Scar Cheering | Teen Ink

Scar Cheering

July 6, 2013
By Anonymous

When I was twelve, I lost the most important person in my life. He was the best football coach that Hulkner School had ever had. He was the one who taught me how to ride a horse, how to drive a four-wheeler, and how to light a fire using sticks. He taught me that nature is a beautiful thing. He encouraged me to join beauty pageants, to play football even though I was the only girl who ever wanted too, and to get involved with gymnastics. On top of that, he was the best dad anyone could ask for. He wanted to make sure I had the life I deserved. When he died in the car accident with..them.., I swore I’d never play football again, and I’d never do another beauty pageant because honestly, I needed him for it. And he was no longer there for me.

-Four years later-
“Nicole, get up and take care of the horses now!” Ugh. “I’m not playing, I won’t take you shopping later!” Good, honestly I didn’t want too, I have enough clothes anyways. She was kidding when she said she wouldn’t take me. She seems to think I need more and I like spending a day at the mall. Well I used to like it, before I lost my best friends. I stood up and brushed my hair back into a hair tie. I slid on a camouflage hoodie and muck boots and walked downstairs. “Good morning mom.” “Nice of you to join us, the horses are waiting,” she said. I rolled my eyes and grabbed a slice of toast heading out the door. Taking care of the horses was actually one of my favorite things to do. Jupiter, who is almost five years old, was born a week before my dad passed away. She was my favorite to ride. The fastest. “Good Morning to you beautiful,” I said soon as I saw her. “Ready for some riding?” I knew she was. I didn’t need a saddle with her. She was so calm. I took her out to the field and we did our normal rounds for exercise. It felt amazing to ride. It was a good feeling. The only thing I really stuck with after my dad passed away. I did the same with the three others, Louis, Jane, and Eddie. Louis was my dad’s. Eddie and Jupiter are mine and Jane is my mom’s. As I was doing chores, all I could think about was school which started in five days. I wasn’t ready. I ran up to my room to shower and get ready. I was ready for a day of shopping with my mom. Since we’ve been the only two living in the house I caught on to some more girlie stuff. My mom knew I’d always be a little tom boy like my dad raised me. He taught me well. There was one thing I wasn’t looking forward to today. Andy was going to be there. Yes, that’s a girl, but she doesn’t like her full name, so everyone calls her Andy. Andy was my best friend. Well, was my best friend. We got in to a fight last year when I told her I didn’t want to be a cheerleader. I promised her before that we’d both try out in high school, but I changed my mind. I didn’t want to have to go to every football game and see my dad not on that field, leading the team to victory. My thoughts were interrupted when my mom walked in. Well there buddy, are you ready?” “Sure, let me just grab a hoodie.” I walked into my closet. Here’s the thing about my clothes collection. I have many pants with holes from working outside. I also have a lot of camouflage, and at least forty different pairs of shoes. Then there was the more girl stuff my mom liked, dresses, skirts, blouses. All that. Then there was my gymnastic collection. The only thing I really stuck with after the accident. All my pageant clothes were put in a box and in the back of my closet. I kind of miss that but I know I can’t do it without my dad. I grabbed a Hollister hoodie and walked out.

The mall reminded me of a jungle. So loud, so many different types of people. So many sections. My goal was to spend all my money from my sixteenth birthday so my mom didn’t have to spend more money on me, but of course she’d see something she’d like on me and insist on buying it for me. That’s why every time we come to the mall we spend at least six hundred. We went through four stores before we decided to put the bags in the car and come back in. It was obviously the worst idea ever because who did I run into? That’s right, Andy and her friend Bella, who also used to be my best friend until last year’s fight. My mom just had to say hi. I forgot to tell my mom we weren’t talking. I just thought she’d catch on saying I haven’t hung out with them all summer. “Hi Andy and Bella! It has been awhile girls! How are you? Are your parents here?” Andy answered. “Hello Mrs. Tiller, yes both of our parents are here in the food court. They’d love to catch up if you’d like to go join them.” Crap. What is she doing? “That sounds lovely, Nicole you can hang out with your friends for a while. Here’s two hundred dollars to shop with until we’re done. Explore a little and you better spend some.” She winked and smiled at me. “Yes mom,” I said. In my head I was screaming don’t leave me! She turned to the girls. “Have fun girls!” she did a little dance, trying to be cool. “Mom.” They laughed. “Okay, okay I’m going, have fun you three.” She turned and walked the other way. I watched her disappear around the corner before I finally turned to face Andy and Bella. “Hi,” I said. Andy looked at me with a frown. I looked down. “So I guess we need to talk,” said Andy sitting down on a bench next to where we were standing. I nodded and waited for her to continue, but she didn't. I knew it was my turn. “Alright, well.. I know I broke a promise and I'm sorry but you don't understand. My father and the-” Andy cut me off. “Nicole I shouldn't have gotten mad I know how hard it is for you. I'm sorry I miss you and I wish I had the guts to say this sooner because this summer was pretty boring without you.” We laughed and hugged. Even Bella joined in. I’ve got my best friends back. We walked around and caught up while shopping. We finally stopped to get something to eat with our parents. We knew they would still be at the food court talking. I didn’t like Andy’s step mom. My mom wasn’t a big fan either since she began drinking but they were close before that. Her name was Meg. Kids at school found out her step mom was arrested for drinking and driving. We never brought it up because it upset her. As we sat down, Meg must have realized I looked at her weirdly. “Nicole, it’s nice to see you, it’s been a while. Your momma told me you placed first in the gymnastic regionals. Good for you.” “Thank you,” I said looking down at the sub in front of me. “So are you trying out for cheer?” I’m pretty sure she already knew the answer. She said it just to torture me. “Mom…” Andy whispered. “Its fine Andy, no I’m not. It’s just not me anymore,” I said. Bella looked at Andy who was still starring at Meg. Meg went on, “Its a shame, you could have been captain and led the girls to the championships.” Bella cut in, “Mrs. P, she said its not her then its not her...” Suddenly I was glad we were friends again. She continued, “Besides she wouldn't have time for that. I'm applying for the spot because I'm good for it.” The whole table wet silent at her words. Just kidding, hate her again. We were never really friends, she would try being better than me all the time. But we still called each-other best friends and did everything together. That doesn't make me fake, I just don't want the drama she would bring if we weren’t civil. Andy is both of our best friends. At least I think, I never really asked her how she felt about her. I think she knows how I feel about Bella on the other hand, because ever since Bella tried out doing me in everything its been awkward. We would never hang out one on once since. After a few minutes of the awkward silence, I knew everyone was looking for an escape route. “Mom I have a few more things I need to get.” She looked surprised at first but then she caught on. “Okay we should do that then. Nice seeing you guys.” The table mumbled goodbyes. My mom and I ended up getting more things after all. No surprise, we spent over seven hundred dollars. Three hundred from my birthday and the rest from my mom.

