“Her hair is terrible today. Not that it’s any news,” someone said. I recognized the voice at once. The popular girl, long and blonde hair? In my school, she was also known as Marizza. I turned around. Marriza stared at me disgustingly.
“At least I don’t leave home looking like a cockatoo,” I replied, although I have to admit my hair wasn’t really in it’s best days. I had left late, which was normal and didn’t have proper time to comb with dignity.
“Did you talk to me?” She asked. Marizza glanced at me with an expression that indicated very clearly what she thought of me. That I’m crazy. I froze. Peim! My mistake. I’m doomed.
“She was talking to me,” Luci said, my savior, also known as my best friend. She passed her arm around my shoulders and pulled me closer, smiling at the other girl. Marizza made a funny face and left without saying anything else. “You have to be more careful, Sam.”
“I know! It was an accident.” I looked around. There was no one else there but us. The bell was about to ring, and anyone who needed anything in the corridor lockers had already gone through there. I usually waited until the last second to go to school, that way I would get it emptier. “I didn’t mean to read her mind,” I whispered.
“Yeah...” Said Luci, opening her locker door.
That’s what happens to me. It’s not my fault I can read people’s thoughts. I mean, most of the time I’m not at fault. I never knew where this power came from, the only thing I know is that it gets me into a lot of trouble. It’s not really pleasant to hear things like “She’s fat!“, “She’s ugly!” or “Your hair is awful!” Although I’ve gotten used to it by now. Usually, I’m capable of canalizing only what I want to hear if I concentrate a lot, but it demands a whole lot of energy. And distraction is my strongest feature.
There was that time I heard, unintentionally, that the infirmary’s doctor was having an affair with a professor. The thing is, the girl was married. I won’t even begin to talk about the mess it became when her husband showed up and caused a scene. I swear, it was not my fault... I didn’t say anything.
To him. But you know, there’s that story that walls have ears. Now the one responsible to the infirmary is a man, a very old man. I try my best to not hear what he thinks. I’m around there often since I seem to have a magnet for accidents.
“So, when are you meeting “the fiancee”?” Luci asked. I closed the door of my locker so strong that it made a loud noise. My mom’s fiancee, I couldn’t even think about it. I started walking in front of her.
“I don’t know. If it was up to me, never.” It wasn’t really true. I liked to see my mother happy, and in this case, her happiness meant to be with her boyfriend. Whom I hadn’t met yet, surprisingly. Apparently, the relationship had advanced fast, and there wasn’t enough time to introductions. But for what I heard of her - and I mean her thoughts - he seemed like a good man.
“It can’t be that bad,” Luci said. I rolled my eyes. No, it wasn’t going to be so bad. We were just going to have to live with a stranger now. Something I don’t know if I could ever get used to.
“I only hope it’ll be bearable.” I opened our classroom’s door, and we went to our seats.
I needed to make a tremendous effort to only hear people talking. I felt Luci’s eyes on me. She has always been the only one who knows about my... Ability.
It wasn’t long until our professor arrived, accompanied by a boy. Apparently a transfer student from another town. I didn’t pay much attention to him, but to practically all the other girls in class drooling over him. But the lad was, indeed, beautiful in a different way. He had brown skin and light eyes, an interesting contrast. Dean something, the professor, said. A familiar name though.
And that was precisely when the nightmare started. The boy was enough to distract my mind from what really mattered: controlling my power. And in the midst of so many thoughts, there was a new and distinct voice. “I hate this school, this place. They look all so foolish,” it said. Still, the boy’s face looked friendly.
And maybe I lost my head, I don’t know, but I did something that I’d never, not even in my moments of madness, do. I raked a hand through my hair and got up with my arm raised in the air.
“Mr. William, I could show Dean the school,” I said. I cursed myself at the same moment, and I didn’t even need to hear the other girls’ thoughts to know that I had done something beyond stupid. But the damage was done. I felt my cheeks burn as red as my hair and that’s, unfortunately, something I can’t control. I prayed that he said no, or that someone else offered to do the touring in my place. No one. My legs trembled.
“Sure, it’d be great.” Mr. William said. I felt the pressure of my blood veins drop and threw myself back in the chair. At least I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t happy with the idea. The new boy’s face looked like he wanted to kill me.
“What has gotten into you?” Luci whispered in my years, leaning forward.
“I don’t know. I just heard...” A word to the wise is enough. Luci and I had always understood ourselves well. I didn’t turn around, but I’m sure she rolled her eyes at me. It’s water under the bridge now.
