As rampant screams conquered the Newman Smith High gymnasium, Aubrey Jackson stood with absolute silence. With her boney fingers pressed against her coffee brown arm, jaw clench tightly, and her breath heavy and steady, it was apparent that Aubrey had no interest in being at Newman Smith annual pep-rally.
It had been twenty-five years since Newman High football team had made it into the plays-off, and the school was running feral. For the whole week Newman High students had put together fun spirited days like, wild and crazy hat Tuesdays, silly sock Wednesdays, wear all green Thursday (since green and gold were their school colors). Newman Smith reeked with school spirit. And now it was Friday, game day, as they played Carter for a spot at number five in the state and only four more games to play to be champions. The school was pumped. All of course, except, Aubrey.
Aubrey had no deep desire to be there, the only reason why she came was because her best friend Lisa dragged her. If it was up to Aubrey, she would had gone to the library or stayed in class. She was hardly what you would call the social butterfly, she wasn’t a nerd either, she just considered herself average. But Aubrey was fine with that, she didn’t like much attention drawn to herself anyways.
“See isn’t this fun,” beamed Lisa. Unlike Aubrey, Lisa was the social butterfly. She loved having attention drawn towards herself, she loved flirting with guys, and loved going to parties. She wanted to be famous and a movie star, and have people kiss her feet. When Aubrey is on the phone with her at night, Aubrey would listen to how Lisa wanted to be the “It” girl in school and be super popular. Aubrey classified Lisa as one of the “wanna-be” section. It still amazes Aubrey till this day, how two opposites could be best of friends since the 2nd grade. But now in the10th grade, they were still going strong.
Aubrey shrugged her shoulders. “I suppose,” she sighed, trying to restrain the dissatisfaction in her voice.
Lisa flipped her black highlighted golden hair, which complemented her rich auburn skin beautifully. “You’re such a dry fart,” Lisa said in a good-nature tone. “Where’s your school spirit?”
“I killed it,” remarked Aubrey.
Lisa rolled her eyes. “Wow, Aubrey, you should totally be a cheerleader,” she said with heavy sarcasm.
“Maybe I should.”
“Yeah, and spread your dead spirit around the rest of the school. I don’t think so.”
Aubrey shot a gazed to Lisa, and scrunched her lips. “What you think I wouldn’t make it as a cheerleader?” Aubrey knew that Lisa was probably right, but Aubrey hated what to be told what she couldn’t do. Call it her stubbornness.
“I’m saying that emo Emma could be a better cheerleader than you can,” chuckled Lisa.
Aubrey open her mouth, she was about to get started on Lisa, but a blonde speaker who looked to be senior entered in the middle of the gym, and cut her off just before she could part her first word. Aubrey could see the relief in Lisa face. Lisa knew that once Aubrey gets started on something it was going to take a miracle for her to shut-up.
“Hi, I’m Lesley, president of the student council and I’ll be your host for the day.” Lesley looked like the overly friendly type who got involved in everything. “Now let’s get the party started!” she shouted. And with that, the crowd screamed heavily. Lesley continued, “Okay, lets first start off for thanking the people who without them wouldn’t make it possible, our coaches!” she beamed. “Now, it’s time to introduce the power of our school, they set the high standard for football, our ppppplllllllllayerrrrrrrsssssss!” The crowd went wild again.
One by one, as the band played there wearisome school tune, football players entered the gym, the lingering scent of cockiness they produced well aware surrounded them.
“Oh where is he?” said Lisa, “Where is he?” Her brown eyes anxiously scanned each player that came out.
“Who?” said Aubrey, but Lisa ignored her, and continued her anxious search.
Finally, the last player entered the gym, and suddenly Aubrey found no need for Lisa to answer her question. It was obvious that he was the one she was looking for. It was obvious because he was perhaps one the strongest, handsomest, bested player on the team. It was obvious because, the sudden volume of the crowd increase when he entered. It was obvious because the cocky swagger he carried, the shameless grin. And it was obvious because the name he carrier with him, Traven Johnson, one of the most well-known people at Newman Smith High. Everybody and their mother knew Traven Johnson, he was the reason why Newman Smith made it to the play-off. He was the “superstar” of the school.
Lisa let out a squeal, along with hundreds of other teenage girls. Aubrey was sure that 80% of the girls at Newman Smith would kill to go out with him. And there was great reason behind it, not only Traven Johnson was super popular, he was incredibly handsome. He was warm coconut skin, tall with broad shoulders, muscles stripped his frame, and a deep velvety voice to come along with it. He had charm and style, and since his parents were principles at the nearby middle school he was loaded.
She rolled her eyes.
“Look at him, isn’t he cute?!”
Aubrey wondered if the girls at Newman Smith should get their brains checked, no one should be obsessing over a guy like him. Look at him, he looks cocky as heck .
He came up to the mic. “Alright, alright,” he chuckled wickedly. “Now I expect everyone to be at the game right?” The crowd went hysterical. “I said right!?...we all need you to be at the game!” After his hype speech he took his seat.
“Are you coming, I’m driving with Emily,” said Lisa
Aubrey shook her head. “I can’t I have to work.”
“Work? You’re working harder than a person in their mid-thirties, that job is working you to the ground, why can’t you just quit.”
“I can’t even if I want to, I can’t. I mean who else is going to take care of my mom.” Aubrey let out a sigh, even though she wasn’t a big fan of football, she would have loved to go to the game just to hang out with her friends. But after her father death two months ago, her mother had grown sick and wasn’t able to get out of bed, much less work. Even though distant relatives were sending them money it still wasn’t enough to cover the everyday expenses. So, Aubrey found a job two weeks after her father died at Sandy’s Market. Her paycheck wasn’t big still she knew every penny helped. Though there was nothing more than she wanted was a girl’s night out, nothing more than she needed, she knew that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Her life just simply didn’t allow it, with school, work, and taking care of her mom free time wasn’t on the schedule. Aubrey thought about how things would be like if her dad was still alive. Maybe her mom wouldn’t be so sick, maybe she could actually go back out with her friends like she used to, maybe her life wouldn’t feel so broken.
She didn’t want to think about that. She placed her attention back to the pep-rally, to see senior vs. freshman doing some funny stunt. It was at that moment as she gazed across the gym she thought she meet the eyes of Traven Johnson, as if he was looking at her, as if he even caught the glint of sadness in her eyes. But it happened so quickly, Aubrey wasn’t sure if it really happened at all. She shook her head, concluding that it didn’t happen. Maybe he was just staring into the crowd, she thought.
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