High School is Hell

DIARY PROPERTY OF EMORY LAINES, DO NOT TOUCH

SEPTEMBER 2, 1994

I told you I blew it during cheer tryouts! Second alternate. I didn’t even know they had a backup for the backups. 

Coach Craw said alternates still have to be at every practice. We need to learn the routines and sub in if there’s an emergency. The sport is more dangerous than people realize, and we might have some serious injuries this season. I predict my only problem will be a sore butt from warming the bench. Ugh. Mom says I can’t quit now just because I’m not starting in the spotlight. That, and she already sent my uniform deposit.

Coach wants us all super focused. Some girls didn’t even make alternate, but he hand-picked all of us because “we displayed a clear love of the craft” or something. I think that perv just likes seeing girls in short skirts. Which I guess means I should be flattered? Updates on the inevitable train wreck to follow. 

Welcome to Renfield High- go Wolves!



SEPTEMBER 4

First practice kicked my butt. Nothing I did over summer vacation could have prepared me for that workout. Clarissa Caulfield didn’t even break a sweat, which is why she will be doing the primary aerials and flying. Everyone knows she’s shamelessly gunning for captain. 

Faith Bower’s first alternate so she and I are trying to stay on top of everything. She’s been drawing diagrams of some of the choreo, but just seems like pretzels and manic butterflies.

Coach Craw says this season is going to be a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but if we remember three things — Formation, Concentration, Pronunciation — then everything should work out. Homecoming is in a few weeks and that will be our first big performance. I wonder if I’ll ever get to talk to any cute football guys…



SEPTEMBER 9

Today we talked a lot about vocal warmups. Coach doesn’t want anyone hurting their throats by shrieking “like a bunch of little harpies on the field” — his words, not mine. And no silly little cliché cheers either. He says the crowds want something new. Our energy needs to be explosive, or everyone is going to die of boredom in the stands. Harsh! I think he’s taking this more seriously than we are.

We got vowel sound worksheets to practice even in our off hours. It all looks like a bunch of gibberish to me. (I’m taking French elective.) But in 1st grade I tackled Green Eggs and Ham like a champ, so this should be nothing.

Ee Ahh Ehh Oh Oo. Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma. Surge et evigila, tenebris dormiens. Hanc tibi sacram offerimus. Ey, Macarena! (Okay, I added that last part.) Rinse and repeat.



SEPTEMBER 12

Practice ended early today- we got smoked out of the gym. Clarissa’s A-Team just finished a pretty strong demonstration of the Homecoming routine, and then the fire alarms and sprinklers went off. Coach called it for the night and went to investigate the fumes.

I think the stoners from AV Club wanted to see a wet T-shirt contest. But it smelled like sulfur, not weed. Not that I know what weed smells like, MOM. 

And it’s currently looking like a no-go on football hotties.



SEPTEMBER 13

First blood! Morgan Weeks had an absolute gusher during practice. She blames Clarissa for elbowing her in the face, but someone said they saw her accidentally hit herself during a complicated move. Either way, Coach Craw said the “blood, sweat, and tears” part was going to be literal, and as long as we didn’t stain the uniforms, we would be fine. Yikes.

That means Faith just moved on deck while Morgan gets her nose back in place. So, I’m up next if anything happens. I kind of got used to the idea I probably wouldn’t have to perform during the Homecoming game… 

Faith also shared her updated choreo diagrams with me — lots of circular stuff, a human pyramid, all that. But the big chant and cradle catch centerpiece happens in a star formation. Like a pentagram, only with more pompoms.



SEPTEMBER 16

I jinxed it. Morgan’s nose is pretty broken, and it turns out no one heard from Faith all weekend. She didn’t show up today and Clarissa said she heard Faith wasn’t allowed to leave her house after her mom found her… cutting herself. She says it was Satanic.

