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     Phillip Harper reached out to take her hand. It felt good as their fingers intertwined. He pulled softly to bring her closer. This is the happiest I’ve ever been. He thought. At least since…never mind. Don’t think about that!

      He turned his head to meet her eyes as they continued down the sidewalk. They were a deep blue tonight. She caught his glance and smiled back, squeezing his hand in recognition while brushing her blonde hair behind an ear.

    “Molly?” Phillip leaned in to question. His height had become his biggest obstacle with girls now. He no longer suffered from a debilitating lack of self-confidence. Battling dragons, vampire bats, and sorcerers in Mistasia had cured him of that. No, just the fact that he was the tallest kid at Greenville High School, by about three inches, made kissing his girlfriend a little awkward. She was more than a foot shorter than he was. His brown floppy hair bounced as he walked. It wasn’t really that long; it was just really wavy. Some days it seemed to be living a completely separate life from him. Those types of things had once bothered Phillip but not anymore. He just looked into his girlfriend’s eyes and things like out-of-control hair didn’t matter because to Molly, it didn’t matter.

     “Yes, Phillip.” She reached across her body to clasp her hands over his. She was giggling and gripping a little too tightly as she awaited his question. Then, she half spun, now walking backwards to face him as she swung his hands back and forth.

Phillip stopped walking. “I have to get going.” He winced as he told her, waiting for her reaction. Molly didn’t take separation very well. Sometimes, when he mentioned going home…to ‘his’ family, it was as though he had broken up with her. He really liked her but dreaded the end of their dates.

    Tears began to well up in her eyes. Her bottom lip curled up like a baby ready to burst into a full-out tantrum. Phillip felt his stomach flip. Oh, no! Please, don’t do this! I just wanna go home! Phillip did the first thing that came to his mind. He kissed her square on the lips. It wasn’t the first time, but there hadn’t been very many other kisses. He hoped it would quell the tantrum that Molly was about to set loose upon this night and probably ruin their date.

    Phillip backed away. His eyes were shut tight and his shoulders were shrugged trying to block his ears just in case. She had a really high-pitched whine that accompanied her cry. He was afraid to open his eyes, but at least five seconds had gone by and there had been no wailing, no tantrum, no tears. Then a joyous sound hit his ears. She giggled. Phillip popped open one eye. Molly coyly swayed with her chin tucked into her shoulder and a smile that lit up the night. He exhaled in relief. Dodged a bullet there. He didn’t hesitate. They stood outside her house. Phillip leaned in, planting another kiss (this one on her cheek), and dashed to his parked car.

    Molly just waved from the driveway, slowing backing toward her house as Phillip jumped into his beat-up silver Cavalier and then drove away.

     He didn’t really have to go home. He was supposed to be meeting his best friend, Michael Whizzenmog III. ‘Whizzy’, as Phillip called him, had been barking for nearly a month about how they didn’t see each other anymore. It was true. Ever since Phillip and Whizzy’s twin sister, Rachel, had broken up, Phillip just felt uncomfortable at their house, which really sucked in Phillip’s mind. I love that house! He said to himself. He had some amazing memories there. He had practically grown up in that house. But the really cool aspect of the house was the portal to another world they had found in the basement. Well, that was another story. It had been two-and-a-half years since Phillip, Whizzy and Rachel had been to the Land of Mistasia. A lot of things had happened since then.

     Phillip pulled up in front of the Whizzenmog mansion. It wasn’t actually considered a ‘mansion’, but in Greenville it basically qualified. The house nearly had its own block. Phillip could have put five or six of his own house inside the Whizzenmogs’, and that didn’t include the basement.  He sat in the car for a moment, unsure if he would get out. Whizzy will be really pissed if I bail on him tonight. I promised. He took a deep breath. His heart was thumping pretty quickly. He was surprised at how nervous he was. A light turned on in a room next to the two massive front doors. Phillip’s heart leapt.

    “Rachel.” He didn’t realize it at first, but he had said her name aloud. He sunk back into the front seat watching her for a few moments like a creepy stalker. She grabbed something off of the desk under the window. She looked outside. Phillip found himself staring at Rachel as she brushed her auburn hair over her shoulder. He sunk lower and bashed his knees against the steering wheel. Ah, dang it! That really friggin’ hurt! He mumbled at himself while rubbing his knees. When he looked back, the light was off, and Rachel was gone. He shook his head in disappointment. Why am I acting like this? I…I broke up with her. She didn’t break up with me. He attempted to reassure himself.  He unbuckled his seatbelt and flung open the car door. Luckily, no one was driving down the street, because in his fever he never even looked. The old Phillip would have lost a door to oncoming traffic.

    “See, this is why you don’t come here anymore,” he muttered to himself in frustration as he slammed the door closed. When he looked up, Rachel Whizzenmog stood in the open doorway; her feminine figure was silhouetted against the light from inside. Phillip couldn’t see her face but could feel her staring at him.

    She had a hand resting upon the door jamb, while the other was angrily jabbed into her hip. As he approached the house, Phillip could make out her facial features. Her expression was one of disgust, like he was an intruder. Her eyes seem much greener than I remember. He thought as he cautiously approached along the concrete walkway. I am really glad we are not in Mistasia right now, ‘cuz I have a feeling she would so use her wand against me.

   “Hey,” Phillip mustered standing before her. The top of her head didn’t even reach his chin. Her eyes were green, but should have been yellow like the sun for all the heat they cast upon Phillip.

