For Mandi, for being inspiring since the day we met.
“That is seriously the 6th time that truck as slowly rolled past. Should we ask if they need help?”
Claire looked over at Marci who had been one looking out the window and scowled. Marci couldn’t see the scowl which was most likely a good thing. Claire often thought that she, and she alone would survive a horror movie type situation.
Claire had joined the cheer squad when she first arrived at Jeffery M. Whitmore High School because they had no other activities that related to dance or gymnastics. Claire also understood stature and how to navigate the high school experience so that she came out on top.
Unfortunately, this meant she was usually surrounded by a bunch of girls who talked about lipstick and shopping and so many other things Clair had zero interest in. She chalked it up to being the negative parts of popularity.
“Seriously, should we go out there? They are parked down the block. They may need help.” Marci was persistent. Chrissie, who happened to be the captain of the team looked out the window along with Heather and Tanya. They had all decided to have a “little” slumber party this weekend to discuss Nationals.
Claire knew it would look good on college transcripts, so she was on board for helping make sure this wasn’t embarrassing.
“I don’t know if it is safe. Claire, what do you think?” Tanya asked.
Tanya asked about everything. She couldn’t make a decision herself about anything. Claire smiled; it was the fake smile that said “I care what you are saying” but really didn’t. “I don’t think you should go out there. This town is full of weirdos.” She was sure the others wouldn’t listen to her, so she felt safe in saying what she did.
Almost on cue Chrissie looked over, “I think we should. After all, they may be some slightly lost college guys or something.” She managed to sound condescending when she even said that. “Tanya, let’s go help out the stranded stranger,” and she headed for the door.
It was in this moment Claire decided that the fate of these three meant nothing to her. She could be worried. She could warn them. Hell, she could even manipulate them into staying inside. However, in this moment she realized that the cheer team would go on, even if all three of these girls were no longer breathing.
So she smiled again, “I understand. You should help them out.”
Chrissie and Tanya checked themselves in the mirror and headed out. Claire looked at her watch: 10:35pm. She then picked back up the book she was reading and waited. Marci was switching between pacing and looking out the window. She suddenly burst out, “They are gone!”
Claire looked up from her book. “What?” she asked, sure of what the answer would be.
“They are gone.” Marci was staring to freak out. “Is the van still there?” Claire asked. She thought she should make her tone more concerned to make Marci feel better and then she shrugged. She didn’t actually care.
“Maybe you should check on them?” Claire finally said. Maybe she sounded like she cared. She didn’t.
“Will you come with me?” Marci asked.
“No,” Claire said. Maybe that was a little rough. “Umm… someone should be here if they come back.” She hoped that made her sound more caring or possibly a little scared.
“Oh,” Marci started, “That makes sense,” and she headed for the door. Claire shrugged and went back to reading.
Some time had passed before she checked her watch again; it had been an hour. She moved over and looked out the window. The van was gone. Claire pursed her lips. She knew Chrissie’s parents would at least be home by morning and wondering where their daughter was. She shook her head and pulled out her cell phone.
“911. What is your emergency?” the concerned sounding voice answered.
“My… My… My … THEY ARE GONE!!!” The drama classes were paying off, Claire thought as she “sobbed” into the phone. The operator began to ask her questions and as she answered she wondered if being cheer captain was more work than she wanted to expend.