“So, why are we going to see the talent show tryouts again?” I asked the other girls at lunch.
“Well . . . I guess, because it’s neat, and we’ll get to see if any of the acts are worth coming to the actual show for without having to pay.” Mandy shrugged. Andrea looked thoughtful for a moment, then leaned over to whisper in my ear.
“I heard there’s a cute upperclassman doing a dance routine with his girlfriend . . . in tights,” she told me. “That’s got to be why they want to go!”
I giggled and looked at Mandy and Nicky.
“Hey, no secrets!” cried Nicky. She threw a wadded-up napkin in our direction.
“All right, all right, Nicky . . . we all know why you want to go. You know you just want to see Mark in a leotard.” Andrea poked her tongue out.
“That’s not why!” she exclaimed innocently, as if she’d never thought of that.
“Oh, come on, why else?”
“I dunno, I think it’ll be cool.”
“Bullshit. And I don’t think I want to go anymore. It’ll be boring.” Andrea began to clean up her trash.
“Oh, come on. Come with us anyway . . . this is our first year of high school, the acts are gonna be a lot better than middle school. Besides, what can it hurt?”
“Quit acting like such a party-pooper. You’ll have a good time, it’ll be interesting.”
It wasn’t interesting. It was truly one of the most boring events that had occurred in all of history. The four of us sat in the auditorium to watch the acts, and I understood why more people weren’t there. There was an audience of about thirty, a good percentage of them doing homework instead of watching. I figured most of them were probably just there to give their friends moral support.
Mandy and Nicky looked partially interested, but it was probably because they knew the people. Andrea looked like she was more interested than I was. There was a lame skit that I couldn’t follow, because the people couldn’t be heard over the air-conditioning. Then there was a band that thought “loud” meant “good.” I paid minimal attention to the pair of girls singing a song in two-part harmony, but after about thirty seconds of the piece I wanted to cover my ears. Then there were a couple of dance acts, among them the leotarded guy who was apparently my friends’ real motivation for coming. I hoped maybe they’d want to leave after they’d seen him, but I guessed they had to maintain that they were actually interested in order to save face. My stomach growled at me for not feeding it; the cafeteria had been serving spaghetti with cat-barf on top again, so I hadn’t bothered to buy lunch. I seriously considered leaving so I could get something to eat and relieve my boredom, but I decided to stay since I didn’t want to explain my rudeness, and I watched more singing acts with shitty backup tracks. I was about to go to sleep when something actually caught my attention.
A boy wearing a magician’s costume walked onto the stage, and I was interested because Perry had been a magician way back before he’d been in the musical world. Since I’d been his assistant when we’d first met, I’d gotten to help him with some of his tricks and learn how he did other ones. It had been interesting, to say the least, and I watched the guy set his equipment up.
The boy was extremely confident and very accomplished at something Perry had called “banter,” which was a magician’s way of distracting and entertaining the audience while he did the stuff the trick was made of—and he knew how to project his voice so we could actually hear him. The first trick he did was an exact replica of something Perry had done, and I smiled smugly, because I knew how he did it. His second trick blew my mind, though. I watched intently but I couldn’t figure out how it was done, and it especially bothered me because it was strikingly similar to a trick Perry had done . . . one of the ones he hadn’t been able to do without me. I went through all of Perry’s little secrets in my head, but I couldn’t think of a thing that would allow him to do what he had just done. I kept watching.
The guy did a couple more tricks that I at least had some idea of the mechanics, and then finally he did another trick that baffled me. It was the same kind of thing as the second trick, and it totally freaked me out. I’d never seen a magician do such a convincing levitating act. Well, unless I was the assistant.
Naturally, I began to wonder if it was possible that I’d finally encountered someone who had abilities similar to mine, and if that was how he was able to do those tricks. A whole lot of things stood in the way of that not being the case, but I still had to wonder. A real telekinetic person would be very unlikely to get on a stage and flaunt the talent as magic, but I’d done it before, with Perry, and passed it off as part of the “magic” act. He could be doing the same. Also, I knew that magicians had lots of ways to fake people out, so it was possible that I was being taken in by his act, but then, I’d worked closely with Perry and known a good many of his secrets, and none of them matched up. I started going into deep-thought mode.
