Chapter 1: Dove and Godly Things
School was fun. Well not really, but the school I went to, Westside High, claimed they were fun. They said the staff was cool and the students wouldn’t notice the day fly by. In all honesty, the only thing that was cool about our teachers was that they were really, really oblivious. You could stab the person to your left and they wouldn’t notice it, that kind of oblivious. Plus, our school had cliques and a social ladder that I had the misfortune of being at the bottom of. The only saving grace to this social hell was my best friend, Amanda. Amanda was different.
She was pretty. She was confident. She always got offers to be part of the cheerleading squad or to go eat lunch with the popular students, but she always turned them down so she could stay with me and the other nerds. It was really confusing sometimes. She was perfect in a sense. Long and luscious blonde locks framed her heart- shaped face and her bright blue eyes were always filled with mischief and excitement. She always wore the latest designer clothes and took the time to keep herself done up, unlike me.
I was plain-faced and had long, wavy, dark brown hair, which mostly hid my round face. My dark brown eyes were almost black in the florescent light of the classroom. I dressed more for comfort; meaning skirts, dresses, and blouses were not in my ensemble. “Miss Brave?” I was pulled from my musing by the teacher’s voice and looked up owlishly, watching as the older woman frown down her long nose at me. She was one of the teachers that actually favored me, but I could see that I wasn’t getting any cookie points with her today. “Please pay attention,” she scolded before turning back to the whiteboard behind her. I heard a few muffled snickers and awkwardly looked down at my book, frowning when I found I was several pages behind the number on the board.
I quickly flipped to the correct page and looked up as our teacher turned and moved around her desk. She leaned against it, crossed over her chest then sighed heavily. “Alright kids. Who can tell me about the Great Rising?” She asked, her eyes traveling around the room before settling on me. I shifted in place and looked to my right where Amanda was seated, her eyes mostly shut as she struggled to stay awake. I could understand her plight. “Miss Goldstein! I’d appreciate you staying awake during class!” Our teacher snapped, causing Amanda to jump and look at her nervously, a sheepish smile appearing on her face.
“Sorry Mrs. Fria...” Amanda mumbled while Mrs. Fria rolled her eyes before lifting the class textbook and waving it around.
“Really kids? You all know about the Pantheon! Amanda what was the Great Rising?” Mrs. Fria asked, Amanda awkwardly rubbing her cheek before flipping through her book anxiously.
“Uhhh, th-the Great Rising was when the Olympic Pantheon came to Earth and began to live among mortals, taking a more active roll in human life,” she read right before the bell rang. She sighed in relief and I rolled my eyes while Mrs. Fria shook her head, her eyes traveling over the room.
“Good save Miss Goldstein. Look I want the report on Elysian Preparatory Academy on my desk at the beginning of class this Friday. You have the whole week to work on it so please use your time wisely. Remember to bring a flash drive so you can work at home and on the school computers,” she called as the room moved in unison, all of us attempting to grab our stuff so we could leave for the day. I shoved everything into my black messenger bag and paused up as a hand knocked roughly on my desk twice. My eyes slowly trailed up until they locked onto Mrs. Fria’s and she gave me a gentle almost motherly smile. She didn’t attempt to hide that she thought I was too smart for high school. She loved to challenge me at every turn and usually she was the only teacher that managed to actually get me to think instead of zone out. I was one of those special cases. When I was a kid, I took a test in elementary school and they called my parents. I was some kind of genius. In all reality, I could have graduated high school a long time ago. The only thing stopping me was that my parents thought social interaction with teens my own age was important and plus if I didn’t go to school I couldn’t hang out with Amanda.
I shook the thought from my head before awkwardly adjusting my thick grey glasses, watching as she pulled a paper from behind her back and slid it towards me. “So I was grading your last paper and gave it to a friend in the science department. He gave it to the principal and the principal thinks that you might get chosen as a demi god with this kind of work,” she said with a bright smile. I blinked in surprise before awkwardly rubbing my neck; glancing over and noticing some students had slowed down to listen in.
“D-Demi god? I don’t think it’s that good. You told me to write about my home inventions and I did,” I began, stopping when she lifted a hand. Truthfully, the gods weren’t the only ones who chose people to go to Elysian Prep. Sometimes people could appeal to the Student Pantheon at Elysian Prep and be chosen for their current accomplishments. Most of the time thought, students were chosen in a flash of bright light by a specific god.
