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I'm Olivia Harper.
Stereotypes. I hate stereotypes.
Just that one word makes me cringe. It’s the reason no one likes me, it’s the reason I don’t have any friends. And it’s the reason he won’t even look at me.
Based on that, I bet you picture me as some loser. With braces, acne, books in her hand…maybe even headgear and pigtails. But that’s not me, not even close.
I’m the head cheerleader.
It all started in kindergarten. Everyone would sit around, talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Doctors, vets, actors. I didn’t want to be any of those things; I just wanted to be popular. At least, that’s what my mom told me. She was the head cheerleader, she had the guy. She didn’t go to college, but she had all the money she wanted, thanks to her dad who invented all this useless stuff that mindless people would buy on infomercials. She had all the money she wanted, all the friends she wanted. And so would I, I would be exactly like her, dating the quarterback, getting straight D’s with a smile on my face, and pompoms at my side. That was her plan for me. That’s all she ever wanted from me.
I had those “friends”. They were losers who didn’t know anything. I tried “dating” the quarterback. He was just a player, and not just on the field. I was this fake blonde idiot for years, till I realized sophomore year this was not what I wanted.
I wanted something else.
I wanted to be normal.
I wanted to have normal friends, get good grades, and date normal people. But that just wasn’t my future. I walked around the hallways, guys whistling, girls staring overflowing with jealousy. When I was really jealous of them.
They would go to the mall with their friends, show off their license, and hand out invitations to sweet sixteen parties. They have no idea how much I envy them. No one even knows anything about me.
They just know I’m some dumb blonde who surprisingly knows how to do a cartwheel without killing herself.
But that was going to change.
The next morning, there would be no Maggie Taylor.
I woke up that morning, determined of the plan that went through in my head back and forth all night.
I ditched my cheerleader uniform, and instead, got out the outfit I bought after school yesterday. I put on the dirty topsiders and faded ripped jeans. Over it, I wore a t-shirt that had some band name on it, and put an old looking grey sweatshirt over it all, with my hair pulled back in a headband.
And to top it off, a brunette wig. My mom would die if she saw me wearing this. I ran out the door, passed my red Porsche, and went to the bus stop. I never experienced a bus before, but how bad could it be?
I entered the bus, after tripping on the stairs a good three times, and everyone stared. Some whispered, some chuckled, and some pointed. As I walked down the aisle, people would move over in their seats, as if to say “you can’t sit with us, you have cooties.” I sat in an empty, hot, sticky seat, and felt sweat on my forehead. The bus was horrible. I was wishing I could just stop this whole stupid thing and get in my car, with the wind in my hair, without a care. But I didn’t really want to be me right now; I wanted to be Olivia Harper, the new kid in school.
Starting fresh and new.
I walked through the hallway, without a care, happy to fit in.
I was wrong.
People whispered “freak”, “loser”, “go back from where you came from, new kid”.
Not that harsh, but I wish that they were kinder. I mean, they don’t even know anything about me. They didn’t do that to me when I had my cheerleader uniform on.
Wearing this outfit and hiding behind this identity should make me more approachable. Not a loser.
I found my locker and put in the combination. I was surprised I remembered, I had never used it before.
It was disgusting inside, but I dropped in my books, and went off to my first class.
My first class was a drag.
Everyone just laughed and stuck notes on me, making fun of the way I looked. I didn’t think I looked that bad. I had glasses. Maybe that was it.
I was surprised no one even recognized me. I guess without my makeup, with these glasses, and with the ugly clothes I was wearing, no one made the connection.
Eventually, it came to lunch. I sat by myself, but noticed another girl was doing the same. I had never seen her before in my life…which is weird, cause being the head cheerleader, you usually know everyone.
But not her, she was totally unfamiliar. She had long red hair, covering her face. She had bright freckles and baggy jeans, with a plain white tee shirt. So, she didn’t have fashion sense, but she looked pretty sweet. I got up, and walked toward her. And right then, I did something I had never done before, ever. I sat next to a complete stranger, and said “hey”.
She jumped a little; I guess no one had ever talked to her before randomly at school.
“H-hey,” she said.
“So, are you new here? I am. It’s my first day. It’s not going so well.”
“Umm, no,” she started, “I’ve been going here my whole life.”
“Oh.” I said, confused. “Okay, awesome. So what’s your name?”
“I’m Olivia Harper. Nice to meet you,” I smiled.
“Nice to meet you too…listen; I was wondering…I don’t really have any friends at this school. And I was wondering if maybe, you know, we could be friends? Since you’re new and everything…”
I beamed. “Sure. Definitely!”
I had a real friend. Not some fake girl, a REAL one.
I couldn’t wait to do stuff on the weekends with her.
We would be inseparable…wow…my first friend…
Two weeks passed by, and we were inseparable.
It was amazing.
We went everywhere together, and we actually had stuff in common. We both loved the same music, movies, and we loved performing. She sang amazingly. She was the best friend I thought I would never have. And today, I was going to her house. I was excited to see a normal house, not some huge mansion with fake parents who didn’t care about anything but status.
