27: “It’s not like he died”

Suze and Sybil’s best friend from high school, Ye Zhang, moved back to Roehampton after having spent the better part of three years getting her masters in fashion marketing in Calgary. It was something of a snap decision, made in the spur of the moment. Like Suze and Sybil, Ye had grown up in Roehampton with her parents and younger sisters. Now, however, her parents had moved to what used to be their cottage in a beach town two and a half hours away. That was fine because, according to Ye, she hadn’t wanted to live with her parents anyway. Of course, she made the plan to move back to Roehampton and bought the plane ticket to do so in the same two-hour window on the same night, not leaving much room for her to plan anything. For instance, she had nowhere to stay when she got back to Roehampton, nor did she have a job lined up, nor did she know what to do with all her current furniture, which she would not be able to pack and take on the plane with her. And the plane ticket she purchased was for three days later. And it was a red eye.

Ye’s plane arrived at the Roehampton airport at three-twenty in the morning. Suze and Sybil were waiting outside of baggage claim to pick her up. They were going to have to take the night bus back to their apartment and Sybil wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. The night bus was full of weirdos and people coming off of lengthy night shifts. Everyone was tired and resentful and the overhead lights in the body of the bus cast everybody in an eerie glow. It made them look like horror movie extras. At the same time, however, Sybil didn’t want to abandon Ye to the night bus on her own. Although, if there was anyone in the world who would be able to hold her own on a bus full of brain-eating zombies, it was Ye.

When Ye finally emerged from the gates the led to the baggage claim and security area, she was wearing sunglasses, even though she was indoors and it was nighttime, and carrying more bags than she possibly could’ve checked. She had a cross-body purse on underneath a backpack and she was holding a gym bag with one hand and pulling a suitcase with the other. Every bag was black. It matched her all-black outfit; a pair of ripped skinny jeans, Nike Frees, and a black t-shirt under a black leather jacket. It was the most glamourous Sybil had ever seen someone look leaving an airplane. She usually looked like she had died somewhere in the air and was being reanimated by a subpar magician.

“Hey!” Suze greeted Ye as soon as she was within earshot.

“Yes, hello, let’s get the hell out of here,” Ye returned immediately. She turned her head abruptly to the left toward a slow-moving woman walking quite closely behind her. Sybil could only assume Ye was glaring at her with the full brunt of her hatred, which was limitless and often severe.

“To the bus,” Sybil directed and began leading the way. She held out a hand to take Ye’s gym bag. The three of the boarded the night bus, chose seats as far away from most of the other night bus weirdos as possible, and then rode back toward Suze and Sybil’s apartment mostly in silence. It wasn’t until they were all seated in the living room, after a fairly short, but still mildly terrifying walk from the bus stop, that anyone said anything. Ye collapsed on the couch and pushed her sunglasses up onto the top of her head. She sighed deeply.

“Fucking hell, this is a comfortable couch,” she said after a moment, reaching a hand out to pat the cushion next to her.

“Well that’s good,” Sybil replied. “Because it’s your new home now.”

“Yeah,” Ye sighed.

“For the record, I think this is probably why people make massive life decisions gradually over time and not, you know, immediately book plane tickets,” Suze pointed out. Ye sighed again.

“Very likely,” she agreed. “But I couldn’t stay there anymore. Do you know how much cattle there is in Calgary? Like, so much cattle. And, honestly, there was nothing there for me. At least I have friends here. All I had there was my ex-boyfriend and my weirdo roommate Jenna.”

“And also cattle,” Suze added.

“So much fucking cattle,” Ye returned.

“What was wrong with Jenna again?” Sybil asked, trying to recall exactly what Ye had told her over the years.

“Too many things to list,” Ye answered bitterly. “But, for example, she tried to turn her bedroom into a botanical garden. She sold her bed online to some creepy dude with a chinstrap who came to our apartment smelling like urine and then asked me to help him carry the fucking boxspring down ten flights of stairs because he had a fear of elevators.”

“Did you help him?” Suze asked.

“In a way,” Ye answered vaguely with a wave of her hand. Sybil and Suze both raised an eyebrow at her until she continued.

“I shoved him inside the elevator with the boxspring,” she explained. “So I guess you could argue that I helped him get over his fears.”

“I don’t think you could argue that at all,” Sybil retorted.

“Well, whatever,” Ye said dismissively. “It’s not like he died. And anyway, I had bigger problems because Jenna was trying to drag a potted miniature palm tree into our apartment.”

“Where did she sleep?” Suze asked, frowning.

“On a bed of moss amidst the gardenias,” Ye answered sarcastically, repeating something she had clearly been told several times. “I will say it was very amusing every time she tried to bring a guy home. I liked to take bets on which of them would be desperate enough to sleep with her in a pile of fertilizer.”

“Surely her bedroom botanical garden wasn’t sustainable,” Sybil remarked skeptically.

“Yeah, most of those plants did not do well,” Ye confirmed. “So then she bought a stupid amount of succulents and claimed it was desert-themed.”

“You’re right,” Sybil nodded. “There was nothing for you there.”

With Ye sleeping on Sybil and Suze’s couch, Chris retook to sleeping in Sybil’s bed with her whenever Gladys played the guitar poorly at night. The first time he showed up, Ye legitimately punched him in the face because he had let him in with his key at midnight and she thought he was an intruder. Ye had a mean right hook.

“Damn, girl!” Chris exclaimed, clutching a wad of tissues Suze had handed him to his bleeding nose. “That’s a strong hook. Very impressive. I mean, I wish you hadn’t punched me in the face, but at least it was legit.”

“Thank you, that’s very kind,” Ye replied. “Who the hell are you?”

“This is our friend Chris,” Suze explained to Ye.

“Super best friend,” Chris corrected, voice muffled because he was still holding tissues to his face.

“He sleeps over a lot because his downstairs neighbour has been trying to learn the guitar for the better part of a year without much success,” Sybil added.

“Without any success,” Chris amended.

“Okay, cool, but I’m sleeping on the couch,” Ye said, straightening up like she was preparing herself to punch him in the face again if need be.

“It’s fine, he’ll stay in Sybil’s room,” Suze told Ye with a smirk that Sybil didn’t miss.

“Can I stay with you instead?” Chris asked, looking to Suze. “You still have a lot of hair, but I feel like you might have better control of it.”

“No, you may not,” Suze told him politely with a nod.

“Sorry, pal,” Sybil said, clapping him on the shoulder. “Looks like you’ll be waking up with a black eye and my hair in my mouth.”

“Fuck,” Chris breathed into his tissues.

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