Sybil had, without meaning to, managed to attract the relatively unwanted attention of four separate men. First there was Tom, the weepy folk singer. That was perhaps the least wanted of all the attention. She hadn’t seen him for a while, since he was working on writing the last few songs for his sophomore album, but he occasionally sent her an overemotional email. Most of them included poetry. She let Chris read a fair number of them because, while Sybil found them deeply uncomfortable and regrettable, Chris found them hilarious. Sybil suspected he was either laughing at Tom’s emotional conviction or Sybil’s misfortune. Either way, it was an asshole thing to do, but then again, Chris was kind of an asshole.
Then there was Noel. She was fairly certain Noel wasn’t seriously interested in her. He probably didn’t want her to be his girlfriend, which was just as well because she didn’t want to be his girlfriend. He had tried to kiss her, though, and that was posing a bit of a problem since Jemima very much wanted to be his girlfriend. Yet again, Chris was no help with this. All he did was waggle his eyebrows at Sybil whenever Rattlesnake came in for a recording session.
And now there was both Gord and Amare. Gord, with his mustache and his never-ending collection of vintage band t-shirts from the 70s, was easy to resist. Amare, who was second only to Lawrence as one of the most beautiful humans in the world, was slightly more difficult to resist. She was actually contemplating whether or not she should resist. The issue with that was Jacklyn. Priscilla and Tallulah suspected Jacklyn had set her sights on Amare now that she and her boyfriend Aaron had broken up. Apparently it wasn’t so much a break-up as it was a disaster bourn of intense jealousy and, weirdly, a genuine loathing of Gord. Sybil was trying to decide if she should refrain from dating Amare out of deference to Jacklyn and her feelings or throw it all out the window and date him anyways because Jacklyn didn’t even like her. She shared all of this with Priscilla, Tallulah, and Rosalyn, looking for help primarily on the Jemima issue.
“First of all, how dare you come into my home and complain about all the men who love you?” Priscilla began ticking things off on her fingers. “Secondly, how have you managed to be this alluring? Like, I know you’re beautiful, but you aren’t that kind. And thirdly, how is the first time I’m hearing about Noel kissing you? What was it like? Did you get his eye makeup on your face?”
Sybil stared at her, unimpressed.
“All the hard-hitting questions,” she remarked dryly.
“Yeah, sure,” Tallulah cut in. “But did you get his eye makeup on your face? Because I’ve seen him perform and that shit gets everywhere.”
Sybil sighed deeply.
“I have no idea. I ended that night very, very drunk,” she answered resignedly. “What am I supposed to do? I think I have to tell Jemima, but I’ve let a lot of time pass at this point, mostly because I keep hoping that it’ll sort itself out on its own. That seems unlikely to happen though, so now I’m afraid I’m going to actually have to do something about it.
And then I think I can just continue to ignore whatever Gord’s feeling so long as he never brings it up to me. If I start dating his friend, I assume he won’t mention it. On the other hand, if I do start dating Amare, I’m fairly certain Jacklyn would kill me.”
“Absolutely,” Priscilla agreed. “Probably with her bare hands.”
“Has she actually told anybody she’s into him?” Rosalyn asked thoughtfully while she ate a banana. “Because he’s fair game if she hasn’t in my opinion. Like, honestly, how is she expecting you to know if she hasn’t said anything? If we lived by those rules, we would never date anybody, too afraid that someone we knew was also interested in them. That’s anarchy. The human race would fail to populate and we’d die out forever, like dodo birds. Or pandas.”
“Pandas still exist,” Priscilla pointed out, frowning.
“Yeah, sure, for now,” Rosalyn said, shrugging. She said it casually, like a very nonchalant threat. Sybil was suddenly very concerned for the pandas of the world.
“I think you should date Chris,” Tallulah told Sybil after a moment, sounding like she had been giving it some thought for quite a while. That was mildly worrying.
“No,” was Sybil’s immediate response.
“No, really,” Tallulah said, as if there had been a misunderstanding.
“Why the hell would I do that?” Sybil demanded, sensing that she wouldn’t be able to evade the conversation completely as she had been hoping.
“Because you don’t like it when people pay you too much attention and he’d be far too lazy and apathetic to take any interest in your life or well-being,” Tallulah explained. “It’s perfect!”
“So romantic,” Rosalyn said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. But Tallulah wasn’t all that far off. Sybil did genuinely hate it when people paid her too much interest. That was roughly half the issue with Tom, the weepy folk singer. He cared too much about her. The poetry spoke volumes. Of course, the other half was the fact that he kept serenading her, which was horrifying and awful. She never got used to it either. Every time it happened, it was just as shocking and mortifying as the first time.
And Tallulah wasn’t far off about him either. He was astoundingly apathetic. He barely paid her any attention now as it was and it seemed unlikely that would change, even if they were romantically involved. Sybil couldn’t actually imagine being with him, however. She couldn’t imagine how that would even begin and not in a broad sense. She literally couldn’t picture which of them would make the first move. She didn’t think she’d even know how to go about making the transition from platonic to romantic and there wasn’t a chance Chris would do it because he didn’t do anything ever if it could be avoided at all.
