19: “Holy water, love?”

On Halloween, Jacklyn went to Melly and David’s incredibly tame party. It was her own fault. She had been invited to go to Oscar’s Halloween party at the indirect invitation of Iggy, who had also been invited to Melly and David’s. She, however, immediately declined in favour of what was sure to be a much more interesting night. Jacklyn had considered it, but ultimately declined because she knew both Sybil and Gord would be there. Her freakishly perfect roommate Jocelyn had also invited Jacklyn to a Halloween party at one of her friend’s places, but there was not a flying chance in hell that Jacklyn would be attending that so she didn’t even pretend to think it over.

Jacklyn dressed up in her cat outfit and made her way to Melly and David’s house for seven o’clock. It was far too early to start a Halloween party so Jacklyn got the impression that she was about to be treated to a lovely evening of Halloween charades. Inevitably, Danielle would get angry at someone, most likely her for ruining their charades numbers. Now that Oscar was no longer a regular invite, Danielle’s wrath had to find its way to someone else. Lately, that person had been Jacklyn. She didn’t like it. She had said as much to Melly, who had told her that she was reading into things. Jacklyn was not reading into things. Danielle was an asshole.

The term party seemed a misnomer when Jacklyn showed up ten minutes after seven and everybody else was already there. Danielle and Jake, Jana and Dan, and Katy and Ezra made up the entire guest list, apart from Jacklyn, who deeply felt her position as ninth wheel instantly. Some couples had a way of not making other people feel ill at ease, Iggy and Miles, for instance. They were fine to be around even though they were together. Melly had managed to amass the most coupley couples of all time for her Halloween party of horrors. Jacklyn was very obviously out of place and that was even before they divided themselves into teams for charades. Danielle huffed at her more than once and Jacklyn fought the urge to smack her.

An hour and a half into couple’s charades, Jacklyn got a Snapchat from Priscilla. It featured her, Tallulah, and Jemima arriving at Oscar’s house party. Priscilla and Tallulah had gone dressed as Mrs. and Mr. Vandertramp.

“How do you dress as a French grammar concept?” Jacklyn had asked when Priscilla told her the idea.

“I’m going to have a baguette,” Priscilla had answered.

Jemima, meanwhile, was dressed as an Amish person. She was, of course, wearing her Mennonite skirt. The Snapchat was a video of the three of them waiting at the door, only to be welcomed in by Oscar in a small grey dress, mouse ears, and sunglasses. Then some guy dressed as a priest ran past the open door, shouting about tequila. It looked like it was approximately four hundred per cent more fun than Melly and David’s charades house party from hell. Jacklyn decided to bolt.

“Hey, thanks so much for having me, but I have to go,” she told Melly, keeping it vague. Inevitably, photos of her at Oscar’s party would surface on social media and she needed to be able to, at the very least, say she didn’t lie when she bailed on Melly’s boring party. There would definitely be a fight. Or, more likely, Melly would complain about her to one of their mutual friends, probably Iggy, who would snap and ask Jacklyn to apologize so that she didn’t have to endure the many, many phone calls any longer.

“You have to go?” Melly asked, a little taken aback.

“Yup,” Jacklyn nodded and then grabbed her coat, put her shoes back on, and fled without so much as a backward glance. Danielle would be pleased to the see the back of her, even if Melly wasn’t; now their charades teams were even.

On the way to Oscar’s, sitting on the subway squished between two people dressed as minions, Jacklyn made a silent vow to herself to try harder with Sybil. If she was completely honest with herself (honest in an uncomfortable way that she didn’t actually like to dwell on because that level of self-awareness made her feel icky), she didn’t like Sybil because she was really close friends with Priscilla. Priscilla and Sybil had become friends during university, a time when Jacklyn was struggling to make her own friends and feeling anxious and insecure like she never had before. She’d found Sybil’s new presence in Priscilla’s life very threatening. Jacklyn had always been a jealous person, but this had been extreme.

But she was turning over a new leaf. She was going to try to be friends with Sybil. Maybe she and Sybil could be even better friends than Sybil and Priscilla. It seemed unlikely and also perhaps counterproductive to the self-healing path Jacklyn had just decided to take, but whatever. She wasn’t a saint.

When Jacklyn arrived at Oscar’s apartment, the person who opened the door for her was the same man dressed as a priest that she’d seen in Priscilla’s Snapchat video. He was dressed entirely in black, he had the white collar, and he was wearing rosary beads.

“Holy water, love?” He asked, holding up a bottle of tequila, presumably the one he had been shouting about in Priscilla’s Snapchat.

“Uh, I don’t have a glass,” she pointed out. He laughed at that, this wild cackle with a grin that sent shivers down her spine. He was equal parts frightening and alluring. She had never had such a visceral reaction to someone, let alone someone she had only just met. She didn’t even know his name.

“Who needs a glass?” He returned eventually. Then he poured tequila into his open mouth as if to demonstrate what he had meant. He swallowed and then held the bottle out to her, wiggling his eyebrows. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how Jacklyn wanted the interaction to pan out, Prisiclla and Sybil wandered by at that exact moment. Priscilla was, as promised, holding onto a baguette, and Sybil appeared to be dressed as some kind of rock star in snakeskin pants, a shockingly low-cut top, and ropes of chain necklaces.

“Jacklyn! You’re here!” Priscilla crowed, throwing her hands in the air. “Why are you here? Aren’t you supposed to be at Melly’s?”

She was clearly already drunk. Considering she had only been at the party for about an hour, it was a miraculous feat. Jacklyn assumed it had something to do with the wicked priest and his bottle of tequila.

“Melly’s party was boring,” Jacklyn explained.

“That seems right,” Sybil returned. Jacklyn laughed and Sybil looked like she’d been slapped in the face. It might be a while before they were really good friends.

“Yes or no to the holy water?” The priest asked, cutting them off and holding up his bottle of tequila again.

“For fuck’s sake, Joey,” Sybil said in return, but she took the bottle and swigged some alcohol anyway. Then she passed it to Priscilla with a grimace. Priscilla drank some and handed it to Jacklyn, who was a little concerned that they were all going to catch the same cold. She drank some anyway.

“Motherfucking champs!” Joey shouted when Jacklyn handed the bottle back to him. It was startling, but a lovely sentiment all the same.

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