Chapter 8 - Bowling Alleys and Conference CallsMature

The Jeoman
County bowling alley was the only alley in the area, which explains its
incredibly large size and normally populated parking lot. There was a back
corner that was deemed a ‘safe haven’ for high school students as there were
plenty of refreshments and foods nearby without much intervention from the rest
of the people that were hanging out.

Sam had been
able to reserve such spot for our particular party. He immediately took control
of the place, plugging his iPod into a nearby outlet and began entering all of
our names into the machine. Before I knew it, the tables were set, as well as
our game.

“We’re gonna
get started right away” he commented as he busied himself with the work
necessary to prepare the night. “I don’t want to waste one minute of time
standing around doing nothing. This’ll be our night out, and one to remember…
no doubt about that”.

“So who’s
coming? The usual crowd?” I asked. When we had previously scheduled this,
multiple people were going to show up.

“Well, Jack,
Brant and Quintin are the obvious choices. We were lucky to get Quintin out of
his parent’s clutches… we sent Hannah, Anna and Amanda some texts to see if
they were still onboard, and Amanda’s the only one who hasn’t responded”.

Hannah and
Anna seemed to be the only two girls that dared socialize with me and my
friends. They were pretty nice, and everyone other than me in my group
constantly hit on them. Neither of them minded this all too much.

“I don’t
blame her though… I mean, you were her boyfriend… basically her best friend…
and one day you left her… you left all of us” Sam whispered. He quickly
brightened up. “Doesn’t matter now! We got you for a week!”

I nodded,
then asked if I could help out with his work. He refused, saying he was already
done. Smiling, I sat down and finished my second soda. Oh caffeine, how I’ve
missed thee…

Jack and
Brant appeared down at the end of the hallway of the bowling alley. They looked
around, and once they located us they took off at a sprint towards us, cheering
loudly.

“What’s up
everyone?” Jack shouted, putting the phrase into more of a greeting than a
question.

“I’m ready
to just kick back and relax” Brant commented, buying a soda and leaning back
into a nearby chair. “It’s not like I’m going to have to try hard to beat you
all”.

“Don’t get
too cocky Brant… I’m just as prepared to kick you wimpy ass” Sam retorted,
grinning as he said this.

Quintin
arrived a few moments later. He was soft-spoken, and even so he had the
athletic ability of a ninja. He joined us randomly one day, so we accepted him
to our group.

“What’s up,
Quintin?” Jack greeted him. Quintin could rarely hang out with us, so we were
pretty excited to see him.

“I think
we’re gonna get everyone we need tonight” Sam commented, which was a subliminal
stab at me; Amanda had shown no interest in coming along apparently.

Quintin sat
down next to me. “I’m just happy we still got Jordan with us… I wasn’t feeling
too hot on going here without you”.

There was a
funny thing about that statement. “The thing is, if I was still in the
afterlife… I would’ve wanted you guys to go anyways… don’t let me hold you back
from having a good time. We’re all about that aren’t we?”

“Always the
smart one” Jack said in a mock-scolding tone.

Quintin
replied quietly to my comment. “Thanks for that”.

Sam gestured
around him. “Gentlemen, we’ve got games, we’ve got music, and we’ve got food
and drink as well but for how long nobody can guess”. A group laugh followed
his joke.

“It’s all
mine!” Brant spoke up, already starting to tear his way through a slice of
pizza.

“By the time
I get hungry, it’s all going to be gone won’t it” Quintin sighed, shaking his
head in displeasure. I immediately agreed to this; my miniature appetite
wouldn’t be able to spare the smallest bit of the food.

Sam
shrugged, then stepped over to the bowling area. “I’m getting this started. I’m
going first anyway, so might as well”. Sam was actually pretty good at bowling.
After tossing the ball down the lane with a deadly curve to it, he started the
game off with a strike.

“Who’s
kicking whose ass now, hmm?” he said while in the middle of one of his famous
victory dances.

“It’s early
Sam” I spoke up, rubbing my hands together. “I’ve already planned how I’m going
to overthrow your monarchy”.

A few
footsteps were heard. We all turned to see Hannah and Anna join us, wearing
what they normally do; colors that made a rainbow jealous, and little to now
jewelry. They were one of the few girls I knew that wouldn’t wear so much
jewelry, and when they did it wasn’t anything expensive.

