Never a Ever After

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Maia hugged her books to her chest as she strolled down the hallway towards her locker.

“Hey, Maia,” a voice called out to her.

Unable to immediately recognize the owner of the voice, Maia turned to see who had called out. Out of her peripheral vision, the brunette noticed a familiar shade of mousy brown hair stalking down the corridor. Usually, there wouldn’t be anything odd about the sight except that the girl was carrying a cup from a popular fast-food chain.

As it currently stood, only juniors and seniors were allowed to leave campus for lunch. This particular cheerleader was neither. Deciding that it wasn’t her concern, Maia had started across the hall when she noticed the cheerleader pulling the lid off the plastic cup. Maia followed the brunette’s gaze to find Rozene standing with her back turned to the girl.

Realization dawned on the teen a minute too late as the brunette called Rozene’s name. Oh no, no, no, Maia thought to herself.

“Roz, look out,” Maia shouted over the crowd.

Unfortunately, for Rozene, the chattering of the other students drowned out Maia’s voice. As Rozene turned to greet the person speaking to her, the girl swung the cup forward, flinging its contents into Rozene’s face. Shoving her way through the sea of teenagers, Maia reached Rozene just as the cheerleader sashayed away.

The fifteen-year-old glared icily at the brunette’s retreating back before returning her gaze to the now drenched Rozene. Wordlessly, Maia grabbed her friend’s arm and pulled her towards the girl’s bathroom.

Once inside the restroom, tears spilled down Rozene’s face, which had turned as red as her hair. Maia snatched a handful of paper towels from the dispenser. Gathering a section of Rozene’s auburn tresses, Maia carefully wrapped them in a paper towel and started squeezing the liquid out.

“Roz, you can’t keep letting them get away with treating you like this. You have to do something,” Maia said.

Sighing, Rozene replied, “Do something like what, Mai?”

Frowning, Maia responded, “I don’t know. Tell a teacher. Talk to the principal, do something.”

“I already tried that. Back in 8th grade, I told a teacher about Ashley. She got in a lot of trouble, and she’s been making my life a living hell since,” Rozene explained.

Maia hated seeing her friend so miserable and defeated. It was time that Ashley got a taste of her own medicine. But how? What was important to Ashley? Then it hit her. Maia turned to Rozene with a wicked gleam in her bright eyes.

“Hey, Roz? What do you know about cheerleading?”

“More than a Masters, less than a Ph.D. Why do you ask,” Rozene inquired.

A small giggle escaped the redhead’s throat as a shocked expression passed over her friend’s face. It was clear that Maia had expected her to be unfamiliar with the sport.

“When I was a kid, my mom made me join one of those peewee cheer squads. I have absolutely no rhythm. It was tragic,” Rozene informed.

“Grab your stuff and meet me in the library in ten minutes. I have a plan,” Maia instructed.

Before she could protest, the brunette had left the restroom, the door slamming behind her unceremoniously. Shaking her head, Rozene leaned down and scooped her bookbag off the bathroom floor.

Fifteen minutes later, Rozene trudged into the school library. Her damp ruby tresses in a high ponytail. At such an early hour in the morning, the library was typically empty, making locating Maia quite easy. As Rozene approached the table where Maia was seated, the redhead was surprised to find the girl surrounded by books. Gesturing towards the stack of literature, Rozene asked, “What’s all this?”

Glancing up from her laptop, Maia studied her friend for a moment before inquiring,” Are those your gym clothes?”

Flopping down in the seat across from Maia, Rozene answered, “Yes. It was the only clean change of clothes that I had easy access to.”

In the brief time that she’d become acquainted with the Latina, Rozene had grown accustomed to Maia’s short attention span. As such, Roz had learned that it was best to redirect Maia’s attention quickly before she got further distracted.

“So, what’s this master plan of yours,” Rozene asked.

Grinning, Maia said, “Oh, right! So, the way I figure it. The source of Ashley’s power is rooted in her popularity. Her popularity stems from being captain of the cheerleading squad. So, if we were to bring an end to her cheerleading career, then it would be like cutting the head off the snake.”

Pointing outside the window, Rozene added, “True, but cheerleading is only part of it. The other part is him.” Maia looked in the direction that Rozene was pointing to find Ashley standing in front of an amused Alex, feverishly twirling a strand of her hair around her finger.

“They’re an item,” Maia inquired.

Shrugging, Rozene responded, “She likes to think so. Every girl around here wants to be the one that snags Alex Bergetti.”

"Well, that doesn't contribute at all to his god complex," Maia commented.

Snickering, Rozene replied, "Wow, you really don't like Alex, do you?"

Shrugging, Maia responded," It's not him personally that I dislike. It's his type that I hate. He struts around like a peacock as if he owns the world. He throws money at all of his problems and acts like he's God's gift to women."

Grinning, Rozene retorted, "Then he is perfect for Ashley."

Nodding, Maia replied, "Unfortunately, he is. If they get together he will cement her popularity and she'll be untouchable so we can't let that happen."

"How do you intend on stopping them from hooking up," Rozene asked.

"Simple. Just turn his attention to someone else," Maia answered.

"Someone like you," Rozene inquired.

"If needed be," Maia responded.

"But, you don't even like him," Rozene stated with confusion.

"I don't have to like him. Just get him to like me. Or at least make Ashley think that he does," Maia explained.

"You're playing a dangerous game, Mai," Rozene declared.

"That's the only kind of game worth playing, Roz," Maia said cheekily.

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