by rugal b.
How will Maria spend the time she has left?
|“Can you seriously believe her?” Lin asked as she changed out of her cheerleading uniform. Beside her, Cindy could only shake her head in disapproval. “She expects us to believe that someone would just give her this gushing note about how she’s such a good friend and she’s going to be missed and blah blah blah.”
“We’ve got a month left and she’s getting delusional,” Cindy sniffed.
Lin snickered at that. “You know how she’s going to end up too,” she said.
“Trophy wife for some old guy for sure,” Cindy quipped.
This prompted more snickering from Lin. “If she’s lucky,” she replied. “She’ll be one of those girls who peaks at high school. We’ll see her at the ten year reunion and she’ll have bottomed out by then.”
I finished dressing and left the locker room. I can’t say that I’m going to miss being a cheerleader. I like wearing the uniform and doing the routines but all of the drama, the in-fighting and backstabbing? It’s all childish and it’s very mentally draining. If it was up to me I would never have joined the squad; it wasn’t my choice however. I wasn’t forced into joining per se, rather I knew that Chelsea would need me and as her friend how could I not support her?
I suppose I shouldn’t worry too much about it, however. In another month the petty politicking will be a thing of the past. I wonder if our friendship will be as well. We’re not going to the same school. Keyserling doesn’t have the veterinary program I’m looking for, and Chelsea? She’s said that she wants to go out west to try and be a model or an actress. I support her. If anyone possesses the willpower and ruthlessness needed for an environment like that then there aren’t many people more suited for it than her.
One relationship that I know is likely to end after graduation says hi to me as I take my seat behind him. Well, a relationship of a sort. A friendly one. A casual one. Sadly, it will never be anything more.
Parker is handsome enough, I suppose. To be honest looks have never mattered as much to me. There are lots of pretty people out there and so many of them are just boring. So many of them are shallow. They look at me and they see one thing. I don’t need to be a mind reader to know what they think, it’s as plain as day on their faces: bimbo. That’s all they see.
I used to try to correct them on their assumptions but I found very quickly that it was a wasted endeavor. To show that I was as smart as them, smarter than them even, was something they found intimidating. That an attractive girl can compete with them intellectually was like flipping an off switch in their brains; they just couldn’t wrap their heads around it. That was if they could even follow my train of thought.
I admit that I can be scatterbrained and spacey and no doubt that contributes greatly to my own reputation. I’ll latch on to an idea that pulls me along from one interesting thought to the next in a sequence of events that makes sense at the time until I blurt it out without thinking and am snapped back to reality. I understand how a certain impression might arise, even if the impression is a largely wrong one.
I suppose I’ve gone off on one of those mental tangents. Anyway, the point is that Parker has never treated me the way most others do. He’s smart, attentive and seems to view me as I am instead of the way others perceive me. Interacting with someone like that is… it’s invigorating. Largely I allow the way others view me to wash away but there are times where, even for me, it can make me start doubting myself.
For a long time I had dreamed of getting into the medical field but hearing the opinions of others about me so many times caused me to start believing them myself, even if only a little. When those doubts would work themselves into my head though, a conversation with Parker would reaffirm who I knew I was. I might not have tried for medical school but his little inadvertent pick-me-ups gave me the confidence to enter into the veterinary field.
I don’t regret going towards that path. I like animals. They don’t judge, just loyally stay by your side. We have the most beautiful Dalmatian and every day he’s so happy to greet me when I come home from school, or lay by my feet while I eat or study. I wonder at times if I’ll be met with the same treatment at college and imagine how much easier it would be if Waldo were there too and could see me every day. Unfortunately he can’t be; something else I’ll have to enjoy in the bit of time I have left here.
Parker would be another one of those things I’ll have to enjoy while I can. Just not in the way I would like to. It’s only recently that his relationship with Kristina ended; too soon for me to make a move and with not enough time to have a proper one with him myself should I make one anyway. So I’m left, then, to simply enjoy his company in the precious few moments I can in the final stretch of my senior year.
“God!” Chelsea exclaimed as she sat down on a patio chair in a huff. “Can you believe them? They honestly think that I’d write a note to myself?! Like I’m some kind of loser?!”
“Well it was in your gym locker,” I pointed out. “If it was in your normal one, it might seem more… believable.”
“You don’t think I wrote myself a note, do you Maria? You know I’d never do that! Besides so what if it’s in my gym locker? Lots of people use the gym and, like, someone’s probably seen which locker I use which is, eww, creepy because maybe that means someone’s stalking me.”