Contrary to
popular belief, they weren’t sisters. They don’t look alike; Hannah’s brown
hair and Anna’s light red; Hannah’s slightly smoother face and Anna’s more
developed body; however, they do everything together. Admittedly, they looked
attractive to me, but Amanda was better in my eyes.

“Hey guys!”
they said in perfect unison, their voices morphing into one. With their
entrance, all of my friends resorted to flirting with them, excluding Quintin
who was more of a shy character.

“It’s funny
how they have something like a competition” Quintin said, offering a quiet
laugh.

This was a
problem; two more people had to be alerted of my existence. Could it be
possible they won’t recognize me?

Anna, who
always had a crush on me, turned around and gasped loud enough for Hannah to
notice my presence as well.

Tears
started forming in her eyes. Hannah’s mouth opened continually, trying to say
something. I looked back and forth at them, then shrugged.

“Well… hi?”
I said shyly, hoping it would help cover up the silence that was forming over
our group.

“I thought
you had…” Anna’s voice trailed off. I walked over to her.

“I’m here
for a week… tell nobody” I whispered to her. I realized that this wasn’t the
best thing to say… but it looked like she was happy enough just to see me speak
to her.

In a flash,
she brought me into a crushing hug, and even though I told her to be much more
gentle, she refused or didn’t hear me. I could see that my friends were all
giving me looks of jealousy excluding Quintin. In their eyes, they had worked
years to get so much as a hug from them, and I could do it without trying.

Anna was a
pretty tough girl, and she stopped crying almost instantly. “You left me” she
said in a scolding manner, sadness still staining her voice. “Don’t… please…
just don’t do that again”. With all of this sadness around me, I was surprised
I hadn’t cracked yet. Seeing Amanda devastated nearly killed me, and it didn’t
help that my friends cared for me just as much. I was wrong… I was cared for
more than I thought.

Finally I
worked my way out of her embrace, shrugging off the pain. She almost leaned
forward to kiss me, but a quick reminder that I had a girlfriend changed her
mind. With a nod to her, I sat back down next to Quintin. The awkward silence
stepped in.

“Well… I’m
not trying to soil our good time” I said, trying to spark up the group’s
partying mood. “There’s no reason to stop now… is there?”

Sam laughed.
“Please, Jordan, and here we were thinking you were conspiring against us” he
joked. After a few laughs, Quintin stepped up to bowl and managed to hit down
one pin on his first roll.

The previous
emotions that were flown into the open now disintegrated, and the party had
started up once again. Quintin’s failure opened him up to a tirade of insults,
though he had some good retorts on his part.

Still bitter
over his last roll, Quintin got up and was able to knock down seven pins. This
comeback shut us up. Sam was still leading the pack, but it was still early.

Anna sat
herself next to me, and soon the two of us started talking. We were able to
socialize pretty easily, unlike other people. Hannah and I got along fine, but
just not as well… the fact we went out with each other one month didn’t help.

Our
relationship became rather complicated after that; friends, enemies, then
friends again. Anna was always by my side. Sam and all the others were pretty
static, though he stuck out the most.

It was
Brant’s turn now. He got up and strolled over to get his bowling ball with such
purpose that I couldn’t help but crack a smile. With one quick swing, he tied
Sam by getting a strike for himself. I could already tell the game was going to
center around the two of them competing for leadership. Third place was left to
the stragglers.

“You’re not
getting away too easily” Brant said, backing up to survey the damage he had
dealt to the pins.

“Did you
guys see that time on that sports that one guy was professionally bowling? It
was stupid, but let me tell you, I could beat him” Sam countered. His bragging
was usually full of hot air, but that was due to how he never really tried
playing sports when he was around us for some reason.

“That might’ve
been the worst feature they put on the show” Jack replied with a laugh
afterwards to drive his point.

“The best
part was when I figured out Hannah’s bracket is toast” Anna responded, leaning
onto Hannah’s shoulder, laughing at the same time.

She sighed.
“If I hadn’t lost that one team, I would be the one that would be telling the
jokes right about now”.

Jack stepped
up to bowl next, and he got seven pins down total. Sam and Brant were too busy
arguing to have noticed. After Jack gestured to me, I realized it was my turn.

