Priscilla hated Jemima’s boyfriend Steve. The last time Jemima and Steve had broken up, when he’d cheated on her with a very small woman named Amber, Priscilla assumed it would be the last time. They had broken up and gotten back together many times before, but it was never for such a serious reason. Usually it was just for vague reasons that didn’t make any sense or for no reason at all. One time Steve had ghosted her, which had been a particularly bold move after they’d been together for four months and had dated three other times before that. But finding out he had cheated on her had been somewhat devastating to Jemima. Priscilla suspected she wasn’t as surprised as she probably should’ve been; they all knew Steve was a jerk. Nevertheless, Priscilla had been hoping that it would finally stick for good.
And then they got back together again.
It was awkward for a lot of reasons, partially because Steve was absolutely no fun to be around ever and yet often was around, but largely because a lot of Jemima’s friends had already told her that they didn’t like him. She clearly hadn’t forgotten that, just like they hadn’t forgotten, and now they were all stuck in this weird limbo where no one talked about it, but everybody knew how everybody else really felt.
“The problem is that we were too honest too soon,” Tallulah analyzed the situation one night over dinner. They had gone over to their parents’ house to babysit their niece and nephew, Hilary and Harris.
“Do you think it’s alright that Harris is using scissors?” Priscilla asked, half-listening to what Tallulah was saying.
“Because, like, we told Jemima that we didn’t like him and that he had a butt chin and now they’re back together and it’s awkward because she knows we don’t like him or his butt chin,” Tallulah continued, half-listening to what Priscilla was saying.
“Where did he even get those scissors?” Priscilla asked. It was mildly concerning. The answer was almost definitely from his sister Hilary. She was demonic. Their older sister, Hilary and Harris’ mother Cynthia, was always talking about how smart and mature Hilary was. Priscilla had noticed that she never said anything about her being sweet or kind or generally pleasant to be around.
“But she’s still with him so obviously she doesn’t really care what we think of him,” Tallulah pressed on. “If anything, she probably resents the fact that we think his butt chin is funny-looking.”
She made some very good points, but Priscilla couldn’t really focus on any of them. Harris had begun toddling off with the scissors. They weren’t even safety scissors. Priscilla got up to follow him, at which point she wandered into the dining room to find Hilary sitting underneath the dining room table, dressed entirely in black, surrounding by stuffed animals. Harris tripped over a stuffed duck and tumbled down beside her.
“What are you doing?” Priscilla asked, bending down to reach under the table and take the scissors from Harris.
“Aunt Priscilla, we need those,” Hilary said very seriously instead of answering the question.
“Why?” Priscilla asked, still holding on to them. She was more curious than anything. She wouldn’t be giving Hilary any kind of sharp blade for love nor money.
“It’s Andrew’s birthday so we’re sacrificing a lamb in his honour,” Priscilla explained. Priscilla was more than a little concerned that her seven year old niece understood and used the word sacrifice.
“Who is Andrew?” Priscilla asked. Hilary pointed to the stuffed duck. “Alright, well how about we don’t do that and instead watch Arthur?”
Harris crawled out from underneath the table immediately. Hilary sighed deeply, but followed him nonetheless.
“We always do what you want to do, Aunt Priscilla,” she said very seriously. “Next time we sacrifice the lamb like I want to.”
Priscilla agreed mostly because she hoped there wouldn’t be a next time. Cynthia could find one of the older neighbourhood kids to look after her budding Wiccan children from now on. At least they would get paid.
Priscilla found that people didn’t properly understand how terrible Steve was until they met him. Before that, he was just some guy that she viscerally hated for trivial reasons, like his butt chin or the way he pronounced schedule. But when they met him, they tended to understand. That was the case with Suze and Chris. A few of them were going out dancing, Steve included, and they had gathered at Priscilla’s place before heading out. Chris and Suze had never had the pleasure of meeting Steve before. Neither of them was overly fond after they had.
“He is…the worst,” Suze said to Priscilla and Chris in the kitchen. The others were gathered in the living room, playing drinking games. When Priscilla had left to refill her glass, Iggy had accumulated fourteen drinks. It was going to be a wild evening.
“Holy Christ, does this guy suck,” Chris agreed. “She gave up on Noel way too soon.”
Priscilla snorted at that.
“He tried to make out with Sybil!” She protested. Suze whipped her head back and forth between Priscilla and Chris with her mouth open like a cartoon character in shock.
“I’m going to be real honest with you for a second here,” Chris said.
“Okay,” Priscilla nodded.
“Sybil is hot as fuck,” he said. Suze laughed, but it was more of a startled sound.
“Yes,” Priscilla agreed solemnly.
“Eighty per cent of the time, Noel looks like a cast member from Cats,” Chris continued. “He’s a very confident man. He saw a shot and he took it. It seems like he takes a lot of shots, if you catch my drift.”
“Yeah, you’re saying Jemima isn’t as hot as Sybil,” Priscilla replied indignantly. She was a little offended on Jemima’s behalf.
“I’m not at all saying that,” Chris returned immediately. “The woman looks good in a skirt made for the Amish. She’s doing alright.”
“But Noel took no shots,” Priscilla pointed out. At this point, the initial shock had worn off for Suze and she was busying herself making a mixed drink that seemed to be one part run, one part tequila, all parts deadly.
“He took her to a spa,” Chris countered. “If she hadn’t tripped over her cat underwear, he’d have taken a shot, most likely while naked.”
Priscilla considered it.
“So if she asked, you think she’d have a shot?” She checked. Suze had begun making another mixed drink. Priscilla observed her with a wary eye, slightly worried about where that other drink was going to end up.
“I think I would even have a shot if I asked,” Chris returned. “He’s got a lot of good qualities, but being discerning isn’t one of them.”
“Then maybe it’s not too late for us to get rid of Steve forever then!” Priscilla said delightedly.
“That makes it sound like you’re going to murder him,” Chris pointed out.
“I still might,” Priscilla returned. Chris only shrugged.
“But for tonight, we will drink our pain away,” Suze declared, handing a mixed drink to both Priscilla and Chris before picking up her own. She held it in the air, they clinked glasses with a resounding clunking of plastic cup on plastic cup, and then Priscilla drank what she would later describe as “basically motor oil” while she held back Tallulah’s hair at three o’clock in the morning with one hand and tried to eat poutine with the other.