Maddy’s cheerleading squad is almost ready for big competition—but first she must figure out if her new friend is really a frenemy.
The Grizzlies are finally facing their first competition—Get Up and Cheer! Maddy is super excited for the competition, and the Grizzles have been training hard and look better than ever. But life’s not all pom-poms and sunshine for Maddy. For one thing, she’s got to figure out why she’s suddenly Public Enemy #1, according to mean girl Clementine Prescott. Maddy is pretty sure her budding friendship with Katie Parker (Clementine’s BFF) might have something to do with it, but given the fact that Katie still refuses to acknowledge her in public, it’s not like Maddy can count on Katie for any real support. Once thing is for sure....If anyone can handle all this drama, it’s Maddy!
Greetings, Dear Journal! At last, I have some time to MYSELF (for a change). This whole past week has been kind of a total waste. Dad and Business Beth spent the ENTIRE week here, “gathering their effects” as Beth likes to say, so they can “make their final transition to New York.” In normal-person words, they’re in the middle of moving. Whatevs, it was a giant snore-fest. Dad wanted to have one last week to “celebrate Port Angeles” (with me tagging along, of course), so I was busy visiting all of their favorite spots, from the diner in our town that serves amazing black-and-white milk shakes, to Panda Palace (de-lish lo mein), to the barftastic French place that Beth loves, Le French Frog (scene of much embarrassment for yours truly a while back, when I spit up the icky appetizer all over my mucho adorable new dress).
This time, however, I was prepared: I wore a simple, cute, three-quarter-sleeve dress with a scoop neck that must be made out of some space-age material, because no matter what I spill on it, it always comes out.
Plus, there aren’t any bows or anything that could end up being a nice bull’s-eye for regurgitated food.
By the end of the week I had really had it up to HERE with eating out at fancy restaurants, going to local plays, and “shopping.” I say this in quote marks because Beth and Dad tried to make it all, “Ooh, let’s take Madison on a shopping spree.” I was picturing something like the mall, or maybe even the very expensive but oh-so-cute Cecily’s Attic (which I’ve still never been inside, I just like to drool on the window as I look in). But the reality was more like “Let’s take Madison to snotty furniture and jewelry stores and occasionally ask, ‘You sure you don’t want anything?’”
Um. Yeah. I’ll take one queen-size waterbed and a diamond bracelet that spells out “I (heart) Cheer,” thanks! Yeah, right.
The most boring day was when Beth got it into her head that she just wanted to “browse” at the jewelry store, Tiffany’s. I think we clocked in at about three hours there, which in my mind is a little more than just browsing. I checked my phone a million times, texted Lanie a few SOS’s, and even tried the fantasy route. I imagined myself as Audrey Hepburn in a little black dress and white gloves from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s and practiced saying “dahling” as I walked through the store. And when that got old, I thought of the scene in Sweet Home Alabama, where Reese Witherspoon’s fiancé takes her on a special midnight trip to Tiffany’s so she can pick out her own ring (with me in place of Reese). That took all of five mental minutes, so finally I gave in and decided to see what was taking Dad and Beth so darn long.
I looked for the two of them where I’d left them at the necklaces, but they were nowhere to be found. I decided to try the third floor, where the elevator guy did his best at making a joke, announcing that we’d reached “Third floor, lingerie! Chuckle, chuckle.”
And guess where I found them? Looking at RINGS. Rings! As in, engagement rings.
Couldn’t they have done that in private? Why did I have to be involved? They didn’t see me at first, so I had the joy of seeing Dad and Beth in “lovebird mode,” all googly-eyed and giggly as Beth wiggled her newly adorned finger in front of Dad’s face. She was blushing and saying, “Oh no. I’d never expect such an extravagant piece,” but the look on her face was definitely, “But if you were to buy this for me, I wouldn’t be that upset about it.”
“Um, hey, guys,” I said, tapping my fingers on the warm glass case that held the jewelry.
“Oh, hi, hon,” said Dad. “Where ya been?”
“Oh, you know,” I said. “Trying to add to my collection of diamond earrings. But the stuff here just isn’t to my taste,” I joked.
Beth and Dad looked at each other, silently exchanging words that probably had to do with me.
