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The Mystery at Hawthorne High

by Peggy Raether 4 months ago in Young Adult · updated 4 months ago

By: Peggy Raether

The Mystery at Hawthorne High
Photo by Gautam Krishnan on Unsplash

It's April 1985 and I'm in my Sr. year of high school at Hawthorne High and there's so much to do. I have cheerleading tryouts, Prom and graduation to think about. I'm also a little afraid of my friends being upset if I get in, not because they don't support me but I'm well... let's just say part of a different crowd. My main concern is my friend Ava. We met on the first day of high school freshman year. We met in the library, we were both in the Philosophy section and started talking. It was then that Ava introduced me to Baudelaire, this amazing French poet and philosopher and we've been inseparable ever since.

My day's now mostly consist of training to get on the squad and obsessing about Ava. I'm really afraid she's not going to understand the whole cheerleading thing and honestly she's the only person's opinion I care about. I guess I shouldn't worry too much. I haven't even made the squad yet. She's just so special, she's beautiful but doesn't seem to know it, she's brilliant but undersells it and she is just THE BEST conversationalist. Well I'll know what she thinks soon enough because the tryouts are today. I've never been so conflicted. I somehow really want to make the squad but also think life would be a lot easier if I didn't. Well maybe when I'm actually at tryouts I'll feel better.

Here we are the day after tryouts. Results will be posted at 8:00 am on the bulletin board by the gym. I'm going to be honest, I'm a total wreck right now. This is why I never put myself out there, the knots in the stomach, the sweaty, shaky hands, the lack of focus for literally anything else until I see the list and can accept my fate. So here it is "The list". I started searching for my name Becca Zimmerman. Of course my last name would start with the last letter of the alphabet. To my disbelief there I was. Holy shit I made the squad. Becca Zimmerman, I just made the list!

So that's amazing news! However now I'm feeling a sense of dread. I have gym class with Ava 4th period so I went from celebrating to panicking again for entirely different reasons within a matter of minutes. I just need to make it to the fourth period. I'm sure it will be fine. So here we are 4th period gym class. We're in the locker room getting changed and she sits next to me on the bench. For some reason changing in front of others has never really bothered me but something about changing in front of her just felt... well... not bad or awkward just different, maybe because of how close we are? Anyways as soon as I saw her I just couldn't hold it in anymore as soon as she sat down beside me on the bench I just blurted it out "I made the cheerleading squad!"

In true Ava fashion without a thought she hugged me and congratulated me! "That's amazing! but I didn't even know you were trying out!" I don't know what I was so worried about, she's always been supportive. When she hugged me I felt the most calming sense of relief as her cool porcelain skin touched mine and the smell of her Cherry Blossom lotion enveloped us both. I told her I just didn't tell her because I didn't want to jinx it. When in reality I was afraid of being ostracized. So not only is Ava smart and beautiful, she's also an amazing friend. I really don't know why I ever doubted her.

Today is the first day of cheerleading practice. I feel a little in over my head but I'm sure I can hold my own. After all they must have seen something in me if I made the squad. As I was opening my locker after 6th period before practice there was a note in my locker in a brown envelope marked Becca. It read "Roses are Red, Violets are blue, I need a date to prom and I wish it was you." What is this? Who could it be? Is it Kevin from the football team? Was it Chis from Math class. Well swell, yet another hyper fixation to obsess about. How am I ever going to figure this out?!

It's Saturday night and what might my plans be you ask? Babysitting for our next door neighbor while they're at the Madonna concert. On the bright side Ava's coming over and we're going to watch scary movies and bake cookies. We've Babysat for them before and they're actually pretty well behaved. We'll probably just watch cartoons till they fall asleep then bust out the slasher flicks and talk about Prom. I can't wait to see Ava tonight.

We're watching the kids from 4 to whenever their parents get back, which is usually around midnight or so. It's 4:30 When I get a knock at the door and it was Ava with all the snacks you can imagine. Cookie dough, those "squeezit" juice bottles, Push pops, pizza rolls pretty much anything you could think of she had. She clearly took her snacking very seriously. So we fired up the oven and started with the Pizza rolls. We split the cookie dough in two. We ate half as it was later in the night and made actual cookies with the other half. After the Pizza rolls and cookies were done we started a Disney Movie marathon with the kids starting with Fox and the Hound which inevitably led to everyone in tears. So maybe we weren't the best babysitters

After tucking the kids in we bust out the cookie dough and pop in "A nightmare on Elm street." There was a blanket on the couch we decided to share. The more the movie went on we started inching closer and closer. Then when they got to the bathtub scene I freaked out like I always do.

