If life were a disney movie we’d all have a happily ever after, Ellie told herself. An ambulance wailed its siren and Ellie broke from her pondering. The lights from the ambulance lit her apartment briefly as it went by on its way to pick up another life affected by the virus scourging the world. It was week six of the quarantine and Ellie was feeling depressed. All of her activities had become monotonous and boring and she was left tending to a small garden on her balcony and scrolling through Pinterest until her eyes hurt from the strain. Just that afternoon it had hit Ellie like a blow: Ellie was utterly alone.
She had no close relatives or friends, no boyfriend to check up on her. Ellie had always been a bit introverted but she had never realized how much she craved human interaction until now. It was pitiful. She even took a quiz on Pinterest that proved it. How single are you? The title had popped up and Ellie had clicked it on a whim. The result was Hopelessly Single. Ellie had scoffed at it, closed her laptop, and told herself it was just a stupid quiz.
It wasn’t a stupid quiz.
It was glaringly and undeniably true. Ellie sighed and sat heavily at the counter to wallow in self pity. Stupid cat. Ellie twitched and looked around. The thought had come out of nowhere. And the funny thing was that she didn’t even have a cat…
Ellie shook it off as too much thinking and grabbed a pitcher. She filled it with water from the tap and went to feed her garden. Her balcony was overflowing with herbs and flowers in an assortment of outlandish pots. Ellie drew back the sliding door and stepped out in the warm air. Her favorite flower, lavender, had finally blossomed and stood out among the other plants. Ellie pinched a purple bud between her thumb and forefinger and held it to her nose. At the scent of the flower Ellie felt the tension in her shoulders instantly ease. The scent of it reminded her of…
The force of the cry sent Ellie reeling backwards and the back of her head hit the metal railing. The plastic pitcher dropped and spilled its wet contents all over her jeans and the ground.
Oww, she thought as she lay stunned.
Ellie picked herself up off the concrete and winced as she probed the swollen bump on her head.
Ouch, that’s going to bruise, she pulled her hand away from her head and was relieved not to see any blood.
What did you do?
I hit my head on the balcony railing and...wait, who are you??! Ellie twisted around to see if anyone had spoken to her but she was alone on the balcony. She grabbed the railing as a wave of dizziness caught her off guard.
I’m David. And you are?
The voice was coming from inside her mind!
I must have hit my head really hard… Ellie thought.
Nah, David told her, I didn’t hit my head and I’m hearing voices too.
Ellie left the pitcher on the ground and trudged inside. Her pants were soaked with the water meant for her plants and goosebumps were starting to form on her bare arms. She riffled through her drawers and found a clean, dry pair of jeans and pulled them on.
Ugh, Malcolm! Why? You stupid cat. The thought came unbidden and with it a sharp spike of pain.
I need sleep, Ellie told herself. Maybe then my delusions will go away. She pulled back the covers on her bed and lay down. I’ll just nap for a bit. She rolled onto her side and closed her eyes.
Ellie woke up feeling very disoriented because the lighting was off in her room. She glanced at the clock on her nightstand and realized it was six o’clock in the evening. Groaning, Ellie got out of bed. Thankfully her headache was gone but the back of her head was still tender to the touch. She walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. A tupperwhere of leftover spaghetti and eggplant was on the top shelf. Ellie grabbed it and dumped it onto a plate then placed it in the microwave. While she waited Ellie went out on the balcony and picked up the pitcher. The plastic had cracked at the bottom. Ellie sighed and threw the pitcher into the garbage can. She straightened up the sitting area until the microwave beeped. She pulled out her plate and set it on the table. The warm aroma made Ellie’s stomach growl. She twisted some noodles and sauce around her fork and brought it to her mouth.
Ellie screamed and dropped her fork with a resounding clatter.
So, I searched on google what this might be and don’t laugh...but I think we have telepathy. Oh, and you never gave me your name.
The voice was back! It was that guy David from before.
Go away, Ellie thought as forcefully as she could.
Can’t. David said. I think we’re stuck with this telepathy thing.
No! Ellie thought, I refuse to believe that.
Well, until you discover a cure you’re stuck with me. What’s your name again?
Ellie glared at her plate of uneaten food and negated to answer him.
Fine, have it your way, but I’ll be back whether I mean to or not.
The presence receded from her mind and Ellie was alone.
She ate a bite of her noodles before pushing the plate away, her appetite had left her. She sat in her chair stewing on all that had developed. I could be making this all up… She thought to herself. I mean, I haven’t talked to another person in weeks. I must feel more alone than I thought. Ellie stood up and scraped her plate of food into the garbage can then washed her dirty dishes. The hot, soapy water kept her focused as she scrubbed each dish clean and stuck them on a rack to dry. Once she was done she drained the water and dried her hands. But with the absence of a task the craziness of the situation weighed down on her. Ellie leaned back against the sagging kitchen counter and cried into her towel. When she had exhausted all of her tears Ellie dragged herself to bed.
In the morning Ellie dressed and ate breakfast, did some computer work, answered calls, and tried not to dwell on the day before. For lunch she took her sandwich outside and sat among her herbs and flowers, hoping they would help brighten her mood. Ellie came back inside from the balcony feeling much better and tackled work with more enthusiasm. At five her work hours ended and Ellie hesitantly reached out, David are you there?
There was absolute quiet and Ellie almost thought she’d imagined everything when an answer came: Yeah.
Ellie exhaled slowly and closed her eyes. I’m ready to listen, she said.
Okay. First, your name?
Ellie. My name is Ellie.
It’s nice to meet you, Ellie, David said.
Nice to meet you too, David. Who’s Malcolm by the way?