It had been
a long time since I had done this, so I prepared myself to be ridiculed for my
lack of skill. With one swing the ball went rolling down the lane; and knocked
all of the pins down.

My mouth had
fallen wide open. It was a three-way tie now, but I knew it wasn’t going to
last. Sam smiled at me, giving me a thumbs-up sign to show he had at least seen
it.

Brant
hadn’t, but when he looked at the leaderboard his eyebrows were raised. “Would
you look at that?”

Hannah and
Anna took their turns next. Anna got a spare, but Hannah only got five pins
knocked down. From the looks of it, there was just Brant and Sam, with my lucky
strike thrown into the mix. Would I be able to get any more of those? This will
certainly be the most interesting game we play.

“So we’ve
all gone then” Jack said, surveying the leaderboard to check. “All except-“

“Amanda” I
finished his sentence. She was never one to hang out around my friends,
thinking that they were a little too weird and upbeat sometimes. Truthfully, we
were, but that was who I was, so it was my crowd. She didn’t mind all that
much.

Anna
shrugged. “She usually doesn’t come around, and if it’s not because she doesn’t
feel like it, she’s always busy with something”. A true enough statement.

Amanda busied
herself with chorus and band concerts, clubs and various other outings. From
what I knew, she was open this week with no real things in her way. I guess she
just didn’t want to come. I couldn’t help but feel a little hurt… we were still
‘going out’ no matter what death did to me. She was the only one… did she even
want to be with me? It was possible she was still bitter over Paul… I hope
that’s the reason.

“Sorry J,
let’s just pass her up” Brant said, voicing the general opinion of the group.

“We’re just
not her type” Quintin unnecessarily chipped in to the conversation.

I wanted the
bad mood to blow over. “Fine… go ahead and delete her from the game” I said
with a wave of my hand. I grimaced.

Right before
Sam erased her name from the game, I heard some hurried footsteps coming
towards us. I turned around… and there she was… wearing a beautiful white shirt
she had only worn once… from that one day in Florida when we…

“Hey,
Amanda” Jack greeted her half-begrudgingly. My friends didn’t like Amanda only just
because she wasn’t like us, and I wished that sometimes they’d act nice around
her.

I didn’t
have to worry about Hannah and Anna; both of them were Amanda’s friends. If
Hannah and Anna were sisters, then Amanda was their cousin; they did a lot of
stuff together.

“Hi” she
said shyly. It wasn’t like her to come around us, as I mentioned before.

My mouth was
open, a ‘hello’ stuck inside of it, refusing to come out for some reason. I
thought she was reluctant to come to see me… but I was proven wrong. Did I
judge the world incorrectly? It wouldn’t be the first time…

The words
finally came. “Hi Amanda” I said. She looked around at the others who were
staring at her awkwardly. I wished that they would stop, but it looked like
Amanda knew what she was doing.

“It’s my
turn, isn’t it? Might as well start” she spoke up, walking calmly over to get
her bowling ball. All of us watched us Amanda rolled the object down the alley;
and nailed a strike.

Sam and
Brant both gawked, but I didn’t; unlike the rest of us here, Amanda was
actually on the school bowling team. It didn’t take much skill to get on; it
was more of a club than anything; but she was talented nonetheless.

As the
others gathered around to the bowling area to get ready for their turns, Amanda
and I stayed back. They were having fun, talking about whatever they wanted to,
but I needed to stay with the person I… it’s complicated… as I’ve said.

“I assumed
you didn’t feel like showing up” I whispered to her. She smiled and leaned on
me.

“I guess you
assumed wrong” she responded.

I looked
over at her. “You don’t like my friends all that much. You wouldn’t come just
because, would you?”

She sighed.
“Truth… it was because you were going… and it’s just…” I thought she was about
to cry again. “You’ve only got a week here…”

“That’s more
than enough time” I said, comforting her. “We’ve got plenty of time… this can
be our night, like yesterday was our day. If I could keep it like that… I would
spend all of my time just with you”.

“Hey,
lovebirds!” Sam called. “You guys feel like joining us?”

I sighed and
put on a smile. “If I do, you can say goodbye to you lead”.

Sam was
still leading the game; he had just received a spare. Quintin brought eight
pins to the ground. Brant walked up, and just like last time, knocked down all
of the pins for a strike, overthrowing Sam, much to the distaste of the latter.
Jack and I both hit nine.

