I admit it; I was embarrassed in this specific instance. So much, I refused to let go of Mo until she swore she would not open her eyes, even a crack. I think she was starting to think I was some kind of pervert until she listened to the ruckus of embarrassing thoughts catapulting in my noggin like an Olympic gymnast.
After I released my bear hug and did a few test waves in front of her closed eyes, I started to make my way off the grass. Blades were stuck to my cheeks and I sincerely debated brushing them off before making my way to the garage, thinking of all of the other potentially scarring scenarios.
A giggle from behind causes me to turn around and double-check the trustworthiness of Mo’s promise. She sat on the grass, smile screwed in as tightly as her closed eyelids.
The ability Mo possessed answered before I had to ask, “I’m not laughing because I’m peeking at you or anything. I’m laughing because you think I might not realize…”
“Hey!” I interrupt before she has to actually vocalize the words. “It is cold out here and physics plays a factor.” I don’t even bother explaining myself anymore as I turn and walk to the garage. I had a change of clothes in various spots around my house for certain cases. My sweats, shoes, socks and a shirt were just inside the door.
Again a giggle from behind; this time I chose the high-ground and ignored it.
“Nice grass, Carter.”
That little so and so… I would turn, but I already know she’s stopped playing the “no looking” game now. I mentally throw a few choice thoughts her direction and I think she started laughing harder.
A few minutes later I emerge from the garage, slightly warmer and definitely less breezy. Mo is still smiling and on her way to another giggle-fit. In order to bypass that and get to an actual serious matter, I start asking while I walk towards her.
“Mo, what happened in the parking lot?”
Her affable nature subsided to a small ripple in a pond. The wave of turmoil and questions approached behind her. Her expression said it all. She was uncertain what caused the fire but fretful that might be intentional.
“Yah, sorry. It just all happened so quickly. One second I smelled something hot, then there was smoke in the car, then I thought I was going to choke before I could even scream. Then we showed up here.”
My inquisitive nature has about a dozen questions lined up, but I want to pick the best ones first so the little ones can be let go if needed.
“Were your doors locked?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did you hear any thoughts of anyone close by?”
“Carter, I don’t know.”
“Well, what about –”
“Carter!” This time she was answering me inside my own head. Cool, yes; a little disconcerting, also yes. “Your thoughts are coming more rapidly than your words. It’s hard to concentrate.”
“Sorry,” I mention aloud. “Sorry,” I say in my thoughts as well.
She smiles and something about it melts the ice inside of me into little gelatinous pools of teenage drama shows. Suddenly, I feel cheesy and don’t even care. People who don’t get to experience this don’t know what they’re missing.
“Thinking back,” she interrupts, “I tried the handle, but it wasn’t that it was locked. It was that I couldn’t remember how to open it.”
I couldn’t help but let a macabre chuckle slip by as I cleared my throat to repeat, “So, you forgot how to open a car door?”
“Laugh all you want, Carter James DeTamble.” Whoa! Using the triple name threat was reserved to my mother. I didn’t want to be wondering how many directions that nonsense could come from. And as she already knew, she raises her eyebrows at me as if to speak to the notion she knows all about me.
“Funny, but seriously, you forgot how to open a door in the panic of it all?”
“No, my brain knew how to open it. I just couldn’t relate the information to my hands; they were the ones that forgot.”
“I’m confused.” And I was. Out of all the things I could fathom, I couldn’t wrap my head around this instance.
“Carter, someone like me was there and forcing my thoughts from escaping. They were paralyzing me.”
Okay, new wrinkle. “Are you sure?”
“I know what it feels like to push a thought out for somebody to do something. It isn’t hard to imagine what it would feel like from the other end. I think they would have made sure I’d forget everything in total if they thought I had a chance at making it out alive.”
My mind raced at (cheetah x road runner)ostrich speed. So much, I think Mo abandoned trying to keep up as she started to squint in a nauseous pain and hold her temples.
She nodded, “Yah. You’re just thinking way too fast to keep up.”
I slow down my thoughts and narrow in on the events of the day. Mo greets me, we share the mental get to know you moments, she understands I know a teleporter and now I know she can sly into my thoughts and possibly others better than any Eventual I heard of before, then lunch followed by the parking lot. I shake my head thinking where we might have gone wrong in that small amount of time.
“Did you mention what you picked up on me to anyone?”
“Please, Carter. I don’t have friends at this school or outside of it.”
Her mind wandered off as she mentally retraced her own steps. A squirm in her expression was followed by her erasing it from her thoughts completely.
“What was that?”
“The thing you were contemplating then disregarded.”
“Are you a mind-reader, Carter?” she asked while poking a little fun at me.
“Seriously, what was it?” I haven’t approached the stomping of the feet stage yet, but I knew I was getting whinny with my prodding.
“It was just a silly thought really.” I pause and stare blankly showing I won’t give up until she tells me. “I got called to the principal’s office.”
