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~Auburn, Massachusetts- 2018~
Samantha Lambros easily caught the kick that had been aimed at her chest, her auburn hair flying sideways from the fast movement. “Nice try, Jason,” she said with a grin. Using his arm as leverage, she flipped him neatly to his back on the blue mat. As her opponent rubbed the back of his head she offered him her hand. He locked arms with hers and she pulled him to his feet.
“One of these days, Sensei, I am going to beat you,” Jason said with confidence.
Sam put an olive-skinned finger to her lips in a thoughtful manner. “Wait…wait, I think I’ve heard this one before,” she teased.
Jason frowned and then gave her a grudging smile. “I’ll see you next week,” he said with a wave as he walked off.
“Later, Jason,” Sam replied. She turned to the rest of the karate class who were picking up their belongings. “Everyone who has their black belt test next week needs to be here at eight am sharp. Later, guys.”
After the last of the students had made their way out the door, an Asian man who had been watching the entire class from the back of the dojo rose from the floor pillow he’d been sitting on and strode toward Sam. He was in his late seventies, had a ring of hair encircling a bald head and his skin was slightly wrinkled.
Although he was elderly, he was strong and his stance emphasized it. He gave her a warm smile. “Excellent, Samantha-san,” he said with a Japanese accent.
“Arigato, Souma-Sensei,” Sam replied with a low bow. Her Sensei responded in kind. “I think I’m gonna stay behind and practice a bit.”
Souma Sensei smiled warmly. “You work too hard. Go out and be young once in a while.”
Sam stuck out her tongue with a smile. Her sensei simply chuckled warmly and left the room.
Sam practiced for an hour and a half, but she didn’t feel the least bit tired. She always felt like she could work on her karate forms forever. The large room was dimly lit to help her concentration. In a case on the far wall were trophies from martial arts tournaments—most of them hers. Portraits of past masters of the dojo lined the wall to her right. Somehow, she felt as though they guided her.
One motion blended into the next as she flawlessly executed each move. It didn’t matter to her that she was only nineteen and already a third level black belt. She just loved martial arts, and it showed as she landed yet another perfect roundhouse kick.
Suddenly, a flash of waves breaking on shore entered her mind and she stumbled a bit. “What was that?” she asked aloud with her hand on her forehead. Another flash—images of a beautiful island populated by people walking around in clothing that resembled the type worn in ancient Greece. She suddenly found herself immobilized as the images intensified.
“Kallisto,” called a woman’s voice. “Kallisto!” She walked along the stone streets grumbling to herself. Her pale blue chiton and long dark hair fluttered in the winds off of the ocean. “That girl.... Why won’t she stay where she promises?”
“Not while I’m awake... please,” Sam begged softly as she sank to the floor.
“Our city will be destroyed,” said Kallisto, her voice in great emotional pain.
“Stop it,” Sam whispered, her pulse racing. The panic that gripped her was nearly suffocating, but the panic was not hers. It belonged to Kallisto. Please… please turn off, she begged the vision that was invading her mind.
“I will miss you Uncle,” a woman said sadly as tears made their way down her face.
Sam tried to grab the exercise mat underneath her, but it was too stiff so her nails dug into her palms instead as her ponytail fell forward over her shoulder.
“Are you sure about this, mother?”
“STOP IT!” Sam cried, a small amount of blood starting to ooze from where her nails had cut into her palms. She suddenly felt a hand on her shoulder and punched blindly at whomever it belonged to.
“Sam!” yelled a surprised voice.
Breathing heavily, Sam looked up into the lightly tanned face of her friend and honorary sister, Morgan Carmichael, who was clutching her nose in pain.
“Morgan!” Sam said loudly. Shock and horror at what she had done were etched into her face. "Oh my God! Are you alright?!” she begged, trying to move her sister’s hand so she could check the damage.
Morgan moved her hand from her nose. “Ugh. Yeah, I think so,” she said, her eyes watering from pain. “I don’t think it’s broken.”
Sam’s eyes misted over. “I am so sorry. I didn’t mean it.”
“It’s okay,” Morgan said as she pushed her shoulder-length, chestnut brown hair away from her face.
“Are you guys alright?!” exclaimed a concerned voice from the front of the dojo.