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mackenzie was nervous. more than nervous, actually. the whole day she had been on autopilot, hardly focusing on the present and instead fretting about the future. the cali high talent show was tonight, and she would be competing with her dance.

in the morning when she had woken up, her first thought was my dance! she'd then stumbled into the kitchen for breakfast and poured herself some cereal. maddie and her mom had walked in, proclaiming that "today was the day!" which only intensified her nerves. she'd gritted her teeth and smiled, determined to put on a brave face and tell absolutely no one how terrified she really was on the inside.

at school, she was barely present, and blankly stared at the white-board throughout her teachers lectures and demonstrations. maddie texted her several times with motivational and inspiring quotes, which did make her smile, but didn't make her any more confident. at lunch, her friends had tried their hardest to be funnier and stupider than normal, and even though that helped, she was still sick with worry.

what if she fell, like she did at cheer? what if people thought the dance was bad, or that her technique wasn't as good as it used to be? what if no one cheered, or she got last? and most of all, what if johnny was in the audience? if so, would something happen between them? and would he go to the after-party? would she see him there? would he think she looked nice in the blood red dress she'd picked out?

mackenzie was a bundle of nerves. eventually, she decided it was best she went home at midday, and that way she could sleep off her anxiety. after the short drive to her house, she got changed into sweats, set an alarm for a few hours away, and crashed on the couch. within mere minutes she was gone; fast asleep. she dreamed of the old days– when she would compete for her cheer competition team all weekend, and then rush to the other side of the country for dance solos. when her life was filled with competitions and teams and costumes and makeup and flights and long nights asleep in the back of the car. in a way she'd kind of missed it, so competing with one last dance at the age of 18 would give her closure, but also would be extremely nostalgic.

waking up for the second time that day, mackenzie felt much better. the nerves were still there, but she was energized, and surprised to find that she was a little bit excited. she mucked around for the next few hours until maddie got home, eating, going on her phone and having a shower. it made her smile to see that lauren orlando had sent her a good luck text with lots of heart emojis. at least she knew one of the orlando's was rooting for her.

when maddie got home from school, it was all go-go-go. she brought mackenzie her costume; a gorgeous white two-piece. the skirt was beautiful, trailing down past her knees at different lengths. it swirled out beautifully when she pirouetted, complementing with the plain white bra top which criss-crossed over at the back. overall, maddie had done well to find a costume that suited the song and the choreography. mackenzie suspected she had spent a lot of money on the costume, but didn't say a word as she knew maddie would hate her for it– this was her way of showing how much she believed in her younger sister.

after kenzie was changed, maddie plaited her hair and then fastened it into a ponytail, curling the hair in the ponytail with a curling iron. she brushed minimal makeup over mackenzies face- some powder so she didn't shine under the lights, gold eye shadow, mascara, highlight and a nude pink lipstick.

they got in the car together, driving back to school, and waited with all the other people competing in a massive room behind the stage. there were comedians, ballet dancers, opera singers, normal singers, hip hop groups, actors, jugglers, gymnasts– you name it, they were there. mackenzie was so fascinated with all of the talent at her school she barely registered that they had begun to rehearse the acts one by one.

"so you're second to last." maddie told her as they took seats in the corner of the room. "that means the audience, and the judges, will be getting bored– so make sure you perform well."

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