“So what the fuck, dude?!” said Nick as he joined Terry at their locker.
“What?” asked Terry, still groggy from staying up too late. It always sucked to go back to school after a long weekend.
“Forcing me to pick up Karine the other night?”
Terry laughed boisterously. “What, you actually went? Man, you are so pussy-whipped and you’re not even getting any pussy!”
Karine joined them and asked what was funny, only to have Nick bitch her out for acting so spoiled and entitled.
“Well shit, you didn’t have to come,” she smiled sweetly. “You could’ve just said no and we would’ve taken a cab.”
“We?” asked Terry.
“Christina was with me.”
“Oh, how’s she doing?” he asked, not actually caring about the answer.
“Fine I guess. You know, she’s Chrissy. Asked about you of course.”
“Fuck, let’s not go down that road again,” Terry groaned.
“You guys have history?” asked Nick.
“Yeah, I’ve told you about her,” said Terry. “She’s the one who was always like way too clingy.”
“Right, right. Good lay but not worth the trouble.”
“So speaking of good lays,” said Karine with a smile. “Have you gotten together with that guy from the bar? You said you got some guy’s number, right?”
“Meh, didn’t pan out,” shrugged Nick.
“So let’s go out again,” she suggested. “We can go back to that bar, or try another one. I mean you guys could. I’m swamped with play stuff. We premiere tomorrow.”
“Let’s just go to Cunningham’s or Annie’s,” sighed Nick.
“Seriously, you should be able to meet a cute gay dude around here,” nodded Terry. “I mean you can’t be the only one, right?”
“Oh, I think you just called Nick cute,” giggled Karine as Nick grinned.
“Yeah, so, you wanna make out?” smirked Terry.
Nick actually blushed, which was hilarious and Terry laughed out loud as Karine kept giggling.
“Maybe you should try gayness. You guys would make a super cute couple,” she suggested.
“Yeah, might be easier. Too bad I’m addicted to pussy,” sighed Terry.
“Gross,” said Nick with an eye roll.
“Ok, so speaking of gross, are you guys gonna come to the play? I know I haven’t exactly been talking it up and yeah, it basically sucks, but still, you’re gonna come, right? Come Saturday ‘cause that’s closing and I’ll be having a cast party after.”
“Yeah sure, whatever,” said Terry as Nick shrugged.
“Well don’t crush me with your enthusiasm or anything,” she grumbled.
“Hey, we’re coming, ok, so chill,” said Terry. Fuck, Karine was such a spoiled brat sometimes.
“I think we should go to the play tonight,” said Jay as he joined the boys at the Munch Box. “Or better yet, tomorrow.”
“What play?” asked Karl.
“Karine and Cerise’s play. Tomorrow is closing. I’ve been talking about it all week!”
“Right, right, and we’ve been making fun of you for it,” nodded Vani.
“Hello? We’ve been trying to think of a way to get back in with them. Make them stop hating us! The play is perfect. We go to it, we clap or whatever and then we tag along to the cast party. It’s gonna be at Karine’s.”
“You’re a fool!” exclaimed Willy. “What makes you think they’d even let us in?”
“To the play? We buy tickets!”
“To the party, you moron.”
“Well fuck, do you have a better suggestion?”
“Much as it pains me to admit it, Jay’s suggestion is so far the most viable,” noted Karl. “Although I reiterate my position that we should remain satisfied in our self-contained bubble of isolation and non-friendship with outsiders.”
“God, stop being so Sheldon,” groaned Jay. “My plan is genius.”
“Your plan is… non-genius,” grumbled Willy. “Yeah, I couldn’t come up with a better insult. I’ll do better next time.”
“We appreciate the effort all the same,” said Karl reassuringly.
“Yeah, let’s go with Jay’s plan,” nodded Vani. “We’ll call it the Vani plan.”
Jay could do nothing but roll his eyes as the others agreed.
