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Oppressed by the Cheerleaders
Phew! That was a close one, I thought as I nearly got run over by a huge stampede of middle school kids heading toward the mouth-watering aromas of the school lunchroom. Suddenly, the delicious smell was intercepted by the sickening scent of too much cherry blossom perfume. Cheerleaders at twelve o’clock, I thought with disgust. I tried to duck into a nearby classroom, but they saw me before I could escape. I was a small mouse cornered by a vicious cat, awaiting its certain fate: death. With a sinking feeling in my stomach, I sighed and readied myself for the laughter that was to come.
“Hey Kate,” called Alex, the head of the cheerleading squad. “I love your clothes! Where did you find them? At the dump?”
I walked quickly down the hall, keeping my eyes straight ahead and avoiding eye contact as sniggers followed me down the halls. “Where are you going? Leaving so soon?” taunted one of the cheerleaders. Heat was creeping up my face, and my ears felt like they were on fire. The cheerleaders, determined to torment me further, pursued me as I continued down the hall. I had to escape.
As I rounded a corner, my best friend Opal saw me and caught up. “Aren’t we going to lunch?” she questioned with a puzzled look on her face.
I peered quickly over my shoulder and replied, “First, we have to get rid of the cheerleaders.” After determining that the cheerleaders were gone for good, I stopped and slumped against the wall.
“Same situation?” asked Opal, her forehead wrinkling with worry. I nodded. Opal was usually there to defend me, but when she wasn’t, I was doomed. Picking on me seemed to be one of the cheerleaders’ favorite hobbies, and they humiliated me whenever they had the chance. In addition, it never seemed to work when I told the teachers that I was being bullied. They just cared about receiving their pay.
The hallway was a silent tomb as Opal and I tiptoed past the classrooms. Struggling, we shoved, kicked, and pushed our bags into our lockers and headed toward the lunchroom.
My stomach was grumbling like an earthquake by the time I got lunch. As usual, I had pizza, fries, and chocolate milk. When I passed the “popular” table, Alex stuck her leg out in front of me. Nooooooo! Everything seemed to happen in slow motion as I tripped and fell flat on my face. My lunch went flying, and of course the pizza had to land on my head, covering me with gooey cheese and slimy tomato sauce.
“Are you okay?” inquired Opal. I looked up and saw her concerned face peering down on me. She held out her hand. I grasped it tightly and pulled myself up, suddenly cognizant of the roar of laughter in the cafeteria, and of the students taking photos of me with their phones. The pictures were bound to be posted on every social media website by midnight, and soon the whole school would know.
“Oops! I’m so sorry,” sneered Alex. “I didn’t see you there. Maybe it’s because you’re so...tiny.” My cheeks became as red as a rose, and there was a giant lump in my throat; I closed my eyes, trying to stop the tears from welling up. I was small for my age, so the cheerleaders towered over me, giving them a big advantage.
The lump in my throat was growing as Opal helped me clean up in the bathroom. “You have to stay strong, Kate,” encouraged my loyal friend. “Stand up for yourself. You can do it!”
“Sure thing, Opal. I would, if only I wasn’t so small and if I wasn’t the cheerleaders’ target.”
“To quote William Shakespeare, ‘Though she be but little, she is fierce!’”
“That was then. This is now,” I mumbled miserably, wiping tomato sauce off my forehead.
Opal sighed in exasperation and rolled her eyes while trying to remove a clump of sticky cheese from my hair. “Cheer up. Why are you so pessimistic about everything?”
“Because you’re so cheerful. Things need to balance out, you know. If we were both cheerful and happy, what would our friendship be like? It’s much better this way,” I joked humorlessly.
Opal groaned loudly and complained, ¨You’re impossible.¨
“I try my best.”
Despite my terrible lunchtime “accident,” I instantly felt better after my talk with Opal.
Later that day, in gym class, I unfortunately had another encounter with the “popular girls” when I crashed into them while playing soccer on the field. It was the perfect opportunity for them to tease me. I blushed profusely as they called me names and tormented me mercilessly about the events that occurred at lunch. But my anger was growing with each insult the cheerleaders threw at me. Finally, everything inside me seemed to explode and my river of feelings flooded its banks.
“You are the cowards! You’re always picking on someone smaller just because it feels good. Well, I’ll give you a taste of your own medicine!”
With all of my might, I pushed Alex into a mud puddle. Covered in a disgusting looking sludge, she shrieked and ran inside the building. Before she disappeared, I caught a glimpse of several people taking pictures of Alex and her moment of total humiliation.
The next morning, I checked my social media accounts. My face broke into a huge grin as Alex’s muddied face stared back at me from every website. She was the new laughing stock of the school. Needless to say, the cheerleaders never bothered me again.