“No,” Sybil said flatly again.
The following week, when Sybil returned to work, she had come to the decision not to date Amare after all. It had been a painstaking decision. In the end, she had given up a potential future with him out of deference to Jacklyn and her feelings, something Sybil wasn’t convinced she necessarily deserved. As she had pointed out to Priscilla, what if Amare was the love of her life and she had passed him over for Jacklyn’s sake? To which Priscilla had responded, “But what if he’s Jacklyn’s soulmate instead?” And so Sybil had moved on with no small about of bitter grumbling and festering resentment.
When she got to the recording studio, Sybil saw Chris for the first time in two days. Normally, they spent time together on weekends, at least one day, which meant that she saw him at least six days a week every single week. That was a lot of time to spend with Chris. It had been even more excessive when she had been staying at his shoebox apartment. At that point, she had been with him even at night. That kind of exposure meant that she could never really see him as anything other than the guy who looked miserable on ferries and who woke up with her hair in his mouth every morning for a few weeks.
With a little bit of distance and some prodding from Tallulah, however, it seemed it was possible for her to see him in a different way. For one, she had never realized how good-looking he was. It seemed an odd thing for her to have somehow missed. His cheekbones looked like they’d been carved from marble. She felt very strange about the whole thing. She approached him and her usual seat behind the glass in the recording booth feeling very uncertain for the first time in their entire relationship. He barely looked at her, which was normal. He was drinking coffee and looking at his phone, most likely playing Sudoku.
“Hey,” she greeted him, sitting down and feeling weird. She cursed Tallulah internally. She could’ve gone her whole life without knowing that Chris had nice cheekbones. Frankly, it was better that way. Now she was actually forced to imagine what it would be like to be romantically involved with him and then mentally try to work out the logistics of making that a reality. She still couldn’t see it working, but now she kind of wanted it to happen. It was a very complex thing to have to go through early on a Monday morning.
“What’s wrong with you?” Chris asked after a moment, having looked up to find Sybil staring straight ahead, intentionally trying to avoid looking at his handsome profile.
“Nothing, I’m fine,” she said too quickly.
“Okay, very convincing,” he returned sarcastically. “But as I don’t actually care, I’m willing to let it go.”
It wasn’t a very empathetic response, but Sybil let it go as well seeing as she didn’t want to discuss it either. Besides, as Tallulah had so aptly pointed out, his apathy and lack of attention did in fact make her feel quite comfortable. It was another thing she now longed for and resented simultaneously.
“Sudoku?” She asked, attempting to make small talk for possibly the first time since they’d met. It obviously wasn’t as subtle as she’d hoped because he gave her another funny look before answering.
“No, texting my girlfriend,” he replied. Sybil just about choked on her own spit.
“You have a girlfriend?” She demanded. “Since when do you have a girlfriend?”
“Since, like, two years ago I guess.”
Sybil was stunned. She had never even heard of his girlfriend, let alone met her, and she had known Chris for the better part of a year. Beyond that, she had spent roughly a month sleeping in his bed and still she hadn’t known about his girlfriend.
“What? What’s her name? Who is she? How have I never met her?” Sybil asked, moving into outrage.
“Her name is Savannah,” Chris said like it was something she should’ve known. “I don’t know why you’ve never met her. She’s pretty busy.”
“I stayed at your apartment for, like, three weeks,” Sybil pointed out.
“I slept in your bed!”
“How is it possible that I didn’t even meet her once while I was sleeping in your bed for three weeks?!” Sybil pressed. Chris shrugged again.
“Well, she’s busy,” he repeated. She just about slapped him.
That night, Sybil went over to Tallulah and Prisciila’s after work before heading home to her own apartment. She walked in unannounced and unexpected to share her horrible news. They were eating dinner at the kitchen table with Rosalyn.
“Thanks for pointing out how dateable Chris is,” was the first thing Sybil said, looking directly at Tallulah. “Because now I have a crush on him.”
“Fun!” Tallulah cheered, clearly not sensing Sybil’s tone of foreboding.
“Yeah, you know what else is fun?” She returned. “He has a girlfriend. They’ve been together for two years.”
The other three looked at her in mild shock.
“What,” Priscilla said after a moment. It wasn’t even a question.
“Her name is Savannah,” Sybil continued.
“Who the fuck names their kid Savannah?” Priscilla returned, instantly horrified. She pulled a face.
“I don’t know, Priscilla,” Rosalyn interjected shrewdly, putting the emphasis on Priscilla’s name.
“Yeah, alright,” she conceded. “Fair.”
“So what are you going to do?” Tallulah asked Sybil after another moment.
“What do you mean what am I going to do?” Sybil retorted. “I’m not going to do anything. I couldn’t even date Amare because Jacklyn might have feelings for him. You think I’m going to steal someone else’s boyfriend?”
“You’re a good person,” Tallulah offered after another minute.
“Great,” Sybil returned flatly. “Thanks.”