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Do You Remember? - Chapter One

He was speechless as he studied the girl he had known for more than half of his life. His mind could barely form a sentence. No girl has ever stood up to him the way she did, and that threw him off. He realized she wasn't the awkward, shy girl he used to hang out with every Friday night. She was confident, assertive, and beautiful; that surprised him the most.
Athena Thompson ran her finger lightly along the school gate as she walked home. She pushed back a strand of her mahogany hair that had come loose from her ponytail, and tucked it behind her ear. Her mind was already on the excessive amount of homework they had gotten. Something told her that her final year of high school was going to be busy beyond compare, but she didn't mind. She was one of the few kids who actually enjoyed studying. She tilted her head upwards as she walked under a blossom tree. The blossoms were in full bloom though it was already the start of summer. She smiled and raised her light brown eyes to the old two-story house where her best friend lived.

Kelly Alexander had been absent, so Athena was doing the right thing by bringing Kelly her homework and some entertainment. Apparently, Kelly had gotten a fever. Athena smiled as she opened the gate. Fever? Yeah, right. She knew exactly why Kelly hadn't gone to school. She looked around the big and beautiful garden. Kelly's mother, Jessica, loved spending time (and money) decorating her garden. Not the bent down in the dirt planting roses, or sunflowers, or whatever people usually put into their gardens kind of garden decorating. Jessica bought full-grown trees that carried beautiful flowers in the spring like magnolia's and apple trees. There was a crooked cobblestoned path that led from the front gate to the porch of the house. The ground was covered neatly in smooth cement with perfectly round holes around the many trees in, on either side of the path. In the far corner of the garden there was a little pond with goldfish in that, had a small waterfall, and next to it was a white hammock.

Athena knocked on the front door and waited. The door opened and Jessica's smiling, heart-shaped face greeted Athena. "Hey, Athena, coming to visit Kelly?" She asked. Athena smiled. Jessica was a petite, short woman with shoulder-length paper thin brown hair and bright green eyes. Athena nodded. "Yeah, how's she feeling, aunt Jess?" She asked. Of course, they weren't family, but Jessica was neither comfortable with a child calling her by her first name nor with such a familiar face calling her miss Alexander. She nodded and stood aside so that Athena could pass. "Yes, much. She hasn't gotten out of bed, yet though. You can go up," she said. Athena thanked her and started jogging up the stairs to her friend's room.

"Hey, Kells." Athena sang as she entered the colorful bedroom. Kelly was a very boysessed girl. Boysessed was a word Athena made up to describe Kelly, since her best friend was always either dating or crushing on some cute boy and had posters of male movie stars and singers all over her room. Posters of One Direction, Justin Bieber, Taylor Lautner, Dave Franco, and so on covered almost every section of the walls. The window was wide open, allowing the gentle spring breeze to blow through the white curtains. Athena walked towards her friend's bed and sat in the middle on the edge. Kelly's blond head peaked out from under the covers. Her big, green eyes squinting as it adjusted to the bright light. Kelly had an adorable heart-shaped face like her mother. She smiled a little. "I heard you had a fever. Didn't know that was the new term for coward," Athena teased. Kelly rolled her eyes and sat up in her bed. "Okay, so I couldn't face Josh. What did you expect? I totally humiliated myself last night," she groaned and dropped back into her bed dramatically. Athena laughed. "It wasn't that bad that you had to skip school," she said. "Not that bad?" Kelly asked rhetorically, sitting up again. "I was so nervous that I barfed on his jeans. Not his shoes, his jeans, Thneed!" Kelly explained, dropping her head into her hands.

Kelly had nicknamed Athena "Theen" for years, but always felt it was really lame, but no other nickname actually sounded better. Then they watched the movie The Lorax together and as soon as Kelly heard the word thneed, it was used as Athena's nickname. Kelly still remained the only person that called her that. Athena bit her lip on a laugh. It served Kelly right for partying on a Sunday night. Athena placed her hand on Kelly's shoulder. "Hey, I talked to him," she said. Kelly's head shot up. "You did?" She asked. Athena smiled with a nod. "Yup. I told him you had lunch with me yesterday, I cooked, and obviously I shouldn't be allowed in a kitchen again. Guess what," she said. Kelly's eyes widened. "What?" She asked, seeming excited. "He completely understood! He was so concerned about you. He asked me for your number." Kelly squealed and threw her arms around Athena. "You are the best ... best friend ever!" She called. Kelly let go and clapped her hands together. She obviously liked Josh a lot. Athena was glad she could help. "So, you're going to school tomorrow," Athena stated. Kelly nodded excitedly. "I have to, now!" She called.