“But you didn’t write the note yourself.”
“Of course I didn’t! I just told you that!”
“You can probably understand why they’d think that though.”
“You’re not telling me you think I went and wrote a note to myself, are you?!”
“No, I’m just saying you shouldn’t be surprised that they’d think like that.”
“Well let them think whatever they want!” declared Chelsea as she glowered and crossed her arms. “They think they’re all so much better than me and blah blah blah. Backstabbing cunts.”
“Are you going to miss it?” I asked. “Cheerleading, I mean.”
“They’re going to have it where I’m going.”
“I know, but I mean cheerleading here. For Westside.”
“What, you mean having to deal with bitches like Cindy and Lin or a snake like Kendra?” She looked me dead in the eye but quickly I could see her resolve falter and she slumped just little. “Yeah, I’m going to miss it,” she admitted. “I was on top here and, you know, when I go off I mean unless I’m like a star right off the bat I’m going to be starting from the bottom there. And you know, I was head cheerleader in middle school, I pretty much started at the top in high school. I knew everything and now?”
I watched her gaze cast downwards. “Out there though… I don’t know. I won’t know anyone, I won’t know the system. Everything’s going to be, like, strange and weird and… and...”
I heard her voice waver and a small sniffle. She really was nervous and I think reality may well have been setting in for her for the first time. “You’ll be fine,” I reassured her. “You were able to do it here so I don’t see why you can’t out there either, whatever you do. You’ve certainly got the will to do it.”
“Right,” she perked up. “I’m Chelsea freaking Cooper and if I want to be a star then I’ll be a star.” She looked serious for a moment but it soon faded and she gave me, I think, the smallest hints of a smile. “What about you? Are you going to miss it?” she asked.
“I can’t say that I will,” I answered. “I’ll miss being around you and I’ll miss being here since this is my home. But I won’t miss the drama.”
“It’s almost over,” Chelsea sighed. “No more cheerleading drama or Gordon,” she gulped at that, “no more frustration. It’ll all be gone.”
“Are you going to miss them? Cindy and Yumi and the rest of them?”
Chelsea sat there and looked at me for a moment. I wasn’t quite sure if she thought that was a stupid question or if she was seriously contemplating it. Perhaps both? But soon her face twisted up into the sneer I had seen countless times when she’d rant and rave about this or that slight from that group.
“No! Hell no, I won’t miss them!”
She said it with defiance and conviction, with such force that I believe she was trying to convince herself more than she was me. But I said nothing, simply nodded. Because it’s not my job to convince her of anything, merely to let her use her own words to come to that epiphany on her own. It’s what we’ve always done and why our friendship has worked out so well.
In me, Chelsea has someone she can confide in and someone who she knows will not judge her. That’s not to say that I never disagree with Chelsea – though usually I keep those to myself – but that in my perspective Chelsea is someone like me. She has an expectation thrust on her and simply finds it easier to go along with it instead of fighting against it. She’s aware of how others view her and though she never shows it, I have no doubt that it must eat at her on occasion; I let her vent when it does. If it didn’t, why would she be so excited about a note left to her in her locker? Speaking of which…
“What did that note say, Chelsea?”
She could only give a confused look. “The note? I thought we’d moved past that,” she said. “Whatever, I dunno. I don’t want to dig it out. It was, like, talking about how I’m strong and smarter than people think and all this other junk.” Despite her dismissive tone I could see her face light up however. “It was all, like, flowery language and whatever. Probably written by some nerd that totally has a thing for me,” she snickered. But that was followed by a sigh of contentment. “It’s still nice though.”
Like everyone, Chelsea simply wants to be liked. She wants to know that she’s important to someone out there. She tries to keep a cool head but she’s very earnest with her emotions. For someone like me, who feels the need to keep my own in check, it can be overwhelming but there’s also something enjoyable about it. Perhaps Chelsea’s large personality and my own small one balance each other out and that’s why we’ve always gotten along so well.
I’m going to miss it. The friendship that could never be more than what it was, no matter how desperately I wanted. And Chelsea. No matter what people may think about our friendship, and I’ve heard the whispers, the truth is that it is very genuine and very reciprocal. Chelsea Cooper is my best friend; I love her and I’m going to miss her. But whether her or Parker or anyone or anything else, I’ll enjoy the time I have left with them as best as I can and try to take as much of them with me as possible when I leave.
And though I’m no good at expressing it in my own voice, I meant every word of that note.
* * * * *