I don’t know where Clarissa would have heard that if no one talked to Faith since Friday — they’re not even friends. Everyone knows Little Miss Captain is afraid of the alternates rising the ranks, which means she probably should have been more careful with Morgan’s face in the first place. But suddenly, second alternate is in the hotseat.

Two weeks until Homecoming — I kind of wish Clarissa would elbow me in the nose and give me a reason to drop out.



SEPTEMBER 18

Coach Craw seems pretty freaked that he just burned through two cheerleaders in the same week. There are a few other alternates in the pack, but they will take a lot of work to get ready. He’s warned us to be extremely careful moving forward.

I also learned the phrase “attack the crowd” which, contrary to what it sounds like, is not a threat. It means getting the stands involved in a cheer. He says our ultimate goal is to get everyone involved in the chanting since that’s how the devils on the field get their strength. 

Apparently, “devils” is what he calls our football team even though he knows our mascot is a wolf. I’d hate to find out what he calls us behind our backs.



SEPTEMBER 20

Lots to think about today. Faith called me and said she was fine, but she wasn’t coming back for the quarter. Her therapist said Coach was pushing us too hard. Not good for our mental health. 

I don’t disagree. But today he did ask me to lead the chants, since Clarissa isn’t as… bubbly with her facials as I am. So much for laying low. I can’t quit now.



SEPTEMBER 23

Getting busy over here, so it’s a quick update. One week left before the moment of truth. Formation, Concentration, Pronunciation. I’m feeling weird about how intense everyone is being. It’s just a football game, right?



SEPTEMBER 24

I really messed up. I’ve been skipping lunch, so I don’t feel bloated by the time we get into uniform. (We’ve all done it.) I guess today my body said, “No more!”

I blacked out during a basket toss and may or may not have dropped Clarissa and she dislocated her shoulder. 

I feel awful. Not just because of dropping her or missing meals. Like, my head just isn’t in it- I think the pressure of cheer is getting to me. I’m seeing dark spots in my vision.

Ignis mundum purgabit. No, Mom, I’m not binging and purging.



SEPTEMBER 29

homecoming homecoming home coming hom e c om ing come home he comes homecoming home me comi ng hom e c om ing come h

he is coming



SEPTEMBER 30

Woah, anxiety much? No idea what those scribbles were about. I was having insomnia last night, I kept dreaming about dropping Clarissa again and royally screwing up. At least it wasn’t a spelling bee stress dream or underwear public speaking. I mean, second alternate here! It was never supposed to get down to me.

Gotta get ready now. Coach Craw says after the last few weeks the students have had, it’s up to us to raise some spirits tonight. This is where our sacrifice shows. Game time in a few hours — fingers crossed for a good performance!



OCTOBER 1, 1994, 6:03AM- ELMWOOD POLICE DEPARTMENT

These documents have been submitted for evidence by Officer J. Leigh following an incident at Renfield High School during the annual Homecoming football game. 

Explosion took place during the halfway point of the game while cheerleaders were on the field performing a routine. Witnesses report the smell of sulfur on the field just before an earthquake caused a subterranean gas line to rupture, sending up a pillar of fire and blowing out the stadium lights. Casualties include several of the cheerleaders, though a final identification tally is needed post-evacuation. The coach and final student attendance roster could not be found.

Authorities are looking into the possible intentionality of the disaster. Rupert Pratt Memorial Field is closed until further notice. If anyone has any further details about this incident, please submit information to the police department ASAP. NOTE: Department to disregard any prank calls from students regarding sightings of a horned figure with glowing eyes at the site of the incident — faculty confirmed team mascots represented that night were the Renfield Wolves and Hunter Ridge Bulldogs.



Amy Chase is a comics and prose writer from Southern California specializing in tales of the fantastic, horrifying, and supernatural for anthologies from Avery Hill, Daily Drunk Magazine, Cloudscape Comics, and more. She has a deep fondness for the Bride of Frankenstein- cinematically for the aesthetic and literarily for the fact that she was where Victor finally drew a moral line, realizing he’d lose control of his work if he let the monsters mash.

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