The sound of people arguing ripped them from their excitement. "Stop lecturing me like I'm a child! I'm old enough to do whatever the hell I want!" Kelly and Athena both looked at the open window but couldn't see much of what was going on, since they were on the second floor and the argument seemed to be coming from the ground. The yelling was coming from next door to the Alexander's. Athena sighed. "Disturbing the peace again, Jake?" She asked sarcastically. Kelly rolled her eyes. "He was at the party last night too. He came a close second to me being crowned as the biggest idiot of the night. He got so drunk, I doubt he even remembered his own name," she said. Kelly and sighed. "It's quite sad actually, all that gorgeous guyness shamed by all that pigheadedness," she said. Athena giggled a little but dropped her eyes sadly. Kelly looked at the ceiling to where a One Direction poster was stuck up. "Speaking of shame, don't you think Jake can put even One Direction to shame? Gosh, he's gorgeous!" Kelly groaned, throwing her head back dramatically. Athena rolled her eyes but laughed. Her friend was so weak when it came to hot guys. Kelly threw her blankets off then headed towards her window. Athena followed. Kelly's window overlooked the street so they could easily see into their neighbors' front lawn.

Jake seemed to be done arguing with whoever he was arguing with and was now washing his car, shirtless. Athena raised an eyebrow. Kelly sighed. "You know, every girl wishes for a view like mine," she said. From the distance they were sitting, Athena could make out Jake's jet black hair, olive colored skin, and hard body with great abs. "I still can't believe you two were best friends! You're so different," Kelly said, not looking at Athena. Athena dropped her eyes. "He wasn't always this way," Athena said. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Jake Brown, Lankfield High's golden boy until-"

"Yeah, Kells, until things went wrong." Athena interrupted. The memory of being pushed away by her previous best friend was still something Athena would rather not reminisce about. Jake Brown and Athena had been best friends since they were both five years old, when he saved her from being bullied by a bunch of really mean girls. At school, no one understood their friendship. She was the shy, smart girl that no one noticed, and he was captain and playmaker of the school's basketball team since he picked up a ball and made his first three-pointer. Athena used to watch every single one of his basketball games and he was her only friend since she was too shy to speak to anyone else. When they were fifteenth, Jake's father left him and his mother for another woman, and it took a negative toll on Jake. He became an instant loner. He pushed everyone away, even Athena, even when she had tried everything she could to help him. She had fallen into depression along with Jake until Kelly moved to Lankfield. By that point, Athena had forced herself to be more confident and had learned to defend herself since she didn't have Jake to do so anymore.

Kelly had started the first day of school; looking absolutely gorgeous, wearing a pair of denim shorts, white Converse, and a yellow Spongebob t-shirt. Most of the girls found it strange that she openly acknowledged the fact that she loved Spongebob, while most of the guys were too busy staring at her chest and obvious beauty. Athena had a Spongebob pencil bag at the time and they instantly became friends. Because of Athena's friendship with Jake and lack of friendship otherwise, Kelly had made a huge difference in Athena's appearance. Kelly's influence made Athena realize that she needed to act and look more like a girl. Kelly groaned, pulling Athena out of the past. "Gosh, he's beautiful," she said, staring at Jake. Athena shook her head and looked away. "He's okay," she said and sat on the floor, declaring that she was done discussing Jake Brown. Kelly looked down at her then gasped. "Are you kidding me?! If Jake Brown was a cheesecake, I'd demand him be my final meal," she said and dropped down on the floor as well. Athena smiled a little. She reached into her backpack and took her binder out. "By the way, I brought you your homework. Mr. Wellers is killing us with the Math," she said.

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"Bye Kells!" Athena called when she walked down the cobblestoned path back to the gate about two hours later. "Bye, Thneed. See you tomorrow," Kelly called before she closed the front door. Athena smiled as she walked down the road. Her house was a few streets away, about a ten-minute walk. She enjoyed walking home from Kelly's. It was relaxing to be in the sun. When it rained, she drove, because she was trying to cut back on her carbon footprint. When she turned into the next street she froze in step. Two boys were fighting. It was a quiet neighborhood so no one else was around. They stumbled around in the middle of the street as punches flew. Athena stood there awkwardly, wondering if she should attempt to break up the fight. Then she realized one of the boys was Jake Brown and quickly changed her mind. She and Jake hadn't spoken for years and he had made it very clear that he didn't want her in his life anymore. She shook her head and walked on, completely ignoring them.