After two
consecutive sevens from Hannah and Anna, Amanda’s turn came up. An X shined on
the TV as she remained tied with Brant. I couldn’t help but laugh; he had no
idea who he was playing against.

“Damn” Sam
muttered, seemingly impressed. He turned towards me. “When did she get so
good?”

“It’s always
been like that” I replied. “You’d know if you got to know her”. This comment
wasn’t meant to hurt his feelings, but it looked like he started regretting
shunning her away from our group.

Amanda
walked over and sat down next to me while Hannah and Anna still fended off
various attempts of my friends trying to hit on them. Not much has changed I
guess.

“They
certainly seem to be acting much differently towards me” she observed.

I nodded. I
was getting a little bored of hanging around them, but that was only because of
Amanda. Something about her made me feel different, and I just wanted to be
with her all the time.

Right now
they were talking about one of those stupid-yet-funny videos on the Internet
that we like to watch just because our humor can be pretty twisted. At this
point, the girls tuned out while we talked about it, constantly referencing it
during the rest of the game as we always had. I had used that phrase a lot in
the first few days I’ve been on Earth; like we always had. Everything was
starting to become more routine now as though I never had died and nothing bad
happened to anybody.

The bowling
game continued on, Amanda now taking the lead with five consecutive strikes. My
friends didn’t look at her strangely like they used to as though she was a
villainous outsider, but as someone who had more to them than people thought.
Excluding me, nobody knew everything about her.

Brant
actually looked pretty jealous. “I never even knew her, yet here she is
pounding us to the ground… I’ve never been able to do that” he said.

Jack
grinned. “J, we were wrong about her… she’s pretty badass”.

“Sorry if we
misjudged her” Quintin said.

I shook my
head. “Guys, there’s no need to tell me about that or apologize. You had your
opinions, and just because you see them wrong now doesn’t mean you have to be
upset about it”.

“You’ve got
better game than I thought” Sam joked, nudging me.

As they went
on talking, I began to become wary of my hearing becoming malfunctioned. They
were speaking loud enough for me to hear… but for some reason my ears picked up
nothing. I couldn’t even hear myself talking!

I looked
around furiously, confused by what was going on and hoping it would end, and
fast. How was this happening? None of my friends noticed what was going on as
though I had become invisible.

A shining
light blinded me, its origin coming from somewhere in front of me. In my daze,
I got up and stumbled onto the ground. Eventually my eyes began to clear up. I
turned around…

And saw
George. He was wearing all-white clothing, walking at a brisk pace, his face
contorted with anger. How… why was he here? With a groan that I couldn’t hear,
I realized what this was.

“So, I tell
you to get ready for the next day” George said. He had finally reached me. He
brought me up onto my feet by yanking on my shirt collar. “Yet I find you
playing games… games!”

My hearing
had come back now so I could listen to his lecture. I opened my mouth to make
the obvious comeback, but he held up a hand to halt me. He wasn’t in a mood to
stop.

“Didn’t I
tell you to follow orders? Didn’t I tell you to get… to… work?!” he exclaimed,
shouting into my face. With all of this anger, I was surprised that he didn’t
hit me or something. Why was everyone in this world capable of being so
uncharacteristically mad?

“I believe I
responded, George” I replied, slightly annoyed, “by saying that I tried hard,
and I needed to see my friends”.

George
flailed his arms around wildly. “I do not care about your social life!” he
screamed. He walked over to Amanda, waving around at her and pointing. “Your
girlfriend does not matter! If you want to go make out or whatever your
generation does these days, than you should’ve done that before that car hit
you!”

That was
enough. “Do you think I didn’t want to? Do you think I let that car hit me? I
saved her damn life because…”

He spat on
the ground. “Why? Your friends matter too much now do they, hmm!? Your family
means nothing I guess!”

“Don’t
antagonize me George” came my quiet, icy response. “I thought you were kind…”

“I am
perfectly kind. I gave you my patience… and you were given very specific
instructions to follow this objective… and you thought just because you had a
previous life, which you said you despised by the way… you could bend the
rules!”

“You know
what!” I shouted at him, marking one of the few times I raised my voice against
an adult. “I saved her because I loved her! I don’t give a damn how old I am,
but I love her! My friends were my life, and I’m not going to let them go
George! Before you say I didn’t help you, I tried! I gave it an honest go!” It
was time to bring the opposition to him. “You tell me George, didn’t you have
friends or some other special person you cared about? Someone you loved?”