Oh god, why now? Why did it always have to come at the worst time? Everything had been going so well. They were killing it. Cerise was killing it. The play was still sort of boring and weird, but every time Cerise was on stage she got a laugh. She was sarcastic and snarky and her repartee with Karine-Elaine was apparently hilarious. Hugh and Fred had even complimented her on opening night, giving her more attention than even Karine!
But now, on closing night, because everything in life always had to suck, Cerise got her period. She knew she should have renewed her pill prescription. But since her love life was non-existent and she was too busy, or perhaps lazy to go to the doctor’s she hadn’t renewed it. She figured it wouldn’t be a big deal to skip it for a few months and then go back on it but no, even just one month without those hormones and her body went back to full on monster mode. Getting her period was like getting gastro, and of course it would hit on closing night.
She got some Midol from Cassie and took two pills but the pain remained. She was in full costume, and the cramps in her stomach could no longer be ignored. They were literally half an hour from curtain and Cerise couldn’t take it anymore. She ran from the green room, telling everyone she’d be back in a second and rushed to a bathroom she assumed would be empty. Thank god it was. She rushed to a stall and threw up, then washed her hands. But no, that wasn’t it. She had to go back to the stall and sit on the toilet. Gripping her phone to watch the time, she cursed everything she could think of as her bowels emptied. Sweat poured down her face as she shivered, her skin covered in goose bumps. Twenty minutes ‘till curtain. Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck!!! And to make matters worse, her costume consisted of a tight dress, which was now decorated with lovely pit stains.
When she was done emptying her colon she left the stall and once again washed her face. Nope, she wasn’t done. Her stomach churned and she was back on the toilet.
Fifteen minutes ‘till curtain. Everyone was texting her. Cassie, Karine, Janice. She texted back that she was feeling sick. But there wasn’t even anyone who could take her place. Usually most roles were double cast but not Bernice. It had originally been considered too small a role to bother double casting but now, with all her additions, she’d become one of the favourites. God, why hadn’t she just renewed her fucking prescription?!
They’d have to go on without her. She could miss the first scene. It wasn’t entirely crucial for her to be there. The plot wouldn’t be affected. It just wouldn’t be as funny, that’s all. Cassie or Tom or anyone could say her lines and it would be fine. Just fine.
Ok, fuck, get off this toilet! Cerise stood up, cleaned herself up and put in a fresh tampon. She washed her hands and used a paper towel to blot the sweat and runny makeup from her face, then ran back to the green room.
“Help me!” she yelled as she rushed in.
“Cerise, where the fuck,” everyone asked at once. “You look like hell!”
“I’m sick! Please, fix my makeup! Help!”
Karine, Cassie and Janice dragged her into the dressing room. They ripped her dress off and Karine put her in her own street clothes, jeans and a tight sweater. The clothes were way too tight but that was appropriate for Bernice.
Cassie brushed her hair back and floofed it up while Karine wiped down her face, reapplying lipstick and blush. Then they dragged her on stage and she sat at her place. The curtain parted.
Karine thought that Cerise would completely blow it, and there was even a part of her that hoped she might, but no, she kept it together. She hit all her cues and delivered all her lines with as much sarcasm as ever, eliciting laughs each time. She was a little sweatier than usual, which is to say she actually perspired for perhaps the first time in her life, but not to a degree the audience would notice.
After the show, as they all spilled into the dressing room, congratulating each other, laughing and shouting with glee, Cerise collapsed into a chair and burst into tears. Because of course tonight would continue to be all about her and her mystery illness. She shook violently as everyone piled around her, rubbing her back, telling her she did a great job. She took off her costume, thanking Karine for the clothes, which were now covered in sweat, though not stinky, which was also kind of annoying; Cerise didn’t even smell when she was sick?! Then she put on her own clothes and picked up her things.
“Is it ok if I don’t help you guys strike the set? I’m so sorry but I just feel like shit.”
Everyone fell over themselves assuring her it was fine, that she’d been a real trooper, a real champion. God, whatever, like she was the first person to ever perform while slightly ill? Whatever!
Terry stood outside the theatre with Nick and thought about going out for a cigarette as they waited for Karine. But before he could even finish the thought, he saw Cerise’s family, her mom and both sisters, walking towards him.