"Jake! Evan! What the hell do you two think you're doing?" Athena looked towards the fight as a tall, blond guy came to break the fight up. Her pace slowed unknowingly. The blond guy gave one strong tug and the pair were separated. The guy Jake had fought with was blond as well. He looked sort of like the guy that broke the fight up. Athena assumed they were brothers. She couldn't hear what they were saying so she continued walking. She turned her attention back to the road ahead when she heard Jake say, "Forget this! You aren't worth my time, you little piece of shit!" Athena rolled her eyes. "Moron," she mumbled under her breath as she walked. She heard quick footsteps behind her and turned to look. Jake met her eye angrily. He stepped in front of her, making her stop. She looked right into his shoulder since that was as high as she measured up to him. The gray shirt he was wearing had a few drops of blood on it. She raised her eyes to his. His eyes were a dark brown and hard like a marble. His nose was bleeding. He wiped it with his fingers. Athena grimaced. She thought about offering him a tissue but quickly decided he didn't deserve her help.

"How much did you see?" He asked. He sounded angry as hell. She raised an eyebrow. "Not enough to actually care," she said calmly. He pointed a finger at her. "You don't tell anybody about this, Athena, got it." His tone was threatening and that just aggravated her. Seriously? They hadn't spoken in years and he thinks he has the right to use such a tone with her? "I wasn't going to, dumbass." Jake was taken back by her words. "I don't want anything to do with whatever that was about. As far as I'm concerned, I was just walking home." His expression was a mixture of amazement and confusion. Athena could tell, his anger was fading quickly. He had never seen this side of her and that pleased her. She wanted him to know, she wasn't the girl she used to be when they were friends and he was to thank for that. "And that's it. Nothing else. Gone. The past few moments, consider them deleted from my memory. Now, would you kindly step aside, Jake? I would like to go home," she said. He stared at her for a few seconds, blankly. Athena waited patiently until he stood aside. "Thank you," she said and walked on without looking back.

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"You actually said that to him?" Kelly's eyes were wide as Athena told her the story. Athena pulled up her shoulders. "Yeah, I mean, why wouldn't I? He was being an idiot and you know me, one thing I'm good at is telling people they're idiots," she said with a playful smile. Kelly laughed as they walked past their school on their way to Kelly's house. "So what did he do?" Kelly asked, scanning her friend. "You look fine. He didn't hurt you?" Kelly asked. Athena looked puzzled. She knew people thought Jake was temperamental, but she knew the truth and she thought Kelly did too. Jake was all talk to her. "No. He stepped aside and allowed me to go home. That's it," she said. Kelly giggled. "You know, you kind of promised him you wouldn't tell anyone," she said. Athena smiled. "Well, it's a good thing you're not just anyone then," Athena said and pulled up her shoulders as she adjusted her bag on her back. Kelly touched her shoulder. "Speak of the devil," she said.

Athena looked up and saw Jake walking in the opposite direction they were across the street. He took determined steps. His eyes landed on hers. His gaze shifted from nonchalant to potent staring. He held her eye for a second too long then looked away, continuing down the street. "Tense," Kelly commented. Athena looked at her. "Wasn't it weird talking to Jake again?" Kelly asked. Athena looked away. "It was like speaking to a total stranger," she said. They passed Kelly's house and decided to go to hers instead. Kelly panted slightly when they reached the Thompson residence. Athena was surprised to find the door open. Then she noticed her mother's car in the driveway. "You know, you have a freaking car. Drive!" Kelly called, as they entered the house. Athena laughed. She had explained to Kelly countless times why she didn't drive to school when it wasn't raining, but Kelly wasn't very keen on walking.

The front door immediately opened into the living room. The room was well-lit because of the two massive windows. The kitchen and living room were in the same room but was separated by a white marble counter and white tiling on the kitchen's side. The living room had a white shagged carpet and black, leather furniture. Kelly sighed and dropped onto a couch. Emily, Athena's mother, entered the room. Athena could tell she had just taken a shower. Her black hair was still wet as well as her shoulders in the multicolored summer dress she was wearing. Emily was turning forty but had the body of a woman in her late twenties. "I thought I heard you two," she said, smiling. "Hey Emily." Kelly said, sitting up a little. "Hey Kelly." Emily said. "Hey, mom. I see they didn't need your help at the hospital," Athena said, dropping her bag to the floor and walking over to her mother. "No, they gave me the afternoon off," Emily said. Athena dropped onto couch with a sigh. "Long day?" Her mother asked. Kelly groaned. "Understatement. Mr. Wellers is totally ridiculous with all this homework," she said. Athena laughed. "You're just complaining because you had to blow Josh off for Math," Athena said. Kelly rolled her eyes. "Gosh, the universe does not want me spending time with this guy!" She complained. "Not that that's ever stopped you," Athena said.