She wasn't spoiling me because she felt bad for me or because she wanted me to be nice for school. When my mom was young, she didn't have much. She had 5 brothers and sisters including her. She was always stuck with hand me downs and they were always short on money. My grandpa was in a farming accident when my mom was one. She is the youngest out of my aunts and uncles. My grandma worked for hours to pay for all of them and get them through. My mom didn't want me going through that. She always told herself when she grew up she was going to get a nice job and have enough money to have a big family and donate to the less fortunate. There was something else I didn't mention about my fathers accident. He wasn't the only one who was in the car. His best friend Robert was also with him, he survived. And two more people died, who weren't in the car, or standing by. They were in my mothers belly. They would have been my twin brother and sister. The accident caused my mom so much stress and grief that she lost the babies. I knew it wasn't her fault, we would have all been in that car if she wasn't sick that day. We would all be dead, though sometimes I feel that would be better.

After the mall, I just wanted to go home and sleep. Even though it was only 7:30. But it wasn't that easy, we had chores. We got home and unloaded and right away started the every night things. It wasn't always easy doing it by ourselves. But we loved our animals and our big farm home. My mom is a farm vet and also a scientist who studies medicine for humans and animals. She travels a lot but it brings in the money. While she's gone my grandma stays with me. She hates animals, so I get stuck with all the chores mostly. She always cooks big meals for me. I can never eat half of it but it makes her feel better that I try. Grandma always says I need to eat and stay strong so I can do my job on this farm. I know she's just kidding, she knows I'm strong. My body doesn't look it. I weigh 110 pounds, I'm thin, and I don’t really have much muscles. Well, that’s how it looks. But doing chores like lifting hay and working out every day makes me strong. I run every day and work out to stay in shape for gymnastics, Along with my body, I have blonde hair with brown highlights. And my eyes are a bright blue. My teeth are pin strait and very white. I had the spot in the yearbook as best smile. I'm glad I was lucky enough to get my looks from my mom. Besides my eyes. They're my dads for sure. My dad lost his parents when he was nine and family that lived next to my moms house adopted him. He became friends with my moms family right away. My grandma tells me stories about him all the time. She said he was a nice boy growing up. He had a crush on my mom for awhile but she never went for him until she was 15 and decided to go on a date with him. She told me how he showed up at the house with flowers. Roses, my mothers favorite. I guess my dad and I are a lot alike. At least that's what my grandma says. I love hearing stories.... By the time I was done with chores it was 9:30. I had to get up and split wood the next day so I headed in. I showered and threw all my clothes in my closet, still in the bags. I fell asleep right away.

The next morning, I came downstairs to find my mom laying on the floor, passed out and bleeding from the nose. I called 911 and my grandma. She was rushed to the hospital. The wait seemed to take forever. Finally, the doctor came out and told me she fell down the steps and hit her head. The blow caused her to have a brain hemorrhage. The tears ran down my face, there was no stopping them. If I lost her I don't even know what would have happened. I knew who I needed with me. I dialed Andy’s number. She was their within 30 minutes with our favorite snacks. She stayed with me until the next morning, Saturday. I really did miss her. Andy and I met in Nursery School. We have been friends for twelve years. She's always been there for me and I've always been there for her. We would ride horses together, go swimming in the pond, have camp outs, and went every where's together. When Bella moved here years ago, we were the first ones to talk to her and became friends. Bella was always full of herself. I thought I'd be used to comments like the one she made in the mall but it still bothered me. I knew I'd be a better cheerleader than her. Everyone at the table knew it. I was a cheerleader when I was younger, before I became a football junkie. Those were the easy days. Saturday night, Andy stayed with me again and Sunday morning my mom was able to come home. I had a lot of chores to catch up on but I was afraid to leave my mom alone. My grandma stayed in the house and Andy and I did all the chores. Andy didn’t mind getting dirty. That’s also why she was my best friend. We took the horses for a quick ride then returned to the house where we found my mom sleeping. We went to my room and it was like we never stopped being friends. Andy saw the bags I just threw in my closet. “Same old you,” she said with a laugh, heading over to my closet. We both laughed. We started hanging my clothes up in silence when I realized she had a smirk. “What's so funny?” I asked. “Oh nothing, I just missed this.” School started in just two days. Andy looked up at me, “I don't want to do cheer without you. I know you said you wouldn't because it would hurt you seeing the field and being on it but you're so good at it! You don’t even have to try. Your dad wanted you to before, what makes you think he doesn’t want you too now..” I sat there for a second just putting my clothes away. I knew she was getting nervous with my silence. “Alright, I'll try.” I didn’t really think about the words before I said them. Then it sunk in, Come Tuesday, I would become a Hulkner high school cheerleader. If I made it, that is.

