What’s That Spell? A Short Story

From a distance, Tracy looked like any other rural high school cheerleader resplendent in her long straight hair, colored knee socks, short pleated skirt, bright sweater and assorted rustic hometown wholesomeness.

More and more in her daydreams, though, she fantasized about combat fatigues. With cammies on the brain, Tracy wanted to kill ’em all, let God sort ’em out. Love it or leave it, that sort of thing.

Still, Tracy took her cheers as seriously as an executioner throwing the switch in Texas.

Push ’em back, shove ’em back, way back meant just that and then some.

Making a ballet of walking to the pile of bricks she had earlier stacked beside the crumbling red brick wall of the abandoned sawmill in the woods that paralleled the river and the railroad tracks, she adjusted her orange letter sweater with the big black S stitched on the front and inspected several broken chunks before choosing numerous whole bricks.

Sunbeams burned in Tracy’s thick head of custard yellow hair as she called each cheerleader’s name. One by one, a dozen senior high school girls walked to the small mountain of bricks stacked near where they often sat cross-legged for secret meetings, drinking fruity wine coolers and discussing boys and college. Tracy handed each cheerleader a brick, addressing the group like she was a cross between a pill-addicted den mother and an alcoholic Marine Corps drill instructor.

We’ll be engraving our names on these bricks next week for the new Cheer Walk of Fame they’re building outside the school cafeteria, Tracy said.

But since we’re cheering at President Trump’s comeback rally tomorrow night, we need to choose one of us to symbolize our Christian faith, she said.

Except for Mary, the girls cheered. Mary, a senior, just looked confused.

Joe Biden’s the president, she said.

The other girls acted like they didn’t hear her.

Only one winning brick has a white cross painted on the underside, Tracy said.

I’m so excited, Betty said,

You go first, Lois said.

No you, Linda said.

Betty raised her hand.

Won’t the school be upset with our cheering?

They better not say anything, Linda said.

Tracy placed her hands on her hips in a defiant gesture of bold courage the way she did when she was five and refused to eat her canned peas and carrots.

Let them try, she said.

Mary stared hard at her saddle shoes.

Shouldn’t we, like, ask permission?

The other cheerleaders ignored the question.

Tracy broke the ice.

Hang Mike Pence, she said.

Linda looked confused.


None of the girls laughed.

The former vice president of the United States, Mary said.

He’s a traitor, Tracy said.

Linda perked up.

I want to nominate a new vice president, she said.

Except for Mary, the girls cheered.

That new blond girl from the South is so cool, Linda said. Like, she’s a congressman and still owns her own gym and shoots guns and hates that Marxist girl from New York.

All the girls cheered except Mary.

Joe Biden won the 2020 election, she said.

The other cheerleaders ignored her.

Time to announce the winner, Tracy said.

Speaking with cold confidence, she ordered the girls to look at the bottom of the brick each carried in her palm.

Who has the white cross?

The girls held up their bricks. Tracy put on her best Crest toothpaste smile, showing the thin plastic line of a yellowing, yet expensive, retainer. Mary pointed to the bottom of her brick adorned with a white cross. The girls jumped up and down, waving paper pompoms, leaping high into the air as they bent their legs at the knees behind them and turned their heads to cheer.

You win, Mary, you win!

But Trump is so gross, Mary said.

The cheerleaders gasped.

Linda moved toward Mary, but Betty held her back.

Now Lois, shrieking with joy for Mary, rushed to give her the biggest hug ever.

I wish I was you, she said.

I don’t want to meet Donald Trump, Mary said.

Tracy spit words dripping with bile.

Meet him? What gave you that idea?

Mary felt sick.

You hate Trump because you’re a sinner, Tracy said.

If you’re really, really sorry, you just might get into heaven, Linda said.

OMG, you are so lucky to maybe meet the Lord, Betty said.

Tell Jesus we sent you, Tracy said.

Linda threw out the first brick, opening a gash above Mary’s left eyebrow. Betty’s brick broke Mary’s nose. Lois’ brick broke Mary’s left cheekbone.

Tracy got so excited she threw wildly and missed, high and outside. Then she wound up with all the might and focus of the district champion softball pitcher she was and fired a killer strike that fractured Mary’s skull in the name of making America great again.

Mary died before she hit the ground.

The girls cheered.

Gimme a T.

Gimme a R.

Gimmee a M.

Gimme a P.

What’s that spell?