It didn’t seem possible that I was the only person in the entire world with telekinetic abilities. It just didn’t compute. But if I really wasn’t alone, how come I’d never run into anyone who was telekinetic before? I reminded myself that I’d been interacting with humans for a comparatively short period of my life, and so if this was a rare power (which I knew it was by people’s reactions), then never meeting anyone like me made perfect sense . . . until now, maybe. I studied the guy as he finished up his act, and I found myself hoping he was like me, realizing suddenly that I really wished I wasn’t alone in the world like it had always seemed I was. All kinds of romantic ideas crashed down in my head . . . I imagined being able to finally talk to someone who could compare notes with me and talk about what it had been like to grow up like this . . . images of being able to dance on the wind with someone else who could fly without wings. I wanted to ask him if he could pick up a truck. I wanted to ask him how being different made him feel. And I wanted to tell him my own answers to the same questions. I couldn’t remember ever actively longing for companionship like this, but now I definitely wanted it. I wanted to feel like I was the same as someone instead of being so mind-bogglingly different from everyone I’d ever met. Even though my stomach felt queasy, I knew that I would have to find out about this guy and if he was what I was, or my brain wouldn’t leave me alone for a good long time.
“Well, he woke ya up, huh, Ivy?”
Startled, I turned toward Mandy’s voice.
“You looked like you were considering taking a little snooze until he came on. Guess you like the tall, skinny type, huh?”
“Wait a minute . . . what?”
“I personally like my guys with a little more muscle, but if that’s what you like. . . . ”
“Hey!” I realized she was teasing me, and I scowled. “It was nothing like that,” I mumbled. I hadn’t noticed if he was cute; it hadn’t really occurred to me to look at him like that. I didn’t think I even knew how to look at a guy that way. I’d been concentrating on the yardstick that had seemed to float behind his hand, not on the way he looked.
“Sure,” said Mandy. I felt like throwing something at her for the knowing look she gave me then, but she didn’t say anything else. I turned back to the stage and watched the next act come on, still feeling numb. I noticed the guy sitting over across the auditorium, with the other people who were either waiting to go or had already gone. I stared at him instead of watching the bad singing act on stage. His body type was the same as mine, definitely tall and skinny, but I was too far away to tell if anything about him looked odd, or if anything else about him matched me. I made up my mind to try to talk to him when this damn thing was over, if for no other reason than to get a good look at his face.
I waited, fidgeting, and finally, the last act drew to a close. Even the judges looked relieved. I wondered briefly why a talent show displayed such a lack of talent as I hurried to try to catch him. I didn’t look back to see what looks Mandy and Nicky must be giving each other. I took a deep breath and touched his shoulder lightly to get his attention. He turned around.
“Hi,” I said nervously. “Um . . . I’m Ivy, and . . . I, uh . . . I really enjoyed your act.” I felt dumb but I had to start somewhere. It wasn’t like I could go up to him and say, “Hi, I have telekinetic powers, how about you?” At my compliment, his smile lit up a face that was disappointingly human. I told myself that he didn’t have to look as odd as I did to have unusual powers.
“Really? Thanks a lot.” He reached out with the hand that wasn’t gripping his box of props. “I’m Jerry. Nice to meet you.” I shook his hand nervously.
“Um . . . so. . . . ” I grasped at a straw to help me lead the conversation where I wanted to. “I’ve had some experience with . . . uh, doing stage magic myself, so . . . I was very impressed by a couple of your tricks.” I tried to smile.
“Oh, really? You’ve done magic? Where at?”
“All over,” I said, and I wasn’t lying. Perry had toured pretty extensively. “I wasn’t a magician, though . . . I was just an assistant.” He began to walk toward the auditorium exit door and didn’t seem the slightest bit bothered by the fact that I was walking with him.
“Assisting sounds fun . . . but I prefer to be the one in control,” he offered.
“Yeah . . . I know what you mean. I, um . . . I was an assistant for my friend Perry, he was a pretty well-known magician I guess, and I learned a lot of his tricks. . . . ” I beat around the bush furiously.
“Perry? He’s kinda famous, right? Perry LaGuerre?”
“Yeah,” I said with surprise.
“I saw him when I was younger.” He studied me. “But he didn’t have an assistant.”
“I’m sure he didn’t always have one. He, um . . . hired me later on. I stopped assisting with him a few years back.” I hoped my story didn’t sound fishy to him, especially since it was the truth. We stopped outside the building and just stood there.
“Sounds pretty cool,” he said politely.
“Well, anyway . . . I hate to ask this,” and I really did, “but I was wondering if I might ask you how you did some of those tricks you did.” I cringed slightly at how stupid I sounded.
“You can ask all you want,” he said, and my heart leaped up, “but I won’t answer you.” I blinked at him.
“I mean, no offense, but a good magician never tells his secrets.” He seemed a little uncomfortable now, and I wondered if that was because he didn’t want to tell me if he had special abilities or something. I recalled that Perry had never hesitated to tell me his secrets. I wondered if that made Perry a bad magician, or if it made this guy a liar.
