Suicide no. 15: Cheerleader

Postcard of CornellUniversityCheerleader1906 C...

Suicide no. 15: Cheerleader

–by Derek Alan Wilkinson

Nichole eyed the old, hackneyed cheers that blurred into worn grass and rusted fences—the same football field she’d eventually watch her own children play on. One day, she thought. There was the old concessions stand, too, where she used to work. Holly ran the register there, now—bright-eyed, seventeen, and full of life.

But Holly would likely end up feeling like Nichole did.

There just didn’t seem to be much to it, this life. She used to cheer on those same sidelines. Hearing the band play brought up memories—ones that lead her to believe that that was as good as life was ever going to get for her. And for her husband and high school sweetheart, Mike.

“You’re so funny” he’d tell her.

“I have to joke a lot. Otherwise, I’d just think about how sad things are. And then, I’d just cry.”

And that was the place Nichole was at in her life; fifteen years had passed since she graduated, salutatorian of her class. And she’d never stop coming back—knowing full well that she only wanted to relive her own dreams vicariously through her children.

And that thought—even the expression: “to live vicariously through your children”— was just as hackneyed as that old ball field was.

She always wanted to go to Australia. She wanted to be a marine biologist. She went to school for it. She did a lot of things, made a lot of decisions, and yet, in the end, it just wasn’t in the cards for her. None of what she dreamed of herself, in the beginning, became of her life.

So, what do you do with a hackneyed life? Do you play the cards dealt? Do you fold? Do you rig the table? Do you accept loss? Do you just sit back and hope that something new and unopened happens?

The biggest question became: Do you fold? And, if so, when? Usually, however, those decisions tend to make themselves.

She dreamed up another life. One with Mike, and the boys. One where she went to game after game. One in which she always thought, secretly to herself, without even really thinking it enough to realize it: “One day, they’ll become something.”

And she knew that, in the end, they’d end up like she was.

That thought never escaped her. She had friends whose lives resembled hers, and yet, they never seemed to become engrossed in that ideal: that they might be wrong about themselves, and their children.

Infinite repetition, she thought: just like the spiral of changing forms that became extinct marine life.

Until someone, or something, breaks that delirious cycle.

“I’m going to the store. Anybody need anything?”

“Can you get me a…” and she didn’t even remember what her eldest son asked for.

“Okay,” she said. “Love you.” And their replies were overused as well.

And Nichole knew how to pretend that it was an accident, and that she was never coming back.


Inspired by the Daily Prompt:


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