George had
become a stone statue; he stood very erect and not moving at all, save for his
breathing. His facial expression had become very blank and nondescript.

I remembered
an important fact about George. “You went back to Earth once… what did you do?
Stay on an objective? Or did you decide you could make an exception to say
hello to just one person…”

He turned
away from me. “Fine. Do what you do Jordan, do what you do…” He started walking
away, the blinding light returning to take him back.

My curiosity
got the best of me. “Don’t you leave now! Tell me what you did!” I called after
him.

He faced me
once again, a solemn expression on his face. “Her name was Jessica” he said,
barely audible to me. With that, the blinding light left, and with it went
George.

I quickly
regained my balance as though I could manage to catch up to him before he left
with that one name left hanging in the air; Jessica. It meant something to him,
like Amanda did to me.

My mind was
blown. George was an enigma, and I struggled to comprehend him; he was nice,
which transformed into rage, which suddenly became sadness… maybe even regret.
For once I felt pity for the mysterious man that led the afterlife… like me, he
seemed to have some sort of troubled past… and I wished to comfort him. Was it
my fault to have snapped at him?

Reality
finally managed to catch up to me. With a sudden jolt, I was thrown back into
my chair that I had been previously situated in. Sam, Amanda, and everyone else
remained oblivious to what had just taken place between me and George. He was
more powerful than I was led to believe.

“So did you
guys get to see that new movie released today? I forgot to mention it… it’s
pretty cool from what I heard” Jack said, fully bringing me into the real world
with his talking.

“Please,
it’s a cheese fest. Just look at the previews!” Brant commented, shaking his
head.

“Previews
can lie” Jack said in a matter-of-factly tone. I could tell one of those
useless arguments between them was about to start. They had some fun bickering
over the simplest of things.

Sam wandered
over to where his iPod was placed. He picked it up while humming at the same
time. After scrolling through a few songs, he selected one. With a cheer of “I
love this song!” a heavy metal song pounded through the speakers.

We all loved
heavy metal in our group; even Amanda. People said it was stupid because you
couldn’t understand what was being said, but what really mattered to us were
the epic beats and guitar solos.

“Hey Sam,
you’re gonna get me this CD soon aren’t you?” Quintin asked him. He was the
only one who didn’t have too much metal music in his CD collection.

“I will,
it’s just the line’s been backed up pretty bad” Sam replied. “There are a lot
of people trying to get their hands on it. I was lucky to grab one of the last
copies of it down at the store”.

I wasn’t
able to focus to well on the action around me. My mind was still hung up over
George and what he had said. I needed to take some initiative on this mission.
I couldn’t do it now… not with my friends. However, I made my confused mind
very obvious to the people surrounding me.

“What’s
bothering you?” Anna asked me. Everyone else’s eyes were set on me at this
point.

“Well…” I
began, my voice faltering. I wasn’t all too sure about discussion my objective
with all of my friends.

I swallowed
and took a chance. “I’m not here for a week just because I want to be with you
guys… I’ve got something that I have to do”. If nobody was paying attention to
me before, they were now. “See… there’s this church… and I need to get
something from it”.

“What
church?” Hannah asked me.

“It’s at the
edge of the county. Jeoman Christian” I answered. “Anyways… the thing is… there
are a ton of protestors surrounding it, and if they’re there… the priests
cannot perform their duties”.

“So you need
to dispose of these protestors” Sam said, confirming my statement.

“That’s the
problem… they are the worst people anyone could meet. I tried to make them back
down, but all that happened… I may have just angered them even more” I said
with a sigh.

“J, you
gotta know we’ve got your back through anything” Brant said, trying to comfort
me in a way.

I wouldn’t
ask for their assistance. “This is a Sunday, isn’t it? I don’t want you to have
to work on my mission on a school day when you’ve got homework and such, and
whatever else”. I took a deep breath. “It’s just a hard task that is starting
to upset me… but only because I say that doesn’t immediately mean you jump to
my rescue. I’ll be fine”.

“Are you
certain?” Jack asked me. I could tell he was uneasy about my decision and
didn’t quite believe me.