“Well. . . . ” I pulled something right out of my ass. “I was just wondering if you’d like to maybe make a trade. I saw a couple of your tricks that I’d be interested in learning, and I worked with a famous magician. I’m sure I’d have some good secrets that might be valuable to you.” I looked at him hopefully and congratulated myself on my ability to bullshit.
“I . . . I can’t tell you. I’m really sorry.” And he looked like he was. That made it even more possible that he was hiding something really big. But I had to know. I thought of something that might make him tell me.
Grabbing the yardstick out of his box, I positioned it against my own hand like he had in the show, holding my hand straight up and down with the yardstick held against my fingertips.
“How did you do this trick?” I asked.
“If you can already do it, why are you asking me?” He squinted at the yardstick. “Wait a minute . . . you’re not wearing a ring.” He looked rather stunned. “How are you doing that?” I dropped the stick.
“What do you mean, I’m not wearing a ring?”
“Well, that’s how I do the trick . . . I guess I could tell you if maybe you can teach me to do it without a ring.” I was very puzzled by his words, but nevertheless I watched him take something out of his pocket. He was wearing a ring on one of his fingers, and he fiddled with whatever he’d taken out and then did what I’d done with the yardstick. He turned his hand around.
Stuck in the band of the ring he was wearing was a little object that looked exactly like a metal toothpick. It was hidden behind one of his fingers, and when he put the yardstick between the toothpick and his hand, it stayed up. I couldn’t believe I’d been fooled so easily by such a deceptively simple trick. Then again, I reminded myself that none of the tricks Perry had taught me had been levitating tricks, because I’d done all of those for him.
“What about the trick with the hoops?” I asked incredulously.
“Just a complicated operation involving fishing line and some really good banter,” he replied softly. “How do you do that without a ring on?” He looked down at my hands. “Hey, and why don’t you have pinkie fingers?”
I felt like I’d been struck by lightning as I realized now I’d have to come up with some kind of explanation.
“I don’t know why I don’t,” I replied, answering the easy question first. “I was born that way, I guess it just happened.” He looked like he thought that was too weird for words. I didn’t know what to say next.
“Okay, so . . . tell me your trick. Come on, I told you mine.”
“I—I don’t have a trick,” I answered lamely.
“What’s that supposed to mean? You’ve got to have a trick.”
My brain was still spinning with frustration and disappointment. I stayed silent.
“Ivy . . . that was your name, right?”
I nodded breathlessly.
“Well, then, Ivy . . . I’m serious, a deal’s a deal. Why won’t you tell me? I told you mine.”
“I can’t,” I whimpered. I couldn’t even think now. I couldn’t believe how much I’d wanted to hear him say he was telekinetic. I felt almost hurt.
“Hey, are you all right?” he asked, looking down at me concernedly. “You look like you’re all shook up.”
I realized my eyes had that tight feeling they always got when I was about to cry. I tried to laugh it off but it came out like a hiccup.
“You know, if you don’t tell me anything, I’ll be forced to think you’re practicing witchcraft or you’re telekinetic or something.”
I glanced at him suspiciously before I caught the joking tone in his voice. He observed my look with interest and responded accordingly.
“Ooh, looks like I hit a nerve, huh? How about you tell me what’s going on?”
When I still didn’t say anything, he put his hand on my shoulder as if we’d been friends for years.
“I’m prepared for any explanation you can offer, you know. It’s obvious this is more than a trick, or else you wouldn’t be so intent not to tell me.” I looked up at him in surprise, thinking that was the exact logic I’d been using on him. Unfortunately, it had backfired. “So am I right? This is no cheesy magic trick?”
I nodded slowly.
“I don’t know . . . ” I said, halfway choking on the words. “Just something I can do, I guess.”
“And you asked me about my tricks because you wanted to find out if I can do it too.” It wasn’t a question, and I felt my eyes widen of their own accord. How had he analyzed me so quickly? I felt as transparent as Bailey about to play a prank she’d played a thousand times.
“Kind of,” I replied shakily.
“Well, so what is it, Ivy? Some kind of telekinesis?”
“That’s right.” I realized what I’d just admitted to and caught my breath. “But you can’t tell anyone,” I said quickly.
“You’re safe, don’t worry . . . you know some of my magic tricks, and I wouldn’t want the whole school knowing how I did them. It’d ruin the talent show. So I won’t tell if you don’t.”
I nodded dubiously, thinking my secret was a hell of a lot bigger than his.
