Like Animals

By Eve Lemieux
Translated by Cayman Rock

Like Animals
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Too much sex in the city: a young woman goes into a self-destructive spiral after becoming obsessed with a downtown Montreal hipster.

Reality, that speedy bitch, is catching up to me.

In downtown Montreal, everyone is in a band or making a movie. Philomena Flynn and her best ... Read more


Overview

Too much sex in the city: a young woman goes into a self-destructive spiral after becoming obsessed with a downtown Montreal hipster.

Reality, that speedy bitch, is catching up to me.

In downtown Montreal, everyone is in a band or making a movie. Philomena Flynn and her best friend, Tania, are living fast and hard. There is sex when and where they want it, as well as drugs of all kinds. Not enough work, but lots of parties. Cute boys or nice boys, but rarely both at once. Philomena has no idea how to protect herself from her roaring feelings and goes into a spiral of self-destruction when her heart is broken. Too bad for Tania. Too bad for Philomena’s dad. Too bad for boys who are too nice to her, and too bad, above all, for Philomena.

Like Animals is a glimpse into the raucous, sex-filled lives — infused with self-doubt and euphoria — of young, creative people who are far more sensitive than their cool facades will admit.

A RARE MACHINES BOOK

Eve Lemieux

Eve Lemieux is a comedian, actor, and writer. Like Animals is her debut novel, inspired by people who haven't learned to love gently. Eve lives in Montreal.

Cayman Rock

Cayman Rock is a literary translator based in Montreal.

Excerpt

1
Villeray, January 2016

Cars and buses struggle, beached in banks of snow. You can only get around on foot if you’re properly equipped. The storm has the entire city stunned, but nothing can stop Tania and me. We climb great piles of the stuff, dodge the plows, and build snowmen with cigarette noses. We’re twenty-five, going on twelve.

The snow floats down from the sky like in a rom-com. I’ve only ever known one truly happy couple.

“How are your parents doing, Tan?”

She takes a long drag on her menthol. My eyes drift up toward a lamppost; it won’t hurt so bad if I don’t look directly at her.

“The house I grew up in … they actually sold it. ”

“Huh?”

“Sylvain went back to Marseille. ”

“What the fuck! No way. What’s your mom going to do?”

“Same as usual. She’ll become a workaholic and then burn herself out. Louis and me offered to help her move, but she basically told us to fuck off. Guess she’ll be fucking alone, then. ”

Tania Reynier: cold and hard as ice. My best friend.

Her parents, Manon and Sylvain, have been my model couple since I was five. The only couple that ever seemed real because their imperfections were … perfect. They were always arguing, but every night they would end up cuddling on the sofa or laughing too loud on the balcony. It seemed simple and safe. And now it’s over.

“Think he found someone else?”

“I think he needs to find himself, you know?”

“No. I don’t get it … freaks me out. ”

“You’re scared?”

“Are you going to leave me, too?”

“Come on, Philly. ”

“Promise me that we’ll end up like your mom’s aunties in her wedding pics: still cute, just a little wrinkly, drinking champagne in little pastel dresses. Just promise me we’ll always be a team. ”

“You got it. ”

It’s weird that you know my parent’s wedding album by heart. You looked through it how many times while we waited for supper to be served? Louis and I would watch Radio Enfer after playing outside all day. You’d automatically take out the album and let the mint green sofa swallow you up. It was lame how you would rather look at an old wedding dress than watch Carl the Cat’s killer smile on the TV. Every time, you’d say that you’ll have an album just like that one day … cream with gold accents. It always sucked because I thought it was dumb as shit. When my dad would yell at us to “turn off the goddamn TV” and come to supper, it was like a slinky bounced us right up to the table. You, you had to take the time to put the album back in exactly the right place on the bookshelf, or you’d spaz right out. You were always the last to come to the table, but Sylvain never yelled at you, Silly-Philly. It, like, pissed me off.

The Deli Plus shines like an oasis in a bleached desert. Tania and me shamelessly dig into our poutine with extra bacon, garlic bread on the side.