Ava brought herself in closer and put her head on my chest and I put my arm around her. My skin was on fire, my heart was pounding fast and hard and I was afraid she could hear it. I could feel her occasional glance up at me. As time went on I think we kind of started to forget about the movie. I felt her head very slowly inch up closer to mine throughout the movie and mine started to inch towards her too. We shared a glance and I tried to summon the courage to make my move. Here we were in "the moment before", living in the drum roll, her lips within inches of mine... hormones raging, blood boiling, fleeting thoughts of passion and questions passing through my mind almost as quickly as they arrived then... We hear the key to the front door turning and we quickly scurried to opposite sides of the couch.

"Hey, How was the Concert?" "It was amazing!" Mrs. Johnson exclaimed as she began to rave about the Madonna Concert. It was late April 1985 and Madonna was on her "Like a Virgin" tour and had a string of shows in LA Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Mrs. Johnson had such a great time she was considering going to the Sunday show too.

Ava and I parted ways for the night. She drove home and I just walked since my house was just one house over. As I walked past my car I noticed a note on my car. It looked just like the one from my locker. It read "Roses are Red, Violets are blue, there's nothing to fear, because I'm watching you." Well that was far creepier than the first note. Especially considering this person knows where I live. I still have no idea who this secret admirer is.

Well Prom is a week away and I still don't have a date. If I could figure out who's sending me these notes that would be a guaranteed date. Granted that last note was a little unsettling. At least Ava doesn't have a date either. We talked about maybe just going stag. Generally dances aren't really our scene but you only have one Sr. Prom right?

Today's the day. The dance of all dances! The night of magical moments that are supposed to encapsulate our entire high school career. No pressure. Ava is on her way over. We're going to get ready together then take my car. I'm wearing this mid length Tangerine dress and Ava is wearing this amazingly understated, elegant Lilac lace number. With her Red hair she looked just like Molly Ringwald only with longer hair. As we were finishing up we heard a knock at the door. Someone left a package. It was a suspicious looking package wrapped in brown paper. The box was marked "Becca" in the same handwriting as the notes. When I brought the package inside I opened it with Ava. Inside was a corsage with a note and there was an address listed with a note saying "Let's meet up" and the time listed beneath was for 5:00pm.

Ava was hesitant and so was I but we HAD to know. So we got in the car and started looking for this address. It was already dark and the street numbers were hard to see. The further we drove the further we were from familiarity. Eventually we found the address and it led to a tiny little house in the middle of nowhere. We got out of the car and started to make our way to the door. All of a sudden Ava and I each have someone's hand over our eyes and hear "guess who" I felt so bad but when we saw who it was, it was Nathan. Nathan doesn't exactly have a great reputation at school. He's known for being kind of intense and off putting. He asked "Did you get my letters?" "Yes", I replied timidly. "Did you get the corsage?" I told him I thought it was sweet but I'm going to have to pass. He did not take this well. He continued to ask me question after question while intrusively backing me up against the wall. We pleaded for him to let us go but he continued to make his case. He pulled a knife on me and said the classic stalker line "If I can't have you no one can." Good thing Ava is quick on her feet because she found a potted plant off to the side and smashed it over his head and we ran as fast as we could back to the car and went to the dance stag as planned.

When we got to the dance we met up with friends and thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle of it all. We danced the night away. Then the slow songs started and things were weird at first but then "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles started to play. I looked over at Ava and she looked so sad I know she LOVES this song. So I stood up put my hand out for hers and said "May I have this dance?" She looked at me questioningly and said "What will?.. I don't… Is it weird?" And I simply replied "Who cares you love this song." She hesitantly took my hand and we danced to "Eternal flame." At first we were just talking but then as we got closer "Ava said I think people are starting to talk." Which I replied back with "I think we can make them talk a little more." Then I tucked her red hair behind her ear, looked into those ocean Blue eyes of hers and kissed her like I’ve never kissed anyone before or after. I think we've both been wanting to do that for so long. Four years to be exact. After prom I spent the night with Ava and we made brownies and had another movie marathon to cement our new relationship.

Young Adult

Peggy Raether

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Peggy Raether
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