On Tuesday morning, my alarm went off at 5:30. I jumped in the shower, got dressed, dried my hair and straitened it. Yesterday, my mom hired someone to help take care of the animals while I was at school so I didn't have to worry about running out of times in the morning. I wasn't a make up kind of girl, but today I wanted to look special. Out of all the new clothes I couldn't decide what to wear and it took me a few different outfits before I actually picked one. I went with a strapless flower top with a belt and shorts. The shorts were a size one and a little to big. When the clock hit 6:45 I decided to go say goodbye to the horses before heading to school. It was a bit chilly out so I ran back upstairs and grabbed a zip up Hollister hoodie. After kissing Jupiter for luck I grabbed my cheer bag and got in the truck. I was nervous. For tryouts actually. I don't know why, I knew everything. Gymnastics helped a lot with that. But its all different grades. Older girls. Yikes. I knew a lot of upper class-men and they knew me. I wouldn’t say I'm a popular girl, but I get along with everyone. And I always had someone to walk with her a partner in class and people to sit with at lunch. My mom drove me to school every morning. I didn’t like taking the bus. I texted Andy and told her to wait for me in the parking lot so we didn't have to face walking in alone. We had five out of nine classes together, and then of course cheer practice after school. The day went by fast. Andy and I walked to the locker room together where we would Bella and ten other freshman. There were at least forty girls trying out. Only 25 girls would make Junior Varsity and/or Varsity. After the girls were all dressed we walked out to the football field together. Of course, We had to try out in-front of the boys playing football. “Hello Girls,” said coach Bellger. She went on, “So if you're here, you want to try out for cheer-leading. Well for the next three days, we will be showing you cheers, jumps, and the right formations. On Friday there will be a paper outside the office saying who made the team. Any questions?” No one moved. “Good. The senior girls will be showing you the cheers. First I want you all to jog three laps around the field and then do stretches.” This was easy to me. All the girls moaned. Bella had her eyes fixed on me. I was ahead of all the girls when I realized the boys were watching. I wasn’t the only one who noticed of course because when I turned around, Bella was trying her best to catch up to me but was struggling. She wanted to show off, and be better. I was the first one done. Bella ended up finishing fifth and Andy finished with a big group. As we were stretching I realized Dean Johnson was starring. I used to play football with him. I also used to have a huge crush on him. We haven’t really talked in a couple of years. Just a few smirks once and awhile or random waves. When he realized I caught him starring he smiled and turned back to his team. Andy came over. “Oh my god he was definitely just checking you out!” “He was not!” I said doing a back-flip so she wouldn’t notice my blushing. Andy was about to fight back when the coach interrupted, thank god. “Okay girls lets practice our jumps. The senior girls will show you and help you. Quick vote, who can already do it?” Besides for the seniors, ten girls rose their hands including Andy, Bella, and I. We had to show the seniors our jumps and if they weren't perfect we had to work on it. Us three girls were good, we used to spend hours on my trampoline practicing jumps and moves. I taught Andy how to do moves on the ground and land them good but Bella would never let me help her and said she could do it on her own. One time, I did a flip off of my trampoline and landed on the ground, Bella tried doing it and broke her ankle. She was so embarrassed but she kept swearing she just had a bad jump. Andy and I let it go though and didn’t tell anyone at school what actually happened... Coach came over and asked us to see our jumps. We showed her and she turned her attention to me with a smile. “You're the gymnastics girl aren't you?” “Yes, that’s me.” “I'm looking forward to having you on the squad.” I looked up at her and she winked at me and stuck a finger to her mouth as in telling me to be quiet. I smiled but it faded fast when I realized Bella overheard the conversation and was giving me a death stare.

The next two days of school went well. The tryouts too. By the time Friday came, I was bouncing off the walls and excited to see my name on that list, I wasn’t so sure it would be but the hint she gave told me I would be. My mom was worried I was overwhelming myself with activities but I knew it would all work out. We had extra help on the farm now and around the house. If I made the squad, I would have cheer Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Wednesday I would have gymnastics practice. Most gymnastic events didn’t happen until later in the year. On Saturdays I also had longer classes. But they were later in the day, and if I had games they were usually in the early afternoon. I wasn’t worried about keeping up in school because I got things quick. They just came to me. I didn’t need to study. My mom told me I never quit, just like my father. Finally when I got to school Andy was waiting outside practically jumping waiting to see the results. When we walked in some girls were crying. The girls that didn’t make it. When I got to the list, I was in shock. I made the squad. Actually, making doesn't fit right. I’m on varsity and JV cheering. Not only that, I was captain of the JV squad. The co-captain was Bella. She seemed upset by this, because again without me even trying, I beat her, Andy also made JV and Varsity. Bella, Andy, and I were the only freshman on both. We were pretty much the only people doing both. There was one more girl who was a tenth grader. The rest were on one or the other. This also meant we were one of the fifteen to go to competitions and go against other school cheerleaders. Later that day we got measured for uniforms and the captains and co-captains had assign football players to the girls. We didn’t really get to pick, we just had to tell them who they had. The coach picked, and of course, I got Dean and Johnny Dopers. Both are pretty cute, but I didn’t want them. Andy's dad gave me a ride home that night. By the time I got home it was seven. I haven been paying much time with the animals so I went to see them before I showered and got my homework done. Tomorrow we had an emergency practice, really it was to discuss events and what not. It started at one so I had time to go jogging in the morning and take the horses for a ride. After the practice I had gymnastics right away. So I had to throw all my stuff in my bag. For gymnastics we were working on teaching the younger kids moves, so today seemed like it would be a pretty easy day.

