Today Trebez and I are exchanging inspiration. I chose the song Be True to Your School by The Beach Boys. Check out what she wrote too!
In the parking lot the buzz of halogen warmed the fall air. The rah-rah of pom-poms, the grunt and smack of football players, lent their own kind of warmth too. Windows in accompanying cars shuddered in the frames as if they could see the field and were clapping. A dirt lot lay beyond the asphalt. And the ruler straight concrete blocks and fresh white lines looked sidelong on the pot-holed, haphazard diagonals staggering clumsily, perhaps drunkenly toward the stands.
Although created with overflow in mind, it was mainly used as a holding tank for the less attractive vehicles. Mr. Michell’s rust speckled Crown Victoria sedan, for instance never missed a game, but he always parked in this section, away from the recently washed Toyota min-vans and Honda Accords. And the tool laden pick-up truck dusted with lawn clippings, owned by Mr. Gonzales, arrived an hour early ever since Mr. Gonzales’s son started playing last year. Tracy Corman’s worn out two seater, with the “Baby on Board” sign (faded and slightly crooked on the rear window), also made a weekly appearance during the fall.
Now, a few stragglers tapped across the damp concrete to the stands, swishing as they walked because they were hurrying. At least one of them was. The second hunched over a white lit screen. A guttural grunt rolled across the ground followed by an upsetting tap-clack and a loud curse.
“I dropped my phone, mom.”
The boy’s young whine squeaked covering the woman’s sigh. Matty bent over one leg, letting himself balance with the other leg held out behind while he reached into the roots of damp uncut weeds flourishing in the crack between the two lots.
“Your sister will be out there already. We’re going to miss her,” the woman, his mother, hissed.
His throat growled behind his chapped lips, but he held in the complaint. His mother waved him to her and he slouched forward, gravel popping against the bottom of his shoes. When they reached the entrance to the game, a small folding table barred the way. Sloppy red and white streamers, curled around the edges by the hand of a lazy student council student. The edges of the streamers brushed against the mother and son as if chastising them for tardiness. Lateness implies a lack of school spirit the cheap paper crinkled.
A middle aged woman from the PTA, her legs comfortably open, leaned back in her plastic chair. The chair bent uncomfortably in the rear legs under the unequal weight distribution, but then she suddenly pushed herself forward with some effort. She knew the woman and her son and smiled heartily.
“Oh, so you made it!” She called, beaming.
A bit of superiority narrowed her eyes, but her cheeks were so round and honest-seeming that it could hardly be noticed. The red tickets to the game, sold for five dollars each, three dollars for students. Although the roll of tickets looked full, the stands and sidewalks seemed full of game goers and the cash box, preemptively opened to receive the money for the ticket sales, appeared fluffy with bills.
“How’s the game going? Are we very late?” The mother answered.
“Hardly even started.” The ticket woman answered, ripping off the perforated edges of two tickets.
“Five, and six, seven, eight dollars,” she mumbled as she counted the cash. “You enjoy the game now.”
The woman smiled and took the tickets for her and her son. No one checked for tickets once you were in the stands, but she tucked them carefully into the inner pocket of her soft fleece jacket anyway. She reached her hand behind her, and then dropped it to her side, realizing he was now thirteen, no longer needing her hand to lead him.
“Matty, come on, now, look for some good seats so we can see your sister.”
She turned back to see if he had heard her, but there was no indication. Matt eyed the screen warily, tapping viciously at the flat screen. Before anything more could happen a white square text box opened up on screen.
Low battery, it warned. Only 2% remaining.
He crunched the button on the side of the phone to send it to sleep and slid the phone into his back pocket, unwillingly.
“Over here.” The woman yelled over her shoulder to her son.
He had not yet caught up with her and she saw his eyes roll dramatically, hoping that the other teens would see this harassed expression. He plodded over to her anyways and clunked up the metal stairs. His mother sat scrunched up next to an unfamiliar family, a couple and their two girls, who looked up at Matt with surprise and the obvious wish that they had not kindly allowed the woman to squeeze onto the edge of the bench.
“Sit down, Matty, your sister is about to start,” taking her coercive eyes off her son to look back at the unknown family.
They complied with her unspoken suggestion to make room, stiffly. The mother of that family turned to her little girls, with pretty red bows tied neatly in their hair, and in turn coaxed her children to scoot down, then dragged her husband over as well until they were all right up next to each other like sardines at the bottom of a blender, pressed on every side and very uncomfortable.
He shuffled his feet, uncomfortable with his rebellion. He reached his bony fingers down into his back pocket and around the smooth phone, warm from his recent handling. The phone whipped around in his hand as he pressed his thumb down on the circular button. Again the message flashed a ghostly white, low battery. A red eye narrowed in the upper right hand corner. He quickly shoved the phone back in its designated back pocket. The pocket showed a chalky white outline where the phone lay. His mother could see the tears starting to form and realized she’d need to buy more pants for her him soon.
Matt decided there was nothing better to do but watch the field. It was between quarters. The first quarter had ended in a 0 to 0 score and the spectators from the visiting team were looking thin in the stands. The visiting team however, appeared just as virile as the home team, more even, since they had the excitement of a new town and new faces to survey and impress. On the home team side, the boys milled about near the stark white sideline dividing one part of the green field from the other. Still young and anxious, they appeared not to know how far they should wander for such a short break. So they stood and sipped at Gatorades and waters (a bit more humbly, as they had not been supplied with Gatorade).
