3: “Hey, what is Naked and Afraid?”

Sybil’s best friend Suze moved back to Roehampton at the beginning of August. She had been living in Vancouver with her boyfriend Karl for three years. Sybil and Suze had met and become friends in middle school at St. Agatha’s in the city. They’d bonded over their shared musical interests. In a time when every other girl was listening to Nsync and fawning over Nick Carter, Sybil and Suze had been holed up in Suze’s basement listening to her dad’s Led Zeppelin records on their ancient record player. Suze had moved back home because she’d been let go from her radio broadcasting job at a local station in Vancouver due to downsizing and had managed to get the job of her dreams in Roehampton. She was the newest morning host for the alt-rock station in Roehampton, Hook FM.

Suze had rented an apartment that she found online from Vancouver. That turned out to be an internet scam. She had turned up outside a house, that was very much occupied, with her most cherished worldly possessions and found herself homeless. So now she was staying with Sybil, looking for a real apartment to rent and sleeping on Sybil’s couch at night.

“Man, I am so glad your dad is paranoid and jealous about your step-dad and which of them you love more because this apartment is beautiful,” Suze said, sprawling on Sybil’s sectional. “Like, honestly, this couch is one hundred per cent more comfortable than any bed I’ve ever owned.”

Sybil had spent many a sleepover snuggled up on Suze’s marble slab of a childhood bed when they were younger so she could believe that.

Sybil had anticipated there being issues with Suze staying at her place. For one thing, Suze had the most hair out of anyone Sybil had ever met. It was long and absurdly thick. Suze had only been at the apartment for a week and a half and already Sybil was finding long strands of dyed blonde hair everywhere. She found some on her own clothes, which was startling to say the least. She had also figured there would be some tension, over the single bathroom, the volume of the television, Suze’s weird aversion to apples. Surprisingly, none of those things were problems. It was possible they’d matured.

What was an issue, however, was Chris. Not totally unreasonably, Chris had begun to expect that he could crash at Sybil’s apartment whenever Gladys, the woman who lived beneath him, became unbearably annoying with her guitar practicing. That was a lot of the time. And since Sybil had spent a good two months at least staying at Chris’ apartment, it seemed only fair that the same kindness be offered to him. He showed up unannounced one night at eleven o’clock to crash on her couch. It would’ve been better if he didn’t have his own key because then at least he would’ve had to have knocked. Instead he just unlocked the front door and walked in. Suze was, to say the least, startled.

“Holy fucking gnome balls, we’re being murdered!” She yelled, leaping up from the couch and rushing toward Sybil’s bedroom door, which she flung open. She attempted to scramble inside, but Sybil was standing in her way, having been understandably roused from sleep by the sound of Suze shouting about being murdered.

“Gnomes?” Chris questioned from the doorway. He was wearing sweatpants and had brought his leather overnight bag. When she had seen the bag for the first time, Sybil had been impressed that Chris was mature enough to even own an overnight bag. It was significantly less charming and impressive in that exact moment.

“What the hell are you doing?” She demanded of him, trying to stop Suze from pushing her over as she was attempting to do. It was not as such reassuring to know that her oldest friend would literally shove her over and then climb over her body to get out of harm’s way.

“Relax, I just came to stay the night,” he returned, holding his hands up in defense. “I wasn’t actually trying to murder anyone. I was, like, twelve feet away from her anyway.”

“Umm, guns!” Suze pointed out loudly, making a fairly good argument. She stopped trying to crawl over Sybil on her way to safety and turned to glare at Chris instead. Her massive amount of hair was piled on top of her head in a messy bun and she was wearing a watermelon pyjama set. There was a sleep mask covering one of her eyes and yet she still managed to look threatening. Sybil was impressed.

“This is my friend Suze,” Sybil began the awkward introductions. “She’s saying with me for a while until she can find an apartment, which I’m sure I told you. I’m also sure you didn’t listen because you don’t listen to anything. And this is Chris. I work with him at the recording studio.”

She addressed the last part to a still furious Suze.

“Oh, that’s nice,” she said angrily. “Why is he here then?”

“The lady who lives beneath me is struggling her way through the chorus of ‘Champagne Supernova’,” Chris began to explain. “So I have come here to sleep on Sybil’s couch.”

“I’m sleeping on Sybil’s couch,” Suze pointed out, gesturing to herself.

“Alright, I’ll sleep in her bed then,” Chris returned before kicking off his shoes and walking past both women to enter Sybil’s bedroom. Suze turned to look at her, arms folded across her chest and one eyebrow raised incredulously.

“It’s a long story,” Sybil said evasively before following Chris into her bedroom, where he was already tucking himself into the right side of her king-sized bed, which had also been given to her by her father.

“This bed is fucking enormous,” he told her as if she was somehow unaware.

“Yes,” she agreed, getting into the left side.

“Maybe now I won’t wake up with your damn hair in my mouth,” he continued. She kicked him in the calf under the blankets.

When they awoke in the morning, he had her hair in his mouth.

Sybil returned home from work the following day to find Suze sitting on the couch in the living room, folding laundry. Her massive amount of hair was once again piled on top of her head in a messy bun and she was wearing sweatpants. And she was watching Degrassi on the TV.

“Why?” Sybil asked, gesturing to the television.

“Because it’s amazing,” Suze returned. “Look at baby Drake. No one knew then that he’d turn out to be Canada’s national treasure. Literally starting from the bottom right there and now he’s running through the six with his woes.”

Sybil stared at her wordlessly for a moment.

“Oh, and also I haven’t had access to cable in a long time and all of the choices were overwhelming,” Suze continued. “This was the only thing I recognized. Hey, what is ‘Naked and Afriad’? And why has it been filmed?”

“It’s a wilderness survival show,” Sybil answered, coming to join Suze on the couch.

“Huh, I would not have guessed that,” Suze replied thoughtfully, tucking her feet underneath her on the couch. “So, who’s your man friend?”

Sybil stared at her blankly. She was trying to recall when she had told Suze about Tobias, who she had been seeing casually for about a month.

“Your co-worker? The one who sleeps in your bed?” Suze prompted. Sybil gave her an unimpressed look.

“Shouldn’t you be facetiming Karl or something?” She checked, changing the subject.

“It’s like two in the afternoon over there,” Suze said, continuing only when Sybil didn’t respond. “He’s working. It’s the middle of the day. He’s at work.”

“What’s the plan with that, by the way?” Sybil asked. Suze hadn’t really said very much about how long she and Karl were going to be in this long-distance relationship.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” was Suze’s answer.

“So there’s no plan then,” Sybil summarized knowingly.

“No, and stop changing the subject,” Suze returned. “How long have you and terrifying Murder Man been together?”

“See, that’s a very misleading nickname because he in no way actually tried to murder either of us,” Sybil pointed out, diverting the conversation again. Suze shot her a very skeptical look, clearly aware of what Sybil was attempting to do. Sybil got the sense that, not only had she been unsuccessful of convincing Suze of the purely platonic nature of hers and Chris’ relationship, but it wouldn’t be the last she heard of it.

Sure enough, the next time Chris came over to escape Gladys’ warbling voice and relentlessly untalented guitar-playing, Suze spent the entirety of his visit giving Sybil knowing and suspicious looks, right up until the point that he disappeared into her bedroom.

“Stop it!” Sybil hissed at her, one hand on her bedroom door frame. Suze was getting ready to settle down to sleep on the couch. She had left her eye mask off just long enough to shoot Sybil one last knowing look.

“‘And I know when that hotline bling, it can only mean one thing’,” Suze sang back to her softly in response. Sybil hurled the nearest pillow at her head.


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