Chapter Twenty-Five: “Fuck your indoor pool”

Jacklyn could hold a grudge like no other. It was something she’d learned about herself when she was ten at summer camp and her best friend at the time, Sarah Neilan, had pulled down Jacklyn’s aquamarine shorts in front of Jared, the cute camp counsellor with the braces. Jacklyn had been mortified, least of all because Sarah had exposed her Tuesday printed underwear to the world and it was actually a Friday. Jared had sat with her in the dining cabin afterward, sneaking her a cherry popsicle, assuring her it would all be fine, but Jacklyn hadn’t been so sure. She could tell that Jared didn’t think about her the same way anymore. She was horribly embarrassed and she thought he was too, but on her behalf. Mutual embarrassment was not how she had wanted to begin their beautiful relationship.

Of course, as a fully grown woman, Jacklyn now realized that Jared had not in fact thought about her any differently. In all honesty, he’d probably thought very little of her before and after the Tuesday underwear incident. In retrospect, with the kind of clarity that can only come with age, Jacklyn realized that Jared was in fact sleeping with Tiffany, the camp counsellor with the enormous breasts and the shrill voice. None of that changed the fact that Jacklyn would literally never forgive Sarah for what she had done. Jacklyn was beginning to feel similarly resentful toward Gord and Snib alike.

Jacklyn had always wanted to have a pet when she was growing up, but her mother was allergic to anything with fur. She was basically allergic to Jacklyn’s older brother Nick. So Jacklyn had never been allowed a pet, not even a hamster. All she’d ever wanted was a kitten. For twenty years of her life, Jacklyn had all but dreamt of the day when she would be able to get her own cat. It was be wonderful and lovely and cuddly.

And then her roommate Stephanie had come home with Snib, the one-eared, twenty-three toed wonder. Snib constantly had bald patches because he chewed on his own fur compulsively. Snib had all the grace of a wounded zebra. He’d once tried to climb up the curtains in the living room only to come crashing down on the television and somehow knock over an entire bookcase. Snib was addicted to yogurt. Every time Jacklyn tore the lid off a yogurt cup, Snib came running at full throttle, trundling into the kitchen like someone had lit his motley tail on fire. Somewhat ironically, she and Stephanie were pretty sure someone had lit Snib’s tail on fire. It was largely because of that that Jacklyn had decided to love him anyway.

Snib wasn’t a bad cat. He was kind and he did like to cuddle. He certainly wasn’t the cat Jacklyn had had in mind, but she loved him anyway, despite his misshapen paws and his lone ear. That was why it was such a metaphorical kick to the nuts that Snib spent so much of his time actively trying to escape their apartment to flee to Gord’s across the hall. All Jacklyn had ever wanted was a cat and all Snib wanted was Gord. Incidentally, she was holding multiple grudges. One against Gord for continually stealing her cat and one against Snib for allowing himself to be stolen so willingly.

Gord had apologized once, albeit half-heartedly. Jacklyn could tell he was only doing it because he was tired of trying to dodge her in the hallway. Snib hadn’t even been the slightest bit apologetic. He’d continued to trundle out into the hall whenever someone left the door open for too long so that he could hang out at Gord’s apartment. Jacklyn spent a lot of time angrily carrying him back inside.

Eventually, Gord apologized again. It came about two weeks after his first attempt at an apology. He seemed to be taking this one more seriously, likely because Jacklyn had crossed his path in the laundry room and he hadn’t come back, leaving his wet underwear to stew in the washing machine for at least a couple hours. Regardless, he knocked on her apartment door and when she opened it, he was waiting on the other side with a plate of croissants.

“I bought them,” he explained, wiggling the plate about a bit so that she knew what he was talking about. “For you. I didn’t make them because I didn’t want to kill you. If I’d made them, we’d probably all have ended up with salmonella.”

Jacklyn shot him a wry look.

“Do you know what salmonella is?” She asked.

“Vaguely,” Gord replied. “I also wanted to apologize for accidentally stealing your cat a couple times.”

Jacklyn snorted derisively.

“Okay, accidentally stealing your cat several times,” Gord amended and she snorted again. “Or sometimes stealing your cat on purpose a few times and then accidentally stealing him a lot more times.”

She narrowed her eyes at him, still not saying anything. He frowned at her for a moment, like she was a particularly difficult puzzle he couldn’t figure out.

“I’m also sorry for making fun of his name?” He tried. “Although I stand by my original statement that Snib is a stupid name for a cat. It’s a stupid name for anything really.”

Jacklyn deepened her glare.

“But again,” Gord hastened to backtrack. “Sorry.”

Jacklyn continued to glare at him in stoney silence. He held the plate of croissants out to her, but she didn’t reach out to take them. So he grabbed her hand, held it up, and put the plate in her hand himself.

“I’m also sorry for not inviting you to my pool party,” he said, clearly still trying to figure out what exactly it was that had Jacklyn so upset. She didn’t even know what he was talking about at this point.

“Fuck your indoor pool,” was her immediate response regardless.

“Aggressive,” Gord remarked. “But still sorry.”

She rolled her eyes.

“Did Stephanie put you up to this?” She asked, finally taking pity on him. It seemed like something Stephanie would do. Jacklyn was still holding the plate of croissants out between them where he’d left it. They honestly looked really good, fluffy and fresh. Some of them looked like they might have been filled with chocolate. Jacklyn actually really liked croissants. She assumed Gord had been told this by Stephanie.

“No, I just felt bad,” Gord replied. “I mean, I mostly felt bad that you were so angry at your cat for basically no reason at all.”

“You’re not very good at apologizing,” she informed him, eyes narrowed again.

“I bought you croissants!” Gord retorted indignantly in his own defense. “Let’s not forget about the croissants. And I apologized about taking your cat sometimes, mostly by accident.”

“I think you’re taking him on purpose,” Jacklyn accused, pointing at his chest with her free hand. “All the time.”

“You know you can get cats for free, right?” Gord returned, one eyebrow raised. “Why would I constantly steal your cat when I could just get my own for free? Hell, if I went to any barn, I could get, like, twenty-five free cats at once.”

“Then why do you keep stealing mine?” Jacklyn demanded.

“I’m not trying to take him!” Gord protested. “Sometimes I just like hanging out with the little dude. He has so many toes. It’s pretty rad.”

Jacklyn didn’t say anything for a moment, trying to assess how serious Gord was. He stood across from her in his plaid shirt and his mustache, waiting patiently for her to respond. She glanced down at the croissants. He’d put them on a plate that was patterned with cacti.

“Okay, fine,” she said after another long moment. “You’re forgiven.”

“Ah, that’s nice,” Gord said, grinning at her. “You should come to my next pool party. I mean, it seems a little like you’ve been personally wronged by indoor pools in the past, but maybe you could make an exception. Enjoy the croissants!”

He crossed the hall and returned to his own apartment, leaving Jacklyn shaking her head in the hallway with the plate of croissants still in the same hand he’d put it in.

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