Make sure you read until the end. AS IN THE END (not the end of the chapter, the end of the whole thing), ayt?

--Chapter 3--

Riley fell to the ground with a loud "thud!" She tried opening her eyes, but she couldn't. All she heard was voices. Distant voices.

Flashbacks part 1

12 years ago:

Spring was Riley's favorite season. As a 6 year-old girl, she would always go to the park to see the flowers and listen to the birds. One fateful day, she met a young boy who never talked of and did anything else but play soccer.

"Hey!" Riley started, approaching the little man.

"Hey, yourself," the young boy did not even look up. He was so intent on practicing with what seemed to be a brand new soccer ball.

"Can I play?" she started again, hoping that he would begin talking to her properly.

The little boy finally looked up. His sad eyes and short brown hair struck Riley's attention. He was wearing a white t-shirt smudged with dirt and black shorts which stopped just above his knee.

When John looked up, he saw a girl with curious eyes and long, brown wavy hair smiling at him. She was wearing overalls, something he found unusual.

This time, the boy started talking. "My name's John."

The girl threw a big grin at him. "My name's Riley."

A new friendship had begun the moment their hands shook each other.

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It was the same routine everyday. They would meet at the park around 9am, play soccer, talk and go around until 11, and then go home for lunch. By 4pm, they would be in the park again, playing soccer. After a long day, they would go home at 6, eat dinner and sleep with a new day to look forward to.

When school started, although their meeting in the parks stopped, they were still able to spend time together. At that time, John and Riley were best friends already.

One day in school... (dismissal time)

"John, I'm losing my shoe!" Riley exclaimed.

John could not stop the laughter which immediately left his lips. But seeing the look of irritation and frustration on his best friend's face, he stopped.

"How could you lose it? And just one shoe?!"

"Don't ask me! When I came back from gym, the shoe was already gone!" Riley replied, almost ready to sob hysterically.

John was completely puzzled by this reaction. He thought to himself, "Why is she crying? She could just buy another one", and then rolls his eyes.

John's reaction was a complete mistake. The moment after he rolled his eyes, the tears Riley was holding erupted.

"WAAAAAAAHHHHH! I'm losing my shoe and all you do is roll your eyes! Waaaaah! sniff" Riley walked away quickly, and John notices Riley limping. He sees that one shoe is missing, causing her walking to be uneven.

John suddenly wondered why she just didn't use her gym shoes while her other black shoe was missing. He dismissed this thought right away. Knowing Riley, he knew that she would have never thought of that idea.

"Mmmmf... HAHAHAHA!!!" He laughed so hard, some kids peeked out their classrooms to stare at the curiosity.

Embarrassed by this, John heads out for the lockers to solve the mystery of the missing shoe.

Meanwhile...

Walking back home, Riley felt the hot concrete beneath her foot. She was still angry at John for laughing at her. She knew he thought of it as a joke. If he lost a shoe, he could easily replace it. But for Riley, her parents had better problems that just a missing shoe. She knew that she couldn't just ask them to buy her a new pair.

She stopped at the park where she and John first met. Then, she heard someone crying. At first, she was terrified because she could not see anyone. She even had the notion that she was just hearing voices. It was definitely something not to be proud of. But, she decided to go and have a look.

At the far end of the park, near the trees, Riley saw a girl who was, as she guessed, probably about 7 years old. She was wearing a long black dress, which seemed to camouflage her long black hair.

"What's wrong?" Riley asked, scared and worried at the same time.

The girl turned around to look at Riley, tears streaming down her eyes. Riley then noticed that there was a cross behind the girl. She just answered her own question. The girl started doing things with her hands, symbols. Riley could not understand what she was doing, so she tired again.

"Sorry, but I can't understand you," she said.

The girl was just as bewildered as Riley. Seeing that there was no way they could communicate through talking, Riley took out a piece of paper and pen from her bag.

What is your name? Riley wrote on the paper.

The girl took the paper and pen and wrote back, Victoria. I am deaf.

