Cheers or Tears

by Satya Chang, age 13
Cheers or Tears Satya Chang is a writer from Los Angeles. In her free time she enjoys playing volleyball, running, and hanging out with friends. She enjoys reading mystery novels, and her favorite food is sushi. She has two siblings and a dog named Chip.

“Oh my gosh! I can’t believe we’re going here!” Danika squealed as she clutched her twin sister, Tamara’s arm. Tamara smiled and eased out of Danika’s strong grasp. “This is the place you said […]

“Oh my gosh! I can’t believe we’re going here!” Danika squealed as she clutched her twin sister, Tamara’s arm. Tamara smiled and eased out of Danika’s strong grasp.

“This is the place you said you wanted to go if you ran for captain of the cheer squad,” Tamara said as she saw her sister eyeball the luxury restaurant. 

“I know I said that,” Danika said and smiled as she took out her phone to take a selfie. 

“So are you captain?” Tamara asked, waiting to hear if the whole gift was too bizarre. 

Danika just shrugged her off and said, “I will be. There are only two other girls running and they both wear their skirts too long. I just know everyone will vote for me.”

Tamara sighed as she looked at her twin. “So you might not even be captain?” Tamara said, thinking about how she had spent three months worth of allowance money on getting a table at the most famous Chinese restaurant in town. 

“Are you seriously doubting me, Tam? Of course I’m going to be cheer captain. I’m the best one on the team!” Danika gave her twin a snarky glare before rushing out of the taxi to get a better angle to post on her instagram. 

Tamara groaned and hurried out to join her sister. “How about we take a picture together and you can post it on your social media account,” Tamara asked, thinking about how her parents would think it was so cute to have a picture of them together. 

Danika wrinkled her nose with distaste. “Ew, no. My followers would freak if they saw a picture of me and my nerdy sister. It’s best for them to think I came alone. And besides, this lighting makes my face look really good, and your face will just dull it out.” Tamara blushed at her sister’s harsh words, but stepped aside as her sister went up to the sign and took some more pictures.

Tamara walked up to the man up front and said, “We have a reservation, under the last name Holden. Tamara and Danika?” The man nodded and beckoned for them to follow, Danika squealing every other second. They sat down at a fancy round table, with linen cloth and shiny silverware. “I can’t believe you did this all for me! You’re the best, Tam! Of course, second best to me!” Those were possibly the nicest words Danika had ever said to her, minus the forced, “I love you” as a child. Danika immediately started texting her friends, probably bragging and telling them about the restaurant. 

A waiter came by to take their drinks, and Tamara ordered a glass of Diet Pepsi while Danika scoffed and told the waiter to bring her a Shirley Temple and to make it snappy. The waiter scurried off and Tamara shot her sister a warning look, which Danika slyly ignored. When the waiter came back to ask them what they wanted to eat, Tamara looked at Danika. “I have a budget, so don’t go crazy and get anything too expensive.” Danika merely looked at her twin before turning to the waiter and ordered a steak with chow mein and crab. Tamara blinked at her sister, her mouth open. Had Danika not heard anything she had just said?

“I assume we’re sharing?” Tamara said, still gaping at the amount of food her sister had ordered.

Danika scoffed and said, “This is my big night. They announce the result on TV and I just know it will be me. So I’m ordering whatever I like. You can get soup or something, but nothing from me.” Tamara stared at her sister before sighing and ordering simple spring rolls. Then, she sipped her Diet Pepsi as she waited for the food.

The food was so good, though Tamara was still shocked at the amount of food that Danika ate. Afterwards, they sat back and waited for the check. When the waiter came with the check, Danika grabbed her arm, stopping the whimpering waiter.

“Hey miss. Turn on Channel 3! They are announcing the cheer captains for Ridgemont High and I know it will be me. Quick! It’s starting!” The waiter hurried off to oblige Danika’s demands. 

Tamara glared at her sister and said, “That was really rude. You should apologize.” 