“Helen. We have confidence that you’ll be chosen, but maybe you should send it in just in case,” she said gently. I frowned, feeling slightly offended before noticing some of the students were now looking at me with wide eyes while Amanda tried to shoo them away, glaring at them hatefully. She knew that I hated attention.
“M-My parents want me in high school so I don’t end up living in my room. Plus, if Hephaestus or any of the Pantheon was interested in me then I would’ve been recognized by now,” I said before zipping up my backpack and retreating for the door.
“Sweetie I didn’t mean it like that!” The teacher called, but I fled into the hallway and sighed in relief when Amanda scared off two stragglers that had been listening in.
“So was she overly offensive today or was it just me?” Amanda began, tugging me off balance and over towards some lockers. I stumbled after her before nodding and rubbing my cheek nervously as I got my footing.
“She just wants to be known as the person who found a demi god,” I grumbled before hiking my backpack higher onto my shoulders as I straightened out. Amanda scoffed as we passed the lockers and continued towards the stairwell near the end of the hall. We walked in a comfortable silence, but it was cut short when the door to the left of the stairwell opened and the student council walked out. To me, the group was glorified popular kids with too much money and too small brains, but to everyone else, they were the gods and goddesses of the school. I could feel myself begin to sweat nervously as we grew closer to them and swallowed while Amanda straightened out, linking her arm in mine before winking at me when I glanced at her.
“Don’t worry about them. Remember we only have a year and a half of high school left before we’re free,” she joked. I snorted and grinned at her, the look falling into a grimace when some of the girls of the council turned to us then tossed me sneers. The leader of their, cult- er sorry, group moved out from deep within the circle and winked at her before frowning down at me, stopping us before we could escape.
“Hey Amanda…Helen,” the thickly built teen said before focusing on her. He acted like she was food and he hadn’t eaten in days. Now if only he put that much focus into school, he’d probably graduate on time.
“Hey Donald,” she said, tossing him a small smile before moving to leave. He quickly slid in front of us and winked at her before grinning wider. I felt her grow tense against my side and looked to her nervously, watching as her jaw tightened.
“I was wondering if you wanted to go out after the football game tomorrow,” he began. I frowned a bit since Amanda had promised to help me with an invention tomorrow night then smiled when she shook her head and nodded to me.
“Sorry Donald. I’m helping Helen with something,” she said, her smile becoming more natural. She began to relax and I frowned as he scowled and glared at me before making a face and rolling his eyes back over to her.
“Come on you always use Helen as an excuse. She doesn’t need a babysitter and you’re not her girlfriend. Come on babe. Ditch the nerd herd and join us. You’re too good for them,” he said. I frowned in hurt when the other people in his group nodded and she narrowed her eyes before releasing me and shoving her finger in his face.
“Go take your thoughts and shove them up your ass Donald. What Helen and I do is none of your concern and lay off my friends! I can actually be myself when I’m with them!” She snapped. “Let’s go Helen,” she ordered. I nodded and as we moved towards the stairs, Donald’s face slowly turned red and roughly grabbed her upper arm. He jerked her back and I froze in shock and mild horror, the other students suddenly looking uncomfortable.
“You’re making a huge mistake Amanda. You know you’re better than those nerds. Your parents are Elysian Alumni and you should be at Elysian too. Those weirdoes are probably blocking Aphrodite from finding you,” he said harshly, glaring at me venomously. I grimaced and looked to her, finding that she was now red faced and glaring at him hatefully. Her parents and Elysian were a sore subject for her.
“If Aphrodite was going to choose me then she would. I’m just as pretty and amazing as any Elysian student. Now let go of me before I make you,” she growled out lowly. Donald glared at her angrily before his eyes widened and he let her go quickly, shaking his hand and paling drastically as he stepped away from her. I frowned and looked to Amanda before gasping in shock, lifting a hand and covering my mouth in awe. She was glowing a dull pink and dusted herself off before huffing. “I don’t think that Aphrodite can’t find me, she’s probably waiting for the right moment to welcome me to Elysian so piss off Donald,” she said confidently. She tossed him one last glare then looked to me and frowned before cocking her head to the side in what looked like confusion. “Are you okay Helen? You look scared,” she began.
“Are you okay?” I questioned back, the glow beginning to center in her chest, right above her left breast.
“A little warmer than usual, but fine. What are you….” she said before stopping as her eyes glazed over. She stiffened then tightly screwed her eyes shut and grabbed at her chest in pain. “Oh crap, I think I’m having a heart attack!” She hissed out from between clenched teeth before sliding to her knees.