“But ya know . . . I honestly can’t believe you could do what you did there with telekinetic powers. Are you sure it’s not a trick?”
“Well . . . I’ve read about that kind of thing in science fiction books, but I’ve never seen anyone do that kind of thing with telekinesis.” What he seemed to insinuate with that comment was that he had seen other things.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I mean, I’ve seen spoons get bent and that’s about it.” He grinned like it was a joke I was supposed to get.
“I don’t get the spoon thing,” I told him.
“Sometimes supposedly telekinetic people can bend spoons and like things made out of weak metal . . . just by thinking about it.”
I laughed in spite of myself. “That’s all?”
“You expected more?”
I nodded, feeling lighter. “So you’ve seen people . . . bend spoons?”
“Well . . . truthfully, I only know one person who can do it.” I noted that he hadn’t said he knew of a person.
“You know them personally?”
“My friend Adam . . . we don’t hang out anymore, but we used to in middle school. He could do it.”
“Is that all he could do?” I felt a little disappointed, but it was something. Jerry laughed like I’d told a joke.
“If you ask me, that’s really something. I mean, it’s definitely some kind of mental thing, it’s not just like bending a spoon with your hands.”
“So?” That sounded pretty lame to me.
“I guess that would sound rather small-time to someone who can levitate a yardstick, huh?”
I stayed silent this time.
“So that’s really what you were doing? With the yardstick, I mean?”
“Yeah,” I admitted. I shrugged. I was thinking about Jerry’s friend Adam . . . according to Jerry, he was actually telekinetic, if only a little bit. I wondered how I could possibly get in touch with him, just to see what he was like.
“I’m pretty impressed,” he told me, seeming jokingly respectful.
“By that?” I asked, incredulous. Again he read my facial expression like a book and pounced on it.
“Hmm . . . apparently, that’s no big deal to you, huh?”
“Um, well, kinda. . . . ”
“What exactly are you capable of, Ivy?”
I felt nervous again. “A lot of stuff,” I said vaguely. “Um . . . I know this sounds really weird, but . . . could you possibly help me get in touch with your friend? I’m really kinda curious about him . . . I know that sounds bad but I just want to . . . well, you know. . . . ”
“Share spoon-bending experiences together?” he finished.
I glowered. “No!”
“I just kinda . . . I want to see with my own eyes that I’m not all by myself.” I ran that sentence through my head again. “Oh, shit,” I said, cursing as I realized how overly personal I was getting with this guy.
“Said too much for your own good, huh?” I snapped my gaze back to his face. “Sounds like you need a plumber to fix that leaky mouth.”
“How do you do that?” I blurted.
“Do what?” He looked surprised.
“You keep making comments on . . . things I don’t tell you. Stuff I’m just thinking about.”
“Well, your face is very descriptive,” he replied, shrugging. “Can’t explain it.”
“Can you always tell what people are thinking by their face?”
“I don’t think so. Come to think of it, most people’s facial expressions confuse me. Yours don’t.”
“Well, I always thought my face was anything but readable. It never says what I want it to.” I frowned. Most people had a devil of a time figuring out if I was threatening them or smiling at them. Sometimes I could hardly tell from behind my expression.
“Nah, something about you makes a lot of sense. Your mouth turns down like a cartoon character when you’re upset . . . stuff like that. It’s very straightforward. Nothing I’m doing.” I tended to disagree on this point, but I decided to leave it alone.
“So, can I get in touch with your friend?”
“Uh . . . well, I warn you, he’s very shy. Especially about this, when he told me about it it was kind of unspoken that I wasn’t supposed to repeat it. I’m serious. He’s a real introvert, so if I give you his number, you have to promise to be gentle with him.”
“Oh, I promise.”
“Okay . . . he’ll probably kill me for this, but I’ll give you his number. I hope you can figure out what to say to him so he won’t hang up on you.” Jerry took a little black book out of his pocket and leafed through it until he found the number, which I wrote on my hand, under the date of Perry’s concert.
“All right, Ivy . . . be careful with him. Uh . . . I got stuff to do, so I’ll be going now . . . but I’ll probably see you around.” He looked at me doubtfully. “And don’t worry . . . I’m not gonna tell anyone about what you can do with a yardstick.” He smiled, again like there was a joke I was supposed to be getting.
“Well, I won’t ruin your secrets for the talent show. We’re even.” I tried to make the same face, and he laughed.
“See ya,” he called, and began to walk off. This time I didn’t follow.