Danika laughed and said, “Tam, she’s a waiter. Her whole purpose is to serve us. Besides, someday, that will likely be you, serving my whole cheer squad. If you’re lucky.” 

Tamara just shook her head and looked at the bill. Her eyes practically bulged out of her head. “That’s a lot of zeros,” she whispered to herself. She didn’t know if she could pay for it all. “Hey Dani. Can you help pay for the meal? Your steak and crab cost a lot of money.” 

Danika snorted and grabbed the bill from Tamara’s hand. “How about I make you a deal,” Tamara countered as Danika hastily threw the check back at Tamara’s face. Danika stared at her. “If you become cheer captain, I will give you 20 dollars to go get ice cream at the really expensive French place, Le Creme.” Tamara did not miss how Danika’s eyes glinted when she mentioned her not getting captain, but hurriedly smiled at the mention of Le Creme. “But if you don’t become cheer captain, then you have to pay for dinner and give me 20 dollars to get those jeans I wanted the other day. Do we have a deal?” 

Danika snorted, something very unlike her, and shook Tamara’s outstretched hand. “You should just give me the 20 dollars now, Tam, because I’m practically the captain. Mmm, I can already taste the mint chip ice cream.” Tamara rolled her eyes and turned her attention towards the TV which now was turned on to channel 3. The cameraman was zoomed in on a tall girl with glossy brown hair that was tied into a bun at the top of her head. A beaming reporter stood next to her. 

“HEY!” Danika yelled, causing many people to stare at her with disgust. The same shivering waitress came forward, looking so pale that Tamara almost asked if she was sick. “Turn up the volume! I want everyone to hear when Magnolia announces that I am the new cheer captain!” Danika promptly shoved the quivering waitress towards the TV, almost knocking over a man carrying a tray of soup. Tamara put a hand on Danika’s arm, a warning to stop all her bossiness, but Danika flicked her off and returned to typing furiously on her phone, although her gaze was intent on the screen.

The TV reporter was standing next to who Tamara assumed was Magnolia. She had the microphone pressed to her shivering lips and she forced a smile at the camera through purple lips. “And now, on channel 3, we have here Magnolia Harp, captain of the Ridgemont High cheer squad, though soon to be former. Magnolia, what do you have to say about the runners before you announce who will become cheer captain for Ridgemont High 2020?” The reporter turned to Magnolia, who sent a stunning smile towards the camera, angling her right side to the cameraman, not a hint of shivering shown although she was in her cheer mini skirt and crop top. 

“Well, Wanda, I just want to say that all the runners are very qualified people, but we could only choose one captain. Of course, they may be a downgrade from me, but at least they are the best of the worst.” Magnolia laughed as though she had said something funny and flicked her hair. Tamara noticed how fake she was and how much of a similarity she was to Danika. She turned her head towards Danika to see if she had heard what Magnolia said about being a downgrade, but Danika was picking at her nails and muttering to herself about what a great captain she would be. 

Tamara fixed her attention back to the TV where Magnolia had positioned herself in front of Wanda, the reporter. The restaurant had gone quiet. A lot of people were staring at Danika, as if waiting for her reaction. Tamara turned to her sister, who was looking between the TV and her phone. “What are you doing? They are about to announce who the captain will be. Why are you on your phone?” Tamara asked as she watched her twin’s pink manicured hand type furiously on her phone. 

“I’m sending the cheer squad pictures of the uniform design that will be for the cheer this year. Isn’t it so nice?” Danika shoved the phone in Tamara’s face, but Tamara was too blinded by the pink and glitter to even see the whole uniform.

“Um, Dani, what are you doing? You’re not even captain. Don’t tell me you paid for those already?” Tamara put her hand on her forehead. Danika scoffed and glared at her sister. 

“I’m seriously offended, Tam. For this whole dinner all you’ve been doing is questioning if I’m going to be captain. Let me spell it out for you. Actually, let me cheer it out for you.” To Tamara’s horror, Danika stepped on to the table, dirtying the white cloth with mud prints from her pink heels. Some people gasped and put hands to their chests. Others threw down their napkins and demanded for a bill so they could leave. Tamara jumped up, her fury almost to the point of boiling over. But before the manager could shove her way through the crowd, Danika stomped down on the table hard. Silence rang throughout the once laughing restaurant.