“Amanda!” I cried out in horror, moving over and kneeling at her side. Terror stiffened my body and I looked up, finding the other students were moving back nervously. “Get a teacher!” I yelled. The group jumped before one of the girls ran back into the student council room and I looked to Amanda, who was panting slightly as she clutched at her chest. “Amanda talk to me,” I whispered, listening to her noisy breath.
“My chest hurts really bad, like my heart is on fire,” she weakly said before looking up into my eyes. She gave me a grimace of a smile before frowning deeply and rubbing my cheek with her thumb, pain reappearing on her features. “Hey I’m okay. Stop crying,” she said in a soothing voice, one of her eyes shutting in what I assumed was pain. I blinked, realizing my eyes were filled with tears from my fear and sniffed, trying not to cry worse in my panic. Amanda rubbed at her chest and took in several huffing pants before giving me a tired grin. “It’s starting to fade,” she said softly before rubbing my face with her palm. Her hand felt warm, almost feverish, and she was sweating slightly as her breathing began to become almost normal. “Seriously. I hate when you cry,” she mumbled, taking her other hand off her chest to gently grab my shoulder when she shifted. She continued to dry my face off, a small fond looking smile appearing on her lips as she did so. The glow on her chest seemed to be pulsing now and she ran her fingers down towards my shoulders, curling her them into my jacket before pulling me closer. I glanced up as she loomed over me, her eyes slowly beginning to turn pink.
“Um…Amanda?” I weakly said, blushing as she frowned down at me before tugging me up towards her face. “Amanda we talked about personal space, one of my mom’s even got out the puppets,” I tried to joke, my eyes widening when she closed her eyes and cut me off with a rough and searing kiss.
Now you see, I’ve kissed Amanda before. Not like this, but kind of in the friend way. A peck on the forehead or the cheek was the farthest I’d ever gotten with her. This wasn’t the usual kiss we’ve exchanged; this was a real kiss. I kneeled, frozen in place as she kissed me roughly for a moment, my hands awkwardly hovering near her hips as she pulled away and released me. Her eyes slowly opened and pulsed a brilliant pink as she stared at me and I swallowed, staring up at her wide-eyed. “A-Amanda?” I whispered in shock, watching as a frown appeared on her face before her eyes widened and she sucked in a quick breath. The pink was beginning to fade from her eyes, her face slowly growing a bright red while she moved back a bit and scrubbed at her eyes roughly.
“Oh shit I just kissed you and it was open mouth and where did you learn to do that with your tongue...Have you been practicing with a pillow or something?” She asked, babbling as she looking at me curiously.
“I haven’t,” I snapped, flushing and feeling the red from my face fade as she looked away. “Hey it’s okay. Your eyes aren’t glowing now and I’m still worried about you,” I said softly.
“What the hell was that?” Donald cried from behind me. Amanda ground her teeth while I looked back, watching as Donald shot me a hateful look. “So you and the nerd are messing around?” He snapped, marching over and shoving me out of the way. I yelped when I hit the ground and glared up at him as he towered over Amanda.
“Hey, leave us alone! Amanda told you she isn’t interested, asshole,” I snarled without thinking, moving to stand, but he stepped on my left leg and knocked my prosthetic out of place. I scowled and moved to fix it while he kneeled in front of a shocked looking Amanda.
“Whoa Donald what the hell?” One of his friends yelled before moving over to help me. “Are you okay?” He asked. I nodded and moved my leg back into place before cringing at the sound of a slap. I looked up swiftly and found Amanda was now standing and looked absolutely furious.
“You horrible-,” she began before the student council teacher rushed up, looking down at me and frowning deeply. Mr. Kent was the school’s most attractive teacher who also just happened to run our chemistry department. He too was one of the bigger supporters of me trying to become a demi-god, which didn’t bode well for Donald.
“Helen…what is going on here?!” He roared. Donald swiftly stood up and moved over, a grin on his face that was marred by a fading red handprint.
“It’s nothing Mr. Kent. Amanda was feeling ill and-,” he began, but one of the popular girls moved forward.
“He was harassing Amanda again and knocked Helen over. He stepped on her leg,” she said in a rush. Rage flashed across Donald’s features while Mr. Kent glared at him darkly before marching over to me.
“Amanda, one of the students said you were glowing,” he said as he helped me up and kept me in still as I made sure my leg was in the right place.
“I guess? My chest was hurting really bad, but it stopped,” she said tiredly. I looked back at her and found she indeed looked exhausted, all the fight gone from her stance.