he next day I went for a jog like I planned and went back home and showered. I had a few hours before practice so my mom and I did things around the house, it was nice to see her getting back on her feet. At practice, coach was running late so we were watching the boys play. They were trying to show off, no doubt. One of the boys threw a ball at the girls just hard enough to make them all scream and move. I didn’t move. I grabbed the ball and threw it back in a perfect spiral. I didn’t think before I reacted, and now it was to late because every girl and boy on the field were starring at me like I was a monster. Dean broke the awkwardness. “Good throw Tinner!” he shouted across the field with a smile. He used to call me that when we were younger, I've never heard him say my first name. One of the older girls, Annie came over to me. She was nice and funny. She was captain of the Varsity team. She dated Dean when she was in middle school. Dean is a year older than I am but a speech problem when he was younger held him back a year. I was worried to what she would say but I was hoping she was over him, saying she has had a boyfriend for two years now. They were the cutest couple. I only wish I could have a relationship as perfect as theirs. “Ooo someone has the hots for Johnson!" She winked. “Well this girl doesn’t!” I said trying to stay calm. My cheeks were burning. Finally coach showed up. “Alright girls sorry about my tardiness, my daughter has a plan of her own. Anyways, I have a great idea for a fundraiser. And the principal approved and so did the football coach because they will be helping us out. We decided on a beauty pageant, does the-” She was still talking but I was to out of it to hear the rest. A beauty pageant. No. This cant be happening. I finally zoned back in to see Andy looking at me with a frown. The rest of the girls were cheering and already talking about the event. Coach cut in. “Sounds like you guys like the idea? Thank Bella for giving me the idea!” I looked to my right to see Bella give a evil half smile. You have got to be kidding me. Screw the civil friendship, I am going to rip her head off by the end of the school year. The pageant is next Saturday, maybe I can die before then. Better plan. I am going to out do Bella again. With the dress. With the bathing suit. With the talent show. She was about to get a taste of her own bitterness. The dresses were provided by a company sponsoring us. We didn’t really get to pick our own dresses. They would look at us and pick what they thought would look best on us. We went as a team to the place. Right as we walked in Bella walked up to a sky blue dress. It was beautiful. It was long and puffy and was strapless with sequins on the top. The bottom not only puffed out but had beautiful sparkles on it. I wanted it, Bella had the same idea. “Oh my god, I want this one!” She pretty much screamed it. She was interrupted by the store manager, “Well darling we will let the designers have a thought about that. We are going to go alphabetical order.” Ha, Bella’s last name was Jibberman. Which meant I went before her. And my eye was on that dress. As they were calling us in one by one the boys showed up to get fitted for their tuxes. We didn’t know who was escorting us. But I guess whatever color their ties were matched the dresses we would get. I was up next. While I was in there they measured me and talked about what I was doing with my hair. She smiled. “I have just the one.” She was gone for a minute and came back with the beautiful blue dress. She smiled and asked me to try it on. It was a perfect fit. Bella didn’t know yet. The dresses were shipped to the school. Same with the tuxes. So we wouldn’t know who we were partnered with unless we talked about our colors. Some had the same color so the Coaches had to pick who with who anyways.

Saturday came. I woke up and got my chores done. Right after my shower my mom and I went to the mall. I got my nails and hair done. This brought back memories. My first pageant was when I was six years old. I wore a beautiful pink dress that my dad picked out. He got me a necklace that said princess on it with a cute little crown over the i instead of a dot. I still wore it all the time. I had cute little flats and I remember coming to this same spot to get my hair done. I was so excited my dad couldn't keep up with me. For my talent I danced to my fathers favorite song. When I won, I was so happy I couldn’t move out of my chair. My dad had to carry me up to get the trophy and prize. He told me he loved to see me all dressed up and happy. Now today, my mom was the one watching me get my nails and hair done with a huge smile. She always made it to my pageants before too, but she was always working and couldn’t take me to get ready. I didn’t mind, time with my dad was amazing. By the time we got to the school it was 4pm. The pageant started at 5 and we had a lot of stuff to do to get ready. I got into my dress and did my make up, I didn’t want to much so it looked natural. It was time to get in formations. We would walk out with our escorts and stand on the stage in a line. Then music would play and we would perform a dance we had to learn earlier in the week. As I walked behind the stage with the other girls I could see how beautiful everyone looked. My mom snapped a few pictures of Andy and I and waited because she wanted one of my escort and I. I was kind of curious to see who I got. Finally, coach called out the names. I was with Dean. It was like a miracle. He had his hair brushed nice and the tux looked nice on his tan body. His tie was the color of my dress. He smiled and walked over to me. My mom asked him for a picture and he didn’t object. I was expecting him to just stand there but then I felt his arm wrap around my body. My cheeks blushed right away. My mom didn’t seem to care she snapped a few pictures and left. Dean was full of surprises. “Hey Filler, you really are a girl.” We both laughed. “I may be a girl but I can still throw better than you,” I said teasing as I poked him. We stood their smiling for a minute before he really surprised me. “You look beautiful, Nicole.” My cheeks didn’t wait even a second to blush. “Thank you.” It was time to start. The music played and he held his arm up. I wrapped mine with his. I didn’t feel nervous anymore. I completely forgot about Bella. When Dean and I danced I couldn't stop smiling, and he seemed the same way. After the dance was over the guys sat down at reserved tables next to the stage. They didn’t have to come back up unless their cheerleader they were escorting won. The next part was the bathing suit show off, We didn’t pick these either. Mine had a cute orange top, it was strapless, and the bottoms were dark blue and tied on the sides. It made my body look nice with the tan. As the girls walked out people clapped and the boys whistled. I didn’t want to make eye contact with Dean but I could feel his eyes on me the whole time. There was a small break. Next was the talent portion. I was doing a lyrical I won to over the summer. Part of gymnastics we had to learn dances for the floor. For talent, Andy was first. She sang. She had an amazing voice. I was third to go and I got every move perfect. This time at the end I looked over at Dean to see he was waiting for me to look up. I looked away instantly. Next was the crowning part. All girls had to get back in their dresses. It took a little time but the crowd didn't mind. We could hear them talking from behind the stage. Finally the music played and we had to go back on stage with our escorts. Some of the guys took their ties off but it didn’t really matter now, it was time to focus on the girls. For the first time all night, I saw Bella. Her dress was red and her face had lots of make up on it. She always did that. She was a decent girl when she didn’t wear it. There was three runner ups and then the princess. Third went to Andy. I hugged her before she went up and got her tiara and flowers. Once everyone quieted down the announcer continued. Second was Georgia, She was a junior. She was quiet but very pretty. The first runner up was Annie. She was a pretty popular girl. Her boyfriend was on the football team so he got to escort her. Again, They looked amazing. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Bella fixing her hair and smiling. I honestly thought she won so when they called my name, I froze in my spot.