I ducked back inside the auditorium to find no one there. I supposed the other girls had had to leave to catch a ride with whoever they’d told to pick them up. I hurried back through the doors and into the main hall of the school, and straight to the pay phone. I wasn’t sure if I should get in touch with this guy so immediately, but I really wanted to talk to him, and to see someone else do what I could. I paid for the phone call with the lunch money that I hadn’t used due to the grossness of school spaghetti, and I dialed the number that was written on my hand.
As the phone rang, I looked up and down the halls for people passing, and thankfully, there were none. I didn’t want to have to have this conversation in front of anyone. Someone picked up the phone.
“Hi, I’m calling for Adam?”
“You want Adam?”
“You really want Adam?”
“Yes.” I was agitated now. The guy started laughing and put the phone down with a thunk that hurt my ear.
“Hey, Adam! Phone call for you! And it’s a chick! For you! Can you believe it?”
I rolled my eyes and wondered who this asshole was. There was a muffled crackling and someone picked up the phone.
“Who is this?”
“Um . . . you don’t know me. My name’s Ivy.”
“Why’re you calling me?” He sounded suspicious already. This was going to be hard.
“Uh . . . I just spoke with your friend Jerry.”
“Well, he gave me your number, and—”
“So what do you want?” He actually sounded scared. I wished he would quit freaking out. I hadn’t gotten to the freaky part yet.
“Uh . . . let me get straight to the point.”
“Um . . . well, me and Jerry were talking, and it kinda came up that . . . well, you can bend a spoon without touching it.” I glanced down the hall to make sure no one was anywhere near the phones.
“Jerry told you that? He told you that?”
“Um, yes, but. . . . ”
“What the hell is he thinking? I told him . . . I’m going to kill him.” A sort of almost panicked edge cut through his speech.
“It was a special case, okay? Let me tell you something.” He was silent, so I took that as an invitation to go on. “I can do it too.” I marveled at how much easier it was to tell someone that when I didn’t have to endure being stared at.
“Um, well . . . I can affect things without touching them too . . . and I didn’t know anyone else could. I thought I was the only one . . . so I’m kinda . . . excited to find out you exist. You know?”
“I don’t want to talk about this,” he said, and abruptly hung up the phone. I stood there in the hall, stunned, and then decided I’d be damned if I’d let this go and put more money in the slot. This time he answered the phone.
“I’m sorry,” he said immediately. “I didn’t mean to be rude or anything . . . but it scares me when random strangers call me up and tell me they know stuff about me.” He made a sound that resembled a laugh of some sort.
“That’s all right,” I replied. “Anyway . . . I know this sounds sort of sudden, but I really would like to meet you sometime . . . ya know, ’cause I’ve never met anyone else. . . . ”
“Wait a second,” he said, sounding like someone was pinching his voice. “Is this a prank phone call?”
“No,” I assured him. I was sure he didn’t believe me. “Doesn’t it make sense that I want to meet you?”
“I don’t know! I don’t get why you’d want to meet me . . . it can’t be just because of . . . that spoon thing Jerry told you about. . . . ”
“That’s the only reason,” I replied. “I’m kinda interested to know what kind of a person you are and stuff. . . . ”
“But this isn’t even something special. It’s just a dumb trick.”
“It’s not dumb,” I replied crossly, “and it is special. Unique, at least . . . have you ever met anyone else who can do it?”
“No,” he said grudgingly, “but it’s not even a big deal.”
“I’d like to see you do it . . . wouldn’t you like to see me?”
“I don’t know. . . . ” He hesitated. “Maybe. . . . ”
“Well, when can I meet you?”
“Oh, um, I don’t know. . . . ”
“I could just drop by your house if you can tell me where it is . . . and we could just chat for a couple minutes. That’s all I want.”
“Come to my house?”
“Sure, why not?”
“Because . . . jeez, this is so sudden. . . . ”
“I don’t mind. I like being sudden . . . oh, for God’s sake, I’m not going to come to your house and kidnap you, I’m just coming to talk.” Adam giggled at the idea. “So, where do you live?”
“Where do you live?” he asked, suspiciously again. I decided not to reply, “Connecticut.”
“Just give me directions from the school. That’s a place we both know.”
“Which school? You go to Sands?”
“Yeah. . . . ”
“All right . . . you’re going to come out of the school parking lot onto Granger Boulevard. . . . ” I sighed. I knew people didn’t understand but I just couldn’t see street signs from the height I traveled at.
“Can you give me a direction and a distance?”
“Forget it . . . what’s your address?”
“It’s twenty-three twenty-seven Canton Parkway, apartment six,” he said automatically. “It’s in the Landings apartment complex.”