Two drunk guys walk in, laughing. I sit a little straighter without even realizing what I’m doing. Either because we look cute, cheeks pink from the cold, or because they’re dripping with testosterone, they sit down with us without even asking. They start chatting us up like we’ve been friends forever. Their blind arrogance is actually fun; we don’t normally talk politics, movies, and hard drugs with a fledgling douchebag accountant and a Colombian filmmaker.

One of them is called Daniel Torrès. He invites us back to his place for a beer. Not sure I want to. I’m starting to get tired. I want to take a bath … but, Thelma never leaves her Louise behind. Best friends forever.

At the corner of rue L. -O. -David and des Écores, reality catches up to me like a bitch in heat. The ratty old army jacket stinks of sweat under my winter coat. What am I doing, going to an apartment with two guys I don’t even know, dressed like a goddamn hobo, something like forty-five minutes from our place? I feel doubt growing in my belly. Tania is walking with Daniel fucking far ahead of me, I’m pissed, muttering under by breath, and sweat is pouring down my back.

“Don’t walk fast, do you, girly?”

This, from the other guy, the one with a chiselled jaw and ocean-blue eyes. His likes, off the cuff: Pulp Fiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Emma Watson. Of course. A BMX accident blew both his knees when he was fourteen. Enjoys a little salvia from time to time. Only child, like me, only he’s already been blown by twin sisters and doesn’t like tomatoes. Not interested at all. Nope. Nope. Nope.

“My legs feel like Jell-O, my feet are frozen, you said it’d take fifteen minutes, and we’ve been walking since forever. I fucking quit. ”

“Want me to carry you?”

“No. Thanks. I’m no princess. ”

I refuse the smoke that he offers. Because I don’t want my lips to touch the filter where his have been. And, more importantly, I won’t start smoking again. Not for this guy. He says he’s thinking of quitting himself and asks me how I managed.

“My dad’s got lung cancer. ”

“Oh shit. ”

A few metres ahead of us, Daniel and Tania are climbing the stairs outside a triplex.

The guys have a beer pong table set up in the kitchen. Only wannabe alcoholics play beer pong, but I let myself get carried away by Tania’s excitement. I’m the first to take off my sweater, playing in my bra, hair full of beer, cheeks on fire. I share a secret smile with my new beer pong partner, Jeffrey Hudon, finance major, chain-smoker, arrogant, and sexy, Daniel’s roommate since he started university.

We’re beating Daniel and Tania five to three. They suggest we smoke a joint. Our silence is thick with subtext. Tania can’t help but shoot me a wink before going out on the balcony. To encourage me? To reassure me?

Jeff offers me a big T-shirt and a glass of wine that we drink sitting cross-legged on his bed. The floor is carpeted with discarded clothes; math formulae and graphs are taped artlessly on the walls. My fingers draw an imaginary wonderland on the window frost.

“You and Tania, you’ve been friends your whole lives, that it?”

“Yeah. How did you and Daniel meet?”

“Kijiji. Was looking for an apartment. ”

“Hm. And found true love. ”

“You’re a funny one, girly. I like that, a witty girl. ”

It isn’t funny. It’s a game. I know the rules cold. And I can spot losers from miles away. When I find a player who makes me want to break the rules, I start playing the real game.

“You play sports?”

“When I was a teenager, I swam competitively, but I quit. ”

“Why?”

“I had no tits, no periods, and no life. I didn’t want to miss out on smoking joints in the school yard on Friday nights anymore. ”

“Typical private school girl. ”

“You? Baseball, basketball … curling?”

“Nope. I go to the gym … sometimes. ”

“Typical douche. ”

“Not shy, are you?”

“Not really, nope. ”

“What do you do, for work?”

“Beautician. ”

“Fancy! Actors, models?”

“Nah. Dead people. ”

“You’re kidding. ”

“No joke. ”

“You put makeup on dead bodies?”

“Yup. ”

“Shit. You’re a brave one. ”

Reviews

Hard-hitting, violent, and raw, this gutsy novel must be read in one go. .. Without embellishment, yet with colourful and poetic writing, Lemieux tells with great insight of a generation for whom half measures do not seem an option.

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