“Hi Ms. Simon, Simone, Jules,” he smiled.
“Hello, Terry. You can still call me Angela,” she smiled brightly.
Simone and Jules said hey and Terry introduced Nick. It risked being awkward but then Sarah came along, and they all chatted about how great the play was and how Cerise totally stole the show. It was true, she’d been great. Karine had been good too, but even though Cerise only had a few lines, they were all hilarious. In fact, Terry wasn’t even really sure what the plot had been. Karine was in love with the producer guy or something? He wasn’t sure why, ‘cause he was such a douche, which was why it was all the funnier when Cerise was smarming all over him; she out douched the douche.
“Speak of the devil,” said Simone, as Cerise joined them.
Holy shit, she looked spent. They all congratulated her and told her how great she’d been and she smiled and thanked them happily but Terry could tell she wasn’t ok. She’d been crying and they weren’t tears of joy. She was paler than usual, even under all that stage makeup he could tell. She was sick maybe, or perhaps just sleep deprived. He wanted to reach out to her, to hug her, take her home, make her soup or whatever. But she was leaving with her family.
“You’re not gonna go to the cast party?” asked Sarah in shock.
“I’m just not feeling well,” Cerise shrugged. “I just wanna go home.”
“Oh, that sucks, are you ok?” asked Sarah.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Just my period is all.”
“But I thought…” Terry began but then stopped himself. He knew that Cerise got really painful menstrual cramps but when she was on the birth control pill it wasn’t so bad; she didn’t get the nausea and diarrhea. But he didn’t want to say all that out loud.
As if sensing his thoughts she nodded. “I stopped taking it, I’m an idiot. God, it was so embarrassing. I almost didn’t make curtain ‘cause I was busy puking in the bathroom.”
“Fucking brutal,” said Simone.
“Language,” clucked Angela.
“Sorry, fucking intense!”
“Hey, want me to come with?” asked Sarah. “I mean, I can hang with you for a bit and hit the party after.”
“No, it’s fine, you don’t have to do that.”
They haggled for a while and Sarah left with Cerise and her family. As they walked off, Cerise turned around and smiled at Terry, waving sheepishly. He watched her go and waved back. Nick smiled at him knowingly and he simply rolled his eyes and suggested they go out for a smoke.
“Missed your chance,” said Leanne.
“I didn’t wanna talk to her!” insisted Shauna, as she backed up against a wall. It was annoying being in such a crowded place. How come everyone was hanging around? The play was over, shouldn’t everyone go home?
“It might be an idea at some point to tell her how you feel.”
Leanne shrugged. “Well it probably wouldn’t do anything for your relationship with her but it would help you. It’d be like this healing thing. Like a cathartic thing.”
“Yeah, you’re right, it’d probably just make things even weirder with her,” shrugged Leanne.
“Exactly. Can we fucking go now?”
“You don’t like crowds, eh? Unless you’re drunk, I’ve noticed.”
“So let’s go drink then,” Shauna grumbled.
“God, you’re so pissy lately. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, ok? God.” Shauna hobbled away as best she could.
“Why are you walking all hunched all the time? And since when is it your style to wear scarves?”
Shauna ignored her friend and tottered outside. Once they were inside Leanne’s car, Leanne turned to her with a frown.
“What?” asked Shauna in irritation.
“You’re wincing. What’s wrong?”
“You’ve been like this since Easter break.”
Leanne, quick as a flash, threw out her hand and poked Shauna in the stomach. Shauna yelled and swatted her hand away.
“Show me!” Leanne insisted. “Did those glue sniffing people beat you up again or something?”
“No, it was my brother.” Shauna resigned herself and lifted up her hoodie and t-shirt to show the bruises on her ribs, faded but still present. Then, she unwrapped the scarf from her neck and showed the bruises there. These ones were almost gone, just a bit red. She could stop wearing the scar and people might think she just had a hickey. Yeah right.
Leanne became quiet and simply turned back to the wheel. She started the car and they drove off.