid band just to break even. She needed to make serious money.
Maybe this was all too much. Maybe she should stay at home for another year, just to build up some cash. She didn’t want the pressure of rent and utilities hanging over her head while she was trying to endure a program she had only limited interest in. Cerise wasn’t looking forward to University at all. There was Sarah, looking so excited to start the next chapter, and there was Simone, who’d almost completed it, but Cerise felt stuck. She knew she had to go forward, this is what everyone did, but this path wasn’t appealing. Not that she had any alternatives in mind. Oh well, she supposed she’d just go with the flow, like she always did.
Jay sat on the floor panting, as Willy sat across from him, equally exhausted. If either of them had been in better shape, they might have done some serious damage. As it was, they’d punched each other a couple times, and there would surely be bruises tomorrow, but for now, they were done.
Karl put away his iphone and suggested they get back to the game. He and Vani played for a while but Willy and Jay ignored them. Why didn’t these assholes just get out of Jay’s house already? Why did they even keep coming over all the time? He was so done with all of them.
Finally they seemed to take the hint, and Karl and Vani dragged Willy out of the house, thanking Jay for the entertaining evening as they went.
Fucking assholes. They could all go die for all he cared.
Karine closed the door to her bedroom and took off her clothes, changing into her flannel pajamas. She crawled into bed and put in her ear buds, cranking up her music to drown out the noise of the party downstairs. Fuck Brady and fuck all his friends and fuck everyone. They only had a few weeks left of this semester and then she’d be free of all this bullshit.
Next year would be better. She’d be in a professional program, with people like her and she’d stay away from assholes. She’d stay away from all guys. She wouldn’t date at all. Fuck Terry and fuck Christina! She didn’t need either of them. She didn’t need anyone!
They’d been driving around for hours, with no destination in mind but finally Shauna couldn’t put off going home any longer. Leanne dropped her off and grabbed her hand before she could get out of the car.
“Anytime you need to talk, you call me.”
“There are places you can go, Shauna. Shelters. If it gets too bad.”
“Seriously. There are options. I mean, you could always move in with me. My parents are totally chill. There’s not a lot of room, and we already have two people staying with us, and one of them has mental health issues, well, both of them do kinda. But still, you could stay in my room. We could make it work.”
Shauna appreciated the suggestion, and she was even considering it, but for now, she had to go home. She nodded and got out of the car and went up to her house, and walked up the stairs, and went into her bedroom. You were supposed to feel safe in your own home, weren’t you? But Shauna didn’t. She never had. There was nothing safe about this house. She needed a plan. A solid plan. She needed to do something with her life. She needed to quit school, ‘cause nothing was happening there anyway, and get a job, so she could get her own place. Maybe she could go back to Cerise’s mom’s bookstore. Or go to another bookstore, now that she had experience. Or maybe she should just kill herself. That would be so much easier.
Oh god, what the fuck had Terry just done? He lay on the couch, stark naked, with Christina’s tiny, equally naked body lying on top of him. The way she was breathing he figured she had to be asleep. Wasn’t it a guy thing to fall asleep after sex? Why was Chrissy all blissful while he was wide awake, full of regret for what he’d just done? Fuck, should he just push her off? Gently nudge her awake?
Oh fuck it. He made his bed, now he had to lie in it. He’d just make Chrissy his girlfriend. That’s what she wanted, might as well make someone happy.