This can’t, like, really be happening to me. What have I done to deserve this? It’s been hard enough just trying to get through middle-school with nobody liking me, but at least there was always the hope that high school and college might help people forget how much they enjoyed looking down on me and calling me names. If they find out about this, about me, they’ll have an actual reason for hating my guts, and I’ll never be able to get away from it.
“Do they have to know?” I ask in a small voice.
“Does who have to know?” the doctor asks. His voice is calm and, like, sincere. He seems nice enough. At least he doesn’t look at me like there’s something wrong with me. I can’t seem to remember his name… I know we’ve just spent, like, twelve hours together, but I can’t remember if he ever told me his name. I search for a name tag on his stiff, white lab coat, but there’s nothing, not even a logo. “Tara, what we’ve done today, what you and I have talked about, what we’ve discovered—none of it is anybody’s business except yours and mine, do you understand?”
There’s something in this doctor’s eyes and the way he moves his mouth and dips his head that makes me feel like he really cares and, like, it’s okay to talk with him about this. Maybe he’ll be able to help me after all.
“It’s just, life’s already hard enough. I’m used to the kids at school and the teachers looking at me like I’m something horrible and smelly, but I could always move away from them. I can’t move away from my parents. If my parents find out—”
“Your parents don’t need to know anything about this, Tara—not unless you would like them to.”
I wouldn’t like them to. If my parents knew about this, they’d probably sell me to the government for, like, experiments—anything for a legitimate excuse to disown me. This doctor makes me feel safe, like this could be our secret and my horrendous life didn’t have to get any worse. At least not yet. “I don’t want anyone to know, especially not my parents.”
“That’s fine,” the doctor says with a gentle smile, “that’s all fine. What’s important right now is that you come to terms with it, that you learn to control it. This isn’t an easy thing for any thirteen-year-old to deal with.”
“I’m not even sure what it is. How can I come to terms with it if I don’t know what it is or why it’s happening to me?”
The doctor sits back in his cushioned roller-chair and rubs his chin with his fingers. “I’m not sure either, Tara, but what I am sure of is that you are very lucky we found out now, together, before things got any worse.”
I know what he means. He means before I hurt anybody again. I feel guilty, and a little less comfortable talking with this man. “That wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know what I was doing. Jennifer and Stacey just wouldn’t let up. Usually I’m able to ignore it, all the teasing and name-calling, but they just wouldn’t let up. It’s not my fault.”
“One of those girls is dead,” the doctor says in a matter-of-fact tone, “and the other is not likely to recover. Whether you feel it was your fault or not, these girls and their families would not have suffered if it weren’t for you. I think you can appreciate how important it is that we move past the denial and start coming to terms with your powers immediately.”
Suddenly, I feel, like, very uncomfortable sitting here in this doctor’s big, grey office and I, like, feel very much like I need to get out of here. I’m not even sure where here is or how I got here to begin with and, like, I’m not even sure who this doctor is. My head is muddled. I can’t put the pieces together in my mind. Why am I here?
The doctor narrows his eyes at me and bites his lip. “Tara, can you tell me how you are feeling right now?”
I feel hot, like when I have a bad cold and the front of my face feels like it’s literally going to blow open from all the heat and pressure. A moment before, the room felt cold and large, but the air around me is so tight and hot now—so hot—and I can feel the sweat, like, gluing my shirt to my chest and arms and all I can think about now is how I can get out—how I can get out right now. I become aware of the pain in my fingers as I dig my nails into the armrests of my chair.
“Tara,” the doctor says, his voice an accusation, his face full of worry. “Tara, I need you to take a deep breath. You know what happens when you get upset. I can assure you, I am here to help you.”
Help me? I don’t even know who this doctor is or what he wants from me. I feel like the time I snuck a beer from my dad’s cooler on the Fourth of July, like I wasn’t acting or thinking right. I can hear my chair rattling and its legs thumping against the floor.
“Tara? Now that’s quite enough. If you don’t calm down I—Tara, do I need to call your parents? I thought we had an understanding, but if you can’t be reasonable…”
My parents? Would he actually call my parents? I thought he said—what did he say? I just can’t remember. None of this is making any sense. What did he do to me? He’s trying to do something to me. He’s trying to, like, trick me. He’s trying to, like, hurt me. He’s… He’s just like everyone else.
Yes. I can see it in his face. He’s not concerned about me, he’s afraid of me. He’s afraid I’ll, like, do something to him. Maybe I will. I feel whatever this is inside of me, whatever this thing is that’s made me do the things I’ve done pushing to the surface. It’s going to happen again and there’s nothing I can do about it but sit back and watch.
He picks up his desk phone. He’s trembling. Sweat is popping up on his forehead. It’s dripping from his palms. He’s, like, burning up. Steam rises from his hand holding the phone and he screams and throws it on his desk.
But he’s not shouting at me, he’s shouting toward the door, like, he’s calling for someone to come and help him, like he’s supposed to be helping me, to keep me from doing what I’m about to do. I feel so angry, so angry and sad, and I can see him, like, getting smaller and smaller while I, like, get bigger and bigger and, like, farther and farther away. I’m above him now and the whole room feels too small. I feel like I’m literally about to burst through the walls and ceiling and I can see, like, the little doctor below me screaming and his face is, like, all red and bubbly and I’m, like, somewhere else, like, far back, like, watching this all happen, just like it happened before, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I can hear them trying to break down the door, but they can’t because I’ve become so big and so hot and the room is, like, literally catching fire.
This is it. I’m doing it again. I’ve done it again, and they’ll all know now, my parents will find out, the whole world will find out, and there will be no where for me to hide. They’ll all hate me now, forever and ever. They’ll all say horrible, nasty things, the worse things they’ve ever said and I literally don’t know what will happen to them when they do. It’s not my fault.
This is my response to a prompt I posted yesterday: “A thirteen-year-old girl finds out she’s “blessed” with paranormal powers, much to her dismay.”