Grounded mind, part 2
Welcome to Telepathics Anonymous, don’t bother introducing yourself.
Over a decade ago.
I’m fourteen and sit in a small stuffy room. I feel like I can’t breathe - even though the air conditioning seems to be working. I hear it in the walls, vibrating and circulating. It sounds like it’s choking. I grab my arms tightly and stare at the empty table, then I hear a cough and suddenly feel cold. My stare slowly moves up to a woman with dark chestnut hair and heavy looking glasses with black frames. She doesn’t seem as nice as in the beginning, I am making her lose her patience. Again. She taps a finger against an oversized paper card in her hand. It’s similar to the cards you would play poker with, just bigger. I stare at it and the woman seems to tense up even more. We have been here for hours. She said that it would just take a moment. My stare falls down on the table and the world gets blurry. I feel all the tension in the room and each vibration of our two bodies. Finally, I look up and shrug my shoulders, I really didn’t’ want to be here but back at home, even if it wasn’t my own. Anything was better than this.
Adria, we have been over this before. If you just cooperate we can get this over with much faster. Just try, I know you can do this.
My head moves to the side and I stay silent, the woman’s voice raises.
The head snaps back in her direction, my voice filled with low anger as I answer her.
If you already know what I can do, then why am I even here?
The woman looks surprised but still agitated. This was the longest sentence I have said since this morning. I was hungry and felt confused. What did they want with me? They already knew I was a freak, what else was there to talk about? I think of my uncle that I was left behind with and that I had no idea what was going with the rest of my family. No one was supposed to find me, that was the whole purpose of this plan. Anger simmers under my skin as I stare at the doctor. I feel like crying but I don’t want her to see, I don’t want anyone to see.
Well, it’s good that you remembered you have a voice, and now that you seem more woken up, please use the voice that is in your head. Which card am I holding?
I press my arms tighter, nails digging into the sleeves of my red shirt as my left leg starts to twitch. I’m not sure what to do. Do I give in or just pretend to be plain stupid? I shake my head.
I don’t know.
Adria, we know you have done this before. Now we need to record it for documentation.
I mumble and feel the tears starting to slip. I look to the ceiling, trying to hold them back and working on my calm.
Yes, that’s is what we do. We’re a scientist and need to document everything for our studies. Now please work with me, your uncle is waiting outside for you.
That catches my attention, a gasp escaping my mouth as I look at her, my mind even more confused. How much did they know? The doctor stands up, takes my hand, and makes me follow her. Her fingers are hot and dry. I want to pull out of her grasp but before I can do anything, we are already at the door. She points to the glass that takes up a small part of the door, and I look through it. I see my uncle sitting on a plastic chair outside and two guards sitting on both of his sides, keeping some space between. They look bored, my uncle looks exhausted. I grip the handle but it’s locked. I feel panic spread in my body and tap on the glass, and the doctor doesn’t stop me. My uncle looks up and gives me a tired smile. I breathe out slowly, counting my breaths, and return to the table, putting hands loosely by my sides, and wait. The woman sits opposite to me and nods, seeming to be satisfied by my reaction. She picks up a different card and lifts it.
I stare at it but don’t see anything for a moment. I close my eyes and let myself feel it, taste it. Each card has a different amount of ink on it, it’s cumulated energy laid down in the matter. That’s how my mum used to explain it to me. I didn’t understand it at first; being only eleven when she started to fill me in. But we had a lot of books and family journals that I could learn from, and my mother’s own experience which helped the most. So eventually, things became easier.
I focus on the card, my eyes still closed, making myself find it without actually seeing it, feeling its warmth and moving around the details. The ink feels colder than the paper. I concentrate and see a faint picture, but it’s not enough. My mind lifts a wall and moves to the woman. I touch her thoughts and try to catch them in a ‘net’. The symbol moves until I can place it and put it into shape. I breathe out and look down.
It’s a circle and the next one will be a star.
How did you know that? I haven’t picked it yet.
But you thought about it. I want to say but don’t. That would have been too dangerous and I wasn’t sure how she was going to react. I couldn’t risk it.
I saw it when you were picking the first one. A part of the picture showed.
My shoulders shrug and my attitude changes into that of a rebellious teenager that everyone saw in me. I’m playing my own cards with her, so I don’t lose the few aces I have left. The woman inhales sharply and is agitated again. She should swallow some Xanax, maybe that would help loosen up the stick up her...
Can we proceed now without disturbance?
I just nod and wait. Another three hours pass before we are done. All I want to do is eat and go to bed, wanting to erase this day and the last couple of months from my memory, pretending they never even happened. I needed to pretend because the reality was too unbearable to take in.