“Madison,” said Beth, “I’d love to have your opinion,” and then she quickly smiled at Dad.
She pointed to three rings resting on a piece of velvet. The saleslady who had been helping them gave me a brief smile as if to say, “I feel for ya, kid,” then disappeared behind another counter, to give us privacy, I guess.
“Which of these do you like the best?” Beth asked, taking a few steps back so I could approach the counter.
They all looked fancy to me. And pretty too, I guess, if you’re into flashy diamond-y things.
“They’re all really nice,” I said with effort. I looked at Dad, hoping he might take this opportunity to tell me why we were here, even though I knew already. It was really annoying how they were trying to pretend that this was just a casual shopping trip.
“But if you had to pick one,” said Dad, pressing on, “which would it be?”
“Ummmmm.” I decided to at least try to be helpful. If I was gonna have to stare at this sucker at snotty restaurants for the rest of my life, it might as well be one that I approved of. I pointed to the one that was shaped like a teardrop, with tiny little diamonds all along the sides.
Beth beamed. Then she looked at Dad and did her best attempt at being modest. “Just good to know, right, honey?” And then she winked. Barf!
My phone buzzed with a text. Lanie. I decided to exit the scene of the crime and go skulk around a jewelry display that wasn’t as likely to make me lose my breakfast (how’s that for Breakfast at Tiffany’s?).
“U hangin’ in therrrr?”
“Ugh, barely. Looking @ engagement rings with D & B.”
I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“You ready to go?” asked Dad cheerfully. “I’m starving. How ’bout you?”
I shrugged. “Yeah, food sounds good.” I could have been stuffed to the gills and I still would have agreed to get out of there. I felt like I was running from possible wedding bells as we finally made it out to the safety of the street.
Luckily, the week ended without a proposal (phew for now) and the lovebirds are back in their temporary apartment in New York. But unforch, all that quality time spent with Dabeth (that’s my celebrity couple name for Dad and Beth) meant no time for the stuff I needed-slash-wanted to do.
I still can’t believe that Dad is really moving to New York for good. I mean, I am super happy about his Fantastic New Job and all, but it really seemed to happen so fast. Also, I’m glad I decided not to go live with him. In fact, I can’t believe I was even considering it! Must have been something in that New York water. There’s so much I still want to do here, in Port Angeles! For one, there’s the Get Up and Cheer! competition, which is less than a month away (!!!). And second, I want to see what’s going on with this Evan-and-me thing.
Still weird to see the words “Evan” and “me” on the page. Even weirder is what’s happening with us right now (read: not much). Ever since Evan reached out to hold my hand on our way back from school a couple of weeks ago, things have been kinda . . . off. Well, not like “off” in a totally awkward way. It is just weird because NOTHING like it has happened since (no hugs, no knees touching when we sit next to each other, NADA). Like the other day, Lanie had to do some work at the Daily Angeles, so it was just Evan and me (ha-ha, there it is again. EVAN AND ME. Still weird!) at lunch. A part of me was hoping he’d scoot his chair closer to mine, but there was, like, a mile between our two chairs.
I had been telling him how all my time was being sucked up by Dad and Beth—mainly just to distract him from the fact that I was internally swooning over how cute he looked that day. He was wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirt that was probably a few sizes too small, and jeans with holes in the knees. Plus, an Evan-style blazer.
Something about the softness of the T-shirt just made me want to hug him. Of course, I couldn’t. Not in front of the whole cafeteria, anyway.
“What’s your plan for tonight?” he asked me, dipping his fries into the extra ketchup left over on my plate.
I rolled my eyes. “Quality time with Mom. She gets a little clingy after I spend a lot of time with Dad and Beth.”
“Well, enjoy the bonding,” he said, the corner of his mouth turning up in a sarcastic smile.
“What about you?” I asked.
Evan leaned back in his chair. “Dunno. Maybe I’ll play some video games. Or do some sketching.” He shrugged. “Just a normal weeknight for me.”
I don’t know why I was hoping he would ask me to do something (since we hadn’t hung out after school since the hand-holding night), because I’d just finished telling him how busy I’d been all week with my dad and also about my plan with Mom. But still, I guess I would have liked him to suggest something, even if I wasn’t available. Or say that he wished I were free to do something (because hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?).
