I can speak from experience. There are no nicer people than the people who serve your food. Waiters, Hostesses, you name it. No matter what happens, no matter how many guys hit on you, or how many drunk guys invade your personal bubble, or how many girls "accidentally" spill their drinks on you, all you can do is keep smiling and move on. And when you see them on the street, you have to be as nice as possible, or else you lose a customer. And anyone will tell you that that's a big no-no.
Technically, I wasn't even allowed to work there. I was just turning fifteen about two months after they first hired me. You aren't supposed to work there until you are 16 at the least. But the manager, Mason, knows my brother. So he cut me some slack.
However, right about then, I was really upset. That was about the time when the war with the Titans was finished. So many people died. I never knew any of them, or else I just didn't realize it, but I felt horrible. And believe me, you wouldn't have been either, if you were me. But you aren't. I would count my blessings if I were you. It's right up there with have air to breathe. Thank goodness I have air to breath, thank goodness there is food on the table, thank goodness for delivering me from illness and whatnot. Oh! And thank goodness I'm not Ella Grace! After all, who in the world would ever want to be that miserable mess of a human being? Well, half of a human being.
Because, I'm not even entirely human. I just happen to be the daughter of a Goddess. A very powerful Goddess. A very powerful, very absent Goddess. Because I haven't actually ever met my mother, the very woman who carried me in her womb for however long and then sent me back to my father in a crib made of shining black obsidian rock with a little baby mobile made out of starlight. I wish I could have seen my fathers face. I am absolutely certain that it would have been a major Kodak moment.
My dad is a professor at the local collage. He teaches English, and he has gotten all sorts of awards, gone to all sorts of schools and given lectures to all sorts of people. On top of that, he's pretty much the best guy in existence. Ever. In the history of the earth, I'm absolutely certain dad is at the top of the list. Or at least in the top five, which is still immensely impressive given however many billions of people there are on the earth at this very moment.
Plus, he can cook.
Lisa jerked me back into reality. "Yes?" I answered a moment later, shaking my head.
Lisa frowned. "You were looking a little upset. Are you sure you're okay?" Lisa was sort of like the mom of the place, only with two big differences. One, she was only two years older than me, 17, and two, she would slap your face so hard your head turned all the way around without a second thought if she got it into her head. I don't know any decent mom who would do that. Just the thought made me shiver.
I grinned, like I usually do. "Of course! I just got hardly any sleep last night. My brain is working quite right. Sorry to worry you."
She smacked the back of my head. "Darn right, you're sorry!" Lisa sighed heavily. She pointed to the table in the corner. "Go, do whatever you do. Work your little butt off until your brain starts to work properly again."
I took my pad and pencil and rushed over. I could not afford to lose this job. I had to repay my dad for the last time I nearly destroyed the house. And when I say nearly, I mean nearly. Like, if-it-had-lasted-one-more-moment-my-house-would-do-a-great-imitation-of-a-pancake kind of nearly. And that?That's pretty hard core. Just another thing that makes me sad: monsters. Real one. Big scary one with horns and green fur that breath fire and slippery reptilian ones that like to sneak up on you right after you got a D on your math test. There are even some that can live around you, that look normal until they decide they want to smash you into liquid and drink you like a smoothie. Those ones suck.
"Hello. I'll be your waiter tonight! May I take your order?"
My jaw dropped just the tiniest bit. "K-Karson. Hi..." I bite my lip a little, but in the end I just kept smiling, like I always do.
Ah, Karson. My eternal rival. Kind of. See, I don't think she likes me very much, because she is always trying to out-do me at...whatever. I'd rather just let it go. So, it's just a continual battle that I just really don't care about. At all. I don't find things like that all that important to be honest. She can push me and fight with me and threaten to stuff me into my locker (as if she could). But as long as she doesn't come at me breathing fire or carrying a big sword or something equally upsetting, Karson didn't bother me all that much. And that fact that she didn't bother me bothered her.
Karson looks like my exact opposite. Like a princess, actually. I will be the first to admit it. She has golden hair like honey that is just wavy enough, big brown eyes, a light tan, and is small, curvy, and delicate. I'm tall and thin and...flat. With dark black wavy hair and eyes the same color, and pale skin that is unblemished but glows in the dark. Have any of you seen our family pictures? I'm luminescent. It's horrible. I'm a ghost, only...not dead.
I started out of my thoughts again. I hadn't seen the people sitting across from her. There was a girl with bright red hair named Alice who I recognized from school, a football player name Lucas, and a third boy, the one who had spoken, who I didn't recognize at all. He was smiling, with light brown hair and bright blue eyes. My first impression was that he would be a fun person to talk to. But if he was with Karson he would hate me as soon as I left the premises anyway, so I didn't bother.
"May I take your order?" I asked again, not responding. Which is rude, of course, but I was in a very uncomfortable position. And uncomfortable positions make me, well, uncomfortable.
Karson rolled her eyes as her phone beeped obnoxiously loud, alerting her of a text. Glancing at the screen, I saw that it was one of five unread messages. "My mom. I have to go." I noticed how she quickly turned the phone off as she was leaving.