I recalled being slightly alarmed when I heard and confirmed she was being called there. It was a point I was meeting her in the parking lot for after school, well one of the points.
“Yah, what happened there?” In my head I’m thinking an intense grilling under a singular bulb in a dark room. Or overbearing tones mixed with threats of detention or suspension.
“You weirdo, it was a mistake.”
“Huh?” Well, there went that idea.
“I sat there for like 20 minutes waiting. The secretary came back and said there was some mix up calling me down and I was free to return to class.”
“Oh…” My mind searched for a place to stand my ground, but I was on the side of a sand dune and slipping with each possible thought. Finally, I gave up. I shrugged my shoulders signifying as much.
Neither of us had any other notions to contribute as we sat in silent contemplation for a few minutes.
“Want something to drink?” It was my humble way of asking her to stay a little longer as well as getting myself a little warmer. Without a jacket, the fall weather gets nippy.
Her smile said it all. She just reached her hands toward me to help her off of my backyard. I hoist her up and her smell washes over me, along with the faint whiff of smoke from her burning car. It was lovely and I wanted to kiss her right then and there, but luckily she played the cool card and squeezed my hand in a gentle way, but very present.
As she walked up the steps, I made certain not to allow my eyes or mind wander anywhere that she could pick up on. And suddenly, I am seeing the difficulties ahead if I actually dated Mo. I’d be on guard 24/7 around her.
“Carter,” my mind stops dead in its tracks along with my feet.
She turns in front of the door and the look in her eyes melted me on contact. It reminded me of another classic movie my mother and I watched, Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the end, a guy pretty much melts where he stands, except in my version it is much more cartoon-like and not as horrific.
“Thank you for saving me,” she leans to me and stands on her tiptoes to reach my mouth with hers. A soft and supple kiss graces my lips just briefly enough to be passionate and not long enough to be anything much more than courteous.
It was hands down the best moment of my life to date.
Mo turns and punches in the door code to unlock the house and before I ask, I already know that my mind was a toy bin she could play around in for information. Her getting my house code as I stood there like a drunken fool was probably child’s play.
I follow behind her, not certain what to follow that up with except, “You’re welcome.”
“I should probably call my caregiver and let them know I’m okay. They’re probably freaking out.”
As Mo starts making her way to the phone in the other room off our kitchen, I begin wondering the main problem and soon I voice it, “Mo, what are we going to tell anyone?”
She stops in the doorway leading to the living room, but not because of what I said. She moves backward in cautious steps. As I hear the light footsteps pushing her away.
“Yes, please explain what you are going to say to anyone. Either of you.”
Crap sandwiches! “Hi, mom.”
“I swear you have the uncanny knack of attracting trouble like bees to a flower. First day back at school and you not only figure out how to utilize a dormant power, but you get involved with an exploding car as well.”
“My car exploded?!” Thank you, secretly, for drawing some attention off of me, Mo.
My mother turns her Medusa gaze on Mo and with as little acknowledgement as possible, she replies. “Yah.” And suddenly that diversion lasted only a few seconds as Mo has no come back and simply accepts the fact.
“I wasn’t trying to use anything, mom. I saw Mo in trouble and simply wished I could help, the next minute I’m in the car and then I wanted us safe and here we landed.” Some part of me forgot to at least introduce the girl I saved and brought into our home and life. “Oh, Mo, this is my mother. Mom, this is my friend from school, Mo.”
Without turning to look at her, my mom’s sight is anchored to me, she at least acknowledges her presence, “It’s a pleasure, dear.”
Mo acts like she wants to explain herself but simply replies, “likewise, Mrs. DeTamble.”
I look at her with the expression of “what the hell was that” written on my face. She nervously shakes her head while twitching her shoulders in a “what should I have said” response. All the while, mom is deeply involved in a stare-down with my soul.
“I’ll assume that in your inexperience, you flashed back here minus your clothing?”
Sudden shame and slight embarrassment redden my cheeks. Frustration soon takes over and shifts my emotional drive into anger. “What the hell was I supposed to do, let her die?”
The silence makes me wonder what her answer is to be.
“No, of course not, but you have a lot of clean up when you do things like that. Flashing needs to be done in private and when you’re ready, otherwise you are putting more people in danger than just those you know. You put anyone in danger that saw you.”
After that, a glimmer formed around the aura of my mother and in a blink, she was gone. Mo and I stood and half-wondered for a second if that actually happened. A few moments passed before Mo spoke.
“Holy crap, that was awesome!”
I can only smile and nod. “So, flashing must be teleporter slang for, well, teleporting I guess. I wonder where she went.”
I no more than get the words from my lips than I see a glimmer to the side and my mom standing there as if she never left. Only this time, she was holding a backpack and a wad of clothes. My clothes.
“If someone were to have found these, Carter, you have no idea the kind of trouble we would be in. It wouldn’t take long for them to figure out someone leapt, but they would piece things together over time and realize your friend disappearing and you leaping actually had something in common.”
