Membership at the gym was 150 per month or 20 per visit. Sam paid the membership fee; Izzy paid twenty.
“It pays for itself in just over a week,” Sam explained. Eight visits and you’ve more than made up the cash. He did that math. “That’s only twice a week.”
Izzy was not convinced.
Sam tried out the weigh lifting equipment. He could run at home as much as he wanted, but gardening wasn’t the same as a proper workout.
“Don’t break your arms.” Izzy smirked. “Ooh, the Devine Legacy is on.” She moved on to the TVs across the room.
“Those – are – for working out.” Sam protested futilely. Izzy could’t hear him over the general buzz of gym conversations, the hum of treadmill and now the clank of weight machines.
“Sam my man!” Sam turned and saw Eli waiting by the school steps. “Ready?”
“Wouldn’t miss your party for the world.” Sam had known Eli since elementary school and they often had the same classes. Eli had invited everyone to his eighteenth birthday. Everyone was turning 18 these days it seemed. Sam knew his own party was just around the corner.
Eli’s house was one of those newer modern houses in Windenburg. Not old brick and stucco. But it gave the place a clean feel. They’d even catered food in. Sam didn’t think his own family lacked money, but he also knew they’d never spring for a caterer – even for his 18th.
Sam yawned and dropped onto a sofa. How many rooms did this place have?
“Oh sorry,” apologized as the girl recovered her plate. It hadn’t spilled, but that was pure luck the way he’d hit the couch. He didn’t recognize the girl. “Have we met?”
“Makayla Shaw. You’re Sam Huffman, right?”
“Uh, yeah – how did you know? Wait, Shaw?”
“I’m in your sister’s class. And my bother Mauricio is in yours. We just moved here from Willow Creek.”
“That’s cool.” Sam wondered what else to say and the silence stretched awkwardly between them. “Do you like it here?”
She shrugged, “I dunno. Seems cool enough.”
Sam gave up conversation and wandered over to the foosball room he’d heard Eli bragging about. It was surprisingly empty this time of night. And made of rough wood and plaster it felt more comfortable than the sleek stone and chrome.
Sam tried it out and soon became engrossed in plotting out moves. He set up one side’s defenses and then would play his side to try and break them. The goal of course, was to set up the defense so he couldn’t break it. He didn’t hear the door open expect in the slight increase in the volume from the music outside. But it didn’t really register.
“I saw you sneak back here.”
Sam waited. What did Karen want? He hadn’t hung out with her since his mom stopped making them play together. That was like second grade. They hadn’t really liked each other back them.
Sam shrugged and Karen face off from him. They dropped the ball in the middle. It was a lot more difficult defending from an actual player. It didn’t take long for Sam to realize Karen was good at this game…and he was not. After her fifth ball she smiled up at him.
“You stink at this.”
“It’s my first time playing,” he protested hearing the bite in her comment. That was what he remembered from his childhood. Karen had called him names.
“We’ll have to find you time to practice then,” she smiled.
Wait, what? This was a totally different Karen than the one he remembered. This Karen…well, she was nice.
“Sam! Time to go!” Izzy appeared just as he was finishing up.
He still wasn’t as strong as some of the others here, but he no longer struggled to life a single weight. Somehow Izzy had convinced the gym to let her in free to collect him after school. Of course as she never so much as looked at a weigh machine, it had been a safe bet on the gym’s part. He finished his last rep and stood up.
“Sure, just let me shower.”
Izzy rolled her eyes but said nothing and headed upstairs to wait for him. He glanced at the clock. She had started coming in earlier than she used to. Probably once she realized he wasn’t going to budge on the shower. There was no way he was going home in sweaty gym clothes. He found his sister up in the break room with some of their classmates..
Makayla Shaw, right? She and her brothers had recently moved to Windenburg and they were in some of the same classes. The girls were giggling over something on Makayla’s phone.
“Ready, sis?” He interrupted as loudly as he could. The speed at which the phone disappeared made him suspect it was about boys. Was that all anyone thought of these days? Sure there were some nice looking girls around his class, but Sam wanted to have his plan in place before he went harrying off. He’d seen what dating did to others and that was not something he wanted to do to himself anytime soon.
“We’re not old enough to drink yet.”
“We’re old enough to dance, silly.”
Inside they’d remade the place to look like an old fashioned saloon. Very wild west. Sam had to admit, it wasn’t a terrible place. And it wasn’t one of those dark bars where adults drank at the bar and glowered at the kids who dared walk in. It catered to whole families and there were plenty of tables for homework and plenty of room for dancing. There was even a piano. Sam wondered if his father would ever played here.
“This is kind of cool.”
“Told you. Ooh, there’s Diana!” Karen waved and headed off to a table. “Hi Diana.” Sam ordered a sprite and checked out the piano.
He could play a bit of guitar, his dad had showed him. But a piano was like a foreign object. No wonder Dad practiced at the Piano Cafe. There was no way one of these things would fit in their tiny house.
Sam opened his eyes startled. He hadn’t realized anyone was watching. “Oh.”
“I’m Krysta,” she introduced herself. She had very pretty eyes. Had he seen her before? He didn’t think so, he would remember seeing her.
“Oh, Sam Huffman,” Sam blurted as he realized she was waiting for an introduction.
“Nice to meet you.”
Author Note: I had to play quite a bit in the past few weeks to get ahead in this story enough to see the plot for this part. I’m not too fond of the teenage years – they just so boring play-wise with very little to do. Between work, school, and homework, there isn’t a lot of socializing Sam had time for. And he wasn’t being very cooperative. No teenage crushes or anything to work with. So I tried to take lots of pictures so that no matter what story I end up telling I’ll have shots for it. Thanks for reading!