I stepped aside so that she could have a clear path to the door. She bumped into my shoulder anyway, trying to shove something into her purse. She paused. Then she stopped and turned her milky brown eyes on me for a moment, like it was the first time she ever really looked at me. I smiled at her, because that's just what I do.
"Yes?" I asked. And then I understood. I laughed a little on the inside.
"Nothing." Karson didn't look back as she walked out the door. I watched for a moment as I saw her scramble across the parking lot and hop into a large red van.
"May I take your order?" I asked again, smiling slyly. And so it begins.
Nathan, my brother, was sitting on the couch downstairs reading. He is a senior in high school. He knows everyone. Seriously. Sometimes, it's annoying. He's like me, in a way. He doesn't confine himself to just one social group. He has friends in every little nook and cranny there is. One night, he is hanging out with guys like Lucas, and the next he is going to the bookstore with guys like Peter Louis, the school wide nerd.
"I can't take you to work tomorrow. I'm taking Alan to the art museum."
Alan is my adopted little brother. Avalee, his sister, and him are both six. Avalee can't seem to sit still at all and is just like a typical six year old until you ask her a question, while Alan looks at you and you can immediately realize that he knows way more than he should. And he does. I ask both of them for help on my math homework.
I heard the doorbell ring. I sighed a little, knowing what was coming.
"It's your turn!" Lucas shouted up the steps, because I was all the way upstairs, nowhere near the door, while Nathan sat on his fat butt no more than one room away from it. But I didnt bother arguing. Seniority, he would say.
I muttered something incoherent about lazy brothers and boiling something in oil and, not feeling like walking downstairs in case it was someone selling real estate or something equally unnecessary, opened my bedroom window and stuck my little head out.
Wind blew in my face, making long black tendrils of hair obstruct my vision. But I didn't have to be able to see clearly to know who it was. I saw a little dot of gold waiting in front of my house, accented by the surrounding white of winter snow and a little candy cane sticking up out of our yard.
"Karson?" I asked, for the second time that day. I had known her practically since birth, and never, not once, had I ever seen her on my doorstep. That just didn't happen.
She looked up at me. "What are you doing up there?"
"What are you doing down there?"
"What do you think I'm doing?" she asked, raising one golden eyebrow at me. "I need to talk to you. Let me in."
I smiled a little, leaning up against the windowsill, propping my head up on the palm of my hand. "Did you bring me a peace offering?" I asked impishly.
She smiled a little too, almost the exact same one as me, and held up a pan covered in aluminum foil. "You know me best," she answered.
I laughed out loud. The funny thing was, I probably did. Rivals were like that. The thought that she knew me the best as well was a little unnerving.
"Close that window! It's cold outside!" shouted Nathan.
"Get a blanket!" I responded, but clunked down the window quickly and rushed downstairs to open the door. Karson looked at me, irritated. I led her into the living room, motioning for my brother to leave.
"Did she bring a peace offering?" he wondered aloud.
I handed him the pan. "Cookies, right?" I asked Karson. "Chocolate chip?"
She nodded grudgingly. My brother shrugged, shook his curly black hair, and muttered something about crazy connections as he left the room.
I smiled, hitting his head lightly, and stuffed a cookie into his mouth. "Enjoy."
"So..." started Karson.
"You wanted to talk to me?" I prompted, trying my best not to smile. I didn't want to make her any more uncomfortable. Eventually I gave in.
"Yeah. I did. I noticed something today, at the food place."
I made my face look confused. "Oh? It wouldn't happen to be my magnificent waitress skills, would it?"
"Oh, right. You left after practically running me over." I said smiling.
"Sorry," she said, rubbing her forehead like she had a headache.
"Oh, and Lucas was disappointed. I think he wanted your number."
"That's good to know," Karson said slowly, uncomfortable. "I talked to David afterward. He seemed quite taken to you."
"Is that so?" I let it drop. She was already fidgeting.
"Um...I was wondering if you had ever been to camp?" she asked innocently, which would have made any one suspicious.
"What kind of camp?" I was enjoying myself.
"You know, for...special people."
"Are you implying something?"
"Then, no. I don't think I've ever been to a mental institution."
Karson scowled. "That's not what I meant."
"That's what you said."
Karson rolled her eyes, and I smiled good-naturedly. "Never mind," she said, getting up to leave.
I cocked my head to the side and sighed a little. My fun was over. "If that's your round-about way of asking me if I know about my mother and her side of the family, then the answer is yes." I paused. "But, no. I've never been to Camp Half-blood."
She looked at me. "Really?" she inquired. "You must draw monsters in from every pace in the entire country. I knew who you were from just that one touch. I'm surprised you haven't been eaten yet."
"Me too, believe me."
"Why didn't I notice it before?"
"You, my little child of Apollo, were rather heated whenever you bothered to touch me. It's no surprise you never noticed, actually."
She looked at me funny, like I had told her I ate my toenails.
I shrugged. "You were heated. I never really bothered to get angry. I've known since you pushed me into the mud in the second grade."
Karson blushed a little, but she looked more angry than embarrassed. "Are you trying to make me mad?"
"Kind of. I find it immensely satisfying."
"Oh, really. You enjoy making me want to slap your little face?"
I grinned. "Of course! I detest you."
Nathan sighed from the doorway, chocolate chip cookie in hand. "I sense the beginnings of a beautiful friendship."