“So do you mind if I come see you now?” I took a pen out of the pocket of my backpack and painstakingly wrote what he’d dictated, using my energy to scrawl it on the back of my right hand since my left was covered with other stuff.
“Now? Jeez, you’re impulsive.”
“So? Do you mind?”
“I guess not,” he said weakly.
“Great. I’ll be there in a few.”
“Um . . . you can’t stay long,” he cautioned me. “We’ll be eating dinner sooner or later.” It sounded like he was trying to make sure I wasn’t going to be invading his house for very long.
“I’m fine with that,” I replied. “See you soon.” I hung up the phone and felt absurdly like some kind of secret agent, making illicit plans to meet with my cohorts. I laughed.
The school pay phones didn’t have telephone books, to my dismay, so I went across the street to the convenience store, where the pay phone had one. I opened it to the page with the map and got my bearings, figured out my approximate endpoint, and went from there.
When I thought the distance was about right for me to be coming up on Adam’s apartment, I dropped lower and started looking for the sign. I passed over a grove of trees with a strange kind of fruit hanging from them, and since I was ravenous, I plucked one of them and peeled off part of the thick, yellowish-orange skin as I flew. I bit into it and just about died. I guessed from the taste of it that it was a lemon. I hadn’t liked the taste of lemonade when I’d first tried it, but the fruit was even worse. I dropped it on the ground and spat out as much of the taste as I could. I’d never seen that kind of fruit growing on a tree before. Florida sure was a strange place.
I continued my search for the apartment complex sign, and I found it, right where I’d thought it would be. I looked around at the buildings. The even numbers were the upstairs apartments, and I looked for number six. I found it and tossed myself over the staircase railing, took a deep breath, and knocked on the door. I wondered what Adam would look like.
A short woman opened the door. She actually had to tilt her head back to look up at me, which she did as she gave me a curious smile.
“Hi, I’m here to see Adam. . . . ”
“Oh, he’s in his bedroom . . . come on in.” As I did, a large boy came lumbering out of the hallway and stopped to stare at me.
“Who’s that, Mom?” he asked. I recognized his voice as the asshole who’d answered the phone the first time.
“I’m not sure. She’s here to see Adam.” The jerk got an eyeful before he turned back to the hallway.
“Yo, Adam, it’s your girlfriend. I think she wants you.” He chuckled at himself like he was really amusing and walked heavily back to wherever he’d come from.
Another boy came from the same direction. He was much smaller than the oaf I’d just encountered, but still had a lot of similar features. He was a tiny sandy-haired boy with just a hint of peach fuzz on his face, and his blue eyes looked me up and down without seeming too rude.
“You must be Ivy,” he stated in the delicate voice I recognized. I nodded, and he turned around and waved his hand in a “come-with-me” motion. I obeyed it and followed Adam down the hall to what was presumably his room.
“Sorry it’s a wreck,” he stammered. “I haven’t had time to clean it lately.”
I glanced around the room, and it reminded me vaguely of Keenan’s back at home. His desk by his computer was covered with papers, knickknacks, three empty pudding cups, and a bunch of candy wrappers. Dirty clothes clumped together in his corner, and soda cans collected in a mass on his dresser. An open bag of chips lay beside a book on his unmade bed.
“It’s not that bad,” I lied. Truthfully, I had seen worse, but only rarely.
“You . . . you can sit down if you can find a place,” he said, trying for a laugh. I shrugged and threw myself down in his desk chair. He sat on the bed.
“I’m sorry about my brother,” he began. “He’s always like that. I would have answered the door so you wouldn’t have to bother with him . . . but I didn’t hear you come up the stairs. Usually I can.” I decided not to mention that I had come down to the stairs rather than up them; not just yet, anyway.
“It’s not a big deal,” I replied. He was still looking at me like I was in a painting. I started to squirm under his clear blue-eyed gaze. Rather than lose this opportunity, I decided to get right to the point and ask him to do his stuff. I grabbed one of the spoons lying beside the pudding cups and tossed it to him. “If I’ve got to leave soon, I at least want to see you do your thing,” I told him. I was trying to be as casual as possible, so he’d feel relaxed, but it seemed to only make him more uptight. I wondered how I should handle him. Adam shook his head.
“You first,” he said, holding the spoon out.
“No, come on,” I protested. He nodded meekly and bit his lip.
“I can’t believe I’m going to show this to a total stranger,” he said, hesitating.
