On Saturday, I promised Skipper that surely she would be ready in time for the cheerleading tryouts on Monday. I said that all she needed was a little practise!
Boy, was I ever wrong.
On Sunday evening, Skipper was still out in the yard, practising her cartwheels over and over again. “Skipper, it’s dark outside!” I shout into the darkness. “Come inside! You’ll catch a cold, it’s freezing out here!”
“Barbie, I have to practise!” Skipper shouts back. “The tryouts are tomorrow. And I still can’t do a cartwheel!”
“Skipper, it’s okay!” I’m sick of shouting, so I walk blindly out into the yard, trying not to step on any of Taffy’s droppings that litter the grass. “They’ll consider you for other things -you’re so enthusiastic, and you’re such a good dancer! It’s not necessary to do all those fancy tricks at first.”
Skipper finally stops. “Really?”
“Really!” I’m glad I could finally get her to come inside. Skipper had been practising out in the backyard for hours! “What do you say, do you think it’s time for a break? We can order some dessert.”
Skipper agrees, and the two of us head inside. We order an apple pie to share from a local restaurant. It’s right around the corner, so it should only take fifteen minutes to get to our house. I’m glad -I might not have been outside all day like Skipper was, but I sure am hungry!
“Barbie, I’m really nervous about the tryouts tomorrow.” Skipper admits, digging into the pie.
“I’m sure you’ll do great!” I smile brightly at my sister. “Remember, I’ll be there to cheer you on!”
“Can’t you tryout as well?” Skipper pleads. “I’ll feel so much better with you by my side.”
I can’t help but laugh. “Skipper, I’m not prepared! I don’t know anything about cheerleading!”
“Exactly!” Skipper continues. “That way, you’ll look bad and you’ll make me look good! Nobody will ever say I’m a rubbish cheerleader if there’s someone even worse right next to me!”
I can’t believe what Skipper is suggesting! The nerve! Nonetheless, I shovel another forkful of apple pie into my mouth and nod in agreement to Skipper’s “plan.” What can I say? I’m a good sister!
“Hey, Barbie!” Aimee waves to me from across the hall. “We’re all heading to the library to study at lunchtime! Want to join?”
I remember what Kayla told me last week, about all the girls gossiping about me. Saying how I was lazy, and I need to focus on schoolwork more.
I thought I would feel better about it after the weekend, but I don’t. I still feel hurt, but I don’t want to let Aimee know that. I decide to pretend that everything is normal.
“Sorry, Aimee,” I reply. “I’ve got cheerleading tryouts at lunch!”
Aimee screws up her forehead. “Cheerleading tryouts? Isn’t there a science test coming up? You should be focusing on that, not joining the cheer squad!”
I laugh. “Oh, Aimee! I won’t be joining the cheerleading team -it’s for Skipper. She wants me to come along with her. Don’t worry, I will study tonight.”
“Alright then.” Aimee doesn’t look so sure. “Just make sure you study!”
I run off in the other direction. That’s enough nagging for one day! The gym is on the other side of the school, across from the oval, so it takes me awhile to get there.
By the time I arrive to the gym, I’m already late. Tryouts have started without me!
“Sorry! I’m late! I’m here for the tryouts.” I explain, looking around the room. There crowd is full of people, but Skipper’s not there! Where is she? Why isn’t she at the tryouts?
“We’ve only just started.” A girl says, coming up to me. She has blonde hair, fastened in a ponytail with a purple scrunchie, and a big smile. “Join in! Everyone’s still learning the sequence. I’m Aria.”
I run over to the crowd of people and join in with the movements. They’re simple enough that everyone can easily follow along.
Aria yells out instructions over the music. “And kick! And turn! And kick again!” I have to admit -this is kind of fun! It’s much more similar to dance than I expected.
“Alright, everyone!” Aria turns down the music. “That’s enough of a warm-up! Let’s get serious now.”
“That was a warm-up?” A girl complains from the crowd. It’s Allegra, Skipper’s friend! I wonder if that means Skipper is somewhere in the crowd too. Perhaps I just missed her earlier.
“Come on, Allegra, you can’t be tired already!” Aria teases. “Everyone, line up! We’ll go one at a time. This is the perfect opportunity to showcase your skills.”
Everyone rushes off to one side of the gym. I make a beeline for Allegra.
“Allegra! Where’s Skipper? Why isn’t she here?”
“What do you mean?” Allegra looks at me curiously. “She’s right there!” Allegra points at the front of the line -Skipper’s going to go first! How brave!
“Alright, kid, let’s see what you can do.” Aria says.
“What? You mean I just …Do anything?”
