Chapter 2 – Angelina
Sweat dripped down my royal blue and green crop top, as the two cheers tumbler, a tuck and double back, cross the cheer formation. No small business. Our four rows of five cheers staggers in straight lines on the gymnasium floor go in formation, as we preluded with a chant to dance for the hip-hop mix.
"Thirsty….Fury….Wolverines," I chanted with my hands caressing my throat with an insatiable thirst for victory for the basketball team. "Thirsty….Fury….Silver Creek High!" I chanted as I wiped my lips in slow motion, whisping my hips as my fellow cheers slide close to me, the lead in center floor. The music started, Fashion by Lady Gaga, the beat of techno and pop mixed with a splash of lyrical rap.
"Wolverine, we come right out of the ground, ripping you apart, slashing you so tight. We're wolverines! We leave no survivors behind!"
We tossed our poms in the air and synchronized to a standing tumbling. We landed on two feet, catching our poms on our spot. I was, Angelina Lee and cheer lead for this year.
We broke into a dance routine to the hip-hop song, and the formation divided in half, forming two rows of cheers. I was center with my co-lead, Melody Johnson, as usual. I had to admit, we owned it. Our two rows broke into four, Melody, my co-lead next to me. The music stopped. Acapella chant resumed.
"This is Silver Creek High!" Melody and I staunchly pointed to the ground, indicating territory. "Go on, go home! We will ravage you! Go on, go home! We will annihilate you! We're Silver Creek High! We'll take the trophy, thanks! We're Silver Creek High! Here's our wave goodbye!" We fluttered our hands higher and higher, shooing off the other team. Two tumblers finished off with a double back hand spring, from the back to the front, then to both sides of the rows of cheers, and back to the center to finish with a hand spring.
We spotted each other for an aerial, with Melody and I for an air-split, returning back on the springs of our cheer-arms, and back to the ground on two feet. The music pumped loud, the sound of techno mixed with pop beats. It felt like heaven springing into mid-air, kicking high off the ground, with our dance routine. Nothing felt right if dancing wasn't involved in my cheer years. This was my first year as lead with Melody, and it felt perfect.
The sweat on my temples made me yearn for more tumbling, swishing my hips left and right, pushing my arms forward, and clapping to spread the pomp.
This was just practice, but I couldn't live without it. The music stopped, as Melody and I kneeled on our left knees with our arms to a "v" to the ceiling. "Wolverines, Silver Creek High! We're justified!"
My chest heaved, and my crop top was moist. My bare stomach trickled with sweat of effort.
"Allright, ladies, it's like last time. We take showers and next time, we do one or two more aerials, with just something simple like a mid-air twist," Melody yelled out loud.
"Thank you, girls. You're hot!" I yelled out in confirmation. We group high fives, and took a breath a bit, before hitting the showers.
I walked towards the far end of the gymnasium, still a bit heaving. Samantha stood near the entrance to the shower hall, popping her pop rocks inside her mouth, playing with her braids. The pop rocks exploded into squirts of pink juices on her tongue, and she showed it to me. Her eyes squinted from the sour rocks. She squirmed and squiggled, all by herself near the benches, doing her own candy cheer. I shook my head, "You've got a silly case of the wiggles," I told her. After a few seconds, she opened her eyes, and walked towards me and Melody.
"Practice is DONE!" said Samantha. "Can we go home now?"
She waved to the girls and I couldn't help but smile at Sam, as I called her. Samantha and I met in middle school when she had braces and short hair. Then she grew boobs and so did I, and we compared the lengths of our knees, and we've been pretty much the same height since then. We grew about four inches, and if we never grow again, I really didn't care.
Melody kissed me on my cheek, and sprinted to the gym showers. On her way there, she yelled at me, "See you at my bash tonight!"
"I'll be there!" I replied to Melody. I pick up my duffel bag and hugged Sam, "I saw you getting it on from pop rocks," I told her, smiling. Samantha's eyes roll.
"So, I heard the bash is a Glow in the Dark Jam!" Sam said, sucking the juices of the pink pop rocks, as it fizzed inside her mouth.
Spring Semester at Silver Creek High School beckoned house parties and spring romances. Some of my girlfriends, Melody especially, called me China Doll. Being in the varsity cheerleading squad and the girlfriend of the power forward, meant China Doll has to go to the last spring fling thrown by her co-squad leader, Melody Johnston. It was just manners.