“Well, you’re the one who said it was no big deal,” I reminded him. “Besides, I’m a ‘total stranger’ who’s in your same boat.” He didn’t seem to feel any more at ease at that comment, by the look of him. He hesitated until I got frustrated, but then finally started to do something that looked like he was attempting to bend the spoon. I watched him, confused. He wasn’t doing it without touching it at all. He was holding onto its stem and looking at it, sometimes rubbing it a little with his fingers. But after about a minute and a half, something happened. He put one finger on the spoon’s bowl and pushed lightly on it, and it just seemed to melt backwards. The rounded tip of the spoon even bent a little bit where he touched it. I watched in mild fascination, having expected more but still vaguely intrigued. I could tell by the way he touched it that there was no way it had bent by simple physical force; he had definitely done something to it. He held it up when he was done.
“Satisfied?” He looked a little bit proud and a little bit ashamed of being proud.
“That’s not what I expected,” I replied truthfully.
“What do you mean? What did you expect?”
“Uh . . . actually, I expected it to be faster . . . and I didn’t expect you to rub the spoon like that.”
“I don’t get it. I thought you said you could do it too.” He looked at me like I’d tricked him.
“I can,” I assured him. “But I never saw anyone else do it. I just didn’t imagine it your way.”
He straightened out the spoon as much as he could and gave it to me. “All right then, I want to see you do it.”
“Um . . . well, I’ll show you what I kind of expected.” I held the spoon up by the end and made it bend over backwards in a split second. “That’s how I do it.” I tossed it back onto his bed with him. He stared at me.
“How the hell did you do that so quick?” He looked like he was going to cry or something. I hoped to God he wouldn’t.
“I just did.”
“This is crazy,” he said, standing up. I watched him intently, and he looked at me and then sat back down again. I wondered what was going on in his head.
“It’s not crazy. I thought moving things without touching them was the definition of telekinesis . . . and that’s what we’re dealing with here, right?”
“I can’t do that,” he protested.
“Well, what can you do, besides bend spoons?”
“Uh. I can bend forks and knives too.” He seemed to choke on a laugh.
“I just meant, ya know, besides disfiguring your silverware.”
“That’s it. That’s all I said I could do.” He frowned.
“Really?” I said incredulously. I’d thought this guy was supposed to be telekinetic, and instead he was doing parlor tricks. How anticlimactic.
“Why, what can you do?”
Surprised, I answered, “Anything.”
“Whatever you want.”
“No, I mean like what?”
I sighed and decided a demonstration was in order.
“I could clean up your room in half a minute,” I offered. “It goes a little something like this.” I swept all the soda cans off his dresser and collected them with the pudding cups and candy wrappers, then threw all of it in the trash by his desk. “Shall I go on?” I glanced at him. He looked like a ghost had bitten him on the ass.
“That’s . . . that’s all the same thing as you used to bend my spoon?”
“Yeah, ’course it is.” I wanted to ask him what he expected.
“How did you learn to do that?” The shock was wearing off quickly.
“God, I don’t know! I’ve always known how to do it.”
“Do you think I could learn that? It looks so useful, and awfully easy. . . . ”
“I have no idea if you could learn it.” I considered. “It’s possible.” Normal people couldn’t learn it, I was sure, because I had no idea how to explain to them what I was doing with my brain to make the tangible world respond. In this guy’s case, though, he at least had something. Maybe all he needed was a push in the right direction.
“You think you could teach me now?”
“Now who’s being ‘sudden’?” I smirked at him.
“What do I do?” he asked.
“Well . . . maybe you could start by telling me . . . well, try and tell me what it feels like to you, like when you’re bending a spoon. What are you doing, exactly?” Not only was I curious, but I figured I might be able to tell him what feelings he was supposed to achieve in order to do what I could, based on his answer. But he shook his head.
“I don’t know, all I know is it makes me tired.”
I giggled. “Think you can be a little more specific?”
“Not really. It doesn’t really feel like anything.” He squirmed self-consciously. I didn’t know what to make of his answer, because it didn’t match up to my experience. I couldn’t explain it either, but it certainly felt like something. I wondered if we had two totally different powers.
“So when you try to bend something, what do you think about?”
“Actually, I kind of think about not thinking about it. I sort of focus my energy and—”
“Energy? You call it energy?”
“I think that’s what it is, it’s sort of like a light or a heat—”
“Oh.” That didn’t sound like my kind of energy.
“Anyway, I focus it and it kind of goes into the spoon or whatever and soon enough it does something to it, it makes it really easy to bend like it’s hot metal or something.”
“I don’t think I can do that,” I said.
“You probably could, yours is amazing.”
“I think what you have is something else totally.”
“Well, maybe I can still learn yours. What do I do?”
I decided to try my best.
