When I didn’t hesitate to respond yes to the question of whether I wanted to continue my learning… this is definitely not what I had in mind.
“High school?” It’s a last-ditch effort, classes start today.
“Sorry! Nothing I can do! You’re signed up! Here, I printed out your schedule, and it looks like you have world history first,” my dad says cheerfully.
He has become too busy with his new job to teach me anything himself and ever since Percy… disappeared, he doesn’t like to leave me alone.
I go to refill my cup of coffee and he tries to stop me, “I don’t like you drinking so much coffee sweetheart,” he says, “the health effects-”
“Was that a question? Need me to rattle off a few?” I start just to bother him and then see this face. “Fine But, I can’t leave until I finish my letter to Percy.
” With my words, his face drops just a little. He doesn’t think that I notice.
When he left, I promised to write him letters every day so that when he got back it would be like he never left.
And I haven’t stopped.
Actually, dad,” I say, “I think that’s the bus, so I’ll just finish it there! Bye!” I don’t wait for his response, instead, I steal his piece of toast and run out the door.
I had tried to think of Piper as I got dressed this morning, but as soon as I walk through the doors I know I got it all wrong.
No sweater is big enough to hide me from this crowd, no matter how blue it is.
That’s the only color I can wear now. Anything to feel closer to him.
I slide into a seat toward the back of the class and can already hear the whispers starting.
I ignore them and continue writing. So far, so good. School looks like it’s going to be great! I lie.
The teacher has trouble getting everyone settled down since it’s the first day and for some reason everyone’s excited.
Unlike most teachers, this one starts right off the bat by introducing the first unit: Ancient Greece.
I can’t help it. I laugh.
The teacher’s eyes start to narrow until she gets a better look at me and tries to hide a small smile.
“I was going to open up the room to start naming some Greek gods, but why don’t we start off with you, young lady? Oh, and please, introduce yourself.”
“Annabeth Chase. Athena, of course. Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Hades, or Pluto if you prefer, Zeus or Jupiter, Aries or Mars, and don’t forget about Posiden. Just to name a few.
” The students are all gawking at me and nobody, but me notices the teacher’s narrowing glare.
She has another question for me, “Are you particular towards Roman gods, Annabeth?”
I smile all too sweetly, “I just don’t like them to get forgotten.” **
The bell rings and I am walking to my next class when I feel someone looking over my shoulder. I am immediately prepared to fight when they squeal.
“We are in the same class next! My name is Melanie and just hearing you talk in Mrs. John’s class told me you were, like, a total genius!”
I decide that having any friend is better than none, no matter how trivial they may seem! So, I humor her. **
She invites me to her table, for lunch. There is a group of girls and I can’t tell if they are trying to look identical, or if they don’t have any personality to back up their outfits.
Out of the blue, one of them asks if I had a boyfriend. While I stammered for an answer, she starts talking again.
“Because, like, James Miller is over there, and he is so making eyes at you. Do I have to mention how capital ‘H’ hot he is? Oh wait, you’re not blind.” **
Their claims are proven true. The next day, the boy approaches me at my locker. “Annabeth, right?” Original opening line.
“And you are?” I ask, unimpressed.
“Really? Haven’t you heard of me? Captain of our varsity football team that almost won states last year?”
He left one detail open, “Why didn’t you?”
“Why didn’t you win states? Bad leadership?”
“Yeah,” he says, smirk ever present, “Not me. This year, you have my word, I am bringing back the goal.”
I already don’t like this guy. “You forgot the ‘we.’ It’s kind of the whole point of team sports.” I walk away and am bombarded with newfound hostility from the girls.
“Do you, actually know how jealous you made us for even getting a chance with him!”
“God, who knew you’re such a bitch!”
“Like, are you actually blind?" **
It doesn’t take long for all good things to shift.
The girls no longer invited me to sit with them, instead now tried to trip me as I go past. I didn’t have to think hard before stomping on her feet. **
They find me in the library one afternoon and don’t bother to whisper their opinions. I think about offering them a megaphone.
“Ha, look at her!” one of them goes, “she’ll never get a boyfriend!” At that moment, all I wanted to do was scream just how right they were. That, just, “you’re right.” Percy was my everything.
Even if I managed to get someone else? You don’t get second chances at that kind of love. Instead, I push past them and hurry out towards the busses.
I’m interrupted once I get out the door, by a boy I’ve never seen before. “Hey, Annabeth, I’ve seen you around and well… I’m a friend of James.”