Dean finally got me to step forward my grabbing my arm and leading me. They crowned me and put a stash around me. Then I was handed flowers. The crowd rose to their feet and were clapping for a few minutes when the coach announced they had a slide show put together. The runner ups and their escorts were told to sit on seats they moved to the stage. The slide show started playing. There was pictures of past cheerleaders and current ones. Suddenly the screen went static and the images that popped up turned the laughs to gasps. On the screen was pictures of me in my dressing room, naked. I froze in place. Everyone looked at me. I could feel the tears filling up in my eyes. Someone snuck in my room and took the pictures. Dean went to grab my arm but it was to late. I took off running. Off the stage, out the door, and out of the school. I kicked my shoes off and ran to the football field. I wanted to be there. I wanted to feel close to my dad. I sat in the middle of the field in the dark and cried. I didn’t understand who would do this and why they would. I didn’t know what time it was but it felt like I was sitting there for an hour. I knew no one would come look here. No one came back this late. I wanted to sleep. I put my head down and lied flat out starring at the stars. I was just starting to close my eyes when I heard footsteps coming toward me. I sat up with a jump. It was Dean, and he had a bag with him. He was still in his tux but his tie was loose. He sat down next to me and handed me hot chocolate. I took it without saying a word. “Your mom thought you would be here. I would have been here sooner but I had to grab a few things.” I looked up at him confused. “Well your mom told me you used to run here when you were younger. And your dad would bring some pillows and blankets and set them up. So...” He reached in his bag and pulled out two pillows and a couple blankets. I smiled through my tears, “What makes you think I want you with me?” He looked down at his feet then back up at me. “Well, I'm just here to make sure no animals eat you or something. But they might be afraid I mean you look like a monster.” We both smiled and laughed. I stood up and brushed off my dress. I realized how stupid I must look to him. I was about to say thanks when Dean wrapped me in a hug. We stood there for five minutes. He finally let go. “There’s one more thing. We didn’t get to have our dance at the end, and it was an important one. So..” He took his phone out of his pocket and put a slow song on. He grabbed my hand and my waist and I put my other around his waist. We slow danced. At the end of the song, I looked into Deans eyes and he leaned in to kiss me. I kissed back. We spent the night on the field. Me in my dress and him with his suit. He took the pain away. I didn’t even care about the pictures at that moment.