“You’re
giving off that feeling that tells us otherwise” Quintin chipped in.

I waved my
hands. “Thanks for your concern… really. All of you have been so… so kind to
me. But believe me when I tell you that I can complete this on my own… don’t
waste your time”.

Jack
shrugged. “If you say so… just remember-“

“Jack” Brant
said, holding up a hand. “He said he’d be fine. Let’s just bring this bring
this party back around to when we were having fun and not discussing business,
alright?”

Sam nodded.
“It’s my turn anyway”.

Soon, the
crowd around me dispersed, all except Amanda. She had that one look in her eyes,
the look that told me she didn’t believe me at all. I should’ve known I
couldn’t lie to her.

She walked
over to me. “Jordan… it’s… you’ve…” she said, her words tumbling over each
other and becoming less audible after each one.

A tear
streaked down her face. “One week… it’s not enough. I don’t care how much work
I have to do… but if I can do it just to be with you… I’ll be with you, no
matter what”.

“Amanda…” I
said, my voice disappearing gradually. All of my life I didn’t know she had
these feelings for me… and again the nagging feeling to break down and cry came
back to me.

She seemed
to know that this was big news to me. “Jordan… I’m with you…”

I leaned
closer to her. “I want to be with you… always… but this is work… are you sure
about this?”

She nodded
confidently. “No matter what”. The tears were gone now, replaced by a
determined smile.

I shook my
head. “Listen, Amanda… this is… I can’t describe how nice you’ve been to me.
I…”

Before I
could confess to her the words that have been stuck in my throat for years,
Anna called me over for my turn to bowl. With one last look at Amanda, I
departed from her side. I promised myself to tell her those words eventually,
and soon.

Nonchalantly,
I rolled the ball down for a strike, surprising myself for possibly the fourth
time tonight. It was interesting seeing the sights of today… which completely
confused and startled me.

Not much
happened afterwards however. The good mood seemed to be killed, and I felt
guilty because I knew it was probably because of the mission I told them I had.
Hopefully none of them knew I was lying. I needed all the help I could get, but
yet I didn’t want any.

My mind was
in a daze, haven been blown two times in a row; George had a secret life I
never heard of… and did Amanda feel like I did in this relationship? I hoped
so… but it also made me slightly nervous.

“Hey, J,
still with us?” I heard Jack say in a jokingly manner. After shaking my head a
few times, I realized I had started drifting off into sleep a little bit.
Taking a giant sip from my drink, my mind returned to Earth.

My lie
hadn’t convinced them enough; I could see most of my friends observing me
closely as though waiting for a moment in which I would just raise my hands up
in surrender and let them join me.

In just a
few minutes, our first round of bowling was over. Amanda didn’t win; she
dominated. Brant fell back pretty fast, as did generally everyone else. Quintin
said he should leave, but we persuaded him to stay, as it was the only time he
ever was given the freedom to be out this late.

The game was
unable to earn my attention again, and Amanda felt the same way I think. We
kept glancing at each other, and I knew we would be talking later. If there was
anyone I needed to speak with, it was her. Fortunately, my friends failed to
notice this.

The time
soon came where we were the only individuals left in the bowling alley. We
still had plenty of time on our hands, so we continued to play. Out of our
group, the only one of us who hadn’t pulled off an all-nighter before was Amanda,
so it was easy for us to stay up late.

The desire
to be awake for as long as I could was fading fast; my mind was tiring me with
all of these thoughts and what had happened before and what will possibly
happen later.

Amanda and I
detached ourselves from the crowd again, both of us probably having the same
thoughts. My friends were great, and I wished that I could never have to be
forced to leave them… but something about her makes me feel different.

“You don’t
seem like you’re having too much fun” Amanda pointed out. We knew each other’s
feelings pretty well and what we looked like when we were one of them.

“It’s… it’s
you” I confessed, which didn’t shock her as much as I thought it would. “You
make me want to forget everything and just… just focus on you”.

She smiled
and blushed slightly. I opened my mouth to speak, but then I heard an easily
recognizable piano playing behind me. I glared at Sam, who shrugged and smiled
innocently. It was the beginning notes for When It’s Love, performed by Van
Halen.

Amanda
laughed nervously, and I did too as soon as I realized that all of the people
in our group was looking over at us, grinning, even Anna who didn’t seem to
mind all that much. In fact, it was like they were expecting something and they
were all happy about it.

