The abrupt departure of my mother left Mo and I standing and debating the mind-reader scenario for a while. After a stalemate of ideas, we moved on to the possible scenarios of who would want to kill Mo and why.
Our suspect list included the Deslin twins and possibly faculty at our school. The list was not impressive by any means and the only reason we crossed off accident was the notion that someone was preventing Mo from escaping.
The next step was figuring out why. By all accounts, Mo was a wallflower in the school. Her only notoriety came from her nickname that she received years ago. Even then, the shock and awe only lasted a week until the next kid with an ability had a tantrum causing his powers to activate.
Mo was sweet and I had a hard time believing that anyone would have a grudge against her personally. The next thing in my paranoid mind is thinking that I contributed to it in some way.
We had met that day, officially, and by the end of it, Mo was nearly blown to pieces. That caused me to retrace our steps and come to the only conclusion that something else happened in the principal’s office. My mother even posed the question. Despite how she can pester and irritate me at times, she is one of the most intelligent people I have ever known.
“Mo, did you feel anything happening while you were waiting in the principal’s office?”
She contemplated it for a bit, then came back with, “No. Nothing really.” And as her statement exited and hung in the air, a realization flashed before her. “Actually, there was nothing at all. It was like when your mom was around. All of the static subsides and I am left in a bubble.”
I wonder if it is true then? “Have you heard the stories about the principal’s office being a place where no one like us can use our abilities?”
“I think I’ve heard of some people mentioning it. They had a name for it, but I don’t remember it completely.”
“A guy in one of my classes got called there because he got into a scuffle with another kid at lunch a couple of years ago. The other kid was an Eventual and when he pushed him, he flew about 20 feet back instead of being thrown off balance.”
“Was that Jacob Wells?” Even the way she asks questions at times is cute. She has this little curl to her lip when she’s close to smiling.
Focus. “Ya, I can’t remember the other kids name, Kenny something. I think he moved the next year. But he said that while they were waiting outside the principal’s office, the kid was still mad. Said he tried to ‘do something’ and then looked strangely confused. He thought he was trying to push him from across the hall and couldn’t.”
“Marco,” she wildly interjects.
“Sorry, Kenny Marco, his name just popped into my head. He was more public with his pushes than any Eventual I knew besides the Deslins. After he went to the office that day, he never pushed again. We took note from him that exhibiting our full abilities would get us in trouble.”
We both sat quietly while we took that last sentence in.
“Man, I can’t remember what they called that area around the principal’s office.”
As we both dug deeply into our memory, I think that I helped her jog her own. In unison, we both called it out together, “the Shade.”
“That was it. Thanks, Carter. I might have gone a little batty if I hadn’t figured that out soon.” She laughed. It was a dry courtesy laugh, but it was still charming and airy. It didn’t sound forced, just a lighter version of what her smile radiated.
Even after coming to conclusions, we still had no way of understanding how, why or for what reason Mo’s car caught fire. Rather than expand our already stretched brain cells, we both thought it was a better idea to wait for my mom and get her help on the matter.
I started making my way to the stairs in order to show Mo to her room for at least the evening. On the way up the stairs I take note to a picture on our family wall in particular; the one with my mom, my dad and I. I pass by and try not to let the questions start flooding in.
A few steps up, I sense that Mo’s footsteps are no longer following and as I turn around I see that she is analyzing the picture of my family.
“What were you looking for in this one, just now?”
“It’s a picture of my family before my dad walked out on us.”
She looked the photo over like it was a picture she had seen a copy of before, except now she was picking out the things that were missing.
“There was something else to it. You were thinking beyond him walking out. What was it?”
This is different. Usually, as far as our usual went, Mo was deeply inside my thoughts and knew things before I could form the words. “I found out recently that he was like me, a leaper.”
“Wow. Two leapers having a kid together. Did anyone in the DCD know?”
It was a good question. The Department of Chronological Displacement would be very curious on the offspring of two leapers, or whatever my mom was. Maybe that’s why he left? This past week has been beyond confusing and in between adrenaline rushes, I would love nothing more than a nap. And I friggin hate naps.
“I don’t think so. I haven’t had the time or brainpower to ask my mom any questions yet.” I keep making my way up the stairs and hear Mo start following me again.
