How to Love

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album one, track four -- outta my system

October 6th, 1977

Corrina Jackson's Home

4:44 am

Corrina could not stop smiling. Even sneaking into her home after four in the morning could not damper her insatiable good mood.

Then, the light flickered on in the living room where Corrina stood. There, staring back at her, was her older sister, Chicago, and little Felicity balanced on her hip, waving one of her tiny yet already messy hands towards the teen. Felicity beamed towards her, more than wide awake despite the early time. Chicago, on the other hand, appeared disheveled, tired and completely pissed off.

Corrina was dead meat.

"Where have you been, young lady?" Chicago barked at her, carrying one of the firmest voices Corrina's heard from her sister in sometime. Guess motherhood changed her. Chicago used to ask for the gossip first, jump down her throat later.

Corrina opened her mouth to speak, but Chiago shook her head, despair dripping from her stern yet weary features, effectively cutting her off. If Chicago shakes her head, either shut up or run. A rule Corrina lived by no matter what. "You know what, Corrina? I don't care. There is no good reason you skipped school, and didn't walk in until," she peepd up at the clock over Corrina's head, to the left, "almost five o'clock in the morning."

As if right on cue, one of the family dogs, a little, energetic, Shar Pei puppy named Honey, came scampering around the bend to the hallway, and into the living room. She skidded to a halt right by Chicago's feet, her nails scratching and sliding against the wooden plank floor coating the living room. Tipping her snout in the air, she barked twice, like she's scolding Corrina as well.

Honestly, it's adorable. And it's taking every part of Corrina not to start giggling at her.

Instead, she turned her attention back up to her strawberry blonde haired sister, keeping her expression lackadaisical. No use in working herself up before falling back asleep for a measly hour or so. With a low energy shrug, Corrina dumped her discarded platforms against the wall adjacent to the front door, and began walking back to her bedroom.

Little did she know, Chicago was hot on her tail, no willing to give up the fight that easily. Neither was Honey, who followed suit.

"Get your butt back here, young lady," Chicago whisper-shouted towards her, careful not to wake up the other two members of the house, Chicago's boyfriend, Diego Martinez, and the three of their's friend, Lamar Highsmith. Though her loud, barefoot stomping against the wooden halls doesn't help her cause.

Corrina huffed, turning around to face her older sister with her arms crossed over her chest. An annoyed scowl painted itself across her smudged lips, bits of her once pink stained lips smeared up and down the edges of her chin along with her upper lip. "What do you want?" She motioned towards her bedroom door to her right. "Kinda want to go to bed."

Chicago slammed her hand against Corrina's bedroom door, cutting her eyes towards her sister as Felicity added musical giggles as the background music. "Well, you should have thought about that before you strolled on it at almost five in the morning."

The violet haired girl rolled her eyes as a cold gust of air blew through the hallways showdown. It infiltrated the thin shirt she borrowed from Scott, sending goosebumps all over her bare legs and arms. Thank an early, fall morning. Treacherous thanks to living in the bitter north. Sighing, she did an impatient jig, eyeing her sister with an immense amount of desperation. "Can I go in my room now? Not really in the mood for an early morning talk I won't remember when I wake up."

Chicago threw up her free hand, shaking her head. "Whatever. But we're going to talk about this in the morning." Corrina reached over to open her door, but Chicago whistled, halting her dead in her tracks. "Oh, yeah. Before I forget, you are going to go to school. And to make sure of that, I talked to an old friend of mine, and-"

"Just spit it out, and stop the long story. Huh? I'm already going to bed late enough as it is."

"Don't give me that shit, Corrina. You did it to yourself." Chicago planted a kiss atop a fussy Felicity's crown. "Anyways, the cheerleading coach is an old friend of mine, and I got you a spot at tryouts tomorrow during school today."

The frazzled mom turned on her heels, walking herself and her fussy daughter back into their room.

Corrina followed suit into her own room, Honey hot on her trail.

☆●●☆

October 6th, 1977

Lunchroom

12:30 pm

The hustle and bustle of the school cafeteria proved everpresent today more so than any other. Like more people randomly showed up for the first time in forever, and raised their voices paired with their extreme chatter.

And Corrina despised it.