Emily laughed. "Another boy, Kelly?" She asked. "Emily, Josh is all man. Smart, athletic, seriously good-looking, and through and through nice." Kelly said, dropping her arm over her eyes dramatically. "Oh, Math, why must thou be so crueleth?" Athena and Emily burst out laughing at Kelly. Emily nudged her daughter. "Hey, take a page out of your friend's playbook and meet a guy, connect, date." She said. Athena rolled her eyes and got up from the couch. "When I meet a guy that Kelly hasn't dated and who I don't consider a total moron, I will take that into consideration," she said, looking at her friend. "Although, I doubt that will be any time in the near future," she said and walked towards the kitchen. "Do you have the afternoon off again tomorrow?" Athena asked as she bent down and opened a cupboard below the counter. "Nope." Emily smiled. "Although, I should be home around five," Emily added. Athena found a jar of Nutella. She took it and stood up. Athena looked at her mother. "That's fine, I'll stay after school a while. I received this English essay on 'To Kill a Mockingbird', today so I'll stay at the library to finish it and I'll probably be home by the time you are," she said and took a spoon out of one of the drawers.

"Pfft, nerd." Kelly commented. Athena smiled and rolled her eyes. "It needs to be done," she said, opening the jar. "How do we know you're not staying behind to meet a cute guy?" Kelly asked teasingly. "Because all guys at our school are idiots," Athena said. Emily sighed. "Give them a chance, you never know, and for goodness sake, put down the spoon!" Her voice rose when Athena dipped the spoon into the jar. She smiled and scooped some Nutella then brought it to her lips. "You don't have to watch me eat it, mom," she said, putting the spoon into her mouth. Her mother shuddered and looked away. "I don't know how you can eat that junk," she said. "It's called an addiction, mom." Athena said. Her mother shuddered again. "Oh, gosh. Now I know why you don't date, you're already in love with a chocolate spread," she said, still not looking at her daughter. Athena laughed. "Exactly," she said, putting another scoopful into her mouth.

"Oh, before I forget," Emily said and walked over to the fridge. She took a vintage looking envelope off its door. Athena groaned. "Please tell me that's not what I think it is," she almost begged. Emily held the envelope out to her. "Don't shoot the messenger," she said defensively. Kelly stood up as Athena took the envelope out of her mother's fingers. "What is it?" Kelly asked while walking over to the counter. Athena tossed the envelope to Kelly. Kelly caught it easily. She studied the shining brown envelope with Athena's name on it. Kelly looked at her friend. Athena motioned with a wave of her hand. "Open it," she said. Kelly did as she was told. She pulled out the invitation on the inside and read it. Kelly's mouth fell open slightly. "Oh," she said quietly. She handed the invitation back to Athena. "Well that sucks. Liz's eighteenth birthday party-"

"I'd rather have my eyelashes plucked out," Athena said. She looked at her mother, getting ready to beg. Her mother raised her hands. "No, I'm sorry, Athena. You're not getting out of this one as well. You've already missed her sweet sixteen and she's your cousin," Emily said and walked towards the couches. Athena groaned again. "Please, mom. I'll do anything. I'll cook for a month, do the washing for two, clean the bathroom every night..." Emily looked at her daughter and considered the offer before shaking her head. "Forget it, you two are family. I'm not interfering again," she said and sat down on the couch. Athena sighed. "Well, at least you get to suffer with me." Athena said. Emily winced. "Uhm, about that..."

"Oh, come on mom! No!" Athena almost screamed. Emily pulled up her shoulders. "I'm sorry. I already booked myself off for three weeks in December for our getaway. Do you want me to cancel that?" Emily asked. Athena raised her eyes to the roof. She huffed. "No," she said. "Plus, you can take Kelly now. She should be more fun anyway," Emily said. Athena looked at Kelly. Kelly winced and smiled at the same time. "Yay, another delightful encounter with Liz. Whoo-hoo." Kelly said dryly and rolled her eyes. Athena sighed. "No, it's fine. I'll go alone. I don't need Liz insulting you as well." Athena brightened a little. "Plus, how is she going to believe you burst your appendix if you're at her party," she said, smiling cheekily. Kelly returned her smile. Emily looked up. "How is Kelly - oh," she said. Athena laughed. "Promise to call me an hour after I get there?" Athena asked. Kelly nodded and held up her hand. Athena high-fived her.

