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Auburn, Massachusetts - 2018
Samantha Lambros easily caught the kick that had been aimed at her chest, her auburn hair flying sideways from the fast movement. “Nice try, Jason,” she said with a grin. Using his arm as leverage, she flipped him neatly to his back on the blue mat. As her opponent rubbed the back of his head she offered him her hand. He locked arms with hers and she pulled him to his feet.
“One of these days, Sensei, I am going to beat you,” Jason said with confidence.
Sam put an olive-skinned finger to her lips in a thoughtful manner. “Wait…wait, I think I’ve heard this one before,” she teased.
Jason frowned and then gave her a grudging smile. “I’ll see you next week,” he said with a wave as he walked off.
“Later, Jason,” Sam replied. She turned to the rest of the karate class who were picking up their belongings. “Everyone who has their black belt test next week needs to be here at eight am sharp. Later, guys.”
After the last of the students had made their way out the door, an Asian man who had been watching the entire class from the back of the dojo rose from the floor pillow he’d been sitting on and strode toward Sam. He was in his late seventies, had a ring of hair encircling a bald head and his skin was slightly wrinkled. Although he was elderly, he was strong and his stance emphasized it. He gave her a warm smile. “Excellent, Samantha-san,” he said with a Japanese accent.
“Arigato, Souma-Sensei,” Sam replied with a low bow. Her Sensei responded in kind. “I think I’m gonna stay behind and practice a bit.”
Souma Sensei smiled warmly. “You work too hard. Go out and be young once in a while.”
Sam stuck out her tongue with a smile. Her sensei simply chuckled warmly and left the room.
Sam practiced for an hour and a half, but she didn’t feel the least bit tired. She always felt like she could work on her karate forms forever. The large room was dimly lit to help her concentration. In a case on the far wall were trophies from martial arts tournaments—most of them hers. Portraits of past masters of the dojo lined the wall to her right. Somehow, she felt as though they guided her.
One motion blended into the next as she flawlessly executed each move. It didn’t matter to her that she was only nineteen and already a third level black belt. She just loved martial arts, and it showed as she landed yet another perfect roundhouse kick.
Suddenly, a flash of waves breaking on shore entered her mind and she stumbled a bit. “What was that?” she asked aloud with her hand on her forehead. Another flash—images of a beautiful island populated by people walking around in clothing that resembled the type worn in ancient Greece. She suddenly found herself immobilized as the images intensified.
“Kallisto,” called a woman’s voice. “Kallisto!” She walked along the stone streets grumbling to herself. Her pale blue chiton and long dark hair fluttered in the winds off the ocean. “That girl.... Why won’t she stay where she promises?”
“Not while I’m awake...please,” Sam begged softly as she sank to the floor.
“Our city will be destroyed,” said Kallisto, her voice in great emotional pain.
“Stop it....” Sam whispered, her pulse racing. The panic that gripped her was nearly suffocating, but the panic was not hers. It belonged to Kallisto. Please…please turn off, she begged the vision that was invading her mind.
“I will miss you Uncle,” a woman said sadly as tears made their way down her face.
Sam tried to grab the exercise mat underneath her, but it was too stiff so her nails dug into her palms instead as her ponytail fell forward over her shoulder.
“Are you sure about this, mother...?”
“STOP IT!” Sam cried, a small amount of blood starting to ooze from where her nails had cut into her palms. She suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder and punched blindly at whomever it belonged to.
“Sam!” yelled a surprised voice.
Breathing heavily, Sam looked up into the lightly tanned face of her friend and honorary sister, Morgan Carmichael, who was clutching her nose in pain.
“Morgan!” Sam said loudly. Shock and horror at what she had done was etched into her face. "Oh my God! Are you alright?!” she begged, trying to move her friend’s hand so she could check the damage.
Morgan moved her hand from her nose. “Ugh. Yeah, I think so,” she said, her eyes watering from pain. “I don’t think its broken.”
Sam’s eyes misted over. “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean it.”
“It’s okay,” Morgan said as she pushed her shoulder length, chestnut brown hair away from her face.
“Are you guys alright?!” exclaimed a concerned voice from the front of the dojo.
Sam looked towards the new voice. Another friend/honorary sister, Tia Mason, rushed into the room, her waist length brunette hair flying behind her as she ran. She was five feet nine inches and had light brown skin.
When she reached her sisters, Tia's brown eyes scanned Morgan’s nose, and then Sam’s fingernail gouged hands. “What happened in here?”
“Sam was having a really intense vision and I was stupid enough to startle her out of it,” Morgan replied sheepishly.
Sam didn’t see this as an excuse in any way, shape or form. “Are you sure you’re alright?” she said with a choked voice.
Morgan smiled comfortingly and hugged her friend. “Hai, Daijoubu (Yes, I'm okay).”
Tia rolled her eyes. “Will you stop with the Japanese? This is serious.”
Morgan grinned wickedly. “You just wait. One of these days we will suck you into the glorious world that is anime.”
“This isn’t the time for jokes,” Tia scolded with a disapproving frown.
Morgan pouted. “Sa—aam. She’s being mean to me.”
Sam laughed a little. Morgan could always make her feel better. It was one of the main reasons they’d been best friends for four years.
“So what was the vision about?” Tia asked as she glanced at Sam’s wounds. “It must’ve been bad.”