“Does he pay you to say that?” I continue before he asks the expected ‘what?’ “Your jersey,” I say, pointing to it,
“You play football and he’s the captain.”
He leads me toward a corner of the building and I am not sure why I follow him. His demeanor changes and suddenly what he is saying is the most important thing ever. “About James.
He’s a pretty good guy, right? We are talking about boyfriend material. Especially kissing material…” He continues and the more he talks, the more I believe him.
I barely notice when he stops because then James is there.
“Hey, Annabeth,” he says, “What’s good?”
My answer comes out breathy because he is steadily leaning in closer to me. “You,” I gasp just before we close the gap. He doesn’t stop, I don’t want him to stop until we hear a sharp voice.
“Hey, now!” barks a familiar voice.
No. (It's impossible.)
“What do you think you’re doing with my girlfriend!” I must shake me head clear before I can look. And when I do?
I proceed to march over and punch him in the face. And he’s bleeding when he falls back, more out of what looks like surprise.
I step back so I can see both guys.
“Which ones are you? Huh?
You think it’s funny to charmspeak me into betraying the love of my life and then,” this is where I start to get really mad and my voice cracks, “Make me think I’m seeing him?
“He’s dead! Okay, I finally said it! And I know I am not seeing a dead man, those doors are sealed. Literally!” I am huffing by the end.
People are starting to crowd around, but I barely see them as I prepare to kick him, but he doesn’t move away.
He moves closer, “Remember the time you broke the rules to sit with me at dinner? You nursed me back to health before you even know me.
And how would I know about how amazing that underwater kiss was-“
My breath catches in my throat and I don’t want to let myself believe it. “Sea… seaweed brain?”
I think it’s his smile that confirms it. “It’s really me, wise girl.”
Even though all I want to do is kiss him, I wipe the tears from my face and make a quick detour. I pick up James by his shirt.
“Wow,” he swallows, “You’re really stron-” I cut him off with a smile and a swift knee to the groin.
Percy is trying to hold back a laugh. I turn slowly and then burst into tears before running into his arms.
I’m so consumed by him that I barely notice that we’re airborne barely an inch off the ground until Percy begrudgingly stops to scold Jason.
“Are you seriously forgetting the reason why we’re even here, dude?”
He returns the angry glares from our friends with an embarrassed blush and says, “I just think they deserve their moment of romance after all this time!
” He lowers us to the ground and I run over as soon as my feet touch the ground. “Jason!” I only let him go to hug the rest of the crew.
The crowd hasn’t dispersed, instead goggling at us from afar. I think about what I said and how I reacted to the two boys. They shouldn’t care this much.
“Look, you better expect me to ask more questions about,” I make a pointed look at Percy, “all of this, but I only have time for one right now. What is going on? Why isn’t the Mist helping us?”
Jason makes a face. “That’s sort of why we are here. It’s not working. It’s a long story-“
“That I don’t have time to hear! What are we supposed to do? What if someone got something on camera?” I hiss.
Percy smiles at me, “Good thinking Wise Girl, I hadn’t thought of that!”
“Of course, you didn’t! Piper,” I start, but she doesn’t let me finish.
“I can’t charmspeak all these kids in time. We have to act fast.” You’d think they’d have more interesting things to do, but this is a small town and they have nowhere to go.
The chatter gets louder and the circle tighter.
I step out of our huddle and take a dramatic bow.
“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for being the first to take a peek at our skit, one of many, that we hope to perform at the local theater!” I say the last word with unnecessary emphasize.
There is nothing saying this will work to quell any rumors, but it is worth of shot. Most people at this school think I’m a nut anyway, thanks to the girl’s work up of me.
Most of the crowd mutters in disappointment and wander away, but a few stay. That’s when I remember the guy who led me outside in the first place.
I start running when I see him trying to escape behind a corner.
“Hey, big talker! Number 23, football! It’ll only get worse the more you run!” Maybe these threats are too big for a high school, maybe not. Maybe they have nothing to back them up.
I wouldn’t count on that being true.
When I finally catch up to him, I’m about to say something when Percy slams him against the brick.
“What do you want with my girlfriend? Huh?”
He struggles against the grip and, almost whimpering, says, “I didn’t know she had a boyfriend, dude! I was doing my friend, James, a favor. I can convince people sometimes… of things.”
[NOT THE END = to be continued...]