As I get to the first room on my left, I mention how it was mine. I’d show her later, but for now I move down and to the end of the hall on the left, across from my mother’s. I open it and as we move in, the sensor light activates the crown molding lights around the room. I pull on the chain above hanging off of the fan/light combo and the remainder of the room illuminates.
“This is your room for as long as you need.” I point to the door in the corner and mention that it leads to the adjoining master bathroom. Suddenly I have a flash in my mind of Mo needing to shower and well, my thoughts went a little to R rated before I knew how to wrangle them back.
“Oh my God, I’m sorry, Mo.” I could feel the heat flushing parts of my body and the need to dig a hole in the back yard and put my head in it.
“What are you sorry for?” Odd. That thought was pretty clear. I mentally push the thought, I’m sorry for what I was thinking just now.
Her expression was muddled. “I can’t pick up on you as well right now. What were you thinking?”
“Are you okay?” Suddenly I wonder if my mom has anything to do with this. There are definite trust issues I need to work through with her.
“I’m fine, just tired. Honestly, listening to your thoughts for hours today has made me extremely sleepy. That on top of the adrenaline crash after nearly being incinerated makes it difficult to pick up on your thoughts. But, that’s probably okay. You don’t want me in there 24/7.” She says while winking at me.
It’s been a day, but I already want her to be a part of my life a little too much. I need to use this down time of hers to compose myself and get to know more about her.
“I know it’s pretty early, but I might lay down for a quick nap. Is that okay?”
Well, screw Plan A. “Sure, that’s fine. There should be sheets on the bed. I’ll get a toothbrush and towel ready for you in the meantime. I’ll wake you in a bit for dinner?”
She nods her peach-fuzzed head up and down. I smile at how she has changed into so many different ways today from wallflower to friendly to intriguing and sensual and now to completely adorable. I walk out and slowly close the door behind me, hoping she’ll ask me to stay longer.
Alas, I am off to the pantry to see what we have to eat. I get just inside the kitchen when I hear my mother’s car pulling into the driveway. I look at the hovering digital readout on the clock above the sink and realize that it is 5:18. Mom must have gotten off work a little early to make it home at this speed.
The locks on the house deactivate as she approaches the door off the kitchen that leads to the garage and backyard. As she walks in, her eyes hold every expression bundled into one, a rainbow of emotions in her gaze.
“Are you okay?” she asks.
I scrunch my face into the best question mark I know and reply unsure, “yes?”
“Carter, seriously. I know it hasn’t been easy over the last week for you. Today was a close call and I want to know if you’re okay.”
“I know, mom. I can’t say it’s been a piece of cake, but I’m holding it together.” I was, actually. I’m not entirely sure how, maybe in my continual time leaping and facing imminent danger eased the sharpness of any peril.
“I want to talk with you both about today. Where is your friend, Mo?”
“She was pretty tired. She’s up in the guest room taking a nap.”
“Mom.” Oh Lord, please strike my mother mute on this subject before she starts.
“What? Even the whole bald head thing, she’s pretty.”
“Okay,” I say while moving toward the fridge in order to decide on dinner.
“Do you like her?”
Lord, pretty please? “Are we really doing this?”
“Can’t your mother be curious?”
“Curious, yes. But can we not be curious while in the same house as your curiosity? On top of the fact that she can read minds to boot.”
The rarest smile started curving its way around my mom’s face. If there was a thing behind me getting ready to surprise me, that would describe her smile. “Oh really?” she replies.
“What is it that you know that I don’t?”
“I would imagine a lot, Carter.”
Wise ass. Oh, crap. Can my mom read minds? Her expression of mood didn’t even flinch just now. Maybe she was an award winning actress to boot?
“Carter, if you try and over think this too much, you’re going to burst a blood vessel.” I think she just chuckled at my expense. Am I over thinking it? Did she just know I was over thinking it? I’m doing it right now…crap.
“So, why did Mo go blank around you? She said that you must be like her.” Hmm, and if my mom is like Mo, perhaps I have the capability as well. Ooo, this could get good.