Sam sighed heavily. “You’ll think I’ve lost it,” she said with a pained smile.
“Naaaahh, we already think that,” Tia teased with a mischievous smirk.
“Ha ha....” Sam grumbled.
“C’mon. We’re your sisters,” Morgan urged.
“Alright,” Sam relented with some hesitation. She pulled her knees up to her chest. “It was weird. It was a vision, but…different. Almost like a memory.”
Morgan and Tia looked at each other. “So it was more than your usual ‘this glass is gonna break in a minute’ stuff?” Tia asked.
Sam nodded. “Way more. And what’s even weirder...? I think it was all happening in ancient Greece,” she said with a frown.
“Ancient Greece?” Tia repeated, confused.
“Yeah,” Sam replied, scratching the side of her head.
“Where do you think it came from?” Morgan asked.
Sam let out a puff of air and rubbed her arms as though trying to rub off the uneasy feelings the vision left her with. “Damned if I know. Mind if we go home now?”
Tia nodded, although her expression said that she would want more information later, and helped her sisters to their feet. As they began to walk out the door she grabbed Sam’s injured hand. “Maybe we should get that looked at,” she commented, concern etched in her delicate features.
Sam sighed and rolled her eyes. “They’re not much more than paper cuts. I can fix it just fine at the apartment."
Tia shook her head in defeat. “You’re impossible.”
Sam grinned. “Thanks! I work at it.” She laughed at her own joke and the three women headed for home.
“Ow!” Sam said indignantly as Morgan picked a bit of dirt out of one of her cuts with a needle. The two women were sitting at the oak table in their large kitchen.
Morgan frowned. “Honestly. For a third degree black belt, you are the biggest baby,” she commented, putting a band aid over the cut she had just cleaned.
Sam promptly stuck out her tongue in defiance. “I can take care of the rest myself,” she said with a pout as she pulled her hand away.
“Have fun then. I’m gonna play some DDR,” said Morgan as she stood from her chair.
“Ah! Wait for me!” Sam requested excitedly. She hurriedly bandaged the rest of her cuts and did a sloppy job of it.
By the time Sam got to the living room, the dance pads for the game had already been hooked up so that they could play Dance Dance Revolution. She took her position on the left pad.
“What song should we do?” Morgan asked.
Sam thought for a moment. “Kick the Can,” she replied with a grin.
Morgan sighed and shook her head. “How did I know that was coming?” she said as she stepped on the right dance arrow to scroll through the song list.
Sam chuckled a bit. “Cause you’ve been around me too long.” She stepped on the down arrow to choose ‘heavy’ mode difficulty level.
“You are insane,” Morgan commented with a cocked eyebrow as she chose ‘light’ mode.
Sam smirked. “Not my fault you can’t handle my level.”
Morgan stuck out her tongue. “Mlaaaaaaa!” The song started and both women turned their attention to the screen.
Tia watched Sam’s feet in amazement. How the hell does she move that fast? she thought.
After twenty minutes or so Tia’s eyebrows rose as though she had remembered something. “Hey, Morgan?”
Morgan kept her focus on the screen. “Kiiinda busy here, Tia,” she replied, just before using both feet to hit a double arrow.
“Um...didn’t we have some shopping to do?” Tia insisted, hoping Morgan would take the hint.
“After this game,” Morgan replied quickly.
Tia sighed in defeat. “Fine, I’m going on the net,” she said before walking off into the next room.
After the final song was finished, Sam and Morgan sat down on the couch, gasping for breath.
“I think...we over did it,” Morgan commented between gasps for air as Sam walked into the kitchen for a drink.
“Most likely,” Sam replied as she took the pitcher full of water out of the fridge. She filled a thirty-two ounce plastic cup and dumped in half the contents of the ice cube tray for good measure.
When she walked back into the living room Sam couldn’t help but chuckle. Morgan was sprawled out over the entire couch, looking very much like road kill. “Oi—ya dead?”
Morgan, whose face was pressed into the couch fabric, didn’t move. “Yes,” came her muffled answer.
Sam laughed and rolled her friend to a sitting position, then plopped down on the couch.
Tia emerged from the stairwell, sighed, and shook her head at the exhausted state of her friends. “You guys have fun killing yourselves?” she asked with folded arms and a cocked eyebrow.
Sam responded with a grin. “Yup,” she said weakly.
Tia turned to Morgan. “Do you still have the energy to shop?”
Morgan tipped her head to the side, stuck out her tongue, and made a gurgling noise in order to pretend she was dying.
Tia let out an exasperated puff of air through her nose. “Mor-gan!”
Morgan groaned and started to get up. “Okay okay.”
“Where’re you guys goin’?” Sam asked.
A playful smile spread across Tia’s face. “I’m not telling you.”
Sam’s fingers went into a tent shape as she tapped the tips together in enthusiasm. “Ahhhhh, could you be present shopping for me?” she asked gleefully.
“We ain’t telling you a damn thing, woman,” Morgan said as she slipped on a baseball hat.
Sam pouted and folded her arms. “Meanies!”
Tia laughed and she and Morgan walked out the door.
Now alone, Sam took a red Sharpie out of the pen cup, walked over to the calendar and drew an X over the current date which was July twenty-eighth. Her heart pounded as she stared at the calendar that silently counted down to her birthday and she sighed nervously. “Just two more days.”