Ariana Baltimore was sitting on the bleachers, fiddling with a pen and studiously ignoring the History essay she was supposed to be writing.
The weather was fine, which was why she was sitting out here. Okay, so maybe it wasn't the nice weather itself. Possibly she was here because the cheerleading team practised outside on sunny days. Possibly. Ah, who was she kidding.
Said cheerleaders were assembled on the edge of the football field in what was either a huddle to discuss tactics or a group hug, it was hard to be sure. As Ariana watched, they broke apart and formed a line. Like soldiers getting into formation, she thought.
As they started practising their routine, Ariana found her eyes being drawn to one person in particular. Slightly shorter than the other girls, with her brown hair tied back in a functional yet pretty ponytail, Marisol Beam didn't seem to be much different from the other cheerleaders.
Until she picked up one of her friends and hurled her into the air in a move that was graceful and shouldn't be physically possible for someone that tiny.
The other cheerleaders caught the girl safely and continued on cleanly with their routine. It was impressive. Ariana would have applauded, if she wasn't sitting on the silent bleachers alone and would have been the only clapping. It was too embarrassing to consider.
Instead, she kept on watching Beam and tried to hold in a lovesick sigh.
Okay, so she had a crush. Big deal.
Kind of a big deal? She had to admit she was having trouble thinking about anything other than Beam's brown skin against that bright green cheerleading uniform, or the way she smiled.
And if that had been all, she'd have been okay with it.
But the thing was – Marisol Beam wasn't just beautiful. At lunch she sat at the table with the other popular girls and switched seamlessly between trading gossip and talking about video games, both recent and vintage. She was smart and witty and had earned her fair share of detentions for being sarcastic with her teachers. She'd punched the star quarterback in the face hard enough to break his nose when he got drunk and tried to feel up one of the cheerleaders.
Beam was Ariana's dream girl. And she had totally blushed just thinking that. Great.
Alicia would have teased her about it, if she wasn't off at MIT being a genius.
The school bell rang, audible even out here, and the cheerleaders called it a day. They exchanged hugs and the occasional high five before heading to get changed. Trailing behind the others, Beam looked over to the bleachers and gave her a wave.
She could have sworn her heart missed a beat there. Lamely, she waved back, but Beam had already turned around and disappeared in the changing rooms.
Ariana shoved her stuff back into her bag and got down from the bleachers. She tried not to think about how she'd spent her entire free period doing nothing but watching other people do stuff and how she didn't regret it at all.