A whistle blew. Matt squatted down on his ankles, careful not to let the phone fall from its pocket and then settled down to the stairs beside the bleacher bench. On the field his sister, lost in the crowd of red skirted cheerleaders, waved her pom-poms in the air to signal the beginning of second quarter.
A boy stood, neck and ears bent to the level of the tubby coach’s mouth. His eyes however drifted over to the cheerleader skirts, neat pleats spreading as they kicked and pranced in encouragement. Nodding his head the boy ran from the coach back onto the field to his reverently waiting teammates and his head was held high, the blonde hair like a torch. Entering the huddle, however the boy balked. The torch lowered and his lips gapped and he looked back at the coach.
The distinguishable grunt of anger leapt from the coach and the boy nodded once more, still gape-mouthed, but determined. Matt could see his sister preparing a cheer below. She was small and typically waited beside the other girls that formed the base of the pyramid formation. Her face pointed directly at the base of the girls who straddled the ground on hands and knees. She was about to climb up. She handled the pom-poms and they shook slightly beside her as she turned them in her palms. It looked as if they couldn’t help but cheer at the slightest movement. From the back, the climb to the top of the pyramid appeared clumsy, like the crawl of a toddler.
Having seen the same formation many times, Matt looked elsewhere to the field and the under-confident boys attempting their own formation. The mother could look nowhere but at her tiny daughter pulling herself up a wobbling pile. First one hand pressed firmly on the back of Wanda, notoriously a giggler and shaker. The other hand pressed on Rita, who always whined of pinching. All while both hands still clasped the pom-poms necessary for the final “rah” of the formation.
The mother gripped her hands in her lap and when her little girl made it to the top, she whooped loudly. The family beside her turned, pursed-lips pouting, for at the instant her little girl had succeeding in making it to the top and raised her little pom-poms in the air, the team had been shoved back still further up the field.
Matt shook his head. From the field, the cheerleaders moved back into a line, stomping their white sneakers in the grass. The dew threatened to darken the white of the sneakers. From the edges of the fence a fog crept closer, early for this time of year. The team began to feel the chill and lost the ball to the visitors. They were now 1 – 0 on the scoreboard after a field goal success by the visiting team. Another quarter passed and half-time came. More fog boiled near the edges of the field.
The half-time show was due and it was the cheerleaders turn to perform. They raced out, their shoes squishing in the damp.
“Matty, can you see which one is your sister?”
A wave of fog threatened to tumble down and crush them with its boulder swirls. The stands could almost not see them at all. The mother leaned to the side, brushing her shoulder against her son. He twitched in reaction and shifted his shoulder away.
“No. I can’t see anything,” he whispered away from her, not sure if she heard.
The fog rolled its shoulders, confidently strolling over to the home team’s stands where the people were still and quiet. Looking out at them, the visiting supporters stared like bears from their caves, hoods like back hair bristling. And still the mist seemed to claw and paw its way through the field toward the Wolverines. Halftime, the score ended on 7-0.
Home team hunched over the bench panhandling their helmets in front of them for spare change. Their jaws were decidedly dour, under-bite of grumpy frustration jutting out. Then, from the field, the cheerleaders shouted.
“RAH, RAH, RAH, RAH GO WOOOL-VAARINES!”
The red of their skirts flashed bright against the mist and the silver trim caught the light from the halogen bulbs above the field with a goading flash.
“Rah, rah, rah, rah, sis boom bah! Heeeeeeee-y, take it away! Get that ball and fight!”
Although small forms on the giant field, their voices carried.
“Do it again, do it again, we like it. We like it!” they assured the players face on, despite the dismal score. From the stands, people were beginning to shiver with life once more. Hands were rubbed together and warm breath pressed away the clouds. The cheerleaders continued.
“Go, go Wolverines!
A whoop echoed from the far left of the home team stands. The cheers continued. The home team began to rally. Third quarter whistle blew and the boys ran, hopping across the field to their defensive positions. They crouched down, knees bent, head up, mouths open in toothy grins. The visiting team spread out, they settled into position and waited. They spread their arms wide but the home team held their ground, absorbing the others force with a crunch and a low grunt. The ball flew over the field, spinning, and from far back a wolverine lunged in for the kill, grabbing the ball with the skin of his teeth.
The fog drifted back still further as a cheer erupted from the stands. Some rose to their feet with excitement, stomping away. Another play started the Wolverine’s first down of third quarter. They knelt and listened for the play. Again they burst forward.
The cheerleaders kicked and screamed and waved, egging their boys on. A single running back hurtled towards the goal line and scrambled around the defending team. Matty stood again, his head level with his mother who stood on tip-toes with excitement. The family next to them stood too, hands wrapped around their open, cheering mouths. Matt’s mother leaned side to side as she tracked the team’s movements. Matty shifted also, trying to keep up with his school and their shoulders bumped and leaned against one another even though there seemed to be plenty of room with everyone standing.
The runner was getting close to the goal line now, desperate, teeth gritted in sync with the fans in the stands. Matt’s mother grew tense and then whipped her arm around her son in an embrace. The boy on the field ran and ran and then he was sprawling, face first in the mud, a bear attacking from behind. Surprised, he dropped the ball. The bear dove into the game and brought the ball back to his team, as they licked their lips. But cheerleaders clapped and shouted “Rah, rah, rah, rah.” In the stands, the Wolverine’s supporters stood and waited for the next play.