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It's the Truth?
I know what you’re thinking, and my answer is that I know that I’m not crazy. And to your second question, yes, I can prove it.
That’s what you’re thinking. And now you’re wondering what to say next, now that you’ve found out that I, sixteen-year-old Annabelle Evans, am a freak of nature. Don’t call me a psychic. I hate that word. When you think of a psychic, you think of some tent at a carnival of gypsies. I know you do. But I don’t live in a gypsy carnival. I live in Seattle, with my crazy Aunt Chloe and Uncle Seb. It’s really Sebastian, but he hates that it reminds him of lobsters.
I got sidetracked. Let me start again.
This story isn’t about my relatives, where I live, or even the bizarre accidents that happen when I randomly read the thoughts of an unknowing passerby by mistake. No, this story is about me and him.
When he first moved in from Boston I didn’t think much of it at all. He was just another face, just another voice I had to block out on a daily basis. I still remember the first time I saw him for myself. I’d been seeing him all day through the eyes of my friends and the occasional accidental read from people walking down the halls. But when I saw him… I knew something was different.
He had the sort of strong face that artists dreamed of sculpting one day. It had serious features that somehow, no matter how intense, didn’t seem harsh. His hair was dark brown, like the color of dark chocolate, and cut short and neat. But his eyes…they were as sharp green as broken glass.
I decided to listen in—just for a second—to find out what was bothering me so much about him. What was so different. And then I realized just what it was.
It was the nothing that came from him. That’s right, nothing. I listened, read, did everything that I usually did, and yet still I got nothing. No thoughts. I even did the one thing that I hated more than anything else—since psychic (I still hate that word) wavelengths (I’m not liking that one so much either) work better when I touch, I purposefully walked by him too close in the hallway and brushed his shoulder. Silence. Either this new guy was brain-dead or something definitely wasn’t right.
Since he didn’t look comatose, I realized it had to be the second reason.
“Why are you staring at the new kid?” My best friend Rachel asked in math class, one of the two classes I have with her, and him.
Stephen. His name was Stephen Vertigo.
“No reason.” I muttered. But there was a reason. I’d never had this problem before. Usually the ‘hearing’ part was the issue, not the other way around. So obviously something was seriously wrong—or right—with me, and this Stephen kid had something to do with it.
Rachel rolled her eyes and backed off, but I knew that she wouldn’t leave it alone. I knew just like I always know. At least this time I’ll be able to use it for my own benefit. I may the one who can read people’s minds, but Rachel can get them to spill just about anything, with or without them realizing it.
I decided to avoid him for at least a week before I started to get too worried. Maybe by then whatever psychic flu I had would pass, and things would go back to normal. A tactical move, I guess you could call it. And I was a little nervous. I’d never tried to read anyone before. It always seemed rude to me. Invasive. But this was a special case.
Waiting a week actually turned out to work. I had almost completely dismissed the whole Stephen situation by then. But then came fourth period science class. It was the only time of day that Stephen and I were within a five-mile radius of each other without at least a dozen swooning, overly helpful girls flocking oh-so-inconspicuously around his desk. Not so many of those girls took the kind of class you had to think in. And thinking is my specialty, hence Honors Biology.
He sat across the room from me.
Two boys were absent that day, so I had a clear view of him. But like usual there wasn’t anything I could do but stare, frustrated, at the back of his head.
Too bad just then he chose to turn around and reach for his backpack, slung around the back of his chair. He caught my irritated expression full on, his green-leaf eyes surprised and, understandably, a little confused.
That’s usually about the time when a read takes over. His voice should have tuned in like an old radio, telling me more than I ever wanted to know about him.
But it didn’t.
I looked away quickly, not embarrassed, but agitated. “Weird.” I grumbled.
“You can say that again,” Rachel scoffed. “Now he’s staring at you.”
I stole a quick look out of the corner of my eye. Oh, great. Now I’ve freaked him out, I thought cynically. Perfect.
But he didn’t look all that freaked. I couldn’t really tell what he was thinking—now that’s something I never thought I’d say. His expression was unreadable. Halfway between surprised and puzzled, really. I slouched down in my seat to hide pathetically behind Rachel. All right, so I’m not all that brave when it comes to actually having to interact with other people, especially when they’re my age.
I make up for it in hiding skills, though. At the moment, however, my options were limited. I’d have to make do.
It wasn’t easy. He had a piercing gaze. And I suppose I might have deserved a little creeped-out ogling—turning around to see my angry dark brown eyes burning fiery holes in the back of your head might be a bit uncomfortable.
Either way, concentrating on molecular density is much harder to do when Stephen Vertigo is watching you like a hawk the entire time you’re being lectured about it, I’ve come to realize. His back was even turned away from the front of the classroom, with no effort to disguise it.
I hope that’s not what I looked like.
I swear it wasn’t physically possible for the class to have gone any slower than it did that day. And when the bell finally rang, I grabbed up all of my stuff faster than I’ve ever done before.
Rachel called after me as I shot out the door, but I wasn’t about to hang around the classroom today. Not with the chance that Stephen would pop out of nowhere and—
“Hi.” I didn’t have to turn around to know who had caught up to me so easily. Stupid short, slow legs of mine. Why can’t you be tall like him?
I had reached my locker then, and even though I didn’t really need to stop there, I did anyways. When I didn’t respond, he tried to spark conversation again.
“I’m Stephen.” He said with a bold smile. “You’re Annabelle.”
“Really?” I asked sarcastically. It wasn’t his fault I was feeling snippy. Well, not his fault on purpose, really. I hate feeling like I can’t do something, especially when it’s something that I’ve been doing my whole life.
“I noticed you were looking pretty annoyed back in class. Why are you so worked up?” He asked with a brazen smile. It was the sort of smile that I hated that I loved. It said I-know-something-you-don’t. It was cocky. Why did it make me smile?
“I’m not worked up.” I shot back, playing clueless, and stuffed my backpack into my locker so hard that I think I heard the metal buckle in the back.
He leaned his shoulder against the wall while his eyes scorched right through me. “Is it because you can’t get into my head?”
If I had a mouthful of water right then, I would have sprayed it out all over that hallway. Luckily I didn’t, but Stephen’s comment still caught me off guard.
“N-no.” I sputtered. “What does that even mean?”
He shrugged coolly. “You know. Figure me out. Make me predictable. Get in my head.”
Oh, that ‘inside your head’. All right, I could deal with that one.
“Sure.” I said, and closed the locker’s metal door. “That’s it.”
I started walking off to my next class, but he and his stupid tall, long strides kept pace with me irritatingly effortlessly.
“Besides,” He continued in an easy, conversational voice. “I think you should have figured it out by now. One psychic can’t read the mind of another unless they want them to.”
The crowd jostled us then, pushing him towards me so that his arm brushed mine. To my surprise, one thought that couldn’t have been my own whispered into my mind.
It’s the truth.