"How do you know this?" I asked, throwing my duffel bag beside Samantha's feet. "How come you know everything?" I looked quizzically at her, fixing her ponytail. For a sidekick, Samantha knew every update about the popular crowd, from her mutant hearing near the lockers and during lunch hours.
"Today is Friday, too! Oooo….date night!" Sam always teased me. "Do you make out on every date? I'd make that a requirement. Collin's lips are just too inviting to ignore," Samantha touched her lips pretending to kiss someone, then quickly licked her mouth. I truly believed Samantha was a genius, but she was also a nutjob.
"You know, if you weren't such a great friend of mine, I'd give you a penalty," I said. "I'm keeping you for comedic value." I love teasing Samantha, because she reminds me of a cute kitten with sharp claws.
As for me, I had feather shaped eyes, and soft rosy cheeks. My cheer uniform was tight, but not too much to show every curve. I got by being teased as a pretty girl and "China Doll," being the only Chinese girl in the squad.
"I'd make it a requirement," said Samantha, offering her chapstick to me. For a bi-racial Jewish and half African American teen, Samantha was an unconventional beauty with long silky braids, and perfect supple lips and hazel eyes. Samantha was the coquettish best friend whom Colin's friends would love to date, but she claimed she was a prude publically and announced to everyone that father was a human rights lawyer.
"It the kiss was consensual, it wouldn' be a crime, and there would be no penalty," Samantha joked. I giggled.
I took the chapstick from Sam. As for Collin, he was just perfection. The all-American boy next door, with dirty blonde curly hair, brown eyes, chiseled jaw and sharp nose. Two years ahead of me, a Senior, dating me a Sophomore. Collin was a tall and athletic looker, from a long line of restaurateur.
"It's going to be the same in college right, you and me?" Samantha asked, "You know I can't be left alone with all those men. I'd start charging Visas and Mastercards." Samantha's virginal status leds to some teen sexual frustration at inopportune times.
I laughed out loud. "You talk big, girlie. You know human trafficking is illegal," I told her, looking into her eyes, "Yup, still a virgin."
Knowing Samantha's innocent disposition, I couldn't help but to shoot down her talks on sexual angst with mockery. Samantha was too sweet to talk like this.
With a sleek lean stature and big brown Bambi eyes, she easily passed for hot stuff. She prefers unfussy jeans, and button-down shirts for everyday wear. Underneath all the hormonal talk, Samantha was an "intelligent" from an upper-class Jewish family.
Samantha kicked my heels, and I tripped midst walking.
"You are so annoying!" I yelled, as I toppled to the ground, and landed on my knees. Samantha chuckled. I shook my head.
"Get up!" Sam lifted me up. "I have to keep you grounded, otherwise that "China Doll" stuff will get to your head."
"Hi Angel," Collin walked towards me, reaching for my hand. I feel my eyes twinkle at the sight of him. His baby blue shirt with rolled-up sleeves and blue jeans made him looked photo-shoot ready. "Hi handsome," I said. In my chest, I hoped I was the only girl in his life. It has been two years, but I was shooting forever.
Samantha tickled me, and I squirmed. I gabbed at Collin, "Oh…ugh, Ah, hi, Colin," I caught Samantha's hand in mid-tickle. "You HAVE to stop this!"
"You are too fancy!" Sam joked. "Tickling cures everything. Even googly eyes for Colin."
"Sometimes I wonder about you crazy girls," Collin said. He kissed my forehead. At six feet, he towered over my five feet and three inches height.
"I got to go, you guys get a room," said Samantha, walking towards the parking lot.
"Your regular Target walk about?" asked Collin. He sneered at Samantha about her penchant for walking around stores, looking for strange items. Samantha believed she was always on a mission for something, because life was a daring mission for her. Collin and I wondered what happened to her, because she was always on a scavenger hunt at some store somewhere on Earth.
Samantha turned around, and stuck her tongue out, and told him, "That was personal injury and bullying. Two counts of misdeameanors." She walked away and stuck her pinky finger out.
I breathed in for a minute, covering my blushing cheeks with both of my hands. Collin kissed me on my lips by suprise. His kisses tasted like fresh like strawberries with sugar crystals, as I bit his lower lips tenderly.