Ack! First bell. More later.
LATER THAT DAY, AFTER (A) GRIZZLY PRACTICE
Okay, so my team is in need of a major attitude adjustment. Just got back from practice, and STILL, after all these weeks, everyone’s still peeved about Diane leaving our team for the Titans.
The biggest downside to Diane joining the Titans (besides the fact that we lost an excellent flier) was definitely that everyone had to learn new moves to our routine for Get Up and Cheer! Once she’d left, we had to give most of the flying and tumbling to Katarina and Jacqui, and then we were also down one person in the choreography, so for the first few days people just kept on bumping into each other and stepping on each other’s toes. It is getting better day by day, but we all still kind of feel like actors who’ve been told they have to play different roles and learn all new lines all of a sudden.
I know it was a little shady of Diane to talk all that smack about the Titans when she was trying to join the Grizzlies, and then to turn around and start waving her pom-poms for THEIR TEAM. But honestly, I can’t blame her that much, because I practically almost did the same thing. And I get that people are mad that when she first joined the team, we had to change our routine for Get Up and Cheer! so that it included HER, and now that she’s left, we have to change it AGAIN. But seriously, it is totally time to MoveOn.org on the Diane thing, I think.
Jared, unfortunately, does not agree.
Today the Titans started their practice a little earlier than usual. So the minute Diane entered the gym, Jared’s eyes locked on her, and he basically didn’t stop glaring at her all through practice. It got so bad that at one point, the rest of the team was scrambling into pyramid formation while Jared just stayed glued to his place, swiveling his head around to follow Diane with his gaze. If he had the ability to shoot laser beams from his eyes, I am pretty sure he would have.
“Hey, Jared, the team’s over here,” I shouted to him.
His eyes snapped over to me like a robot that had just gotten his switch turned on.
“What? Oh,” he said, sounding mildly surprised to find himself in a gym among his teammates and not inside an action movie where the hero pursues the evil villain.
He hightailed it to where the rest of the team was busy assembling the bases before Katarina mounted them to do her scorpion. “Sorry, guys, sorry,” he mumbled.
“You okay?” asked Tabitha Sue.
“Not really,” mumbled Jared. “I just still can’t believe the nerve of that girl. We wouldn’t have had to learn a new pyramid sequence if she hadn’t left, you know.”
Tabitha Sue (and everyone else) knew exactly which “girl” Jared was talking about, because he hadn’t stopped talking about “that traitor” (his words) since the day it happened.
“C’mon, Jared. You’re sounding more like Clementine Prescott by the minute,” said Tabitha Sue.
Small footnote here: Tabitha Sue has reason to be slightly biased (in a good way) about Diane. It was, after all, because of Diane that Tabitha Sue ended up going to the Sunshine Dance with Diane’s good friend Ricky. Ricky wouldn’t have come to our practices if it weren’t for Diane. Which means he wouldn’t have had a chance to lay eyes on Tabitha Sue. And then, when both of them were too shy to say anything to one another, it was Diane who finally made the introductions.
“Come on, guys,” said Katarina. “Who is caring so much about Diane in first place?”
“I sure don’t,” said Ian, getting into position to hoist Katarina up into the air.
“Guys!” said Jacqui. “Enough with the Negative Nancy talk. Let’s not get riled up right when we’re about to throw one of our teammates into the atmosphere, okay?” (She was exaggerating, of course. We weren’t yet at the level where we’d catapult a flier more than a foot into the air, but it was a good point.) Ian was a strong guy, so who knew what would happen if he threw Katarina into the air with a bit too much force?
“All right, people, let’s focus,” I said. I knew Jacqui and I would have to give the team a little pep talk later. We had too much riding on the upcoming competition to lose face over a bad grudge. We’d been working toward competing in Get Up and Cheer! for months now.
The pyramid was a little shaky at first, but after a few retries, we finally got Katarina into her scorpion, and then into a clean dismount where the team caught her and then threw her up a little so she could land on the ground with a V for Victory stance.
“Nice job, Grizzlies!” I said, clapping.
