Melinda plans to use the distraction of the Homecoming pep rally in order to clean up her closet; she describes how she brought sponges from home, and wants to add in a blanket and even potpourri. Heather, however, dressed in the school colors, forces her to attend the rally. Melinda decides that she may not hate the rally, since she has someone to sit with. Just as Melinda begins to relax, however, a student behind Melinda recognizes her as “the one who called the cops at Kyle Rodgers’s party.” Melinda describes how a “block of ice” has suddenly frozen her section of the bleachers as everyone turns to look at her. Another girl reveals that her brother was arrested and lost his job because of his arrest at the party. Although Melinda is screaming in her head, she is unable to make a sound. She wishes that she could tell everyone what “really happened,” but acknowledges that she can’t even admit what happened to herself. Even Heather does not defend her, worried that Melinda will hurt her social climbing scheme. As the crowd cheers for the pep rally, Melinda screams in pain, letting out “the animal noise and some of that night.”
This passage is the first instance in which Melinda’s peers confront her directly about Kyle Rodgers’ party, a mysterious but clearly significant incident in Melinda’s past. It is vital that, although the reader has spent a great deal of time in Melinda’s mind, we only begin to learn about the party through the words of others; Melinda has remained so silent about that night that she cannot even discuss it internally. At the pep rally, although Melinda wishes desperately to defend herself, she finds herself completely mute. A good friend might defend her but Heather, betraying her shallowness, fails to do so. Isolated and attacked, Melinda cries out in pain, but her voice goes completely unheard—a clear metaphor for her silence and powerlessness.
Melinda describes the pep rally, from the band to the cheerleaders to the back-flipping Blue Devils mascot to the “hulking” football players themselves. She mocks their coach, whom she names Coach Disaster. As she sits, the students around her bully and abuse her; one pushes her knees into Melinda’s back, while the girl with the arrested brother pulls Melinda’s hair. As Coach Disaster finishes speaking, Principal Principal introduces the cheerleaders.
Even as she is tormented by memories and students alike, Melinda still manages to be sharp and sardonic, proof of her impressive willpower. It is easy to understand, in this moment, why Melinda isolates herself, and why she is so depressed. Her peers seem to genuinely hate her, and to actively wish to torment her.