Not being able to hear herself think was one thing, but feeling her teeth chatter and head rattle everytime someone in the school spoke was on a completely different level.

"Did someone just give every student in this school a megaphone today?" Corrina groaned, rubbing the right side of her temple with her index finger, taking a bite of her brownie. Any second and it'll finally kick in. That second will be the most joyous of Corrina's cafeteria experience thus far.

Claire shrugged, remaining silent as she persisted to stab her flimsy salad over and over again. Lips curled in a discreet scowl, her eyes cut the salad with such intensity Corrina thought it owed her money.

Julian, however, saw the situation as a much more dire one than Corrina orginally pegged it to be. He reached over to his right, one hand gripping her wrist while he attempted to remove the plastic object out of her hand. Before he managed to disarm her, she shrugged him off, ribbing him in his side with her elbow.

She resumed stabbing her lettuce once again.

The violet haired girl raised her eyebrow towards her chestnut brown haired friend. He shook his head, motioning for her to drop it.

Silence fell over them once again.

Until Heather Swanson and Matthew Burroughs walked up together, Matt's hand placed with care at the small of her back. He led her, an unusual amount of care woven in his actions. It shocked both Julian and Claire, who've both been around the couple's ups and downs. Corrina thought it was sweet. Not always a fan of PDA, she longed for a lovingly relationship like that. One where they weren't afraid to show their love for one another.

"Hey, guys," Matt shouted over the crowd, beaming like the Packers won the Super Bowl. He hopped down on the bench next to Julian, Heather opting for the opposite side, leaving room for a mountain between her and Corrina. Since Heather decided to sit straight across from Matthew.

Heather's soft blue eyes shift all around the cafeteria, refusing to connect with Matt's chocolate brown ones. She squirmed under all the attention despite the fact no one really was. Except for Corrina. Something about her struck something, like she was hiding something. Honestly, Corrina really didn't know. She felt a pull, finding her mind swirling with why the girl dubbed to be so outspoken and blunt, a chatterbox of sorts, lost her voice. Silent during the gossip hour.

Something had to be wrong.

Corrina reached over, tapping the petite girl on the shoulder. Her sad eyes met the rebel's jade ones, waiting for her to say something. "Are. . . are you alright?"

Heather nodded, tucking a strand of auburn hair behind her ear, revealing a line of three piercings, one of which in her cartilage. "I'm fine."

Though her small voice said otherwise. Corrina knew so. Not that she said it.

"Where's Scott?" Corrina asked, knowing damn good that it was the brownie talking. The last thing she wanted was to give any of them a reason to tease her.

Claire shrugged, still mute as she stabbed at her salad, not having eaten any of it.

Matt took a huge bite of his salisbury steak. "I think I saw him in the bathroom. Told me not to wait up."

"Guess he didn't plan on being here for lunch," Julian chimed in, digging into his own school made steak. Though it was more reminiscent of limp chicken scratch. Despite the fact this school supposedly held the title of Best School Lunch in all of Wisconsin, its food was nothing to write home about. Corrina wouldn't even feed it to her dogs. It worried her about the rest of the school food in Wisconsin.

Corrina shrugged. "Guess not." Her voice soft, no one else able to hear her. And she was thankful for that. Thankful they couldn't see inside her to notice her heart chipping, even though she didn't know why. Instead, buried it deep down so she wouldn't find it again.

They were just a two night stand. Friends with benefits, if even that.

Corrina needed to remind herself that. And eat more brownie, of course.

She'd need a dozen of them to get through the hell she was about to endure.

Thanks a bunch, Chicago. Love you too.

☆●●☆

October 6th, 1977

School Gymnasium

2:36 pm

"Alright, ladies. Line up," the coach shouted into her megaphone, motioning for all the cheerleader prospects to congregate towards the middle of the gym in front of her.

In a straight line, each and every girl lined up shoulder to shoulder. Tall and short. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Each person with their hair tied neatly back in a high ponytail. Various shades of blonde, brunette, black hair, red, and. . . violet? Each uniform hugged each girls' body. All paired with white speciality shoes and knee high socks.

Except for the one girl wearing wripped fishnets with hers.