Sam was the
first friend I ever had, and he was famous for saying things at the most
inopportune and opportune moments. Whatever the situation was, he would make
some remark that would change the situation permanently.

He gestured
to the two of us sitting by ourselves, close to each other, and lived up to his
expectations. “You may now kiss the bride”.

Amanda could
be as crazy as my friends sometimes. Quickly, she brought me to me feet, and we
kissed right in front of them, and I felt myself not caring at all if they were
looking. After my group cheered loudly, Amanda nudged me and gave me a few
dollars. Her reckless side was taking over, and this night was getting better.

“Let’s have
a few sodas, huh?” she asked me, smiling. “We’ll have the first ones on me”.

I smiled
back, a wide grin, and I left a note in my mind to never forget this moment,
this night, when my friends and the love of my life could be together in a
perfect party that could go on forever if we wanted it to.

Things
weren’t as they always had been… yet they were at the same time. Amanda had
changed… she wasn’t the girl I knew anymore. Before the day I came to Earth, I
loved her, but she didn’t feel the same. Now… I think she might… and if she
does…

I shook my
head rapidly, shutting these thoughts down before they showed themselves to the
others in the group. All I needed was Sam making more comments like that,
though it had seemed to help in some aspect.

We were
drinking sodas pretty heavily, first one can and then a dozen. The bowling
alley staff seemed to be a little annoyed by our presence, but we ignored it.
It was nine o’clock now, and we had until ten o’clock before we would be forced
to leave the premises.

“It’s a
great night… don’t you think?” Hannah asked us aloud. “I haven’t had this much
fun since… I don’t even know”.

Brant and
Sam replied in perfect unison. “I’m loving life”.

Amanda
leaned on my shoulder; she was becoming tired. Quintin looked over at me and
laughed.

“You’re
fortunate to have someone” he whispered to me, but he was generally quiet so it
was as though he was speaking normally. “I never disliked her, you know. She’s
perfect for you”.

I smiled,
nodding. It was nice of him to say something like that, but Quintin was always
the nice one. “There’s someone for everyone Quintin. It may sound stupid but
it’s completely stupid. I felt as though I’d just wander through life without
anyone… but then I met her”.

“We’re
different than most people… obviously” Quintin added with a nervous laugh. “But
I like it this way. I don’t care too much if I live alone or not so long as
I’ve got you guys”.

I nodded,
and the half-awkward conversation ended. The second game of bowling was short,
and not many people were paying attention. Amanda had fallen asleep on my
shoulder, and Quintin and Hannah were ready to go to sleep soon.

The night’s
events seemed to have come to a close. Quintin walked off to get picked up by
his parents who hopefully wouldn’t be mad that he stayed out too late.

“They’re
gonna be mad… I bet they will” he said on his way out.

Jack offered
to comfort him a bit. “It’s about time they give you a little more elbow room.
An hour after your curfew won’t destroy them”.

With a shrug
and a wave, Quintin exited the building. The bowling alley’s staff members were
beginning to become pretty relieved that we were starting to trickle out of the
establishment.

 Brant said goodbye a little bit later. “I’ve
gotten tired myself. If any of you guys want, I’ll just be chilling down by the
park”.

“You’re
bailing on us Brant?” I teased him jokingly. “You’re the one who claimed to
have not gone to sleep three days in a row!”

He shrugged.
“Some days Jordan, I feel like a cheetah, and other days I’m just nothing but a
sloth”.

We waved
goodbye to him as he left with Jack following him, saying that he would just
hang out with Brant. Sam couldn’t leave without me since he was my ride, so he
stayed behind. It was just me, him, Hannah, Anna, and Amanda.

Hannah
yawned loudly. “This wasn’t all that bad. Thanks for getting me out here” she
said, this comment directed at Sam, who immediately took this as a sign of
making progress going out with her.

“It wouldn’t
have been as fun without you two” Sam replied, grinning. He nodded towards me.
“And… we’re lucky to have J with us. Dude… that car accident damn near killed
us all. Stay around as long as you can… please?”

I almost
cried. All of my friends had my back, and I had forgotten what it felt like to
have someone help you out and be nice to you every day they were alive.

“We’re lucky
to have each other” Anna spoke up, stealing the words from my mouth.