"You taste like dessert," I softly told him, and kissed him.
"I'm so happy," says Collin, taking me into his arms. He pulled me close to his body, holding me close for a few minutes. "Wanna get ice cream?"
"Yes," I replied, holding his cheeks and kissing his lips again.
He took my book bag over his shoulders, and we walked towards the parking lot. Tonight was our usual Friday night hideaway, Sacred Ground Cafe.
"I have two recruiters coming for the game," Collin told me. "UCLA and USC."
"You're not going to CU Boulder?" I asked. "Silver Creek is a sure route to CU, Colin."
I was surprised because I really wanted him to stay, even after he graduates this year.
"No, I'm staying, but I just want to keep my options, just in case," he said.
"But, I thought we were going to stay here until I meet you all the way there?" I asked him.
"I know, but I just want to know how high I can reach," Collin said.
I stayed quiet and didn't want to speak to much about his decisions. But, I couldn't help but wonder.
Silver Creek, Colorado, was known as the armpit of Boulder, nestled between the border of Boulder and Longmont, but never making it into the big city. The city had a main street, with a charming parlor, a pottery shop, a nutrition store, a burrito joint, and some odds and ends stores that makes a quaint little downtown.
"What if your father wants you to go for USC?" I asked him, my heart a bit anxious.
"That's why I'm staying for the rest of the year, and we can talk about this later," said Collin, approaching Sacred Grounds parking lot. The last thing I wanted was for Collin to go away. He smiled because he knew how crazy I was about him.
"Collin, do you want to go with me to Melody's party tonight?" I switched the subject. The thought of him leaving to another state meant the end of love for me.
"Nope. I don't like her, she always checks me out, although she knows we've been dating for two years now. There is just something about her that I'm not comfortable with," said Collin. "You're going though, I know you would. She's squad leader. Chinese manners."
He looked to me, and winked. "Yes, Chinese manners. It's her last party, and she's been giving me lead cheer for a while now," I said.
"I'm just going to hang out with my Dad, and maybe watch a movie," said Collin. "I just don't want to be around her. She's pompous."
"What do you mean?" I said. To me, Melody was a talented dancer with perfect gymnastic skills, and rumor had it, her family was royalty in Silver Creek.
"Well, I saw her a couple of days ago, and she kept gossiping about other cheers in the squad. I'm just not into backstabbers," said Collin. "For a squad leader to do something like that, it's looked down upon in general. My mother taught me well." He held my hand and breathed in. "But go. I know you want to end your squad year well. Give me a call this weekend."
"I'll stay and pay respects to her and leave. Won't take nothing but an hour, maximum," I said, holding on to his soft hands.
"Sounds good to me. Call me this weekend for sure," said Collin, shifting to parking gear.
Sacred Ground was always full of local newspaper reporters, following their lede for the most current news for this small town. News was, Colin and I were off the market on the teenage dating game.
Chapter 3 - Good Friday for Ichabod
Every Good Friday deserved a good night sleep for a gentleman's slumber, but not without a mint and patchouli bubbly lather inside this bath. The week was harsh, with trialed times on the tracks as athletes found ourselves so, and there were more mass shootings in North Carolina and the Mid-West. The television replayed the latest violent attacks on Asian grandmas crossing the street in New York, and I couldn't believe someone would punch her on the eye. If I was the man who assaulted her, I'd think twice and opted to ask for some Post-Chinese New Year Money. She wouldn't care if I was Jewish. But tonight, I wanted peace and ceased violence.
I swayed my sword, melamine as it may, to the Coldplay tunes, Viva La Vida.
"Nothing could keep this soldier from Battle of the Goar!" I said, my voice resounded through the roof of my bathroom.
The hour-long bath proved to soak off the callouses out of these tired feet. Drying off with a large black towel, I marveled at the sight of my muscle striations and mumbled, "Fierce!" as I pumped my two fists and tightened biceps. I bumped them, and whispered, "Force!"
The melamine sword shall rest for now, because everything deserved a re-charge.
I felt my hair upon my face and took a pair of shearing scissors, to trim my dark mane. Snip. Snip. Short strands of dark brown hair fell down upon the sink. "I am a good-looking monster," I uttered, smirking with playful confidence. This lad might be a bit stocky at five feet and nine inches, but my heart could crush a pride of lions.