“D-A-N-I-K-A! What does that spell? DANIKA!

I’m your captain, yes I am.

I have spirit, I can dance!

If your skirt goes past your knees

Run so far before I SCREAM!” 

Tamara covered her ears to block out her sister’s ratchet screaming. Many people were hurrying to get out of the building. Danika fluffed her hair and sat down on her seat before the manager made it to their table. She looked furious.

“If you don’t get out of my rest-” Danika silenced her by putting her finger to her lips. The manager gasped, looking shocked.

Tamara looked at her sister who merely shrugged before saying, “Shut up! Magnolia is announcing it now! Oh, and yes, I already paid for twenty pinkalicious uniforms. Thanks for your credit card, Tam.” Tamara angrily glared at the back of Danika’s blonde head as she had turned to face the TV.

Magnolia had taken out an envelope, as if she were announcing the winner of a reality TV show instead of the cheer captain for a small town in Texas. Magnolia beamed at the camera before glancing down at the paper. Whoever’s name was on it didn’t seem to surprise her. “Our runners included Susan Maple, Danika Holden, and Tabitha White. This was a very close race, but one person got the majority of them votes, becoming our next cheer captain. Give it up for SUSAN MAPLE!” The people on the TV started clapping and Magnolia blew a kiss at the screen. 

Tamara slowly turned toward Danika, who had suddenly gone quiet. Everyone who was still in the restaurant turned to see Danika’s reaction. Tamara even heard someone ask if there was popcorn. Danika’s face was white with held back fury. Her mouth contorted into an ugly snarl, and she stood up so abruptly that she knocked over a waiter carrying a bunch of dishes. They all shattered around her and she screamed. Tamara had never seen her sister so mad. People actually started running out of the restaurant, but Tamara knew she couldn’t escape Danika’s wrath.

Danika swung her chair and hit the table, causing their plates and silverware to shatter and fly across the room. Tamara watched as her fork was flung into the fish tank and only barely missed stabbing the cute little goldfish, which now swam to seek refuge under a rock. Danika had tears of bitter anger running down her face, as she turned and stalked towards the door. Tamara couldn’t help but overhear the manager call the police. Within five minutes, Danika was surrounded by cops. Sirens blared and people rushed to the crime scene. Tamara gazed ahead, horrified, as she watched Danika get handcuffed and put into the back of a police car. She was screaming at the top of her lungs. 

“TAM! TELL THEM YOU KNOW ME! I’M HER SISTER! STOP! YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME! TAM, IF YOU DON’T TELL THEM, SO HELP ME, I WILL END YOU!”

A police officer with curly white hair stepped towards Tamara. “Ma’am, do you know this young lady?” Tamara stared at the officer before shifting her gaze to her sister. Danika had stopped struggling, and now sat limply in the back seat, glaring at Tamara, her blond hair disheveled and her mouth pulled back into a silent snarl.

“No,” Tamara whispered. Then more confidently, she said, “No. Officer, take her away. She needs help.” The officer nodded before saying something into his walkie talkie. Danika had started thrashing again, screaming Tamara’s name, but Tamara turned her back to her sister.

She called a cab and was whisked off into the night, leaving her sister for her parents to deal with. The next morning, Tamara woke up with a throbbing headache. The events of the night before suddenly rushed back to her and she groaned. She called her mother, and told her she was going to visit Danika at the police station, and possibly take her out. Her mother said that she had talked to the officers, but only Tamara was allowed to take her out. Tamara sighed and started her long journey to the station, scared of what Danika might do once she got out. When she arrived, Tamara signed some papers and showed her ID. Then she was led to a holding cell in which she saw Danika sitting in. Tamara couldn’t help but gasp. Danika looked horrible.

