Rose Blossom - By Renee Travis

Chapter 1

The heart is a mystical thing. It keeps us alive by pumping blood to every part of our body. It is a strong organ which scientists say has no memory. But the heart is also a thing of great speculation and power; spoken, written, and even put into songs, by many great authors, singers, actors and poets around the world. The heart is supposed to be the center of love, feeling, loneliness and heartbreak.

And it was that organ, that great red Valentine's Day sought-after-object that was at present causing me trouble.

"Rho are you EVEN paying attention to me?" My best friend Mel, who was nothing like her name, punched me gently in the arm.

"No," I muttered, eyes still trained on what had caught my attention, causing my heartbeat to skip and sputter, literally.

Mel spun around and I groaned a little, because if my staring wasn't obvious enough she had to intensify the embarrassment. "Ooh, I see," Mel grinned and turned back to me, humor and worry lighting up her bright green eyes. She stepped in front of me blocking my view of....him.

My eyes darted up to her face, a small hint of panic making my heart flutter even harder, "please be quiet Mel, please, I don’t want him to hear us," I practically begged.

The he we were talking about was the new boy in school. He was handsome and smart and so out of my league, I knew I didn’t stand a chance with him. Provided my parents would even let me take that, or any chance, which I knew they wouldn't.

Julian and his younger sister Avalon had started attending our school last year; and they were still the topic of some pretty healthy gossip since our town was so small. Newcomers were always looked upon with mistrust, fear and sometimes, awe.

Mel's smile dimmed a little and she reached up, pushing a strand of her shoulder-length blonde hair behind one ear, a nervous habit she'd had our whole friendship, "Rho c'mon, it's only Julian Daramonth. He's pretty OK, I have him in Botany, he's nice."

"To you maybe, but you also play sports and actually get to interact at school. I'm just the girl behind the book in his English class." I rolled my eyes and leaned against my locker, eyes trailing back to where he had been standing, but was now an empty spot. I sighed; I took every chance I got to look at him, or to scribble his name in my notebook, just like in junior high, according to Mel.

"Just say 'hi!' " Mel said, exasperated, linking an arm through mine and leading me down the pale orange and yellow school hallway.

Las Plumas High School in Oroville, California was pretty typical. Boring and full of the same cliques, teachers and classes of every other high school in America. Ours just seemed to be in a smaller town with smaller people and even smaller minds.

"Just say 'hi,' and have my mom have a heart attack when someone tells her that I was talking to a boy?" I pitched my voice higher and mimicked my mom, "Boys lead to touching..."

Mel laughed and cut me off, "and kissing, and kissing leads to..." both our voices lowered and we whispered together, "sex."

We giggled together and kept walking, "Well whatever, talk to him or don’t talk to him, but I have to go to class," Mel said as we came to the end of the hallway, where the doors opened to the softball field.

As seniors, we got to choose our last class, anything we wanted, so Mel took an extra PE class versus a regular, dull elective. She spent the last hour of school practicing her pitching; Mel was the star pitcher of the varsity softball team. I, on the other hand went to a mind-numbing class where all I did, as usual, was read while other students did homework, played board games and chatted. It's not that I was a snob or unpopular, but I kept pretty much to myself and had a small circle of friends.

I watched as Mel pushed through the doors, disappearing outside. I would have given anything to have joined her outside in the fresh air, playing, running...doing something.....athletic.

"Why are ya looking so bummed?" asked a rough teasing voice near my ear. Startled, I jumped and whipped around, my heartbeat skipped as I focused on who had come up next to me.

"Athol," I groaned and smiled. Athol and I had gone to school together just as long as