Humming a few random notes, a sharp object jabbed into my pelvis. My neck strangled, and I choked as something cusped my nostrils. I felt a hand yanked out the hairs of my scalp. The strangling constricted my breathing. My legs bumped the tub and I fell to the ground.
"Help! Mother, Help!" I screamed. What demon attacked?
Crouching down on the bathroom floor, a force punched my face! I crushed down into a helpless fetal ball, as I held onto the toilet. "Help! Mother! Help!" I kept screaming.
"Stop abusing me! What evil ghost are ye?!" I yelled in defense. Friday nights were for contemplations, not violence!
My body jolted in shock, and the back of my skull bashed against the tub. Another jolt shook me from inside my body. Paralysis might be next but the stabbing pain penetrated into my gut pressing down mine intestines. I vomited with volatile pain, as clear liquid expunged out of my mouth as my nostrils dripped with body fluid.
"Mercy! Please….mercy!" I implored, with my vocal chords shattering in fears, tumultuous to my brains. "What have I done to your soul? O good spirit? What have I done?!" I yelled in agony. My Mother never came to help me in my need.
Foggy mist filled the room, as frost condensed on the full-length mirror behind the bathroom door. A chill came over me, as the hairs on the back of mine neck raised to vunerability. Rivers of tears gushed from mine eyes.
"Good god! Please give mercy upon this gentle soul," I begged to the invisible force in utter confusion.
An apparition of a young woman with silky black hair appeared in the mirror behind the door. Her face covered by her youthful hands.
I spoke in complete agony, "Who…are… you?" My voice trembled. "What… are…you?"
The pounding on the door frightened me.
"Ichabod!" I heard Mother's voice in feral tremors. "Are you allright?! What is happening in there?!"
The door was locked, as it should be upon bath time.
"Ichabod, open the door! What's wrong?!" she yelled, trying to break down the door. I reached the door knob with all of my sanity and stability fumbling. I held on to my gut and opened the door for Mother.
"Mother, I saw a ghost," I told her, pointing to the mirror behind the door.
Mother stepped aside and closed the door to see the mirror behind it. There was nothing but fog on its surface. She took my bathrobe and covered my body, as I sat curled up with my knees to my chest.
"Baby, are you okay?" Mother closed in on me. "What happened? Speak to me, please, Ichabod."
"I don't recall I have experienced anything like this before," I told her.
Another jab gutted me as I twist into my stomach with mine hands. I cried in terror. "Aaarrrgghhh!" Tears and sobs came, although nothing was around me or Mother that caused it.
"Baby, hold on," Mother said. Her hands capped my skull to prevent my head from a concussion. "We must go to the hospital, Ichabod."
"Mother, please believe me. It's the spirits again," I told her. The stomach pains dissipated, but the jabs kept on. Hitting my full conscience as if I was inside a horror film. My breathing sparsed and I felt the cusp upon my face pressed deeper. I tried to yank out of my face, this evil besotted upon my death. Then suddenly, the jolts of pain stopped.
I was in disbelief. "Mother, please believe me. It's the spirits, since I saved Leona, the spirits stalks upon my life," I told Mother, as she tried to hug me. "Perhaps it was the curse of a True Knight?"
"Baby, that's untrue. No one dares to take your life away," says Mother, as she caressed my cheeks, calming my nerves. "And you're just a weird kid, baby. It's okay."
"It stopped," I said, as I rose up from Mother's dancing space. I pressed into my stomach, but there was no pain. I dared to stand up and succeeded, although mine eyes were moist with tears of fears. I breathed in peace, and exhaled hope.
"Meds, baby. Did you take your meds?" Mother asked me. She opened the medicine cabinet, and took a small orange tube with white pills that I regrettably deplored out of my soul. She placed one on my tongue and I ingested the cursed crutch.
"Thank you," I said, with a cathartic breath, releasing the satanic depression.
My father left the family for another woman on rainy night in October, a decade ago, but it seemed like yesterday. Tears kept gushing out. Was I a handicap?
"Maybe another therapy session?" Mother said. "And take an extra pill when you feel the jolts."
"Something is wrong. The spirits, they don't usually appear after a good day," I told her. "I was not the demon, Mother. It was the spirits again."
"Do you believe in transformations, Ichabod? It is possible," Mother said. She held me close to her because moments like these required comfort to cast away all fears.