"Ladies, today is the first day of the rest of your cheerleading career." The coach paced back and forth, checking down her notes on her notepad with her pencil tucked behind her left ear. "One false step, and it all could be over."

Some girls gulped. Others snickered.

Corrina scoffed. A roll of her eyes.

"Swanson," the coach barked, standing straight up with her legs in a wide v. Heather's spine straighten, though uneasy. Her eyes screamed trouble. "Tumble run, now. Show me why you were co-captain your sophomore year."

The young girl gulped, eyeing the blue mat behind them with despair. Eyes wide, she lurched forwards with a loud burp. Hand over her mouth, she sprinted towards the door, bursting through it like a speedy bullet.

"Anyone know what's wrong with Swan?" Coach asked to no response. "Then, will someone go check on her?"

Corrina raised her hand despite herself. Not even knowing she did so until Coach Fowler dismissed her.

Her legs pumped in a fast, steady run. Over the mats, through the doors, and down the hall. They refused to alleviate themselves until Corrina bodyslamed the push door to the girl's bathroom in between the gymnasium and the beginning of the math hall.

"Heather, are you in there?" Corrina asked in a light tone, pressing a tentative hand against the wall as she eased the door shut to keep from another scene breaking out in the halls.

It was the last thing Heather needed. The snickers and gossip in the cutthroat practice was more than enough for the poor girl.

Her words were met with the sounds of retching and mini sobs. A toilet flushed in the handicap stall at the other side of the restroom stalls. Each step she took proved more cautious than the last, worried about possibly provoking the poor girl. All she wanted to do was help. And help she shall.

"Heather?" Corrina round the bend, facing the inside of the stall, contents tugging at her heartstrings. There lied Heather, back placed against the wall, sobbing. Legs sprawled out in front of her, one shoe missing from her foot. Her uniform soaked in sweat, her bangs plastered to her forehead.

Corrina slumped down on the dinghy floor, the last thing on her mind the various body fluids coating it. Heather's bare thigh soaked the rebel's hand with sweat upon impact. The tears kept falling from her eyes.

"Are you okay, Heather?" Corrina asked in a small voice, brushing a thick clump of her auburn bangs off her warm forehead. Using the pad of her thumb, she brushed away a stray tear. "Eat some bad food in the cafeteria?"

Heather shook her head, choking on a sob. She hugged herself tight, pressing her head back against the crusty wall. "No, no. I'm fine."

"I don't think racing for the bathroom counts as being fine, Heath."

She gulped, snuggling into herself. Another tear fell. "You. . . you caught me, huh?"

Corrina lightly chuckled. "Yeah, I guess. Better me to check up on you than that bitch, Karen."

Both girls laughed.

"Are you okay, though? Seriously," Corrina asked for a third time, hoping to finally get some answers. Her heart pounded, gut screaming at her what she already suspected.

Heather leaned forward, spitting into the bowl, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. "You have to keep this a secret. Whatever I tell you, you can't tell anyone."

Corrina nodded.

"Look I'm," she gripped the end of her skirt, crunching it with her left hand, "I'm. . . I'm pregnant."

Knew it.

Corrina gulped, offering the shaken girl a hand. "Don't worry. I won't tell anyone. That's your secret to tell."

Heather offered her a small smile. "Thank you."

"Of course." She hoisted herself up, careful in helping the younger girl up. "I'm always here for you, Heather. Anytime."

The two girls walked side by side back towards the gym, joking and laughing the entire time. Though the conversation in the bathroom loomed on both their minds, sticking like super glue held it in place.

Thankfully, they were welcomed back by the coach without incident. The other girls, not so much. Teenagers can be cruel.

"You okay, Swan?" Coach Fowler asked, tearing her eyes away from a small group of girls doing a mini pyramid.

Corrina shot her a worried look by the water station.

Heather nodded in her direction, turning back towards the Coach with a small grin. "Yeah, just some bad mexican food. No worry."

"Good. Now, everyone get back to work!"

"Sir, yes, sir," Corrina shouted with a giggle, tossing her paper cone in the trash. She jogged back over, wishing it would end soon.

Little did she know, three hours of gruelling practice laid ahead of her. Chicago was not her favorite person at that very moment.

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