43: “That’s a head wound waiting to happen”

Jacklyn had made a terrible mistake. More specifically, she had made quite a few mistakes, but one in particular had set off a chain of events that she was incredibly displeased to find herself in the middle of. She shouldn’t have attempted to end things with Amare by simply never speaking to him again. Not only was it unkind, but it logistically just didn’t make sense. He was really close friends with her neighbours. He was across the hall nearly all the time. She’d never truly be able to escape him. At some point, something would have to be said. Of course, it definitely would’ve been better if she’d managed to say something before she’d begun dating Joey. Now she was truly screwed. Worse still was her decision to accept Joey’s invitation to the ski trip. That was undoubtedly her biggest mistake of them all.

Jacklyn had gotten herself into quite the predicament. She wasn’t even sure why she’d agreed to come. She’d been literally thinking about how horrible it would be while she was in the middle of accepting Joey’s invitation. She knew Amare was going to be there as well, given that it was Gavin’s family’s chalet. Yet she’d still agreed to come. And now she had to spend an entire weekend with Joey and Amare as well as Gord and his stupid, smug mustache. He was having the time of his life. She could tell because he kept grinning at her. He was laughing at her pain. It was the perfect retribution for all the times she’d yelled at him for stealing her cat. Amare was clearly pissed, not that she blamed him, and she was sure Joey knew the history by this point. He’d had an entire five hour car ride to learn all about it. And, in the meantime, she’d been stuck playing car games with Tallulah and Sybil as Robin careened along the highway in his nineteen year old car.

Things got even more complicated when they all finally arrived at the chalet and the issue of bedrooms arose. It was a four-bedroom house. Jacklyn wasn’t so sure the word chalet really applied as it was essentially a massive house in the mountains. Gavin told the group that he would be sleeping the master bedroom, under strict instructions from his mother to keep it safe from his heathen friends.

“Your mother really said that?” Tallulah asked, rolling her eyes.

“One hundred per cent she did,” Gord answered for Gavin. “The scariest woman on the face of the earth.”

It left three bedrooms and the living room for the rest of them. One of the other rooms had a queen bed, another had a double, and the third had two twin beds. There was a pullout couch in the living room and then someone else would have to sleep on the regular couch adjacent to it. After Gavin had laid this all out, no one said anything for a moment, all likely waiting to see who would claim the queen bed first. Gord turned to Jacklyn and grinned at her, clearly waiting for her to choose where she was going to sleep and whether or not she would be bold enough to share with Joey while Amare was under the same roof.

“Well, fuck all y’all, we’re taking the queen,” Finch was the first to break the silence, grabbing his bag with one hand, Robin with the other, and stomping off upstairs in the direction of one of the bedrooms.

“Share with me,” Jacklyn demanded, turning to Sybil in panic. Sybil looked back at her, stunned.

“Uh…,” she said, breaking eye contact to look over at Tallulah and Chris.

“Why doesn’t Sybil share the double with me?” Chris interjected. “Because that’s basically how we live our lives anyway. And then you and Tallulah can take the I Love Lucy beds.”

Jacklyn nodded immediately to show her agreement. When she looked back at the rest of the group, Amare was scowling deeply.

“I’m sleeping on the couch by myself,” he told Gord and Joey through gritted teeth, as if one of them was going to protest and demand he share the pullout couch with them.

“This should be a really fun weekend,” Gord remarked before laughing to himself.

That night, while she was lying awake in the twin bed listening to Tallulah snore softly in the bed beside hers, Jacklyn decided that the best plan of action moving forward would just be to avoid both Joey and Amare at all costs whenever possible. She shouldn’t have come. Why did she come? She wanted to spend time with Joey and she thought it was nice that he had asked her. Why did she really come? Because she felt weird about him and how into Finch he was. He’d already kissed him on the mouth twice since they’d arrived. She didn’t understand how it didn’t bother Robin. She’d be unbelievably irate if her roommate started kissing her boyfriend. Jocelyn had merely been kind to Jacklyn’s ex-boyfriend Aaron and Jacklyn had driven him away in a fit of jealous rage. She needed to find a way to cope.

The following morning, after breakfast, almost everybody took off for the slopes. Jacklyn had never been much of a skier so she stayed behind, claiming to want to do some reading and relaxing. It was a very appealing option because Amare had already taken off with Gavin and their snowboards and Joey was on his way out the door as well. The only other person staying behind was Chris. He said he’d never understood the appeal of skiing.

“It’s just throwing yourself down a mountain covered in ice on slippery sticks,” he said. “That’s a head wound waiting to happen.”

“You’re a weenie,” was Sybil’s response to that.

Once everybody else was gone, Jacklyn grabbed her book and sat down in the living room with Chris. He was working his way through a sudoku book, listening to softly playing Christmas music and sipping on a mug of tea. There was a winter wonderland on the other side of the two-story picture windows behind him. He looked so peaceful. Jacklyn almost hated to interrupt him. Almost.

“Can I talk to you about something?” She asked after about twenty minutes of pretending to read.

“I can’t really stop you,” Chris replied without looking up from his puzzle.

“I came to you because I trust your opinion,” Jacklyn began, hoping that a bit of flattery would help grease the wheels so to speak.

“So there wasn’t anyone else around?” He returned shrewdly. Jacklyn paused for a moment.

“Pretty much,” she said. “How do you think Joey feels about Finch?”

Chris finally looked up at her. He didn’t say anything for a long time.

“I don’t know what I thought you were going to ask me, but it sure as hell wasn’t that,” he admitted. “How do I think Joey feels about Finch? Can’t say I’ve really thought about it. Not sure I really want to. If I’m being perfectly honest, it matters to me not at all.”

Jacklyn mulled over his response.

“What I like about you, Chris, is your ability not to get involved,” she told him sincerely, thinking that it might be a tactic she needed to adopt. “I really admire that. You don’t concern yourself with business that isn’t your own.”

Chris stared at her for another moment.

“So what you’re saying is that the one thing you like most about me is my apathy,” Chris reiterated. “Got to tell you, I don’t know how to feel about that.”

“Feel good about it,” Jacklyn told him before returning to her book. She was going to follow his advice. Granted, it wasn’t quite advice and she was positive he hadn’t meant it to be advice at all, but she was choosing to interpret it as she wanted. She wasn’t going to get involved. For the rest of the weekend, she was going to continue avoiding Amare and Joey. It would be difficult, especially since they would be eating every meal together and spending all the time they weren’t skiing together, but she was determined. She was going to spend all of her free time with Tallulah and Sybil. Chris too if he didn’t mind. He was still looking at her like she was just a bit crazy. He’d probably get over it.

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