Sam stood up
and stretched. “I’m about ready to head out if you are J. I’ll take you to
wherever you need to go”.

I thanked
him for his generosity, then stood up with him. “Sounds like a good idea to me.
Guys, it’s been fun-“

Anna rushed
over and gave me another bone-crushing hug. “It’s great to see you Jordan” she
whispered to me. She released me and starting walking away. Hannah approached
me and, surprisingly enough… hugged me. She let go and looked me over.

“I’m putting
that all behind us if you want to as well” she told me, and I realized that we
weren’t going to be enemies ever again.

“Then I will
too, Hannah” I responded, smiling. This was the friendliest we could be to each
other, and I was grateful that we wouldn’t stay apart as villainous rivals.

She turned
around to leave, but before she could I turned her back around and gently
squeezed her hand, silently promising for her to remember this day as I would.
I let go a second or two later, and she departed.

Sam and I
were cleaning up to save the people working here the trouble of having to do
it. We soon began to notice an obvious problem when we glanced around the
bowling area.

“What’re we
gonna do about sleepy-head over here?” Sam asked me, gesturing to Amanda who I
had gently laid down on the bench, her head propped up by her comfortable
jacket.

“Hopefully
she didn’t drive here, and hopefully you wouldn’t mind having an extra
passenger tag along with us” I said, offering the only plan that came to mind.

Sam didn’t
seem to mind. “After all of this, I don’t think any of us dislike her all that
much anymore. We judge people too quickly sometimes… you know how the saying
goes; the reaper wears tatters, but he is more sophisticated than the common
man”.

I shook my
head, laughing. “Actually, I have never heard someone say that before, Sam”.

“That’s
probably because I made it up” Sam replied simply and with a grin, making me
wonder what other meaningful things he had come up with that he hadn’t told
anyone.

I looked
over at the clock; 9:57. The bowling alley staff were already shooting glares
our way, but I wasn’t one to blame them. Sam walked out of the building to
bring the car around while I picked up Amanda. She was light enough, so I figured
I’d be able to carry her to the car.

She must
have been in a dream, because she was still sleeping, but at the same time she
started talking to me.

“Why is
everyone leaving the concert so soon Mister Stephens?” she asked me, and I
found it hard not to laugh at her ridiculous comment.

“Well, we
need to get going before the rain rolls in” I responded, attempting to keep a
straight face.

“Tell them
to pick up the cowboys from Canada… remember, cause we left them behind…” she
answered. Afterwards, she became silent, and I started wishing for the weird
conversation to reappear again. It was quite entertaining.

I just
passed by the staff, and they certainly didn’t like the look of me carrying
Amanda out the door. However, I decided to compensate for overworking them.

I nodded.
“Thanks for staying back for us. This was just one night that we really needed
to have… all of us”.

I seemed to
have pleasantly surprised them. “Well uh… your welcome” one of them said. His
friend next to him whispered something to him while pointing at me.

“Wait a
minute… aren’t you Jordan Dikes?” he asked, looking at me incredulously.

They had me.
No matter what I did, my face could be recognized for miles. Even so, I was
unable to hold back my comment. “I’ll leave that to your imagination,
gentlemen”.

With that, I
opened up the door, waving a goodbye to the shocked group of people. Sam was
waiting for me right in front of the main entrance. He got out of his car to
help me situate Amanda in the backseat. Once that was taken care of, we piled
into the front and began to drive off.

“Well, what
do you think? Was this a night to remember or what?” he asked me, nudging me
with a wide grin on his face.

I grimaced
as reality caught up with me. I had definitely tried to assist with the church
problem, but it had amounted to nothing. In fact, I hadn’t accomplished much.

I couldn’t
worry about that now. This trip, being with my friends, was totally worth it.
Amanda and I were more into each other than ever, and my friends were just as
nice as they could be… and I knew that I had people in the world that cared for
me.

“It
certainly was, Sam… it certainly was”. I yawned, almost taking a nap on the
seat, but I restricted myself from this. It was a great day, but I was tired. I
needed rest for the coming Armageddon tomorrow.

This was my
second day on Earth… tomorrow would be my third. Would I be able to assure
myself success over these unmovable church people? The questions were yet to be
answered, but I had my confidence.

I also had
my friends.

The End

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