After some time, I am ushered into the hall and walk up to my uncle. He wraps an arm uncomfortably around me and I use him as a pillar that I can lean on and don’t collapse. My eyes close as I inhale the smell of this place. It smells of machines and tension.
Mr. Morgenstein, the tests are completed for now. You will be called later for further evaluation of Adria.
I look up and see his jaws clench as he nods. I look at the woman in the heavy glasses and stretch out my mind. It expands until it reaches her... and then it goes right past her. Damn it, I think and close my eyes. I was too tired to see any of her thoughts. Maybe if I could touch her or if she was tired as well, but in this state, I couldn’t do anything. I stand straight and grab my uncle’s hand. It’s warm and I can feel our family bounds giving me some balance and a little strength. I let my thoughts out and wait until they reach his. My mind is uncoordinated right now, so the message I send him is just a feeling, a way to show him my support, letting him know that I am okay. He looks down and gives me another weak smile. He squeezed my hand back and I finally let myself breathe.
Just a little.
From the outside, the scene must have looked normal. A niece and her uncle supporting each other in times of need. In truth, I was sending him signs not to do anything in desperation. He needed to be the calm person here because he was all I had left right now. If mum was here I could have done so much more. We had similar powers and abilities, together we could have increased them - but now it was just me. A little fourteen-year-old freak that got caught.
I wake up with a pounding head and a dried throat. I was parched and desperate for any kind of liquid. I lift myself up to my elbow and look around, then groan. Still here and without a way out, stuck as always. I move to my knees and try to get up, stumbling, and falling back on the ground. Damn it. I think of that small room almost twelve years ago and groan once more. Some things never change in my life. I spend all of this time constantly running away and being caught over and over again. Sometimes fighting them in every step, at other times faking willingness and cooperating. All of my attempts failing just the same. For nearly four years after that day with my uncle, I was put in a special school so I could be observed and controlled. They were watching my every move, observing how my powers we increasing and changing. Testing how my age and physical growth affected my powers. Every couple of months I was checked and made to do new tests. Each session recorded and saved.
But on most days they just watched from the shadows. They did it so well, that over time I let myself believe that they didn’t exist, once again pretending in an attempt to rescue my mental state from more damage. I made some friends in the school but mostly kept to myself. Somewhere in the back of my head, there was always a thought that they were spying as well, so I didn’t want to get to close to them. It was a sticky and thick thought that never let me alone. Yet, I tried to do the best with what I had, even with all the limitations. That was also an act. I was getting ready for my eighteenth birthday and at the end of school, planning how to escape before they put me somewhere else. Somewhere much worse, that I would never run away.
I get up from the floor and this time manage to stay that way, sliding my hand against the wall., reaching the window and looking out. The light behind the big oak tree is barely visible. I notice a glimpse of the sun rising and frown. I got here yesterday in the early afternoon, which means I must have slept for around 18 hours, give or take. I watch the sun slowly rising and stare at all the beauty before my eyes. I tap my nails against the glass and it starts to vibrate. The light of the sun reaches my face and I take in the warmth that it offers me. The floorboards start to vibrate as well. It’s a very low sound but I feel it in my entire body. I put my entire hand on the window and hear a tiny crack.
The door behind me opens and the vibrations stop at once. I notice the little dent in the glass - my mother’s words filling my mind. Good feelings that grow inside of you are much more powerful than any anger you ever felt. Rage will destroy you, peace will make you a queen. Focus on your heartbeats, not on the venom that could kill them. I turn back and look at the man with the tray. I don’t move, just watch him, not trying to reach his mind, just waiting. I don’t want to lose this state that I am in, this feeling of calm and gratitude. Not just yet. The doctor walks in behind him, and I concentrate on how the sun felt on my skin. I can’t let them win.
Adria, nice to see that you are up again. I have been worried about you. Over 40 hours of sleep, a new record I suppose. Well, at least you are rested now. Perhaps in a better mood as well.
I looked surprised at her. I have been out for almost two days? That would definitely explain why I was so thirsty and stiff. The way I couldn’t catch my balance and felt lost on time. The drug that she gave me must have been stronger than I thought. I glance and the woman but don’t speak. She nods once, not surprised by my reaction.
How do you feel today?
I croak out and walk up to a tray, picking up a water bottle and drinking all of it in one turn. It’s warm but feels like pure heaven. I don’t think I ever tasted anything so good. My stare falls on the food, but I leave it. My stomach still feels upset - and besides, I don’t want them to watch me like a lab rat while I eat.
And here is a link to part one for those interested in reading more.
Photo credit : Taya Ivanowa