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The school was quiet as Athena walked towards the library. Apparently there was a basketball game directly after school, so no one bothered to stay too long. She turned down the next hall, froze, then groaned. Jake was lying on the floor close to a bin as another guy walked away from him. Jake's black shirt was skewed and his hair was disheveled. They had obviously been in a fight. The guy that beat him up turned around the corner, leaving Athena and Jake alone in the hall. She looked at the ceiling and raised her arms. "Seriously? Why me?" She asked the heavens. She dropped her eyes to Jake. She lowered her arms. Jake was about to say something when she held up a hand. She stepped closer and knelt down next to him so that she could study his condition. His left cheek was swollen and red. Athena knew that would be purple in the morning. There was nothing she could do about that. He also had a bleeding cut along his forehead, just above his left eyebrow. She sighed and dropped her bag from her shoulders. The bag made an echoing thud in the silent hall. She started rummaging through it.

"What are you doing?" Jake's voice was breathless from the fight. She pulled out a fuzzy, pink pencil bag and zipped it open. "Well, since this is the second time I find you bleeding, I figure the universe or God wants me to clean you up. Maybe that's why I caught you again, because I wasn't playing the good Samaritan the first time." She smiled a little. Athena pulled out a little bottle of Savlon antiseptic liquid, a glove, and some cotton. Jake raised an eyebrow then flinched with pain. "Since when do you have a medical kit in your pencil bag?" He asked as she put the glove on her right hand then pressed the cotton to the top of the open Savlon bottle, and turned it upside down so that the cotton could absorb the orange liquid. Athena pulled up her shoulders and turned the bottle back upwards. She put it on the ground then turned her attention to Jake. "It's actually an SOS-kit. It was my mom's idea. Hold still," she said and pressed the moist cotton to his wound. Jake flinched and pulled in a sharp breath when the cotton made contact with his skin. He smiled a little, surprising her.

"Figures. Emily trying to turn you into a doctor too?" He asked. She searched his eyes, bemused. Why did he care? She turned her attention back to his forehead. Athena cleaned the wound and was slightly relieved to see that it didn't need stitching. "No, she's just looking out for me. That pencil bag has everything from a mini-makeup kit to disinfectants to tampons." She could feel his eyes study her. "You wear makeup now?" He asked. She decided to ignore him. Athena finished cleaning then held the bloodstained cotton between her fingers. She pulled off the glove without letting go so that the cotton could be contained inside it, then tied the top of the glove into a knot, and put it on the ground. She took the SOS-kit again and pulled out a white, Winnie the Pooh Band-Aid. She winced a little. "Sorry, it might diminish your manliness a little but it will stop the bleeding long enough for the cells to form a scab," she said as she placed the Band-Aid on his cut. She studied the Band-Aid until she was sure it could hold the amount of blood pouring out of his skin, then packed away her equipment. When she finished, she stood up and offered him a hand. He hesitated for a few seconds then took her hand and she helped him up. Athena picked up the glove and threw it into the nearby bin. Jake looked uncomfortable as he rubbed the back of his neck. "Thanks," he said. Athena smiled a little. "No problem. Just remember, then next time I catch you like this, it's going to be hard to erase the event from my memory," she said, hoping he got the message.

Jake nodded. He was speechless as he studied the girl he had known for more than half of his life. His mind could barely form a sentence. No girl has ever stood up to him the way she did and that threw him off. No one, not even his mother, not even his girlfriend, silenced him the way she did. He was still baffled by what she had become. He had sort of forgotten that they attended the same school. He had seen her around school a few times but he hadn't been so close to her for years. Her brown hair that used to be so flat and dull was a rich, mahogany color, and she had cut it so that it hung to her shoulder blades, her eyes seemed more confident as well as her posture. Her legs seemed longer and reminded him of the Barbie dolls she used to adore so much. He realized she wasn't the awkward, shy girl he used to hang out with every Friday night. She was confident, assertive, and beautiful, that surprised him the most. "Okay, well, I'm going to leave now so take care, Jake." She said and started walking off. "How's your mom been?" He blurted. Athena turned around, not bothering to disguise her surprise. "Uh ... she's good. She's just constantly on call these days and that tires her out sometimes." Athena said. "You look a lot like her now," he said. Athena smiled a little. "I do?" She asked. Everyone knew Dr. Thompson was a total babe. When they were kids, a lot of Jake's guy friends had a crush on her and wanted to go visit Athena with him just so they could be around the doctor. Jake smiled a little. He nodded. "Thanks," Athena said. She stood there awkwardly and Jake could tell she wanted to leave. "Uh, tell her I said hi," Jake said. Athena nodded. "Sure," she said and turned around. Jake watched her walk away for a few seconds then turned in the opposite direction.
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Published: 11/19/2013
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