    “You’re an idiot!” She barked and slammed the door in his face.

    “Okay, that went fairly well.”

     The door quickly reopened to the sound of Rachel and Whizzy bickering.

    “Phillip!” Whizzy said with his usual excitement at a guest. His wild red hair bounced like a child on a trampoline as though it were trying to gain Phillip’s attention. Whizzy was a whole foot shorter than his best friend so his wild hair was usually the first thing to greet Phillip. “I’m sorry about her. She…well, ya know.” Whizzy laughed.

    “Yeah, I know.” Phillip said as he cautiously entered. He half expected her to annihilate him once inside.

    “Don’t worry she’s gone. Let’s go to the basement.” Whizzy responded noticing Phillip searching about the entryway readying himself for an attack.

    Phillip smiled. He loved the Whizzenmogs’ basement. It was one of the coolest places in Greenville, and that didn’t include the fact it had a portal to another world too! The two young men walked down the wooden staircase into another dimension of reality. There was no other place that he could shoot hoops, play video arcade games, watch a movie with true surround sound and go bowling. Yes, actually bowl. The Whizzenmogs had a bowling alley in their basement. Phillip just shook his head remembering all the amazing nights he had here.

    “She’s really mad at me,” Phillip said as he sat down on the couch. It faced a massive flat screen television that slightly curved around the edges. “New T.V.?”

    “Yeah. It’s 90 inches! Ridiculous sound and picture quality. And, yes, she’s super mad at you. Just let her get it out of her system. She’ll be fine.” Whizzy was tinkering with the remote control. It was enormous. “I can’t remember which button…maybe this?”  The television blankly stared back at Whizzy. “Darn it! How ‘bout this one?”

Phillip snorted and leaned back on the couch, placing his head over the top and stretching out. Phillip cried out as he leapt up, knocking the remote out of Whizzy’s hand. Rachel stood at the bottom of the stairs in the exact same pose that she had met Phillip with at the front door.

    “Dude,” Whizzy said, looking up at Phillip with incredulous blue eyes.

    “Ah, I need to use the bathroom.” I think I might have just peed a little. Phillip worried.

     Rachel glared at Phillip as he sheepishly walked up to her. He needed to get by to go upstairs. There weren’t any bathrooms in the basement, which is something Phillip had always believed to be weird. Rachel looked as though she had no intention of moving, but finally she stepped aside and allowed him to pass. Phillip dashed up the steps, leaping three at a time, until he tripped at the top, landing on the same knee he smashed in the car. He groaned out loud. Rachel smiled a devilish grin as she maneuvered around the couch and sat down in a chair next to her brother.

    “You are so enjoying this aren’t you?”

    “Yep!” Rachel replied, putting her feet up on the coffee table. “I’m going to torture him until he’s sixty.”

    “Or until he actually pees his pants?” Whizzy taunted. He attempted to get the remote to work yet failed again. He shook it as though that would magically repair whatever damage had been done.

    Rachel snatched it from him, “That might make us even.” She pointed the remote, which didn’t look as large in her hands as it had in Whizzy’s, at the television, and it exploded with lights and sound. The actor on screen was taller than Whizzy. Rachel jumped back up and moved to the billiards table.

    “I don’t think that is such a good idea.” He studied the remote for a few seconds, giving it a look of betrayal and then set it down on the table.

    “Why is playing pool such a bad idea?” The sarcasm in her voice was so thick, Whizzy couldn’t have cut it with a chainsaw.

    “You having a pool stick in your hand when my ‘best friend’ comes back down here.”

    Rachel smiled as she eyed up her shot, then smashed the cue ball into its target, sending two different balls cascading off one another and into separate pockets. She laughed. “Well, you may be right there, Whizzy. I just can’t understand why he would think he could break up with me.”

    “Rachel, come on!” Whizzy groaned. “I know you’ve thought you were better than him since we were like five years old, but he changed after we went to Mistasia.”

    “We all changed, Whizzy,” She scoffed, eyeing up a second target yet holding back from shooting.

    That was the absolute truth. All three of them had changed, yet it wasn’t all for the better. Phillip had gotten his self-confidence. Whizzy had somewhat learned how to temper his anger, but Rachel had come back confused. Frustrated. She desperately wanted the abilities she had in Mistasia every day. Being a witch could come in handy, but here in Greenville, she was just another girl. Apparently, she was a girl that wasn’t good enough for Phillip Harper either. He had gushed over her for as long as she could remember, and now when she finally shared his feelings, Phillip had seemingly lost his.

    The sounds of rapid footsteps careened into the basement. Phillip had returned. Rachel lined up a different target and aggressively fired the cue ball. It glanced off the 8-ball and ricocheted into the air. Whizzy’s eyes grew as he watched it sailing straight for Phillip. His best friend was too engrossed in the bikini-clad women on the 90-inch screen T.V. to notice the ball screaming toward him.

    “Phillip! Watch…” Whizzy was too late. He dashed over to his friend, who rolled around the floor in obvious discomfort. Phillip grabbed Whizzy by the shoulders, nearly knocking Whizzy to the floor. “Where’d it get you?” He was pretty sure it was in a bad place, the one place boys fear most.

    Rachel calmly laid the stick across the top of the pool table and walked past. She smiled at Phillip as she moved to take the stairs.

“I was going for the pocket,” Rachel mocked.

    Phillip shouted things in a foreign tongue. His face had turned an odd shade of purple. Score one point for the girl

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