“Maybe a god was judging you,” Mr. Kent suggested. Amanda laughed weakly before shrugging and looking away, her hand running through her hair listlessly.
“Guess they didn’t like what they saw,” Donald said in a mocking voice.
“Why don’t you go shove a football up your ass?” I snapped at him and he looked at me hatefully.
“That was uncalled for Donald. Helen please take Amanda to the nurse. She’s probably still here,” he said after releasing me.
“Alright,” I said, quickly moving over to Amanda’s side and leading her down the long flight of stairs to our right. I heard Mr. Kent begin to yell at Donald and looked to Amanda, who was pale and shaky looking. “Do you need to sit?” I asked. She nodded and we took a seat, my hand instantly seeking out hers. She grabbed it and squeezed it gently before giving me a tired smile and looking forward warily. It was kind of scary to see her this tired and pale, she was always bright and vibrant looking. For a short moment, she seemed to look better, but her eyes suddenly glazed over and she slumped forward a bit. “Amanda? Amanda?! Help! Something’s wrong!” I screamed, watching as her hand twitched almost violently in mine. Her body was beginning to glow again and I nervously ran my hand through her hair, looking up fearfully and hoping someone heard me.
It might have been a second, but Mr. Kent came running down the stairs and kneeled at our side, the other kids following him with panic on their faces. “Oh my god. She’s being judged,” he whispered in awe.
“Sh-She’s not having some kind of seizure?” I said weakly, tears blurring my vision as I watched her hand curled into a fist before relaxing. Her whole body lit up a bright pink once before the glow exited her body and rose up, twisting and forming into a gold and pink dove. Amanda slumped towards me and I caught her, relaxing as she groaned before looking to me.
“What the heck?” She mumbled, looking up blearily and frowning at the dove. “Is that a dove?” She slurred out. I nodded and she mirrored it before squinting then blinking. “That’s Aphrodite’s symbol...she chose me,” she whispered in awe before beginning to laugh, the tone bordering hysteria. “I can’t believe it! She chose me!”
Shortly after Amanda was chosen, all of us were sent back to our respective homes, Mr. Kent assured us he’d call the proper people. As we left, the “populars” attempted even harder to get Amanda to join them but she calmly explained how useless it would be since she would be transferring to Elysian which made them drop it. We tiredly walked into my house, thirty minutes later, and stood silently for a moment, relaxing when we heard the soft singing coming from the kitchen. “Ma and momma must have gotten home early,” I said softly, rubbing the head of the dove that had taken my shoulder hostage.
“Good. My parents are still out on that business trip and I really don’t want to be alone right now…” Amanda mumbled before marching over to my couch and flopping onto it.
“Sweetheart? Are you home?” I heard my momma call.
“Yes! I brought Amanda! She got chosen by Aphrodite!” I called, grinning when I heard something shatter and quick footsteps.
“What?!” Momma said in shock, bustling into the room and looking at Amanda with wide eyes. Momma was short and chubby with long brown hair that was loose around her face. Her bright brown eyes were narrowed on Amanda and I noticed she was still dressed in her black skirt suit which meant that she must have barely gotten home. The golden pink dove jumped off of my shoulder and flew over to Amanda before looking at momma for a moment. A small smile appeared on momma’s face before she looked back as the door behind her opened. I looked up and found ma was heading into the room and looked down at me in confusion.
Ma was tall with feminine and masculine features, her eyes a deep-brown, which momma assured I inherited. Her hair was the same color as mine, but hers was boyishly short. Her large hands quickly adjusted the thick glasses on her face. “When did you get home?” Ma asked, heading over and kissing my forehead. She turned to momma and kissed her cheek before looking to Amanda and waving. It took a moment before she paused and raised an eyebrow, her eyes rolling over Amanda then the dove. “Who got chosen?” She asked in confusion.
“Amanda,” I said with a smile, ma nodding before walking over and patting her head.
“Good job. Are you staying for dinner? I think this is cause for celebration,” she said with a smile. Amanda nodded and momma laughed before heading back towards the kitchen.
“We can have some Chinese food! I’ve been looking for an excuse to order some!” She called. Ma tossed her a smile before jerking her head towards the garage door.
“Please try not to be too loud tonight kiddo, I had to deal with some jerks in the office today and have a bit of a headache,” she grumbled before wandering off. I laughed lightly then smiled at Amanda, who grinned back.
“This is nice,” she said softly, relaxing back on the couch and sighing quietly.