Her normally neat blonde hair was knotted and looked more dirty blonde. Mascara streamed down her cheeks in black lines. Her eyes were puffy and red, her skin was pale. Her clothes looked like they could use one or 500 cleanings. And the smell. Tamara gagged. Danika looked up, her eyes glassy. When they narrowed on Tamara’s face, the depressed look was gone, followed by a low growl. Tamara took a step back, so that Danika couldn’t somehow grab her through the bars. Then Danika let out a low laugh.

“Somehow, even being in this cell for a night, I look better than you,” Danika rasped as she threw her head back and laughed. Tamara’s eyes narrowed to slits as she watched her ungrateful twin trudge back to the bench and lay down. This was it, Tamara thought. Danika has finally broken. Tamara shook her head and asked the officer to hold on opening the cell. She walked up to the bars and calmly said, “You still need to pay for dinner. Also, the jeans I wanted are on sale, so you only have to give me 18 dollars.” Then she nodded to the officer who unlocked the cell.

Danika scowled at Tamara but didn’t make any move to attack her. In fact, she was so calm, smoothing her hair and smiling, that Tamara almost asked if there was a doctor in the station. She warily followed her twin out of the station and started walking home. It was quiet for a while, until she heard a soft noise. Frightened that Danika might be saying or doing something rash, Tamara coughed to get her attention. Danika merely looked at her and plastered on the fakest smile Tamara had ever seen. Danika was humming. This should have been calming, but it unnerved Tamara so much she almost screamed.

When they arrived home, Danika hurriedly went into the restroom and locked herself in. Tamara heard drawers frantically being pulled open and knew that Danika was putting on makeup. Tamara sighed and went back to her room. Her sister was crazy. She knew that her sister not becoming cheer captain was bad, but she didn’t expect all of this. First her sister got arrested and now she was eerily calm. Tamara couldn’t help but blame herself. If she had only waited to take Danika out, then maybe none of this would have happened. She would still have her three months worth of allowance money, a happy stomach, and a mostly normal sister.

She heard the bathroom lock click and then the door being swung open. Tamara hopped to her feet so she could talk to Danika. Danika’s back was to her and she couldn’t see what Danika was looking at on her phone. She hesitated and then touched Danika’s arm. She felt her sister stiffen.

“Dani, what’s wrong? I know what I did yesterday was awful but you are acting weirder than normal.” 

Danika let her blonde head tip back as she rumbled a laugh. “Oh Tam. When will you ever learn? I’m perfectly happy right now. Did you really think I lost becoming cheer captain? It’s only a matter of time before the position is mine.” Tamara watched in horror as her sister applied a thick layer of red lip gloss before blowing an air kiss her way. Then she pranced out the door.

Tamara knew that whatever was going to happen next was bad. What did Danika mean when she said that the cheer captain position would be hers? Did she imagine the whole fight the day before? Tamara quickly looked to see what Danika had been doing while her back was to her. On the coffee table, a 100 dollar bill sat on the table with 18 ones next to it. In Danika’s elegant pink script, the note next to the money said, “To pay for dinner and your jeans. BTW, those jeans don’t really go well with any color but it did look good on you when you tried it on. Xoxo, Danika aka soon to be cheer captain.”

Tamara held the note numbly in her hand. She was shocked. Normal Danika would never pay her back, let alone tell her that her jeans were a nice pick. Crazy Danika would pay her back, tell her that her jeans looked good, and then do something probably illegal. Tamara stared hard at the note, trying to wrap her head around how Danika had written that she would “soon to be cheer captain.” She had said those words earlier.

Didn’t Danika hear Magnolia say that Susan Maple was the cheer captain? Tamara sighed and trudged back up to her room, still insanely confused about the note and Danika’s sudden leave. She climbed into bed and went back to sleep. When she awoke a few hours later, she heard the front door slam shut and Danika’s high pitched squeals.

“Turn on the TV! Channel 3! Hurry! TAM! Come down here!”

Tamara groaned and ran down the stairs, nearly tripping over her own feet. “What?” She asked, although it sounded more like a growl. Danika was smiling so brightly and this time, Tamara could tell it wasn’t fake. 

