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A Rousing Cheer

by PamFord Davis  
2/26/2015 / Short Stories


My telltale complexion of putrid green reveals what Clearasil can't hide. You can rule out smoking; I have not been puffing Dad's White Owls. This jaundice is of the jealousy variety.

Meet the girl voted most popular; Patty is the picture of pert in short skirt, lettered sweater and bobbing blonde ponytail. Shaking crimson pompoms in the Friday pep rally, Patty flashes a smile and leads her counterparts in a rousing cheer.

"We are the tigers,
We are the tigers.
Fight team, fight.
Win team, win!"

Ending her choreographed routine with a long-legged split, Patty receives applauding adulation. Students and faculty alike are oblivious to my performance. I jump through imaginary flaming hoops. No longer, will I fantasize my popularity. I want to pounce upon my prey.

The bell signals dismissal for the weekend and kids come down off the gymnasium bleachers, jostling their way through exits. With a surge of prowess, I take leisurely long steps to my locker. My shining hour, nothing can spoil it now. Even the troublesome combination lock acquiesces to my turns.

"I will ruin her."

"Sorry, did you say something?"

Not realizing I have spoken aloud, I turn toward the inquisitive voice. "No, just uh, thinking I need to tell my friend something, that I'll run into her some place." My explanation satisfies his curiosity and he moves on. I will be keeping my thoughts to myself from now on.

That afternoon, I postpone cramming for exams; I direct all mental activity to masterminding an end to Patty's popularity. I sprawl across my bed and peer at cobwebs on the ceiling light fixture. As her menaces, I decide upon the perfect weapon, innuendo. Her peers will besmirch her name.

That night, I go to the home game dressed for a Yukon expedition. Wearing a turtleneck sweater, ski jacket, leggings, toboggan hat, cumbersome gloves and fur lined boots, I can barely move. As I near the burning kindling, I hear a familiar voice and seek her out in the midst of people chatting around the bonfire.

"Angie, I thought you'd never get here!" says one of my friends.

"Well, I kept changing my mind about what to wear. I didn't want to freeze or to look too nerdy. What da' ya' think, this okay?"

"Yea, yer' good!"

Loyal fans turn out in any weather. I had seriously considered getting to bed early, snuggling under the electric blanket and finishing a Harlequin novel.

Instead, I shiver on the top row of the bleachers as a spectator. Our team's biggest rivals show us no mercy. Relieved, that I can finally go home, I trail behind a long line of red-nosed, sniffling schoolmates.

Nearly to the student parking, I reach inside my jacket's right pocket. Fumbling for my keys, I panic.

Where are they? I know I put them there.

Thinking I may have tucked them inside the opposite pocket, I reach towards that. Finding it secured, I manage to unzip it and find it empty too.

I must have dropped them, but where?

With no other choice, I turn back to retrace my steps; alternating my gazes below and ahead. Seeing a cloud of condensation with each exhale of breath, I worry about finding a way home in frigid temperatures and increase the speed of my steps. The custodian will be turning out all outdoor lighting soon and any searching of keys thereafter will be fruitless.

Finding the bleachers empty, behind them I see a shadow of a girl's frame in a squatting position. A light in the football field casts an eerie glow around her. There, I witness Patty slouched over, sticking her fingers down her throat, gagging and vomiting atop pompoms.

'She's bulimic!'

Satan whispers, "Crucify her!"

The gentle command of the indwelling Holy Spirit is unambiguous. "Help her."

Under conviction for envy and scheming, my heart races as I sheepishly go to Patty's side. The sound of my approaching footsteps on brittle fallen leaves startles her; looking up into my eyes, hers reveal terror.

Standing, she begs. "Promise me, you won't tell!"

"Your parents know?"

"No! You don't understand; I have to do this. If I gain weight, I lose all chances for a scholarship!"

A distant voice of the custodian silences ours.

"Either of you missing keys?"

"Uh, yeah."

Passing me my keys, he leaves. I drape my arm around Patty's quivering shoulders and say, "You can trust me. I'll help you."

Limp and listless, she collapses

Devotionals are her first love in writing. Published articles in Mature Living Magazine, Devotions for the Deaf, The Secret Place, Light from the Word, Coosa Journal, With God Daily, Mary Hollingsworth's The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter. http://www.pamforddavis.com
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