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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1016376-A-Kendra-in-Character
by Seuzz
Rated: GC · Book · Occult · #2193834
A high school student finds a grimoire that shows how to make magical disguises.
#1016376 added August 31, 2021 at 2:39pm
Restrictions: None
A Kendra in Character
Previously: "The Lieutenant

Chelsea listens to your suggestion for a JV cheerleader squad with polite interest—the kind of polite interest that leaves you prickling all over with dread, because it usually presages a roll of the eyes and an exasperated sigh and a muttered aside like Really, Kendra, you've had some garbage-brained ideas before, but this one—

But this time, when you're done, she says, "That's a really good point, Will. It gives us at least two years with some of them, and maybe more." She grins and flashes you a thumb's up. "Let's do it!"

You smile with relief.

* * * * *

You both know there is no way the school will organize an official JV cheerleader squad in the middle of a school year. So you and Sydney settle on the idea of organizing it on an unofficial basis. Sydney says that she will talk to Coach Tesla, who theoretically oversees the cheerleading squad, about it on Monday after practice.

But when Monday comes—

"No dice," Chelsea sighs as she drops into the desk beside you second period. (It's an Interior Design class, which you both share.) "Stupid Coach Tesla said she had more than enough to do overseeing the real squad. Can you believe it? As if! Bag-faced old drunk!"

You nod sympathetically. It's been weeks since Coach Tesla—a fat, middle-aged lush with the body of an obese toad and a face like your grandmother's purse—has even spoken to the squad. Typically she comes waddling onto the floor five minutes after practice has begun, watches for a minute or two to make sure no one is murdering anyone else (yet!), then waddles back into the coaches' office complex to drown the knowledge of her own incompetence with half a bottle of vodka. (At least, that's what everyone assumes.) Chelsea is the one who really runs the program. Today, for instance, she ended practice fifteen minutes early so she could pitch Coach Tesla her idea for a kind of JV squad.

"So what's the next step?" you ask. "Talk to Ms. Meek?" That would be one of the school administrators.

Christian Padilla, who has been listening from the next row over, now leans in. "What are you plotting now?" he asks with a cheeky grin.

"World domination," Chelsea replies with an absent-minded sniff. "Do you want to help?"

"Sure!"

"I'll put you on the list."

You figure she's just bullshitting him. But when you exit the class together, Chelsea casts a quick glance over her shoulder, then leans in to murmur at you.

"I know we said no boys," she says. "But guys like Christian, maybe we should think about."

Then she dives with a squeal into the arms of Gordon, who is hulking it up in the hallway, waiting for her.

Guys like Christian, you ponder as you walk next door to the Parenting class you have third period. Oh! you think as realization dawns. She must mean 'gay'.

* * * * *

You connect with Chelsea again fourth period, during lunch, which you take with all the other "popular" people in the central table of the school cafeteria. Out of habit—and to keep the impersonation accurate—you try to beat Chelsea there, so you won't have to make the humiliating solo walk inside. Gloria Rea, your arch-rival, strides along right beside you. You make it in plenty of time, and even have to kill several minutes before Chelsea and Gordon, arm and arm, come strolling up. You and the other girls proceed directly to the middle table while Gordon and his friends Steve Patterson and Jason Lynch barge to the front of the food line to get trays for themselves and for you girls.

Lunch is taken with a cross-section of people. There's Seth Javits of the basketball team as well, and because he takes lunch with Gordon, Cindy Vredenburg takes lunch at the table too, even though she and Chelsea despise each other. With you as well are three more representatives of the cheerleading squad: Eva Garner; the space cadet Maria Vasquez; and Michelle Estrich, the mousy newcomer to Westside High, who no one has a thought or word for, and who eats silently by herself at the very end of the table. I wonder if she'd like to be popular, you find yourself thinking, or if she's just trying to get through the school year without succumbing to the desire to eat the barrel of a gun. There's also a handful of football players, though Gordon and Steve make sure that they stick to the farthest ends of the table.