"No, yes, I meant…it was no hallucinations," I told her. Why was it so difficult for her to believe in my judgement, my capacity to decipher between reality and wonk? I was NOT a lunatic.
"If the depression becomes worse, we can handle it together, Ichabod," my Mother said, trying her best to console me. Her disbelief hurt me.
"Ichabod, if it's not the spirits…," said Mother.
"Mom, it is. I know it is. I felt it, that night Leona almost died. I know the spirits visits me," I retorted.
"Okay, okay, but if it is some other type of mental illness, we can deal with it," Mother said.
The stomach pangs disappeared with no more jabs, at least for now. I wanted nothing more than a good restful night. My face drooped as I walked out of the bathing room, to my bedroom, in confusion and jagged edges between my chest from Mother's repudiation.
"Good night, Mother," I told her. I closed the door with my belittled confidence and distrust from insanity.
Inside the bedroom my bed swooned me with soft pillows and comfort. My pelvic was tender as I closed my eyes in the belief all was calm. I laid on the bed, with my eyes closed. Suddenly, my abdomen throbbed this time as I felt a sting from inside my gut with redness burning through my skin.
"No! No! O god, please help me!" I cried out.
A ghostly, soft voice whispered into my ears, "Tobias, awaken and lead her to love." My heart beat a million times per second as this moment crushed my spirits again. Why tonight? Fridays were for peace. Who was this eerie spirit speaking of?
With all the blood of courage inside my heart, I answered, "My name is Ichabod. Who is this Tobias?"
Soft whimpers of a young girl crying came from the ceiling as the apparition formed across my bed of solace. Sparkles came from outside of the window transforming into an amorphous image surrounding her. The voice whispered in my ears. "She is a friend, Tobias. Awaken!" said the voice.
Cringing for a moment, I held on to my conscience, afraid to speak. I slowly got up to touch the young girl, but the girl vanished.
"What's wrong, Ichabod?" Mother asked from outside his bedroom. She opened the door, as I touched the hard wood floor where she once was, touching it, and feeling it. Perhaps, it was real?
"I'm Tobias," I told Mother, my face taut. "Perhaps these spirits will visit again tonight, inside my dream." I knew I had a soul touched with something peculiar. My father told me it was an illness. To me, it was a gift.
"We have to talk to Leona about this," Mother said with her eyes scrunching like a feral kitten in disbelief. "She would know what to do. At least they're good spirits, right, Ichabod?"
"I believe someone needs help," I said. "Or, I might need to help someone." Feeling rather significant since ghostly spirits had revealed to an interstellar purpose of some kind.
Mother came towards me, and gently said, "Let me see your stomach." Her caring voice carried her far into her nursing career. She lifted my hand over my stomach, revealing red swollen marks across my abdomen, all the way down to my lower pelvic bone.
"O god! We must go to the hospital! Now!" Mother yelled frantically turning about like a lost pug chasing its tail.
"Maybe it will just go away," I told her. I squirmed with her every touch, pressing into the swollen areas.
"Emergencies are non-negotiable, Ichabod!" Mother said.
She took me by my shoulders downstairs, and we walked me to our family car as if I was a handicapped but to be honest, I felt I was at that moment. We drove me to Silver Creek Hospital Emergency Department within five minutes flat, escaping accidents, crazy policemen, and mass shootings.
"I just don't know what to do about these spirits you experience, all on your own," Mother said. "I'm so worried, Ichabod.
Perhaps we need some form of brand name anti-psychotics, not the generic anti-depressants you usually consume."
"I have bruises, Mother. They are evidence for something," I replied, in my attempt to convince her on the evidence to prove my sanity. Another twisting pain, as I squirmed on the passenger seat. "Good god, it hurts!"
"We're here! We need the wheelchair and a nurse," Mother told me. She parked the car and ran out of it, towards the entrance of the hospital emergency department.
A female nurse rapidly came to me with a wheelchair. With Mother, they lifted me into the wheelchair and wheeled me inside.
"Don't leave me, Mother," I told her. Intense with distraught, I felt fragility over my bones as if a brutal crime happened upon my body.
The night was restless for Mother and I, as she cried beside me. What spirits could possibly caused bruising and swellings? Everything was too baffling, too strange, and too incomprehensible, and most of all, violently traumatic. This was one Frenzy Friday!