“Turn on channel 3. Magnolia is making an announcement! Hurry! I don’t have all day! TAMARA! I will not demand you one more time!”

Good, Tamara thought, but she turned on the TV for her lazy twin anyway.

“Why do you even want to hear this announcement? You’re not even cheer captain,” Tamara said, not even remotely interested in seeing her sister throw another temper tantrum like a psycho two year old. Danika rolled her eyes and chuckled and fear gripped Tamara’s heart. This could not be good for anyone on the cheer squad except Danika. “What did you do?” Tamara whispered, too terrified to even say it any louder.

“Just watch,” Danika said and shifted her head back towards the television.

Magnolia stood on TV, next to Wanda and a red headed girl whom Tamara recognized as Susan Maple, the new cheer captain. Susan had twin streaks of mascara running down her face, and in the lighting, her fake tan made her look more orange. Magnolia had an angry scowl twisting her mouth and she kept shooting glares at Susan before smiling at the camera with her dazzling fake princess smile.

“We’re back on channel 3. I’m Wanda, you’re reporter, and today I have for you some very sad news. Magnolia?”

Magnolia practically shoved Wanda out of the way as she stomped forward. 

“Thank you Wanda,” Magnolia started, although Tamara could see the annoyance written clearly on Magnolia’s coal black eyes. “It has been very unfortunate that Susan Maple has decided to step down from her position as cheer captain. Susan, why have you come to make this sad *cough stupid cough* decision?” Susan stepped forward as Magnolia backed away, but not before subtly putting her foot out and tripping the poor girl. Susan stumbled but regained composure as she smoothed out her hair and pulled up her already short skirt higher, so much, that it looked like a belt. Tamara had a gut sinking feeling that Danika was the reason why she had made the quote of quote “sad *cough stupid cough* decision.” 

Susan looked up at the camera and Tamara didn’t know if it was all acting when her clear blue eyes filled with tears. “I have decided to step down from this position because of a secret that would be exposed if I did become cheer captain. Now this secret isn’t that bad or anything but…” Tamara could see the guilt written across the fake tanned girl’s face. This was a bad secret. She turned to see Danika’s smug smile as she leaned back into the reclining couch cushion.

“What did you do?” Tamara hissed, her horror stepping up a notch. Danika ignored her and kept her eyes glued intently to the screen. 

They had missed the rest of Susan’s resignation speech and Magnolia was now smiling back at the camera with her “If you cross my path again, I will end you” smile. Tamara watched Danika warily as she sat forward with anticipation. Magnolia was now smoothing her hair and her mouth was still twisted in her feline smile, though Tamara didn’t miss the shadow of a scowl on her face.

“Since Susan has decided to step down from her position as cheer captain, I have to give the captain position to the runner up. So, Congratulations to—” The TV screen fizzled out and went black and fuzzy. Danika screamed and looked like she was going to pull her hair out.

From upstairs their father yelled, “WiFi’s down throughout town girlies!” 

“SHUT UP!” Danika yelled and started furiously pacing. “Magnolia was just about to announce me captain. I know it. How come God decided now was the perfect time for a blackout?” 

“Maybe because God thinks this whole thing is stupid,” Tamara muttered, her voice barely audible over Danika’s impatient stomping. 

Danika whirled on her and pointed an accusing finger. “This is all your fault! If you hadn’t taken me to that restaurant, none of this would have happened!” Tamara stepped forward, feeling bolder by the second as she watched her sister’s quivering fingered point accusingly at her.

“MY FAULT? You’re such a stuck up snob that no one wants you on the cheer squad? Do you realize that no one voted for you? Susan won and you blackmailed her into stepping down. I bet the person Magnolia was going to announce was that other girl running, Tabitha White. But I don’t know! All you cheer girls are the same! Fake tans, fake personalities, fake smiles, YOU’RE ALL FAKE! Danika, no one WANTS you to be cheer captain!” The moment those words left Tamara’s mouth she stepped back. Danika stepped back, her face blank with shock. Time seemed to stop. The house was deathly quiet.