Oh, that’s my cat. He was being stupid yesterday, He sounded sheepish.
How do you think this happened? Ellie asked.
What? What’s so funny? She asked.
I shrugged and then realized you couldn’t see me. David said while chuckling.
Ellie laughed too.
It’s three in the morning and I can’t sleep, Ellie sent that thought out there half hoping David would answer her.
Neither can I.
His answer was almost immediate, as if he’d been waiting for her.
You’re awake, Ellie said, the corners of her lips twitching upward.
Yeah, I suffer from insomnia. I usually take a sleeping pill but the pharmacy was short of supplies. He fell silent.
Ellie rolled onto her side and stared at the glaring red numbers on the face of her alarm clock. Sometimes if I can’t sleep I go out on my balcony and sit and listen.
What do you listen to? He asked.
City life, she said, my balcony right now is full of herbs and flowers so it smells nice too.
Mm, sounds peaceful.
Do you have any family? David asked, breaking the silence. Ellie hesitated and then told him truthfully, No, just very distant relatives.
What about you? She asked.
Yeah, my dad. He didn’t elaborate and Ellie decided not to push the topic.
Ellie didn’t realize she had fallen asleep until she woke to the sunlight blinding her in its brilliance. She threw off her covers and pivoted onto the floor.
Ellie went about her mundane day feeling lighter than she had in weeks. She had someone to talk to finally! She answered calls with a brightness she had never experienced, even before the quarantine. It was in the middle of the afternoon when David reached out to her.
What do you look like?
His question caught Ellie off guard. Um, she thought, like any other 27-year-old female I guess.
No, he said, what do you really look like?
Ellie crossed the carpet to stand in front of her mirror. She stared at her reflection and tried to accurately describe herself.
I have freckles. Lots of them. They would probably outnumber the stars.
David laughed, go on.
She stared at her eyes next.
My eyes are this aqua color speckled with brown. I have dark brown hair that doesn’t like to be tamed and I’m an average height.
What do you look like? Ellie countered, curious.
There was a pause as David contemplated his appearance.
I’m tall I guess. My hair is brown and gelled in the front. My eyes are this chocolate brown color. And I have a mole behind my left ear.
A mole? Ellie said.
Yeah, why? David asked.
I just thought it was funny that out of all the features you picked a mole. Ellie told him.
Hey! David said, sounding playfully indignant. I’m proud of that mole.
Okay, okay, I get it. Ellie said as the phone rang.
I have to go. Ellie told him quickly and drew back from his mind.
Before they knew it a week had passed and Ellie and David were almost constantly communicating. David told Ellie about his cat Malcolm and she found herself looking at cat photos on Pinterest. She in turn told him about her garden and her love of lavender and he confessed to her that he had bought a lavender plant because of her. They talked about many things but purposely avoided talking about the virus.
One night Ellie laid sprawled on her bed staring at the stained and peeling ceiling. A floor fan was on and circulating a light breeze through the bedroom. Ellie closed her eyes thinking of David and their telepathic connection. David really seemed like a nice, genuine guy. He was so…
I think I like him. As Ellie came to that conclusion warmth coursed through her body.
Ellie groaned and stuffed her head deep within her fluffy pillow.
You weren’t supposed to hear that. She confessed.
His presence receded from her mind. Ellie berated herself mentally and pulled the covers up over her head. She was on the verge of sleep when his mind reached out tentatively for hers.
I like you too.
Ellie woke up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Better than she had in weeks. She blinked lazily and lay still in her bed. A ridiculous feeling of bliss seemed to cocoon her. Ellie checked the clock on her nightstand and saw it was seven in the morning. That was odd, usually on a Saturday she slept in longer. But Ellie didn’t complain, she felt well-rested enough. Ellie got out of bed and dressed in an oversized sweatshirt and jeans. She padded over to the kitchen and made herself some scrambled eggs. She was sitting at the counter, contentedly staring at her garden through the sliding doors when a sudden realization dawned. She couldn’t hear David!
She mentally shouted, reaching for his familiar presence. There was no response. Ellie fell out of her chair while calling out for him again.
Still there was no response or answering mind touch. Ellie grabbed her disused purse and car keys and was almost out the door when she realized she didn’t even know where David lived. Ellie leaned her forehead against the doorframe. Why had she never thought to ask? The apartment walls seemed to close in suddenly. They had taken their telepathic connection for granted and now it was gone. Ellie was alone again. The once welcome silence was claustrophobic and stifling and Ellie could not stand it.
She pulled herself away from the door and went to get some fresh air. Once outside, the smell of lavender just made her think of David and how he bought a lavender plant because of her. Ellie started crying. A deep aching sob that seemed to cleave her heart in two. Ellie hugged her arms to her chest staring at her plants through watery eyes. Her sorrow was all consuming.
“Are you okay?” the voice came from below her. Ellie leaned her head over the railing, wiping at the tears running down her cheeks. A guy about her age looked up at her from his balcony.
“It’s nothing.” Ellie told him thickly.
“Clearly it’s something,” the guy said shaking his head. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be crying.”
“It’s just…” Ellie couldn’t tell him the truth or he would think she was crazy. “I’ve just been having a rough day and the quarantine isn't helping.”
The guy nodded scratching his brown hair uncomfortably.
“That’s rough. I’m sorry. ” He cleared his throat and backed up towards his apartment. “Well, it was nice to meet you, my name is David by the way.”
Ellie’s eyes widened. Could it be?
“I’m Ellie.” She told him.
David’s eyes widened.
“I know this sounds crazy but did you happen to have telepathy until yesterday?”
His voice took on a hopeful note.
Ellie broke out into a smile.
“And if I did?” She asked.