Cheerleading Can Be Murder (Horror High #1)(8)By: Carissa Ann Lynch
It was time to knock their freaking socks off.
I didn’t care how silly I looked…as soon as that final bell sounded, I took off jogging toward the gymnasium. I wanted to be the first one there, so this time I could get dressed in private. Relieved to find the gym empty, I snuck into the locker room, changed quickly, and took one last look at my overall appearance in the mirror. I looked decent. The important thing today is not how I look, but how well I cheer, I reminded myself. You can do this, I repeated over and over in my mind.
Once dressed, I walked across the gym floor and took a seat on the team bench, the same bench that the home team basketball players would sit on come game night, and the one that Ronnie would place his cute behind on. Basketball tryouts had been held over the summer; I wished cheerleading tryouts were held the same way, but I couldn’t get that lucky.
I imagined Ronnie’s firm body running up and down the court, his skin glistening with the soft, wavy glow of his sweat. I imagined him leaning forward, tucking my hair behind my ear the way he used to…
I shook the perfect image of him away, my neck and shoulders splotchy from embarrassment. He is the last person you should be thinking of, Dakota!
Since I was the first to arrive, I had to sit and watch my competition as they arrived one by one. Unsurprisingly, the returning four girls arrived together. The Triple Ts—Tasha, Tally, and Teresa—were skipping toward the locker room, their arms interlocked, while poor, gawky Monika tagged along behind them. She looked like a lost puppy.
Ashleigh and Brittani were a few steps behind them, and then Genevieve and Mariella strutted in, also arm in arm. They both stuck their noses up at me, disappearing inside the locker room.
Amanda and Sydney were the last to arrive. Finally, someone I was happy to see!
My mind was blank as I waited for the others to change, primp, and come join me on the bench. By the time we were all settled onto the seat, I’d counted eleven of us.
Looking at the numbers, it was pretty close to what I’d expected, except for the addition of Amanda, who totally threw me for a loop by showing up today. I wasn’t even sure if she knew a thing about cheering, dance, or gymnastics. I guess I’ll find out soon enough, I thought, swallowing down a lump in my throat.
Six of us would make it, and five of us would not. I just had to make sure that I fell into the first group.
When Coach Dolly Davis walked through the door, the gym was so silent you could have heard a pin drop. Even though these girls were my competition, some of them were my friends, and all of us were undeniably nervous. Somehow, I felt a sense of camaraderie with these girls, considering the fact that we were all in the same boat.
Coach Davis was a former NFL cheerleader, with the cheerleading skills to prove it. She’s past the age of forty now, but her age didn’t put a damper on her beauty. She had soft, auburn curls that hung in ringlets to her chest, bold blue eyes, and a small but athletic figure. When she wasn’t coaching, she was busy teaching Western Literature to sophomores. I’d heard she was a nice teacher, considered “easy” by most of her students. Unfortunately, her reputation as a coach differed greatly. She was serious when it came to cheerleading, and rumor had it she was tough, and sometimes cruel, to her squad.
This was her fifth year coaching, and I knew she was more than a little familiar with the Triple Ts and Monika, as well as Ashleigh, who tried out every year. I still didn’t think it was fair, but I reminded myself that nothing ever is, and held my breath as Coach began talking.
“Welcome, girls. Cheerleading tryouts are never easy, as I’m sure those of you who’ve tried out with me before can attest to. The process usually involves one full day of learning the routine, and then the next day I announce the names of those who have made the team. But…this year, I’m going to do things a little differently. There will still be six girls who make it, but I will also choose a seventh girl to serve as an alternate. If someone is out sick, or God forbid someone sustains an injury, we will have someone as a back-up to fill in when necessary, or as a permanent replacement if need be. I would also like to inform everyone that just because you were on the team last year does not mean you will necessarily make it again. I am a strong believer in fairness, and I want everyone to have a fair shot at making the squad.”
She went on, “However, in order to be eligible for the team, all members are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA. If any of you girls don’t think you can handle that, please feel free to leave now.”
Again, the gym was filled with silence. Everyone stayed put in their seats. “Okay,” Coach continued, “I also want to discuss my attendance policy. I will expect each and every girl who makes the team to attend all practices, games, and competitions, unless you have a doctor’s note. Each member of the squad is a representative of this school. That means that I expect all of you to be on your best behavior at all times. No drinking, smoking, or drugs. If you get detention, or somehow wind up suspended, believe me when I say this—you will be gone from the team.”