I got the cheerleading outfit a week later. The skirt was short. Mega short. And it was white and pink. Fabulous. Will found it hilarious. Really funny. I was not impressed.
“Shut up Will,” she said ineffectively.
“Sorry,” he gasped, clutching his sides. “But your face.” And with that he burst into fresh peals of laughter. Joanna sighed, and held the skirt up against her once more. It was still short.
“I bet a guy designed them,” she grumbled. Will nodded in agreement, struggling to stop laughing. “Why do you think so many people go to the soccer games?” he asked with a cheeky grin.
“Oh shut up,” she snapped benevolently at him, throwing the skirt back to the table, and sat down, putting her head in her hands.
“Didn’t you know what it looked like?” he asked, still grinning at her.
“Well yeah…” she began. He stuck his tongue out at her.
“You should count how many guys turn up to match,” he told her, ducking as she made to hit him.
“Oh god. That’s next Friday,” she said horrified. “Will, why did I do this?” He shrugged. “Cause you’re an idiot?” he offered.
She rolled her eyes. “Thanks for that. Anyway, are you coming to bear witness to my humiliation?”
“Nah” He wrinkled his nose. “Doesn’t really appeal to me.”
“Fair enough,” she sighed. She groaned. “Do you if anyone else is coming?”
“Ninety nine point nine percent of the male school population,” he countered.
“Does that include Rick or Mikey, as you’re not coming?” she asked.
“Does what include me?” Rick slid on to the bench next to Joanna carrying a lunch tray.
“Are you coming to the game?” Joanna asked.
“Course. Wouldn’t miss it,” he replied cheerfully. She groaned and her head hit the table again. Because of this she missed Will raising his eyebrows meaningfully at Rick. And Rick pretending he hadn’t seen.
Apart from the uniform cheerleading was good. Good exercise, good fun, good friends. Well, I knew most of them because of Emily anyway, so it wasn’t bad. In fact, they were all right. But the first match came round far too fast.
“Come on. You can do it,” Emily told her comfortingly.
”I know,” was the reply. “It’s just embarrassing,” Joanna said as she tried to pull the skirt down for the ninety-sixth time.
“Leave it Jo. It won’t go further down. It’s not supposed to,” Emily said sharply.
“Okay girls. Let’s go!” Lucy cried. Joanna cringed once more before they went out on to the pitch smiling, and whooping.
It went in a blur really. I can’t even remember who won. Afterwards though. Oh, I’ve got stuff to say about that.
“Jo!” She looked around as she walked out of the changing room. It was Benji, jogging towards her. “Hey,” he murmured as he reached her. “You did really well tonight.”
She blushed, pulling her coat further around her in the dark night. “Thanks.” He saw her shiver and put an arm around her, meaning she had to stand closer to him. “That was your first time, yeah?”
“Yeah,” she agreed. “I was really nervous.”
“You didn’t look it,” he told her. “You looked really professional.”
Her blush deepened and she was glad for the cover of darkness.
“You looked hot as well,” he whispered, bending down to say it in her ear, sending goose bumps down her spine.
“I-“ But whatever she had been about caught in her throat as she saw Rick who had been coming towards her, smiling, abruptly turn, his smile fading quickly, and walk off.
“Rick!” she called.” Um, thanks Benji. But he’s my lift,” She lied. “I’ve gotta go.” And she started to run after her friend.
“Rick!” She shouted. “Rick!” She slowed down as she reached him. “Rick,” she said again, softly. He didn’t look at her, but carried on walking.
“Rick, please. What’s the matter?” she asked, struggling to keep up with his long strides. Abruptly he stopped.
“Did you just ask what the matter is?” he asked, his voice deadly quiet. “What’s the matter? The matter, Joanna , is that you were falling for the same lines that every other girl in this goddamn school has fallen for. And not on of you seem to realise that to him it’s just a game. He doesn’t care about you as people. To him, you’re just another toy!” As he was speaking his voice was rising, as was her temper but she fought to control it.”
”Look. I know you don’t like him because he hurt Will or whatever, but he’s just being nice,” she snapped.
“Or whatever?” he asked angrily. “I thought Will was your friend!”
“He is!” She yelled back. “But that hasn’t got anything to do with it! I’m sorry if me being a girl is offending you. I’m sorry if a guy telling me I’m hot is offending you.”
He bowed his head before he replying, his voice quiet once more. “Anna, I will tell you everyday that you’re beautiful as long as you don’t fall for him. I- Please Anna. Not him. Anyone but him.”
She turned away but he took hold of her arm. When he spoke his voice was shaking. “Ask Will. Ask him what oh so nice Benji did.”