“Yup.” Aria looks bored already. “Just do whatever you want! Impress me.”
“Well…” Skipper looks doubtful. “Okay.” She runs up and launches into a cartwheel.
I hold my breath. Skipper’s never successfully pulled off a cartwheel before! This could be a disaster! I can’t look.
There’s a thud. Skipper grins and runs across to the other side of the room.
“Alright, that was good. Next!” The line slowly creeps forward.
I turn to Allegra. “Did Skipper make the cartwheel?”
“Yeah. Weren’t you watching?” Allegra looks at me curiously.
She must think I’m a total idiot! At least Skipper made the cartwheel. I can’t believe I wasn’t paying attention!
It isn’t long before it’s Allegra’s turn. She runs up and does a cartwheel, just like Skipper did. So far there have been over ten girls who have done cartwheels! Aria can’t pick them all! I wonder whether Skipper will get selected to be on the team after all.
“Blondie, it’s your turn!” Aria shouts at me.
A million thoughts are racing through my mind. Will Skipper’s cartwheel be enough to get her onto the team? What should my stunt be? I don’t want to embarrass myself, but I don’t even want to join the cheer squad… I wish Ken was here.
Eventually, I decide that a front walkover will be enough. As a dancer and gymnast, the movement comes easily to me and I am able to execute it quickly and cross the room.
“Alright, the next stage will test your flexibility!” Aria explains.
I start to panic. Skipper hasn’t been stretching at all! She won’t be flexible enough for this part.
“Let’s all sit on the floor and do some stretches together,” Aria continues. “We’ll start with something simple. Who can do the splits?”
Everyone groans, even me. I can do the splits -but not before warming up! “Just kidding, just kidding! Let’s start by touching our toes.”
As we stretch, I look across the sea of people and try to find Skipper. She’s struggling to get into the right position, but at least she’s given all the stretches a proper try. Surely Aria will appreciate her perseverance, right?
After the stretching stage, we move onto the third and final stage -dancing! This stage was designed to test our co-ordination, rhythm and how quickly we could memorise a routine. Aria shows everyone a simple dance routine, and we have to perform it back to her.
As I dance along with the others, I realise -this isn’t so bad after all! My body moves in time to the beat and I catch myself adding in my own little embellishments as well. An extra turn there, an extra clap there. I hope Aria doesn’t mind!
We finish the routine and everyone collapses onto the floor in exhaustion. I run over to find Skipper. “Skipper! You did so well!”
Skipper beams. “Thanks, Barbie! I can’t believe I made the cartwheel!”
“You were amazing! You and Allegra will be superstar cheerleaders in no time.”
Aria walks up to the two of us, her smile as big as ever. “Well done, girls!” she says. “You both did great!”
“Aria, this is my sister, Skipper,” I explain. “She really wants to join the team. When will you have made your decision?”
“Actually,” Aria explains. “I’ve already made my decision! I was taking notes the whole time. Barbie -welcome to the team!”
I gasp. Did I really just make the team? I wasn’t even planning on trying out!
“Wow, go Barbie!” Skipper is excited. “Now we can be on the cheerleading team together! You, me and Allegra!”
Aria’s face falls. “Actually… I’m sorry, Skipper, but you and Allegra didn’t make the team. Your cartwheel was great, but not quite what we were looking for… But keep training! I’m sure you’ll do much better next year.”
Skipper looks like she’s about to burst into tears. “What?”
“I’m sorry…” Aria looks at me, panicked. “I don’t know what else to say. It looks like you tried really hard.”
“Yeah, I did try hard!” Skipper is furious. She’s almost yelling at poor Aria! “I tried my absolute hardest! I trained every single day! I worked harder than anyone here! Why did Barbie make the team? Barbie didn’t practise at all! She doesn’t even want to join the team! Right, Barbie?”
I don’t know what to say. On one hand, it would be really fun to be a cheerleader. On the other hand, I don’t want to hurt Skipper… Seeing me on the team would just make her more upset. “I don’t know,” I admit. “I’ll have to think about it.”
“Barbie, you’re the worst sister ever! I hate cheerleading! And I hate you! You stole my place on the team!”
With that, Skipper grabs her backpack and storms out of the gym.
I turn to Aria. “Sorry about that. She really did train quite hard…”
“Don’t worry about. I get yelled at like that all the time! Lots of girls are upset when they don’t make it. Look -here’s my number. You can text me when you decide.”
As Aria scribbles down her phone number, I can hardly pay attention. The only person I can think about is Skipper! Poor thing, she must be so upset… I really need to speak to Ken about this!
I shove the notepaper into my bag and run off to find Ken. We need to have a serious chat!