Jay walked through the nearly empty hallways, having just completed his first exam. He met up with the guys in Hochelaga, and Karl suggested they go to Jay’s basement for some gaming.
“I don’t wanna game,” sighed Jay. “Besides, I can’t. I have another exam tomorrow. I need to study.”
“You know what we should do,” began Vani. “We should get a Jay replacement. This model’s no good to us anymore.”
Karl cocked his head to the side. “Its batteries are simply depleted. We just need to plug him in somewhere.”
“I know what he wants to plug into,” smarmed Willy, thrusting his hips at Jay.
“Ugh, never move, Willy, you make jiggling noises,” said Karl in disgust.
“Let’s get Mylo in on the game,” suggested Vani. “Or we could get Lee.”
“We just need a new mission for Jay to sink his teeth into,” said Karl.
“I know what he wants to sink his teeth into,” grinned Willy.
“Ok, well I’ll see you guys tomorrow. I’m gonna go to the library,” said Jay, heading towards his locker.
“Man, he’s the king of uselessness now,” said Vani.
Karl said something in response but Jay couldn’t quite hear him, though he clearly heard Vani say they should contact Lee or Mylo or even Cerise, since Jay wouldn’t be there to offend her. Then Willy mockingly suggested they contact Jojo, because even he was better than Jay. They all laughed as Jay walked away, choosing to ignore the insult.
“Hey there,” said Tom as he sat across from Cerise at the Munch Box. The food stand was closed but it was a good place to sit and study. Cerise didn’t like to study in the library since it was always too full of people and therefore distractions.
“Hey, what’s up?” she asked, happy to put aside her text on Art History.
“I’m almost done everything. Just one more essay to hand in and I’m good. You?”
“One essay and one exam on Art History,” she replied, holding up her textbook.
“Ready for it?”
“Soooooooo,” he drawled. “Ready to come back to the band? We’re back to sucking without you.”
“I thought I was out for good,” she replied.
“We discussed it and you can come back if you want.”
Cerise sighed. “I don’t need your pity.” Tom was about to protest but she went on. “Besides, I don’t really wanna hang out with Jeff these days.”
“Want us to kick him out?”
Cerise laughed. “No, I mean, it’s not even just Jeff. I dunno, Tom, that band thing, it was fun, it was like a fantasy but it’s not really my thing, you know? There are so many people for whom, like, that’s their whole dream. But for me, it’s not. Besides, I’m super busy these days. I have a really full schedule of being depressed.”
“Oh come on,” Tom laughed. “Don’t be so dramatic.”
“No, I know, but seriously, I think I’m over that band stuff.”
“Well, good to know it was all just a whim for you,” he said with a touch of bitterness, perhaps talking about more than the band.
“Well I’m sorry I’m not more like you, Tom. But I’m not. And I’m not gonna fake it. That would just be… I dunno, inauthentic.”
“See? You’d fit right in!”
They both laughed and Tom wished her well with her exam, then left her be. She wondered how honest she’d been with him. Was it true that she didn’t have any interest in being part of the band anymore? It was true that music wasn’t her calling in life; she’d never considered herself to be a particularly musical person, but it was definitely exciting to live a rock and roll lifestyle, though she wasn’t even sure exactly what that meant.
Whatever, one thing at a time and right now she had to finish CEGEP. She kept reading her book, but it was tough to get through, since her mind wandered so often. She was really a terrible reader, wasn’t she? Everyone always assumed she was a huge bookworm, perhaps because she was geeky and did well in school but in truth it always took her about a million years to get through any text because she always had trouble concentrating for any given length of time. But had that always been true or was it a recent development? Oh shit, there she went again, analyzing her lack of reading skills instead of actually reading.
She closed her book with a sigh, acknowledging that she wasn’t going to get any further with her studying today. Maybe she’d go home and try again after dinner. She packed up her things and walked out to the bus stop. As she was walking across the lawn, she was suddenly confronted by Shauna and Cerise gasped in surprise. “Oh, hey Shauna. What’s up?” she asked, trying to sound polite.
“Nothing much, you?”
“I’m good,” Cerise smiled. There was a pause, and they both stood there. “I’m going to the bus stop,” announced Cerise, as she kept walking.
“Me too,” nodded Shauna.
“How are your exams going?” asked Cerise.
“Good. Well, no, bad I guess. I’m pretty sure I failed at least one of them. That’s the one I tried to pass without cheating. Boy, was that a mistake,” she laughed.
“Yeah,” chuckled Cerise awkwardly.
“My dad’s prob’ly gonna kill me,” Shauna said, kicking the grass as they walked.
It didn’t seem like an off-handed complaint. Shauna sounded genuinely fearful and Cerise didn’t know how to respond. “So, things still suck at home, eh?” she finally said.
“Oh, things are fine with me.” She almost started talking about her plans to move downtown with Simone but then thought better of it. “Yeah, they’re fine.”
“Yeah well, so, you know how, um?” A pause. “You know how…”
“Know what?” prompted Cerise as they reached the bus stop. There was another kid there but he was listening to his ipod.
“Know how we used to hang out?”
“Well, that was fun, eh?”
“Um, I guess,” said Cerise, hoping Shauna wasn’t about to invite herself over or something.
“So I joined this club,” said Shauna.
“Oh, that’s great!” said Cerise with genuine enthusiasm, glad Shauna had somewhere to go.
“A club at school. It’s about, I mean it’s for, like, um…”
She probably meant the Queer Collective. “Yeah, I think I know what club you’re talking about.”
“Yeah, like Nick Morgan is in the club too, right?”
“The hockey guy, yeah,” nodded Shauna. “It’s a good club.”
“Well, that’s great!”
“Really?” asked Shauna with a shy smile.
“Yeah. Good for you,” Cerise smiled.
“Oh well yeah,” Shauna beamed. “Maybe you should join!”
Cerise stopped, looking at Shauna curiously. “Well, why would I do that? I mean, it’s not really…”
“Oh no, I didn’t mean like join, I just meant, I mean, no, you’d never join.”
“Yeah I mean, I don’t think it’s for me.”
“Right,” said Shauna with some discomfort. “I just meant, like, whatever,” she shrugged.
“Right,” nodded Cerise, wondering if even that nod was too much encouragement.
“Ok well, I’ll see ya,” announced Shauna, suddenly walking away and lighting up a cigarette, which she pulled out of her hoodie pocket.
Ok, that was weird. The bus arrived and Cerise hopped on, sitting up front because even though she knew only old ladies sat up front, she preferred the view from the driver’s window. She had a tendency to lose track of where they were when she sat in the back, not paying close enough attention to the outside world, and sometimes missing her stop. Wait a second, had Shauna just come out to her?