I got in her car, an old jeep. I loved it. We drove and talked the whole way, I was barely paying attention to where we were. She stopped the car, and we jumped out.
I looked around me.
I saw my house.
I was so confused.
I didn’t understand…she was my neighbor.
The neighbor that my parents hate.
The neighbor with more money and the bigger house.
But…she was supposed to be normal…I didn’t get it…she was just like me, but richer, and more spoiled.
I was in shock.
“Ya comin’?” She asked.
I slowly nodded, following her into the huge mansion before me.
I walked through the huge white archway leading to the steps of the glorious five story structure, still trying to sink everything in.
If she was so rich, how did she have a jeep? And why did she dress like that? Better yet, how could she have no friends…?
We went into her room, and of course, it was ten times better than mine. It was huge. Maybe even three times the size. The towering walls were painted pearl white, there was an abundant shimmering chandelier, and a king sized bed with gold posts. I, Maggie Taylor--I mean--Olivia Harper, was super jealous of Madison. I’ve never been this jealous. At least, not that I remember…
We did our homework, and watched movies on her larger-than-mine plasma screen TV.
At the end of the day, she said she would drive me home. I said okay, totally forgetting the huge dilemma before me. But, she shouldn’t be jealous of me. Seriously, she had the bigger house, richer family. So no big deal, right?
She grabbed her keys to the rusty old jeep.
“No need,” I stopped her. “I live, well…next door.”
She dropped her keys, shocked.
“Um,” she started, “I think you should leave. Like, now.”
“If this is about our parents…”
“IT’S NOT ABOUT THAT.” She yelled, stopping herself, tears coming, “J-just leave. Now. I should’ve known…”
“Wait, what? Then what is it about?”
I gasped. She knew, but how? I’ve never met her before. Ever, at least I didn’t think I did. I guess she must have known that I was Maggie cause of all the parties I had held at my house that she wasn’t invited to. Or maybe she finally recognized me. Or maybe, even, her parents told her that my parents have a daughter. My parents never talked about Madison. I had no clue she even living here until today. I brushed it aside, and stormed out. What was her issue? I was her first friend, she should be happy. She should worship me. I was all she ever wanted. It felt like those two weeks never even happened.
I brushed away tears as I was walking inside, and ran into my room.
I don’t think I ever cried that hard. My plan was over, she knew who I was. I have to go back to school wearing that uniform, making excuse after excuse explaining why I wasn’t at school for the past two weeks.
I though and thought about why Madison didn’t want me at her house, and why she yelled at me. Maybe something happened. I looked under my bed and found a box of my old pictures. I looked and looked, and couldn’t find anything. No parties with her, nothing. I was so confused.
And then I saw it.
There, under everything in the box, scratched and torn, was a piece of notebook paper. I unfolded it and smoothed it out on the floor, reading:
Dear Mag Mag,
I’m sorry that our parents are fighting. It’s scaring me, too. I am also sorry you didn’t get that bike for Christmas, and I did. I’m sorry my mommy and daddy make more money than your mommy and daddy. I still wanna be friends because you are my bestest friend in the whole wide world. Please don’t stop talking to me, cause without you I don’t know who to talk to.
I remembered. Right then, holding the letter in shaking hands.
Madison and I were friends. Best friends. In All the way up until first grade.
And I know why we aren’t now.
I was mad at her. All because I was jealous of her. I remember I ignored her, so we ended up not being friends. We planned to go to cheer camp, but I told her she couldn’t because I was mad at her. I didn’t invite her to any of my parties, and told everyone lies about her. In third grade, I wanted to forget her. And that’s when it hit me. She used to have blonde hair. She used to be tan, and have so many friends. Because of me, she didn’t become a cheerleader, didn’t have friends, and had to change her whole look just so I would avoid her. Another thing. Her parents must have gotten divorced. When we were little, they would always fight, and maybe that’s why she has a different last name.
I couldn’t look at myself anymore. I ruined that girl’s life. I was evil.
I knew what to do.
I wrote her a letter. Yep. A letter. I had to dig through drawers of my whole house just to find stationary.
I’m sorry. For everything. I didn’t mean for it to happen like this. I was a kid, I was stupid. I don’t want to be that girl. The cheerleader, the stupid blonde with all the guys. That’s not me. I envy you. You should be happy that you didn’t turn into someone like me, cause it stinks. Trust me, you’re lucky. I wish we could start again and be best friends. I wish I could live my life again. I would, trust me. ^
I put the letter on her doorstep, knocked, and ran. I wanted her to get it as soon as possible, so I could fix this. I was about eight years late for that.
About ten minutes later, I heard a knock at my door. I opened it, worried what would come next, but relieved that she actually came.
“My parents left me.” She was crying. “They were ashamed of me. I was a loser. I got bad grades, I spent all my money, and I was broke. They left me some money, and then bailed. I have no one. I need a friend, Maggie. And you’re the only one who ever cared about me, even if it was just for a few years when we were kids.”
I hugged her.
It was the only hug that ever meant something to me. Not from my careless parents, not from some guy I didn’t even have interest in, and not from one of my loser friends who didn’t even know my last name. This was a real friend. And I wasn’t going to lose her. She was going to help me, stay true to me, and finish off my plan.