The next morning Deans mom picked us up and took me home. Dean held my hand the whole ride. As I walked in the door my mom wrapped me in a bear hug. I thanked her for sending Dean out there for me. She told me how she had a talk with him and he seemed like a nice boy. That day went by slow. My mom and I went riding and had a picnic up by the pond. Monday morning came fast. I wasn’t ready for school. To go back and face everyone after Saturday night but I knew if I stayed home rumors would go around. I also didn’t want to look depressed in any way. I curled my hair and put on a cute little sundress. With it I wore my cowgirl boots. It looked good together. When I got to school, Andy and Dean were waiting outside for me. I was glad to see both of them there. As we walked up the steps, people were already starring. It was either because Dean had his arm around me or it was because of the pictures. My guess is the pictures, even though Dean was pretty popular. He had a lot of lookers. Any girl would love to have a date with him. I guess I was lucky, but part of me felt he was only doing this because he felt bad. I'd ask him, but I didn’t want to say anything in-front of Andy, and I knew she wasn’t going to go anywhere right now. When I got to my locker people were standing around in a group and starring. I knew something was up. When I opened my locker, hundreds of pictures fell out. They were all of me. At the pageant. Naked, of course. Laughter broke out. I couldn't look at anyone because I knew the tears were filling up. Andy, Dean, and I started picking the pictures up and ripping them, throwing them in the garbage near by. Dean looked angry. He was biting his lip like he was holding back from screaming at someone. Andy knew me all to well. She asked Dean to pick the pictures up, grabbed my arm, and pulled me into the closest bathroom. The tears spilled right away. Andy looked under the stalls to see feet before talking. She didn’t see any. “Nicole, I'm sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.. I just, I wanted to make sure it was face to face and no one else was around.” I looked up wiping my face on the sleeve if my jacket. “What?” She couldn’t look me in the eyes. “Bella did this. She told me yesterday. She begged me not to tell you but you're my best friend. She told me if I told anyone that I'd regret it. I'm really sorry I-” Within seconds Bella came out of the end stall. She heard us come in and stood on the toilet seat. “Wow Andy, true friendship right there.” She smiled at me and continued. “Aw, Nicole. You might want to clean your face up, don’t want people to see how weak you truly are.” “What do you want from me?” I spit back out through my clenched jaw. “What do I want from you? Really? You always had to be better than me. You had to beat me in everything didn’t you. That’s not being a good friend.” Before I could speak up, Andy cut in. “Oh shut up Bella, you never wanted to be friends with her you were always jealous of her! You told me all the time!” “Let her fight her own battles!” Bella spit back. Andy shook her head and looked at the empty stalls. “You want me to fight my own battles? There wouldn’t be any if you didn’t start them.” Bella laughed. “You had to always be better than me. Saturday was suppose to be my day, and you took it.” I could feel my face getting hot with rage. “That wasn’t my fault. They picked. Not me.” Bella went to say something but I walked out the door. Andy followed and Bella was right behind her. I knew she was going to make a scene. “Nicole don’t be a fricken baby,” she yelled down the hall. I turned around. “Get a life.” She was right in my face. “What are you going to do? Go cry to mommy so she spoils you some more. Because you obviously don’t have enough things as it is right?” Bella wasn't rich. But she wasn’t poor either. She had enough just to get through. Most of the time she suffered with hand me downs from her older sister who graduated last year. One year, my mom was nice enough to give her mom $500 to throw her a 15th birthday party. My mom and her mom were best friends in high school until she moved away. That's why they came back to this area. She missed this area and the people in it. Bella's mom was popular in school. So when she came back, Her friends that stayed in this area were quick to start talking, that's how Andy and I met Bella... “Is that the problem? I have what you don't? That's not my fault.” “Oh shut up Nicole. You have everything. The perfect house. The perfect hair and looks. The perfect grades. The only thing that's missing is a dad, the only thing I can beat you with.” The crowd around us weren't enjoying the show now. Everyone knew she went to far. I looked Bella in the face and she smiled. Andy tried stopping me but it was to late. Bella was already on the ground, with me on top of her. And I wouldn’t stop swinging.

Bella's nose was broken. Her eye was swollen shut and she had cuts all over her face from my rings. She got my face once. My lip was busted open on the bottom corner. I was suspended for a week. Bella was expelled from school. She was forced to confess about what she had done. But she didn't go out without a fight. Not with the school of course, with me. She posted the pictures online. Guys from all over were writing rude comments on them. I had to delete my Facebook page. This went on for two weeks. I was depressed and wasn't eating but it didn't seem to effect me. So I just kept not eating. School was somewhat going back to normal. I had two games. Andy was the co-captain now. It was Friday of my first week back to school when something went wrong. We were practicing for a competition coming up, because I was so light I was someone they threw up in the air for stunts. When the girls threw me up, I got dizzy in the air. When I came back down the girls caught me but when it was my turn to flip out of their arms and do two back springs, I passed out in the middle of one. I came down on my back. “Nicole!” I could hear Andy scream my name. I couldn't see anything but black. It was like my eyes were super glued shut. I woke up in the hospital, two days later.

It was early Sunday morning. I had flowers and balloons all around my room. At first I couldn't figure out what had happened. Then I remembered Andy screaming my name. I fell. I couldn't sit up and when I tried moving my arm I realized I was hooked up to an IV. My throat burned from being so dry. I tried to lick my lips but even my tongue was to dry. I tried clearing my throat, and that's when I realized my mom was sitting in the chair in the corner. She was reading and when she heard me she jumped up right away. She ran to the door and called in the nurse. “Hi baby girl.” She smiled at me. She was trying to hide the sadness in her voice but she was never good at that. The nurse came in with a bottle of water. I had it gone within seconds and bagged for more. She gave me one more but told me I had to eat if I wanted more. She brought in a tray of hospital food. None of it looked appetizing, so my mom told me she would go out and get me something. Before she could leave, Andy and Dean walked in the door. Andy had a stuffed animal. Dean had a Burger King bag, a large soda, and roses in his hand. I smiled right away. My mom said she'd give us some time to talk and left to go do chores. Dean kissed me the second she left the room. Andy told me that she was so worried about me. Friday night, the whole team stopped my the hospital but I was sleeping. The doctors knew I wasn't eating. When she mentioned it, Dean looked down at the ground. I knew he wanted to talk. Andy did too. “I have to go to the bathroom and then call my mom.. I'll be back in a few.” As she walked out the door she turned and winked at me. Dean looked at the door then at me. We sat in silence as I ate the burger he brought me. Finally I broke the silence. “Thanks for that, it was pretty good. I haven't had a burger in a long ti-” “Nicole.” He cut me off. “What?” I said back, trying to keep my voice calm. “You didn't eat for two strait weeks. Why would you do that? Because of Bella? Something could have happened to you. Worse than this.” I looked at the IV bag I was attached too. It was almost empty. “I wasn't hungry.” He looked at my eyes and waited for them to meet his before he talked. “You weren't hungry? For two weeks strait. Or you just didn't feel like eating.” He was right. I didn't want to eat. I felt sick to my stomach. “This was stupid of you. You let Bella get to you.” I didn't know what to say. Before I could stop it, I spit out some stupid words. “Dean this isn't your battle its mine. Don't worry about me! Just stay out of it!” Dean looked down. I was wrong. Before I could apologize, Dean walked out of my room. At three I was able to go home.
I stayed in bed until Dinner. My mom called me down but I wasn't in the mood to eat. I got up and put a pair of pajama pants on, put my hair in a messy bun, and headed downstairs. When I got downstairs, Dean and my mom were setting the kitchen table.