Riley felt pity for Victoria, yet she knew she could not do anything. Why were you crying? And why are you wearing black?

My mother died today.

Riley was even more baffled. She did not want to think that Victoria's mother was buried on the little space behind Victoria. In order to satisfy her curiosity, she asked again.

Is your mother buried behind you?

Victoria could not help but chuckle. No. The one buried behind me is my cat. She also died on this day, but that happened three years ago. I come here whenever I feel sad and lonely.

Riley would have loved to stay longer, but she had to go home. After saying goodbye to her new found friend. She took off for home.

In the school lockers:

The first place John went to search in was Riley's own locker. He knew the combination to her lock because she would usually forget it. Once he opened the locker door, a multitude of things fell down on him. He was covered with materials ranging from books to her dirty gym shorts.

"Gross!!!" he exclaimed while trying to get up.

He quickly fixed all her stuff inside the locker, yet, he didn't find the missing shoe.

While he was looking around, thinking where else to look, something caught his eye. On top of Riley's locker was the black shoe! He got the shoe, and sighed.

"Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why can't she remember where she places things?!" he thought. "I guess I'll have to return it to her."

He went out the school and ran to her house. He met Riley staring at the front gate of her house. They could both hear noises, two people fighting. John looked at Riley, but she was looking down. Despite this, though, he saw tears streaming down her eyes. Just then, they heard something CRASH.

end of Flashbacks part 1

Present time:

Once Riley heard the sound of a glass crashing, she shot off the bed as if the glass fell on her. She found herself inside a hospital room. All she remembered was that everything went black before she fell to the ground. At that moment, John along with the rest of the football team, and a doctor entered her room.

"Ms. Jones, how are you feeling?" the unbelievably handsome doctor asked her. The name on his tag read Dr. Carlisle.

Riley could not speak. But, before everyone noticed that she was into the doctor, she replied. "I-i'm fine!"

"Very well then," the doctor smiled. Riley could feel all the butterflies on her stomach. "I guess you can go now. But, if you need anything, just come by here and look for me." He smiled once more. Riley's heart melted. She couldn't wipe-off the stupid grin which formed on her lips. Seeing this, a few members of the football team, and John started chuckling. Riley threw them a glare and they immediately shut up.

Once Dr. Carlisle left, each of the members of the football team said their sorry to her. She forgave them, and they were off to continue practice. She and John were left alone.

"I'll bring you home," John offered as he helped her get up from the bed.

"No, thanks. I still have to get my stuff, and ...yeah," she replied, not knowing what to say.

John held up his left hand to show Riley's school bag, and his right to show her binder. "I have your stuff."

Feeling disappointed, yet happy at the same time, Riley only managed to say one word. "Oh."

They walked to the parking lot in silence. John's silver BMW was waiting for them there. It was another new car. He seemed to get a new one every month. "Flashy," Riley thought.

John started playing deafening rock music. Riley tried her best not to react so she stared out the window. After a few moments, John stopped the rock CD and switched it to pop.

"Sorry," he started. "I forgot you hated rock music."

"I'm surprised you even remember that," she replied, her voice low and obviously, irritated.

"Calm down! We haven't talked like this in what? 4 years?"

Riley started thinking. "Four years... I never thought it had been that long..." John suddenly interrupted her thoughts.

"What are you thinking?"

"None of your business." Riley looked out the window, and the rain started pouring down. The ride to her house seemed even longer. Looking at the gas station, she then noticed that they were not headed for her house.

"Where are we going?" she demanded.

John chuckled lightly. "We're just having dinner. I won't do anything to you."

"But, I want to go home! Stop this car. I'm going home."

"Sorry, but. I won't. Besides, you're going to get sick." Just then, they saw lightning from the sky. "And that," he pointed out. "I don't want to harm you in any way. Please trust me."

Seeing that she could not do anything else, Riley, unwillingly, did not say anything in return. After a few minutes of silence, they finally reached their destination.

Cheeseburger Delight

"What are we doing here?" Riley asked, bewildered.