Time for part two.
My plan wasn’t over yet. And when I explained it to Madison, she was in on it.
There was a pepper rally on Friday, and Madison and I were going to do something no one has ever done before. It was going to be embarrassing, and I am going to have to be courageous to do this, but it was worth it.
We were going to prove a point.
It was Friday, the morning of the pepper rally, and we were ready for our plan. I was still Olivia Harper.
That felt like the real me.
We walked slowly into the auditorium, with people mocking us as usual. I didn’t care; I was used to it by now. We were the biggest losers in school, and I was proud of myself. Because I was myself. For once.
In the middle of the pepper rally, I knew it was time. Madison went behind the bleachers and plugged in my microphone and speakers. She unplugged the music, and the cheerleaders stopped cheering, leaving silence throughout the gym.
I got up, microphone in hand, and went to the center of the gym, hearing chuckles coming from every which way.
“Why do you make fun of me?” I said, clearly into the mic.
“CAUSE YOU’RE A FREAK,” the jock I dated last year shouted.
“Why?” I started, “You didn’t think that when you went on that date with me last year, did you?”
Thousands of laughs echoed through the auditorium.
“You’re just a wannabe, that’s not true. You’re pathetic,” he said, angrily and embarrassed.
“I was pathetic. For dating you.”
“BURNNN,” shouted a random guy from the bleachers, probably also on the football team.
“I never even dated you!” He shouted, annoyed.
“Maybe not Olivia Harper, but you definitely dated Maggie Taylor.”
And with that, I took off my wig and my baggy clothes, uncovering the cheerleader uniform and my shiny blonde ponytail under them.
People gasped, the gym was once again silent.
“This. This is not fair. Everyone in this school are pathetic. The moment you saw me in this outfit, you thought I was weird. You thought I was a freak, so you harassed me constantly. And I didn’t even get the worst of it.”
I motioned to Madison, standing a few feet away from me.
“This girl, she’s amazing. She was my friend when all of you were horrible to me. And you guys have been mistreating her for years. She is just like us. Actually, she’s better. She’s honest, and doesn’t even think about making fun of people for their looks. I am the same exact girl I was when I was wearing this uniform. But when I was wearing it, you didn’t care. You just thought I was popular, pretty, and you would give anything to be me, right?”
I saw a couple of girls nod, slowly, stopping when I glanced at them.
“Well I wanted to be like you. I wanted to be normal and not stared at all the time, I didn’t want to date the quarterback or have all these friends. It’s not fun, trust me. I would give up everything--my money, my popularity. Just to be like anyone in this gym who is not like me.”
Madison walked up, and took the mic from me.
“This girl, she’s amazing, also. You guys don’t even know what she’s been through--she gave up everything to be normal and ya’ll torment her constantly. You don’t know one thing about my life, but based on how I dress and how my face looks, I’m a freak. I’m the richest girl at this school. I’m emancipated. Heck, I’m a better cheerleader than all of them.”
The cheerleaders rolled their eyes, yawning.
I grabbed the mic, and said, “If any of you agree, that we should stop this stupid thing that if you don’t have stunning looks or pompoms to be cool, stand.”
It was silent.
It didn’t work.
Everyone thought I was even more of a loser.
Sara, a girl who I used to hate for being prettier than me and stealing my boyfriend, walked over to me, a scowl on her face. I didn’t need this, I gave my speech and it didn’t work, my life was over, I would have to switch school, I would--
“Just STAND already!” She screamed, into the microphone, angry.
Hundreds of girls, all who I knew didn’t fit in at school, rose, with a determined look on their face.
I smiled. So, everyone wasn’t standing, but I proved my point.
Sara turned to me, smiling.
“You have no idea how jealous I was of you my whole life. I have envied you for so long. Thanks.” She hugged me, relieved that I was a helpless loser, just like everyone else in this school.
People ran from the bleachers and crowded around me, yelling things like:
“I KNEW it.”
“I was never mean to you, I swear!”
“You are so cool!”
“I wish I would have thought of this!”
I was happy. For once, I had a best friend, had people who understood how I felt, and knew the truth about Sara, who I hated for years.
A month passed by, and I turned in my cheerleader uniform. Madison and I were still best friends, and everything was going great. All of us girls who were “losers” hung out in a huge group, we knew everyone. There were about a hundred of us, and we were super close. Sara was one of my best friends, too. I never imagined things would turn out like this.
Spring formal was coming up, and I had a lot of date offers. And still, he didn’t ask me. I thought this whole thing would grab his attention, but I guess not.
Just then, a scrawny nerd came up to me. He had brown hair and bright blue eyes, with a few freckles on each of his pales cheeks. He was a little taller than me, and not the best dresser, but he was cute, and I heard he was one of the sweetest kids in school. I talked to him a couple times, but I didn’t think he knew who I was.
“Hey,” he said, his voice shaking a little, “will you go to the dance with me?”
I looked at him, with disbelief.
“I thought you’d never ask.”
I was the most popular girl in school, and my life was perfect.
But in a different way.
In a good way.