“Well, good morning to you,” my mother said jokingly. Dean looked up for a second, then returned to what he was doing. “I was wondering if you were going to come down.” As I went and sat down I realized my moms suitcase was by the door. She was suppose to leave Friday night for a week. My grandma was suppose to come stay with me. I ruined it, she could have made a lot of money on that trip. Dean sat down next to me. I knew he was still mad. I stood back up. “Um mom can I talk to Dean for a second?” She smiled at me. “Well, you have five days to talk to him.” I looked at her in confusion, then back at the luggage. It wasn't hers. It was Deans. Dean stood up. “Yeah we need to talk actually.” He grabbed my hand and led me to the living room. He still wouldn't look me in the eye. Dean wrapped me in a hug. “I'm so sorry Nicole.” I hugged him back. He kept going. “This is my fault. I sho-” “This isn't your fault this is my fault for letting Bella get in my head.” He stepped back. What is going on? “What?” I spit out. “I did something stupid.” He grabbed my hand. I kept quiet and waited for him to go on. “It wasn't Bella who took the pictures. The football team dared me to take the pictures and..” I yanked my hand out of his. “I'm sorry Nicole I took the pictures with Bella's phone. I didn't want to seem like a wimp to the team. I just got captain of the JV. Bella let me use her phone and she said she would delete them but..” I shook my head and stepped back. I was going to puke. My throat went dry and my eyes filled with tears. My heart felt like it stopped. He stepped forward. “Nicole, I..” “Don't! This whole thing was a lie! You don't care about me! You just feel bad because this is all your fault!” I was shouting. My mom came running in. “What is going on?!” I ran past her. Past the barn. Past the fence. Past the field. And I didn't stop till I reached the pond. I dropped down on my knees gasping for air. I wasn't in the shape for this after the last few days. I was dizzy and my eye sight was blurred. I knew they would be here anytime soon, on the horses. I crawled to the deck. On the end of the deck was two empty root beer glass bottles. I reached for one and smashed it off of a beam. I reached for a sharp piece of glass and squeezed it in my hand. My hand started dripping blood. I grabbed the beams holding up the roof and used it to gain balance and stand. My eyes were still blurry. I could hear the horses galloping now, moving closer and closer. I looked down at the glass and stumped to get it to my right wrist. I put as much pressure as I could down and ripped my skin open. The blood was pouring down. I slipped the glass into my right hand and did the same to my left wrist. Just as Dean and my mom jumped off their horses, I dropped the glass into the water and pushed off of the beam. I was heading for the water. My mom screamed in fear. Dean was already sprinting down the deck for me.

I woke up Monday morning in the hospital. Same room. Same bed. Another IV attached to my arm. My mom was sleeping in the chair this time. The same book sitting on the table next to her. Her shirt was stained with tears. Her hair was a mess. And she was still in the same clothes I saw her in the night before. My wrists were in bandages. I was starring at my wrists. What have I done? Dean walked in my room. “Get out,” I whispered. I didn't want to wake my mom. I put her through enough already. I tried sitting up but it hurt my wrists. Dean took a step forward, “Let me help you.” I couldn't look at him anymore. “I don't want your help. Get a nurse.” Dean was back in a minute with a brown eyed nurse who smelt like tobacco. She helped me to the bathroom and back to my room. When I got in my mom and Dean were sitting next to my bed. My mom smiled. “Hey Hun I’m going to run to the cafeteria and get some food, Dean will stay with you.” She kissed me on the cheek and walked out. A few seconds of silent went by before he spoke up. “Nicole, I..” “You what, Dean. You what. How could you do this to me? I thought you liked me! It was all just a lie. How could you look at me after taking those pictures and say I was beautiful. Was it all a lie? Or did you just like me for my body?” He wouldn't look up. I could feel the tears filling up again. “How could you take those pictures? How could you act like you had feelings for me and not actually give a crap..” He looked up. A tear ran down his cheek. “I wasn't acting. I really do like you. Why do you think I went out to the football field that night? Why do you think I asked to be partnered with you for the pageant? Why do you think I'm here right now? Its not because I feel bad for you. Of course I feel bad I did it, I feel like a complete jerk. But I cant go back in time and change it!” He was sitting on the side of the bed now. Tears were flowing down my cheeks. He put his hand on my cheek. As our eyes met, I leaned in and kissed him. Honestly, I didn't want to lose him. I was released at four. Luckily, I didn't cut deep enough to hurt myself to bad, though it would leave scars. In two days I could go back to cheering, although I wasn't sure if they would want me. They had someone to replace Bella, I'm sure they could have someone replace me. My mom had some shopping to do so she dropped Dean and I off. When I walked in I remembered his stuff sitting there. I turned around and faced him. “Why will you be here for five days?” “My parents are out of town on business,” he said with a smirk, almost like he was excited. By the time he got all of his stuff in the guess room and made it back downstairs, I was ready for a shower. As I was heading up the stairs I turned around and realized he was following me up. “May I help you?” I said jokingly. Dean grabbed my waist from behind. “Well, I would like to see how your room is now, I haven't seen it since I was like ten, I'm sure its changed a lot since your Barbie doll stage.” We both laughed. Dean walked around my room like he was amazed by how it looked. It wasn't anything special, he was just being a loser. “Alright you can lurk around my room all you want but I have to go shower, I feel gross. Stay out of my panties and bras, alright?” He was standing in my closet. “Alright this is bigger than my bathroom. I laughed, “Its bigger than mine too.” I picked up my towel and started walking out when I realized he was still following me. “Coming to see the bathroom?” I said wisely. “Actually, I was hoping to shower with you.” I turned to face him. He had a serious face. Dean walked in the bathroom with me. He closed the door behind him with a smile on his face. He leaned in to kiss me, I took his shirt off of him and he took mine off of me. Before I knew it, our bodies were pressed up against each other. The only thing between us was our towels. I dropped mine and got in the shower. In a few seconds he was in there with me. Within an hour, I wasn't a virgin anymore.