I understand where she’s going with her chastising. I need to start practicing and perfecting this skill I obviously have.
“Was there anyone at school you spoke with recently concerning your ability or Carter’s?” Mom had now turned her attention to Mo.
“Carter just asked me that. I only met and started speaking to him today. The only other thing was a mistaken call into the principal’s office. But I didn’t even meet with anyone there.”
Mom’s focus narrowed and it was evident in her eyes. “Who else was waiting in there with you?”
Mo concentrated and at first shook her head as if she were alone, then she put up one finger as if she were telling someone to wait while she finished a call. “The Deslin twins were there too. They were waiting to see the principal.”
Ugh, the Deslin twins. Ronnie and Wiley Deslin were a couple of Eventuals that truly defined the term creepy and misfit. Ronnie was the tall one, standing about 6’3” and partially albino. His complexion was white as 2% milk and he shaved his head like a cue ball. The only true color to him was a pair of deep blue eyes, which offset due to his pale skin, making them shine like a beacon in a lighthouse. If it weren’t for his behavior, I think girls my age would swoon to him despite his skin tone for his eyes alone.
Wiley Deslin was the opposite. He was shorter by almost a foot and had long, managed raven-black hair. His eyes were nearly as dark. The hair on his head was about the only redeemable feature worth mentioning, everything else was bordering the ugly zone. Looking at them side by side, you’d have no idea of relation, let alone being twins. It was like setting an angel next to a gargoyle.
Wiley did most of the talking and plotting while Ronnie carried out most of the actions. Their gifts when apart from each other are fairly inconsequential, but when they are close to one another, they have a way of using telekinesis to the highest abilities.
They once incited a food fight in the cafeteria, which was all fun and teenager-like until they began throwing forks around using their gift. A few kids wound up in the nurses office needing plastic utensils removed as they were sticking out of their arms or legs. The Deslin’s were suspended for a couple months on that offense.
Since then, they have behaved much better, if better meant causing kids to trip over their feet or slip on imaginary ice. They were responsible for most trips to the nurse at our school, but no one could prove that. They were separated from having classes together, but God help those that have to share lunch with them.
“Are they like you, dear?” My mom asks with sugar stirred into her words.
“Yah, they don’t use their minds as much for reading as they do for pushing.”
“Well, hon, you are going to have to play dead for a while. You okay with that?” It was not much in terms of a question as it was a masked order.
Mo shook her head, understanding there was a good reason behind it.
“I don’t know why,” she was addressing me again, “but it might have been a prank or an order. I can’t look into it right now. My work thinks I’m in the bathroom and I have to get back before people start wondering. Until we know for sure and while they sift through the ashes and debris, Mo should stay here. If it turns out an accident or some school punks, we’ll handle it differently.”
I look to Mo to try and gauge if she is okay with that. She seems frightened but adherent. I nod and let my mom know we are on board. The curiosity on my part was wondering how my mom knew about it so soon.
“How did you know to come here?”
“Lord Ray has a friend looking out for you. When he said he saw you flash in the parking lot and moments later, a car exploded, I put a few notions together. I figured if you did flash, you’d go where you felt safe, home. When I saw the young woman in my doorway, I was certain.”
Great, now I have a babysitter.
“I’ll be home late. Set up the guest room next to mine for your friend. Don’t go outside, answer the door or alert anyone to her being alive let alone at our house.” And as a combo punch to add embarrassment, she smiles at me while motioning to Mo and says, “Behave.” With a wink, she flashes out of the kitchen and I am left to mend the awkward conversation left in triage.
“So… Guess we should work on getting you settled in?” I had no clue how to break the ice after someone was told to play dead and not freak out that someone tried to kill them, possibly.
I expected tears or sobs or something in that category, but Mo stood there as if she had been told that her online purchase was back-ordered. She is one tough chick on the outside as far as I can tell.
“Carter, you know how I mentioned I can pick up on you better than anyone?”
“Yah, and everyone else is pretty much static.”
“Well, your mom isn’t like that.”
Curiosity peak approaching. “You can read my mother?” She will definitely need to be my best friend if not girlfriend after this. I would have total access to parental thought.
Drat! Foiled again.
“Carter,” she mentions abruptly, ruining the fun monologue I was starting in my head. “She’s totally blank. No static, no thoughts, nothing.”
I guess I don’t understand the direction this conversation is pointing. “So?”
“So, when she’s around, I can’t hear you either.”
Well, that may be a weird bonus too. Not sure what it all means yet. “So, she acts as a buffer to your ability?”
“No. I think she is intentionally blocking me. Carter, I think your mother is like me as much as she is like you.”
Crapdamnit! That would figure in some way. “She’s a leaper, a flasher and an Eventual all wrapped in one?” I state it as a question left for some narrator to explain to us but nothing follows. Just a simple end to a chapter that leaves a cliffhanger to be explained.
The oddity of my mother continues.