From her hiding spot under the bleachers, Chelsea waited for just the right moment to interpose herself into the cheerleading squad. Just as she was about to make her move, she spotted Winnie Lathrop jumping in place as Charlie made a touchdown. Not only was she jumping for her guy—well, okay—he wasn’t technically her guy, but she knew Charlie was in love with her, and that made him her guy—but she was also jumping in her spot.
Fuming with anger, she bolted from beneath the stands and rushed into the middle of the squad.
Teeming with surprise, Winnie came down from her last jump and landed with a thud on the ground. “Ouch!” she screamed as she grabbed her ankle.
Annette wheeled in surprise, shocked to see Chelsea standing in her usual spot, where only moments before Winnie had been jumping. “What’d you do that for?” she asked, her face flushed in anger.
“I didn’t do anything,” Chelsea protested.
“You did. You pushed her.”
Chelsea’s mouth gaped. “I did no such thing. She’s the one who was jumping in my place, for my guy.”
Annette cocked her head sideways. “Your place? I think not. I gave ‘your place’ away.”
“Ouch. I’m hurt here,” Winnie protested.
Both girls turned toward her and exclaimed together, “Shut up!”
Winnie withdrew from the retort. “Well! I don’t know which hurts worse—my ankle, or my feelings.”
Annette sighed, reached her hand down to Winnie and helped her to her feet. “I’m sorry, Winnie. I didn’t mean to snap at you.” She turned back to Chelsea. “As you can see, your presence is neither needed, nor wanted.”
Winnie shook her head and said, “I don’t think I can cheer anymore tonight. My ankle is really hurting.”
Annette held out her arm, snapping her hand into place. “Let me see.”
Winnie gingerly placed the swollen ankle in Annette’s outstretched hand.
Chelsea looked over Annette’s shoulder, shook her head in pity. “That’s pretty bad, Annette. I don’t think Winnie should be up on that.”
“Nonsense,” Annette snapped. “I’ve cheered on much worse.”
Winnie looked down at her ankle. It was double its normal size, already red and purple. “You’re nuts, Annette if you think I’m going to jump around on this ankle. My mother would kill me.”
Annette rolled her eyes. “Don’t be such a drama queen. It’s barely swollen.”
Janette, and Wanda, too young for the varsity squad, but nonetheless hanging on Annette’s every word, said in unison, “We could do it.”
Annette ignored the duo and turned to Abigail. “What do you think?”
Abigail looked at the ankle. “I think you should let Chelsea take Winnie’s place.”
Chelsea sighed in exasperation. “It’s not Winnie’s place to take. It’s my place. I’m the cheerleading captain.”
“Not as of this afternoon,” Annette said, “We voted you off.”
“You can’t vote me off,” Chelsea said. “There’s an entire committee for that, and Mrs. Reynolds has to approve the addition or deletion of any cheerleaders to the squad.”
Annette smirked. “She already did. You resigned this afternoon.”
“I did not!” Chelsea exclaimed.
“You did, too,” Annette said. “You sent her an email asking to be relieved from the squad. She sent you a reply back and said she was sorry to hear about all your family problems, and she hopes your grandmother recovers from her broken hip.” Annette grinned, and added. “Oh, and by the way, she thinks you’re an angel for sacrificing so much of your free time to help your ailing grandmother.”
The girls all laughed and Chelsea stomped her foot. “You broke into my email?”
Annette shook her head. “It’s technically not ‘breaking into it’ if you gave me the password.” They turned their backs to her and Chelsea fumed. As the buzzer signaled the end of the first half, Annette said, “We’ve gotta go, it’s half-time.” She waved her hand in a casual dismissal and walked on.
Chelsea watched Annette walk away. Her callous treatment of her injured her soul, got down to the depth of her backstabbing friend’s betrayal. She lunged forward, grabbed Annette’s arm, re-fused to let go. Annette pulled on, dragging Chelsea behind her. She spun around, coming face-to-face with Chelsea. “Let go,” Annette commanded.
“Please, Annette,” Chelsea said. “Don’t do this to me.” Chelsea looked all around her. Several people stared, but most just continued to watch the half-time activities. “This is embarrassing.”
“Then perhaps you should just let go,” Annette said. She yanked her arm loose and walked onto the field.
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