"Okay, guys," said Denise, plugging in her guitar to the amp.
Athena was with Billy and Mandy at Mandy's house. Denise brought over her amp and guitar. Mandy wondered why she didn't do this at her own house. Did her parents have a no guitar playing rule? Well, Mandy didn't argue and let the punk rocker do her thing.
"This is a new song I've been working on." Denise said to them, after setting up the volume. She picked up her plectrum and played.
It was a good tune, Athena tapped her foot to the beat. That dream was still on her mind. She tried not to think about but it always burrowed in her head one way or another. She kept thinking about even as Denise's music filled the room.
Mom will be minding the shop. Athena thought. Grim's off reaping someone. And I don't know what the dream means. It's always the same one.
Denise's rhythmic strumming flowed melodically.
I don't know who to talk to about this. A therapist? My mom? Grim? Mandy?
Athena glanced over at Mandy. She was certainly someone to talk to. She was the backbone of this group. She looked over at Billy, who was seated next Mandy on the other end of the sofa. He was the brightest one of the bunch, but also the most innocent. He didn't have to deal with the problems she and others had. Athena wished she could be like him: happy and carefree and not worry about the world's struggles. If only things could be that way.
Denise finished her song. "So, what do you think?"
Mandy exchanged looks with Billy. Mandy shrugged when Billy gave her that goofy look. Sighing, she said, "It was a'ight."
The redheaded rocker squealed. "I'm gonna get some drinks," she said. "You just wait here." Denise put her guitar back on its stand and went into the kitchen.
Mandy turned to look at Athena. "You alright?" she asked, prompting Athena to snap out of her thoughts. "You've been quiet. I mean, quieter. Even for you."
Athena's eyes darted from left to right. Her mouth struggled to say what she was going to say. Her mind raced with words and she couldn't even process this.
"I, uh, um, I, uhhhh..."
"Who wants soda?" Denise came back to the living room with an armful of soda cans.
"Ooh! Me! Me!" Billy answered, raising his hand.
Denise threw him one. Billy opened it and it sprayed him in his face. Denise laughed and Billy, not minding the prank, laughed with her. Mandy groaned.
"You better not have shook mine." the blond sneered.
"Oh, don't worry." Denise said, smiling the perkiest smile she'd ever seen. She handed Mandy one. Mandy kept her eyes on Denise as she opened her soda. The blonde nonchalantly drank her soda while keeping her eyes on Denise, like she was waiting for her next prank.
"Here." Denise said as she handed Athena her soda.
I guess I could use the caffeine. she thought as she opened her soda. Athena had a hard time falling back to sleep after that dream. She kept tossing and turning. Most nights she would've fallen back to sleep. Memories of the dream crept back into her one way or another. Athena sipped her soda and wondered of she would get through today.
Grim arrived home through a swirling portal. He just come back from reaping a sad human soul from an aging old man. It was just another day.
He arrived at Mandy's house. He was in her living room, which was empty, but he spotted her in the kitchen. Her and he rest. Denise, Billy and Athena. He went to join them.
"Oh hey, Bonehead." Mandy said, looking over her shoulder, eyebrow raised.
"Hey, Grim," said Denise. "Wanna snack?" She held up a small cracker with cheese on top.
"No thanks." the skeleton replied. He looked over at Athena. He would've thought she was back home, but he guessed she decided to stay longer. Either way, he was glad she was here. "I came here to borrow Athena."
Athena looked once he said her name. "What...what do you need me for?"
"I need to talk you." Grim said. "Alone." He added upon seeing the others' interested faces. But grim knew he would eavesdrop, so once Athena got up from her chair, he motioned for her to come over. He opened a portal with his scythe. Athena went in and he went inside after and then the portal closed.
Athena found herself back in her living room. The green armchair, the coffee table, the flower vase with freshly-cut flowers. Everything. She looked over her shoulder. The same yellow curtains. Grim landed beside her, portal over them closed shut.
"What did you want to say that you couldn't say in front of the others?" Athena said.
"I wanted us to be alone when I tell you this." the skeleton said. "I arranged a meeting with the Board of the Underworld—to meet you."
"Mmm." Athena looked at the floor before looking back at Grim. "What did they say?"
"You have a meeting tomorrow." Grim said. "They want to meet you and test you on your knowledge on the Underworld. Stuff like that."
"O...kay." Athena looked away.
"Hey now, we've talked about this." the reaper said. "We can cancel it, if you want."
"No. No." Athena took a deep breath. "I'll do it."
"Are you sure?"
The goth girl nodded. Grim mentioned something like this last week. He talked to her about getting the Board of the Underworld to meet Athena. The Board was incredulous at first; Grim finding the heir to the Crown of Achylis. They thought the Crown would be forever lost in the Queen's catacombs. But once Grim told them about Boogey and how he stole it to use on Athena they were dumbfounded. They didn't even know Boogey had stolen it. "Somebody wasn't doing their job," was what Grim told them to their faces. The Board was stumped but it was true. How Boogey managed to get past the radar was out of anyone's grasp. But the matter of the fact was, Grim found the Heir to the Underworld and he's spent months training her. They both knew this day would come and were sure of going through with this.
Athena looked at Grim. "Can Mom come? And the gang? I think I'd feel better if they were there with me."
"Very well." Grim said, standing up. "I'll gonna go to your mom's shop and let her know." He opened a portal with his scythe.
"I might as well prepare for this meeting." Athena stated, standing up. "What time is the meeting tomorrow?"
"At noon." Grim replied.
Once Grim entered the portal, Athena went up to her room, wishing she could've told him about her recurring dream. She was almost glad the others didn't stowaway with them through. Almost. She looked in through her closet and found her dress. The one she wore to the gala and had been wearing ever since. She only wore it when it was necessary. And tomorrow was an important day.
She wondered if, after the tomorrow's meeting, she could talk to Grim about her dream. If the time called for it.
On top of the shel was a round red box. That's where she hid her tiara. The gold one with purple pearls. The one her father gave her before he died. Wearing it was like having a piece of him with her. And wearing it to the meeting tomorrow will feel like having him with her. Like he was watching over her. Athena hoped with a sigh that tomorrow would go okay. And that dream would be far away from her mind. If only she could stop the dreams.