John seemed very pleased with her reaction. "Don't you miss this place?"

Back when they were still best friends, this was their secret hang-out place. For about 5 years, they sat on the same table, ordered the same things, and were there for more than thrice a week. The staff began to realize this pattern for a while, and each one of them knew both Riley and John already. It had been four years ever since they stopped going there. Both of them were dying to see the place where they grew more fond of each other; the place where their relationship was put to an end.

A familiar voice greeted them. "Good evening! Welcome to Cheeseburger Delight!"

"Becky!" Riley exclaimed, hugging the middle-aged woman who stood on the entrance to greet people. Becky was bewildered. She did not remember this person. As Riley let go, she and John faced her.

"Don't you remember us?" the two asked Becky, hoping that they get a satisfying answer.

After a long hard stare, and some squinting, Becky finally realized whom she was talking to.

"Oh my god, it's Riley and John!!!" her loud voice echoed through the whole fastfood chain. The big, burly woman hugged the two teenagers in front of her, Riley and John could not breathe.

"Uhh, Becks? We..cough.. can't breathe," exclaimed John with a raspy voice.

Seeing that John was telling the truth, Becky let go. "You two are back here! It's been a long while!"

Becky led the two to their seats. The same seat, by the window which overlooked the shores of Malibu. Beck didn't even have to ask for their order. She still remembered it by heart: two double cheeseburgers with extra extra cheese, one large fries, two rootbeer floats, and two glasses of water. Once the staff heard this order, all of them knew that the two were back.

"The Golden Couple, huh?" Antonio, the head cook, said.

"Yeah! Only that pair would order this!" the dishwasher, Gina, replied.

'Golden Couple' was the nickname the staff of Delight used to call John and Riley. Maybe it was because they seemed to have known the two for such a long time, and the two have been together for as long as they could remember, until now, at least.

The orders came, along with the staff. It was such an event. It was as though the two had been risen from the dead, which was somehow true, of course.

Becky, all of a sudden, asked the question which both John and Riley feared. "So are you two finally... together?" Her voice was really happy, excited, as if she was going to get a new present. With this question, Riley almost choked while drinking water, and John dropped the fry he was about to eat.

John started, "Well... no." Riley kicked his foot and glared at him. All the happy faces of Gina, Antonio, Becky, and the rest of the staff turned into faces of sadness. The two, meanwhile, continued eating, feeling guilty of what just happened.

Once they finished, they paid their bill, and said their goodbyes.

"Will we still see you again?" Becky asked, hoping. "Together?"

The two looked at each other, their eyes saying, 'What will we tell them?'. But, that was enough. Becky saw the look, and immediately knew the answer. "Maybe," Becky thought. "There's no hope anymore."

Riley and John drove home in silence. A few blocks away from Riley's house, John tried to start a conversation.

"So, did you have fun today?" he asked.

"Well, that depends on how fun is defined!" she retorted. "Let's see… I got tackled by a bunch of football dummies… I ended up going to the hospital, I----"

John cut her. "But, you did see that Doctor! Isn't that a good thing?" He laughed, obviously mocking her.

"Shut up, John," she replied. "Oh, and one more thing, I was brought to the place I never wanted to see again."

John was confused by what she had just said.

"I thought you'd like to see them again?"

"I did, but, you know…They've been wanting to see us together for how many years now!

"And you didn't want to go back because 'us together' wouldn't happen?"

The car had stopped. They were already in front of Riley's porch. Riley looked at John to answer his last question. The look on her face said, "You idiot. We were never together in the first place."

"Thanks for bringing me home." Riley opened the door to John's BMW and walked to her door slowly.

All of a sudden, John called out, "Hey, Princess!"

This word made Riley stop her tracks. She slowly turned around and looked at John in a meaningful way.

--end of Chapter 3--

I worked hard for this chapter. Unfortunately, though, it still isn't long. Sorry!

One more thing, the next chapter won't come until MAY. My April's really full so I don't have mmuch time to work on the chapter... BUT, I will try to update as soon as I can. Sorry, again.