Adam was pretty much hopeless. The guy couldn’t move a scrap of paper across his desk. I felt utterly disappointed, and he looked frustrated. I was almost happy when we were interrupted.
“Hey, moron, dinner’s almost ready. Your turn to set the table.” Adam’s brother stood at the door. I took it that no one had ever told him that messengers were supposed to leave after they’d delivered their messages, because he leaned in the doorway like he was waiting for something.
“I’ll be there in a minute.” He squinted at the paper scrap on his desk. I sighed.
“What’re you two doing?” asked the brother.
“Nothin’,” he replied, finally taking his eyes off the paper and looking up. The boy walked right into Adam’s room and picked up the twisted spoon off his bed.
“Mom told you to quit this,” he informed Adam. The boy turned to me. “He thinks he can bend spoons with his mind. Still want to date the fruitcake?”
“I wasn’t interested in dating him in the first place,” I replied.
“So what do you want him for? Do your homework for you? He’s a nerd, you know.”
“Shut up, Paul.”
“You shut up, weenie.”
“Leave us alone already, okay?”
Adam’s brother ignored him. “This stuff’s fake, you know,” he informed me, holding up the spoon before tossing it back on the bed. “He does it with his fingers. He’s just trying to impress you.”
“It’s not fake,” I replied with a look that meant business.
“Yeah, it’s definitely not fake,” Adam piped up. “Ivy can do it too.” He looked proud.
“Oh yeah? Show me.”
“I don’t think you want that,” I replied. “I might go ballistic.” I stirred up a wind in Adam’s room that swayed his curtains and ruffled his papers, but I didn’t think Paul ever noticed.
“Leave us alone, all right? I’ll set the table in just a second.” Adam looked a bit panicky.
“No, I want to see this.” Adam’s brother stood there staring pointedly at us, looking like he weighed a thousand pounds. His face held the same attitude, like he was as immovable mentally as his weight made him physically. Adam looked so frustrated by the fact that he couldn’t do anything about his brother being there and pushing him around, and it really made me mad.
“You want to see something? I’ll show you something.” With that I got up, poked a single finger into his chest, and pushed him. I just skidded him across the floor until he was outside the room. Then I slammed the door. “Hmm. That felt really good,” I commented. I turned to Adam. “Your brother is a royal asshole,” I said. He was looking at me, wide-eyed and bemused.
“You moved my brother,” he said in a voice tinged with awe.
“That I did,” I answered.
“He’s a heavy guy. That’s pretty amazing.”
“He wasn’t that heavy. Nothing like the delivery truck I picked up once for fun.” I smiled, wondering if he’d believe me.
“Uh-huh. I can fly, too,” I added, deciding to tell him that because most people didn’t realize that flying wasn’t a separate power. “That’s how come you didn’t hear me come up your stairs . . . ’cause I didn’t.” He just kind of stared at me.
“I want to be able to get that good,” he said finally. “I want to push my brother around like that.”
“To be honest, Adam . . . I don’t mean to sound rude, but I don’t think you’ll really ever be able to do it.” I felt sad. “Please don’t think I’m being a bitch when I say this, but you can’t move that piece of paper.”
“I bet I can, or I will be able to someday . . . ” he said. “Maybe if I work at it. . . . ”
“Maybe,” I agreed haphazardly. “Until then, I’ll push him around for ya.” I winked at him. Adam stood up.
“I really gotta go set the table now, though.” He frowned. “What if Paul tells my mom what we did?” He looked very worried now.
“I know exactly what to do,” I replied.
“Deny it. Everything. It never happened. Your brother is insane.” I grinned.
“Will that really work?” He looked very dubious.
“It’s worked in the past for me, I mean come on, whose story sounds more convincing? Besides, chances are he’s not going to say anything, he knows perfectly well it sounds crazy. Um . . . I’ll just go out your window, okay?”
“All right . . . you mean I get to watch you fly out there?”
“I don’t care. Watch if you want to.” I shrugged. “Tell your brother I said he needs a shower,” I added as I opened his window and took the screen off.
“Can you visit me again?” he asked. “I really want to learn, and I think you’re the only one who can teach me. . . . ”
“Sure I will. Next time, want me to call first, or just drop in?”
“Call first. I might not be here.”
“All right. We’ll talk soon.” I hopped out the window and put the screen back on.
“That is so cool!” he exclaimed as he watched me float away from the window. “I can’t wait ’til I get that good!” I made a face. I wanted to tell him not to hold his breath.
Adam waved at me through the screen, and I waved back briefly and shot up out of his sight. The sky looked like it was considering darkening. I flew back to the lake and anticipated raiding my refrigerator.
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