You don't talk much, for you're not on friendly terms with anyone except for Chelsea, and so you spend most of lunch nibbling on limp vegetables and scrolling through social media on your phone, searching for dirt that you can share with Chelsea. Maybe it's because you've just "graduated" again from the junior class, but you find yourself veering off into unfamiliar corners of x2z.com, the open sewer of the internet. It's there that you find a cluster of embarrassing photos and catty comments about certain members of the wrestling team getting into a compromising situation with certain junior-class girls over the weekend. You feel your lips twitch into a smirk as you anticipate Chelsea's reaction to photos of Laurent Delacroix, Alec Brown, and Chris Ratcliff squeezed into the back of an SUV with half a dozen sixteen-year-old girls.

"Find something?" Gloria asks from the seat next to you, and you hurriedly cover the screen. "Good for you," your rival sneers. "Chelsea told me last week that she thinks you're slacking off."

You don't deign to reply, but you can't stop yourself from snarling back silently at her: Well, I just have to whisper the word to Chelsea, and we could put you back into the ninth grade, bitch!

* * * * *

But the real showdown with Gloria doesn't come until last period, which you take in the library with her and Chelsea. It's a study hall for all three of you—Chelsea insisted on setting up the three girls' schedule that way at the end of their junior year—and it's used as a kind of "staff meeting" for the trio of girls who fancy they run the school.

Chelsea opens by asking if anyone's got any news. That gives you a chance to share the photos of the wrestlers and the junior-class girls. She squeals with delight over them, to Gloria's grim-faced displeasure. "Brownie and them must figure they've plowed every senior who'll lay down for them," Chelsea gloats. "Do we know any of these girls?" She squints at the screen and raises it close to her nose.

"Dallas Lockhart, Courtney Tran, Roberta Barr. I don't think they really know who they were mixing it up with," you add in a prim voice weighted with significance.

Chelsea clucks her tongue. "These guys. They're such a lot of man-whores. And Brownie! Oh my God, he totally comes from a family of religious maniacs. Did you know that?" There are nods all around. "Oh my God!" Chelsea exclaims again as she swipes to another picture, where the faces and bodies of the girls are more visible. "They all look like they're ten years old!"

Ding ding ding. By seven o'clock tonight—if Sydney keeps in character—rumors that the wrestling team has a pedo fetish will be swirling on-line.

You also share some gossip about more fallout from Meghan Farris's disastrous party from a few weeks ago—Meghan and Melissa Adams have now had it with each other, you can report. Then it's Gloria's turn to speak. Or not speak, as it turns out. She only has to say "It happened at lunch again today," and Chelsea shushes her by saying she'll talk to her about it later. That causes your antennae to quiver. But Chelsea shifts the subject to the next big event on the social calendar: Sonia van der Berg's upcoming Halloween party, and what you (and the rest of the cheerleader squad) should wear to it.

You're still upset by the secretive way Chelsea was treating Gloria when the bell rings, ending the meeting and the school day, so you lurk until Gloria has left for her locker, then turn to Chelsea. She pre-empts you, though. "I skipped fifth to talk to Ms. Meek," she says. "No go with her too. If we're going to do this, it has to be strictly unofficial."

"Will that be okay?"

"Sure. We'll make it a private mentoring thing. What are they going to do, stop us from doing our own thing on our own time. So start spreading the word. Get Ms. Cho to mention it to any freshman girls in her classes. I've also got my notes from the tryouts last August."

"How are we going to pick them?"

"With another tryout. Let's make it Friday after school, outside in the practice fields."

"That soon?"

"We don't want every girl in school turning up. The ones that count, we'll make sure they turn up."

You nod, then stop her with a hand on the shoulder when she turns to go. "I got one more question for you, Sydney," you murmur through frozen lips. Her eyes narrow, and a tiny smile comes to her face. "What's going on with you and Gloria? What's that news item you need to talk about, just the two of you?"

"Does it really concern you, Will?" she retorts in a low murmur of her own.

"We're not keeping secrets from each other, are we?"

Her face crimps up into a tight smile.

"It's not a secret, Will," she says. "I just don't want to embarrass you."

"About what?"

She glances around, then pulls you aside. But when she speaks again, she seems to have changed the subject.

"I need a favor from you," she says. "Because I need a favor from Steve."

Your heart plunges. Sex is the currency that Chelsea and her friends trade in.

Next: "Favors and Friendships

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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/entry_id/1016376-A-Kendra-in-Character