On Wednesday, I was going back to school. I put a cute dress on with a vest. Dean came in to see how I was doing. I was standing in-front of a mirror looking at the bandages on my wrists. They were noticeable. I changed my vest into a long sleeved jean jacket to cover them. I didn't have practice this afternoon so I wasn't worried about that. Dean put his arms around my waist and we stood looking in the mirror. “You know, we still have 30 minutes before we have to be downstairs,” he said kissing my neck. I smiled and turned to face him. “Alright Mister Horn ball.” We kissed and headed downstairs. We had homeroom and first period together. We also had lunch and 8th and 9th together. When we walked into homeroom I told him I'd be back. As I was walking to the bathroom I talked to Annie and a few others on the team. They were glad I was back and couldn't wait for practice. They also told me Andy was sick today so she wasn't coming in. My phone hasn't been on for days or I would have talked to her. I told them I would see them later and headed to the bathroom. As I opened the door I walked right into Bella's cousin, Izzy. “Oh, it lives.” “Hello Izzy,” I said with a smile. I wasn't letting her get to me. I pushed pass her. “Nicole, um, No hard feelings about my cousin, alright? I mean, I know the whole thing is stupid. But hey we can still be friends.” I knew she was lying. She hates me. She always has. “Thanks Izzy but, I don't need anymore friends,” I threw back as nicely as I could. “Alright, whatever you say. But you should know something about Dean, he's playing you.” “I already know he did it, nice try though.” She laughed, “That's not what I was talking about. I meant him and Sarah, last week.” She started walking out. I grabbed her shoulder, “Wait, what are you talking about?” She had an evil smile. She took her phone out and showed me a picture of Sarah on top of Dean. They were laying in bed. “Sorry, I know this probably hurts, you deserve to know.” She smiled in the mirror and walked out. I stood there looking in the mirror confused. I didn't want to believe it but she had proof. The picture couldn't have been an old one because the top Sarah had on she bought at the mall last week. I saw her when I went with my mom to find new boots. I tried to stay as calm as possible. I washed my hands and went back to class. Dean was sitting right next to me. When I sat down he turned to me, “Are you alright? You look like you just saw a ghost.” I looked up at him and down at my books. He was about to say something but the teacher walked in and asked us to quiet down. I wouldn't look at him all period. When the bell rang I grabbed my stuff and almost ran out the door to lose him in the hall. He called for me but I kept walking. We didn't have seats next to each-other in the next class. He kept trying to get my attention but I wouldn't look at him. When the teacher called for partners I went with Brad. Brad was a sophomore boy who was actually really smart. He played football during fall, basketball during winter, and tract during spring. He set a lot of records for the school. We have been friends for awhile. I dated him in middle school for a few months. He was my first kiss. And I knew Dean knew that. Dean couldn't stop looking at us. Brad asked me why I wasn't with Dean and I lied and said I wanted to catch up with him because we haven't talked in awhile. Brad and I broke up at the end of eighth grade. Bella's fault of course. For the rest of the day I ignored Dean, after school I asked Brad if he would give me a ride to gymnastics and I called my mom from the school phone and had her bring my cell phone and stuff to school. I didn't want Dean to catch me so I ran out grabbed my stuff and hopped right in Brads car. As I turned around I saw Dean was watching as we drove away. I was Dean free for a few hours. When we got outside the gym building I thanked Brad and really told him what was up. He said he was there for me no matter what. Before I got out of the car Brad gave me a hug. As I stepped out, It felt like the old days again, when everything was simpler.

A few hours later when gymnastics was over I headed to the parking lot, still in my practice clothes. I saw my moms truck sitting towards the end of the line. When I opened the passenger door, I found Dean driving instead of my mom. There was no avoiding him now. I jumped up in the truck and looked strait ahead, avoiding him. “What happened today? Why are you ignoring me.” I shook my head. “You should know.” We were just pulling out of the parking lot. The ride to my house from here is thirty minutes. “No, I don't actually. You told me you would be right back, you were gone for ten minutes, and when you came back you wouldn't talk to me. Did someone say something or what?” I rolled my eyes and let out a sigh. I wasn't ready to answer him. After getting off of the main road Dean pulled over on a dead end road and turned the truck off. “Dean what are you doing, I want to go home!” He looked at me and shrugged his shoulders, “Then talk.” He was getting on my last nerve. “Why don't you just go bug Sarah.” As soon as the words escaped my mouth I went to grab the door. Dean reached across and closed the door. “Dean!” “Listen to me for a minute Nicole.” I pushed his arm out of the way still trying to open the door. He was stronger than me. I finally gave up. He went on, “Sarah and I didn't do anything, okay? She showed up at my house with Bella and my mom let them in because Bella told her they were there to get notes. Sarah jumped on top of me and Bella took a picture. I swear. You can ask Jake he was there!” I looked down at the ground. I let her get to me again. I am so stupid. Dean put his hand on my face and made me look at him. He looked me in the eyes and said, “I promise you, you have my heart, Nicole, I love you.” “And I love you.”

School went back to normal. No more drama about the pictures. For cheer, our competition team took home the gold. It came to an end quick that year. That summer, Dean and I coached football for the younger kids. I was glad to see a few girls doing it. Reminded me of myself. Dean started staying at my house a lot more. My mom loved him. So far the high school thing was working out pretty good.

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