It isn’t divided into chapters yet, and is only edited for glaring errors. I don’t think I’m going to win this year. I have only hit 27000 words so far and only have the rest of this week. Enjoy!!! Also, if anyone has an opinion, most YA fiction is written in the first person, I’m not sure if I should go that route if I do the rewrite next year. I’ll be kinda glad to get back to revision of my other book when I’m done with November.
Jessie peeked over the shoulders of her teammates as they waited to take the floor. The group of thirteen girls held their flags tightly, clutching them closely as not to drop them. The group performing ahead of them seemed to be having a fabulous time out on the floor; they wore smiles that looked natural and unforced, their flag movements, while a little simpler than the moves that her group was about to perform, were perfectly timed with the music.
It was Jessie’s first year doing winterguard, which involved using flags, rifles made from wood, and sabres and choreographing them into a dance routine to music. Then, the groups would meet at different schools in the region, and compete against each other for scores. Jessie’s group, Serendipity, was currently in third place in their division, and the score for tonight would hopefully bump them to first or second.
Every group got a certificate for their hard work and dedication, but only the top three groups came back home with a medal.
The girls watched in awe as the group before them, Oakville High School Winterguard, nailed the big hit. That was the part near the end where all the girls were out on the floor with their flags, moving in unison, flags flying, music soaring through the speakers, the crowd silent as it caught up in the moment. Then it was over, and the crowd burst into applause, and the nerves in Jessie’s stomach twisted just a little tighter, as the previous group clear the floor of their equipment, and then their floor was set up.
She took her position on the floor, near one of the backdrops painted as a sunny sky. Her part in the beginning was minimal, she performed a few dancing movements, a couple twirls, and then daintily, and gracefully stepped out of the audience’s sight. Her flag leaned against the back of the unfinished gray wood, right where it was supposed to be, and she positioned it quickly and waited for her cue to come back out the the floor.
Tiffany, the best girl on the team – she’d had dance lessons her entire life and gymnastics and had a lot to bring to the sport – ran behind the backdrop to exchange her flag for a rifle, and Jessie ran out, flag low, and then swirled it high overhead in perfect time to the music, and a huge grin broke out. She could do this.
Her sequence here was again, quite short, but she’d been entrusted with the throws in sequence, and again she nailed it. The music rang through her ears, and she even started to play for the audience. But now, it was time to go behind another backdrop, this time, to wait for the big hit. She watched as Tiffany threw her rifle up into the air, and then spun around and caught it with a bow with the drums of the music. The music paused as she held the position, and then the refrain of the music began. She counted the beats – she needed to be the fifth one out, and not miss her cue or the whole routine would be thrown off.
She felt like the success of the entire show depended on if she missed one beat, and her concentration paid off as she hit the beat of the music perfectly, and she let herself go into the music, swirling her flag and dancing, up slowly, down and around quickly, perfectly synchronized with the other twelve girls on the floor.
This was the best she’d ever performed, since beginning five months ago, and she smiled wide and backed up without thinking in between the line of girls behind her as they came forward, swooshing their flags down as hers swooshed up at the same time.
After a few moves later, they rotated in a circle, and she came around to the front again.
Her smile faltered as the chorus to the song repeated. Wait. Was she supposed to go forward? Or backward again. Her palms began to sweat as nerves took hold of her control and held it hostage. Wait. Wait.
Oh my God. She couldn’t remember. Her feet stumbled for a moment, and she glanced around, but couldn’t, for some reason, place where she was supposed to be. She second guessed herself, and went backward, and for a split second, she thought that she had guess correctly.
Until her flag pole made contact with something, the metal reverberating into her arm.
She gasped and glanced to her right. She’d hit someone with her pole. She saw blood pour from the other girl’s face. Her hands were across her face, and everyone was dressed in the smae thing, so it didn’t register at first that she’d hit Tiffany in the face.
Jessie panicked, throwing down her flag, and running for the curtain, as Tiffany began twirling her flag again, blood streaming down her face. She took one last glance back, registered the hatred glaring back at her, and then disappeared behind the curtain. She wanted to hide.
She hid in the corner, choking on her tears and shame and fear, and listened to the music come to a stop not thirty seconds later. She felt guilty, knowing that the others were picking up her stuff, and that she’d left them in their hour of need. she couldn’t believe what she’d done, and tried to remember the routine up to the point where she’d screwed it all up.
No one spoke her her, and the other girls were silent, as they tip toed around her, trying to get their shoes.
Finally, she glanced up, and met the gaze of Stacia, the director and choreographer of the group. “I’m so sorry,” she whimpered.
Stacia sighed, and set a hand on her shoulder. “What happened out there? It looked like you were doing great?”
Jessie sniffled and wiped her nose with her arm. “I don’t know. I was doing great until I lost track if we were on the first chorus or the second. I don’t know what happened. Suddenly Tiff… Tiffany was there. She’s going to hate me!”
“Okay. Let’s pull it together, okay?”
Curious bystanders glanced at the woman and the girl in the corner.
Jessie sniffed and nodded.
“Jess, stay here by our things, all right? I have to check on Tiffany and see what is going on. Her parents are here and likely furious.”
Jessie cringed and Stacia stopped talking and sighed. “I’ll stay here. Am I going to be in trouble?”
“I don’t imagine she or her parents will be any too pleased about this, but these things do happen.” Stacia glanced up, prepared to do damage control. “Just lay low for a bit, okay? Do you want to go back to the hotel?”
Jessie shrugged. “Maybe.”
“I’ll be back in a bit,” said Stacia, and she left Jessie there crying mournfully into her hands.
She didn’t look up for a long while until a slipper nudged her, not so gently, in the leg. She glanced up with red swollen eyes and saw Madison, Tiffany’s best friend, standing there, glaring down at her. “Are you happy with yourself?”
A snot bubble burst from Jessie’s nose, and she swiped it away on her extra shirt she’d dug out of her bag. “Do I look happy? Is she okay?”
“Her parents are so mad at you. They’re taking her to the hospital to get x-rays. You probably broke her nose, you know.”
Jessie couldn’t meet the other girl’s scornful gaze. “I know.” It came out as a whisper.
“You’re such a loser. What the hell is wrong with you?”
She didn’t look up, the cruel words sinking into her.
“Tiffany is going to hate you, and so is everyone else.” Madison spat the words at her. “You aren’t cut out for this, so stay away from us from now on.” She flomped away in her bear slippers and left Jessie sitting on the cold floor with the haphazard pile of flags, the folded up vinyl the made up their dancing surface, and the assorted bags and piles of clothes, feeling alone and miserable to the world. The rest of the team would hate her now, and the whole school would know what happened, especially she was certain that Tiffany and her friends would be happy to tell everyone when she came in with a broken nose and blackened eyes to school next week.
Tiffany was one of the most popular girls in school, and usually didn’t lord it over people, but Jessie felt certain that this would not be one of those times. A mother of one of the other girls was heading back to the hotel, claiming she had a migraine and needed to lie down, and offered to take Jessie back with her.
Jessie went gratefully, gathering her stuff from the area, and silently following the woman out. It was the mother of Natalie, one of the freshman on the team, and she offered some vague consolation on the incident, and stated that it could have happened to any of them.
Jessie just shrugged and nodded, simultaneously certain that that was true and untrue at the same time. the hotel wasn’t far, and she went into her room to watch TV and try to distract herself from the fact that she’d ruined her life. It was almost midnight when the other girls came back, and she faked sleep under the stiff hotel blankets until they finally went to bed.