“I’m not a reader, hon. Or Eventual as you kids call it. I am exactly what you can be. Time travel was the first symptom. Disappearing from time and reappearing later. Your grandpa was one of the firsts. Thanks to your grandma, she prepared me at an early age for what might come. With that, I was able to survive and eventually I learned that it could be controlled.”
The floorboards squeaked ever so slightly behind us. We both knew it meant someone was entering the kitchen. Older houses have the distinctive areas where a person growing up knew where to step to elicit a noise. We both turned to see Mo standing there, looking apologetic for interrupting.
“It’s okay, hon. Come in and join us. You should hear this too.”
She took mouse like steps, cautiously approaching my mother, trying to figure if she was a friend or foe. She settled at the end of the table between my mother and I.
“As I was saying, I learned to control leaping by choosing when and where. It took the better part of a decade. Then the government found out about people with our varying conditions. Volunteers were called for and at the time I was struggling for money and wanting to go to college.”
“Didn’t you meet dad in college?”
She smiled, recalling her first moments of meeting him, I suppose. “I did. He was a couple of years older and just finishing his degree. I didn’t realize he was a leaper like me until we dated for a few months.”
It never occurred to me how you break the news to someone from back then. Either shock or making them try to believe you were the two options beyond lying.
“He was walking with me one day and I stated that I had to stop into Simon Hall for something in order to help me with my financial aid. He wasn’t stupid. He knew about the tests and government helping to study the condition and he knew that normal financial aid was on the other side of campus. Later that night, he showed me that he was just like me and how I could go further than simply time traveling at a whim.”
Right, because time travel isn’t cool enough, there had to be more to it.
“Your father taught me how to harness time travel down to a focal point in order to teleport. It was like taking a wide angle lens down to a microscopic view. That took me another year to figure out altogether.”
The itchy question in my mind spilled out, “So, why didn’t dad register himself?”
A slightly less enthusiastic smile replaced the previous one on my mom’s face. “He didn’t trust the government’s intentions with their research. He said that it would inevitably lead to either a war or genocide. So, he felt that staying off their radar was best. Soon after their research was completed, the Pemberton School was founded and accepted kids who had been touched or possessed the ability they had seen.”
“I thought the school had been in place longer than a couple of decades?” Mo interjected into the conversation.
“It was previously a private reform school, so in a sense it had been there helping children who needed help. It was purchased and converted quite rapidly in order to start accepting applicants immediately. I think it was more to keep ‘special’ kids out of the public and restrict their abilities while simultaneously continuing their research under the guise of education.”
And now I really didn’t want to go back to school. Not that I wanted to any given day.
“Why did dad leave?”
The question punched my mother directly in the heart and I could see it reflected in the sadness she held back in her eyes. “I don’t think he felt there was a choice. After you were born, we both knew that it was only a matter of time before you started showing your ability. Luckily, that didn’t come until you were 12. After you leapt for your first time, no matter how prepared we made you, it was still the most frightening moment of my life. I wondered for a full hour if you were going to make it back. Even through your excitement on returning, I could barely hold back sobbing.”
I didn’t even remember my mom crying. I remember coming back the first leap and feeling like I was a super hero. I was so excited and after my dad wrapped a blanket around me and hugged me tighter than ever, I simply couldn’t recall anything else.
“Your father didn’t mention anything to me. He packed a bag the next day and just left. No note, no goodbye, no reason. He just left his life. He died for me that day, with no body or grave I could mourn. I was left with memories and questions and you. I had to report your leap and let you know that your father left the next day. It was one of the worst years of my life.”
I felt bad for asking now. I should have just left that in the past. I only remember my mom speaking highly of him up to that day. He simply left and never turned around. I blamed myself and now I am pretty sure that I was the reason.
Both Mo and my mother are harboring tears on the brink of falling.
“After your father left, I had no need to explain that he had the same condition as both of us. We had hidden it from the government for so long and from you that it seemed to prove little use. Then when you leapt back the other night saying that you ran across people who knew your father, I knew that our time to act was closing in.”
“Act on what exactly?” What is it with conspiracy talk that it always has to be vague and drawn out?
“We have to find a way to destroy the Pemberton School before they turn on the kids there.”
Well, how can I not want to help now?
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