Then Danika stepped forward and threw the remote control at the TV. It hit the glass screen with a thud and the screen cracked. Then Danika started crying, tears running down her face. “Daddy!” She wailed. “Look what Tamara did!” She pointed a finger at the cracked 500 dollar screen as her father’s feet pounded down the staircase.

“I did not do that!” Tamara yelled, shaking with anger.

Her father’s face was pale with anger as he looked between the girls. “You two have only been yelling at each other all day! Tamara Grace Holden. Come with me this instant!” Tamara gaped and pointed her finger at Danika. “But I didn’t even do it! Danika did it!” Her dad angrily looked between them and yelled, “FINE! I’ll just check the cameras!”

Danika’s face contorted and spat, “What cameras?” Tamara gave her a satisfied smirk.

Their father rubbed a hand down his face with exhaustion. “Danika, what do you have to say for yourself?” Danika gaped and sputtered and she looked between her dad and Tamara. Then she furiously shoved Tamara out of the way and stomped towards her room, the door slamming in her wake. Tamara looked up to see her dad dialing something into his phone.

“Who are you calling?” SHe asked, almost not really wanting to know.

“The Dallas Anger Management Association. Otherwise known as DAMA. I think your sister is going to need it.”

Her father put the phone on speaker as a woman’s voice rang out. “Dallas Anger Management Association, how can I help you?”

Tamara watched her dad’s face and saw many flickers of emotions, one of them being guilt. She knew he was rethinking if this was the right way to go. Tamara put a hand on his arm and gestured towards the glitching TV. Her dad nodded and spoke into the phone,

“Hi, my name is Ethan Holden and I would like to take my daughter to these classes. Her name is Danika Lyla Holden. Age 16. She has had a lot of recent outbursts and temper tantrums that will need some serious help immediately.” Tamara listened as her dad and the lady on the line talked for a couple of minutes before hanging up and turning to Tamara.

“Get your sister. We’re going to the DAMA now.” Tamara couldn;t hide the shock from her face. She had always known her sister had problems when she didn’t get what she wanted but she had never expected it to get this bad. Especially over something so stupid. Like, was Danika going to pride herself when she was 40 over being cheer captain in high school over a team that hadn’t ever won any cheer competitions and was for a school in the middle of nowhere Texas? Then again, Danika prides herself when she does anything that makes her look more superior than others. Her motto was, “I can only be on the top if I have people holding my designer heeled feet from the bottom.”

Tamara had to bribe her sister with money to get her into the car and the whole way Danika was a crying mess. They hadn’t yet told her where they were taking her. Tamara was fidgeting restlessly in the passenger seat as she kept stealing glances at Danika’s wrecked face through the mirror. Danika hadn’t said anything besides demanding to know where they were taking her. Of course, they didn’t answer with the fear that she would open the door and just get out of the car on the freeway. When they finally pulled into the parking lot of DAMA an hour later, Danika looked up and her expression froze.

“Anger Management?” She snarled looking between her sister and her father. “Daddy! You can’t let Tamara manipulate you! I didn’t;t do anything wrong! Please daddy! Let’s go home!” Tamara’s father’s face flashed with sadness and for a brief second, Tamara was scared that her father would pile them back into the car.

But he grabbed Danika by the arm and hauled her out of the car. Danika started thrashing and screaming and soon brought a lot of attention toward themselves. People with white lab coats started running towards them from inside the building as Danika tried to fight off the grip they had on her. She was screaming at the top of her lungs and Tamara had to cover her ears before her eardrums exploded. A man with a while lab coat and frizzy black hair came forward and injected something into Danika’s still flailing arms. For a moment, everything was still. Then Danika’s body went limp and a collective sigh came from the crowd that had formed around them. Tamara couldn’t help but feel a pang of sadness as she watched her sister get lifted and carried inside of the building. But she knew it was for a greater good. And she hoped that after a couple months of management, she would have her old twin back.

THE END.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.