As everyone stretched out, I went over to Jacqui. “Do you think we should have a team talk about this Diane issue?” I asked her in a whisper.
Jacqui nodded solemnly. “For sure. It’s nice when the team bands together for a cause, but all this negative energy can’t be doing us any good.”
“Yeah, it’s not good if the team cause is hating someone,” I agreed.
At the end of practice, we assembled the Grizzlies in a corner of the gym where the Titans wouldn’t overhear us.
“Listen, people. Get Up and Cheer! is practically around the corner, and we have a lot of work to do,” said Jacqui.
“We’d have LESS work if it weren’t for Diane deserting the team, making us have to redo everything,” said Jared indignantly.
“Yeah, Jared’s right,” grunted Matt.
Jacqui gave Matt a look.
“I mean, whatever,” he said, backpedaling. Ever since around the time of the Sunshine Dance, Matt had started being extra nice to Jacqui. He must have asked Jacqui a bazillion times to go with him, but she said no until she decided to bring TWO dates to the dance—Matt and Ian. Two ex-jocks and a cheer captain, now that was a sight.
“I know you guys are still mad about the Diane thing. But we can’t afford to mess around during practices. We have to stay focused, “Jacqui said.
“Eyes on the prize, guys,” I added. “And don’t forget we’re cheering for the Bowling League next week.”
“Yeah, like that’s something to go nuts about,” said Ian with a sneer.
“Can it, Ian,” snapped Jacqui. “Besides, aren’t you glad you don’t have to dance around in front of your football buddies? I don’t think anyone you know will be at Bowling League.”
“Hey, give me a little credit,” said Ian, pretending to be hurt. “I broke it down on the dance floor at the Sunshine Dance in front of everybody, remember?” He ran a hand through his gelled hair indignantly.
“Sorry, Ian,” said Jacqui, who couldn’t help but smile at the memory. “You’re right. You did seem to enjoy that.”
“Probably a little too much,” said Matt, jabbing his friend in the chest.
Just then, Jared cleared his throat and inched into the middle of our circle so he could address the group. He sighed dramatically and then made a point to stare each teammate in the face.
“Guys, I think we went a little off topic, hmm? Listen, I’m sorry I’ve been so hyped up about this thing with Diane. I’ll try to take it down a notch.”
Matt leaned over to give Jared an encouraging pat on the back. “That’s the spirit, bro.”
“Well, at least until after the competition,” Jared said with a sly smile.
“Tomorrow we’ll work on more of the dance parts of the routine,” said Jacqui.
“Yeah, if we can remember who is doing what move,” quipped Ian.
“Ian, you should stop with the negative being,” chided Katarina.
“Katarina’s right. We’ll be great,” I said with as much enthusiasm as possible. I didn’t want the team to feel like they were up against giant odds. “We’re almost there. We just need to work out some kinks, right, guys?”
“Right,” echoed the team, with as much energy as a group of elderly people in a nursing home.
“Um, with a little more pep, people?” said Jacqui.
“Right!” said the Grizzlies, with more gusto.
Well, at least that was a start.
Mom and I picked up a pizza on the way home because she wanted to “celebrate” the two of us finally getting to be together after my long week with Dabeth. I was famished. You work up quite an appetite doing all this cheer stuff.
After dinner I logged onto my v-chat, hoping maybe Evan would be around. I saw his screen name was active, but I wasn’t about to be the one to call him first. Before all this weirdness we talked 24/7. Now, not so much. Ugh.
Okay, so I just gave in and sent him a quick message:
Zoe Evans was very upset that her school did not have a cheerleading team, so instead she joined the Pep Squad where she raised school spirit while wearing a football jersey and a tennis skirt. Zoe has written over twenty books for readers of all ages. A graduate of Columbia University, she is also an experienced children’s book editor. Zoe loves reading, eating oysters, and of course, cheering.
Brigette Barrager is an artist, designer, writer, and the illustrator of Pocket Full of Colors by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville as well as the New York Times bestselling Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She attended the California Institute of the Arts and spent some time working in animation before taking the plunge into book illustration, where she’s lived happily ever after. She resides in Los Angeles with her handsome husband, cute doggy, and terrible cat. Visit Brigette online at BrigetteB.com.