For the first time in my life, I prayed that our class took as long as it could. However, to my chagrin, the minutes flew by. I still couldn’t believe what I had done, but I got up and went to Dean’s desk.
“I can see you didn’t like the school,” I said.
“Nor the students.” Yeah, likable. Great start, Sam. I took a deep breath, trying to regain the last of patience I had and smiled, or tried. At least he was honest. It’s a nice virtue.
He got up and stared at me like he was waiting for something.
“Ah right,” I said. “Dining hall. Do you want to have lunch?” I pointed to the only way out and started walking, hoping he was following me. That was going from bad to worse.
“This girl is crazy,” he said.
“I’m not crazy,” I muttered. But, well, I should have stayed silent. I tipped my head to him. His expression staring at me was the same as Marizza’s. That one that thought I was crazy. Maybe I am. It all sounds the same in my head, thought or not. “Crazy about showing you where’s the cafeteria,” I added fast, with my best smile.
“Are you on drugs?” He was clearly suspicious. I would be too.
“Of course not!” But if you stop to think about it, my ability can be considered a type of drug.
He didn’t listen. He took a long step and disappeared in the middle of the hungry mammoth crowd. I breathed easily as he got away from me and declared done my job of showing him the school. Dean could manage by himself.
“Can you believe his insolence?” I said. The twins stared at me, very much confused.
“I think you liked him,” Catherine said. Of course, I liked him. How could she deduce that after I reported the dreadful moments I shared with the individual?
“I think so too. Samantha has a crush on him.” Two against one, as usual.
“That’s absurd. C’mon, focus on your assignments. I want to have dinner early today,” I hit the books with the tip of the pencil.
Almost everyday after school I sat together with my siblings to help them study. Our mother traveled a lot on account of work and their homework always landed on my lap. And our dad, well... He wasn’t really here. Ever. Actually, he wasn’t here since I was ten. The twins were six at the time and didn’t understand well the whole story about daddy vanishing all of a sudden. Maybe it was my fault, and all the constant visits to shrinks and psychiatrists to treat the problematic daughter, or perhaps he and mom grew tired of each other, maybe he became tired of us. I guess I’ll never know.
“We need to talk,” Mom announced, making us stop what we were doing. I couldn’t control myself and ended up hearing her thoughts. I have to say I didn’t like what I heard. I stood there still, waiting to see how she would give the great news.
“Well, I believe it’s time you met Harry.” The twins grumbled. I cringed in my chair. It was expected, after all, they were engaged. “And as you may imagine, a couple usually lives together.” Yeah, we picture pretty well where this is going.
“What if we don’t like him?” Cate asked. It was a valid question, but I don’t think us not liking him would implicate mom would stop loving him.
“You’ll love him. He’s a great person, and I love him dearly.”
“Yeah, but for that to happen we need to meet him,” it was my time to speak. Mom grinned excitedly. I shouldn’t have brought up the subject.
“Exactly! We are going to dinner with him.” At this point, Jake got up and vanished in the hallway, without another word. Catherine stared at her book like it had the greatest mysteries in the universe.
I glanced at the empty space where my brother had been before and then at my mother. “Mom...” I started. “If you’re happy with him I won’t mind, even though I don’t love the idea. And I bet Cate will also try to like him.” I stared at my sister, a stare that led to only one meaning possible. She laughed out of the other side of her face.
“Sure...!” Nobody seemed very excited, but mom.
Jake didn’t leave his room for the rest of the night, regardless mom’s efforts to get him out of there.
“Sam, could you take that to your brother?” She asked, giving me a plate of food. I knew that what she wanted me to do didn’t end in feeding him.
I knocked on the door but entered the room before he could answer me. “It’s me, can I come in?”
“You already have,” an annoyed Jake said. He was lying on his back, throwing his basketball in the ceiling, grabbing it and throwing it again.
“Are you okay?”
“What a question,” he thought. But it was not what he answered. “I’m fine.”
I approached him, putting the plate on the desk. I sat on his bed and grabbed the ball. “Look, I know you’re upset, but... It’s for mom. She would be so happy if you accepted her decision.”
“You say it like she asked us first.”
“Well, it’s her life, right? She knows what she’s doing, and if she’s doing it, it’s because it’ll be for our good too.”
“She’ll put a strange man under our roof!” He chided in a way I’m sure the whole house heard.
“Jake, you don’t have to scream.” And technically it wouldn’t be our home since she had been thinking about moving for a while now. “And she loves that man, you can hate that decision, but remember that when dad left... She cried every night. I don’t think you remember much, but think it that way... It’s all to see her happy.” I hit his arm and walked back to the door. “Eat your food before it gets cold.”