“I can kind of read minds.” I said it with a straight face, knowing Monica still wouldn’t believe me. My very own bestie since first grade, true friend of eight years. I knew she wouldn’t believe this news. But I had to share it with her. I couldn’t not tell my bestie.
Monica did a slow blink behind her thick-rimmed glasses and crossed her arms across her waist, hiding the teal stripe of her colorblock sweater. I couldn't meet her eyes so I admired her sweater instead. Even after eight years, Monica couldn’t bring me out of the fashion doldrums I was forever stuck in with my boring straight cut jeans and solid color t-shirts and hoodies.
Now Monica made an annoyed scoffing sounds and narrowed her eyes at me.
“You?” she spit the word at me, not attempting to hide her disgust that I would think I had some kind of a special power. In this moment, Monica doesn’t seem very likable, but I promise she’s a great best friend to have.
I nodded and gulped. It was an unintentionally overdramatic gulp. I think I heard myself make the “gulp” sound and everything. So ridiculous.
“You can read minds?” She loosened her posture just a touch. Then came the question I knew she’d ask, the one I’d been dreading since I decided to tell Monica about this. “So what am I thinking right now?”
I sighed. I knew she’d ask that. Not because I can kind of read minds though. Just because she’s my bestie and I know her so well.
“It’s not like that,” I said quietly and looked down at my shoes, suddenly busying myself by intently staring at the criss-cross pattern of the laces.
Monica sighed back at me. She uncrossed her arms and opened the fridge. We were at her house after school. Monica was an only child and her parents were still at work, so it was just us. Unlike my house, which would be overrun with my little brothers and sister, my mom flailing in their wake of noise, mess and general chaos. My mom never blamed me for spending afternoons at Monica’s. As long as my homework got done and I let her know where I was eating dinner.
Monica pried the lid off a tub of chopped strawberries and set in on the counter before plopping down on a stool across from me. She popped a strawberry chunk into her mouth and said, “So how does it work then?”
I’d been dreading this question too. I only really realized what was going on myself a couple of days ago, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain it. Also, how to predict it.
I grabbed a strawberry piece from the tub, popped it into my mouth and chewed to buy myself a little time.
“Well, I don’t know how it works,” I said, continuing on before Monica could jump in, “I guess it feels kind of like intuition, but different, stronger.”
“So… you just get a feeling about something? Sam, that’s not reading minds.” Monica grabbed another strawberry, examining it before tossing it into her mouth.
“It’s more than that, though. I don’t know how to explain it.” I was so frustrated with myself. How could I get Monica to believe me on this? I’d have to demonstrate it. But this conversation wouldn’t work for that. This was already so predictable, she still wouldn’t believe me.
“So show me,” Monica said. Like I said… too predictable.
“Ok. I just… we need to talk about something else though.”
“Because we both already know how this conversation is going and how it will go. I want you to believe me so we need to move on to a different subject. Something less predictable, so you’ll see I’m telling the truth.”
“It’s not that I think you’re lying, Sam. It’s just… I think you’re just making a bigger deal of this than what it really is.”
I prepared myself to blow my best friend’s mind. “Monica, when I said we should change the subject, I know what first popped into your head, what you thought we should talk about.”
Monica raised her eyebrows in a challenge to me. Then raised her water glass and took a drink.
“Lizards,” I said. And Monica choked on the water in her mouth, coughing and sputtering, dribbling water down her sweater and onto the counter.
“That’s… but, I mean, I told you about that then. How my neighbor just got a lizard,” she said once she’d regained a bit of composure. She stood and grabbed some paper towels from the counter behind her to wipe up her mess.
I shook my head. “No. You didn’t. I swear.”
“I must have…” Monica trailed off. I could see her replaying our day’s conversations in her mind, trying to remember when she would have mentioned the neighbor’s new lizard to me. She needed more convincing.
“Ok. New subject again. I have to prove this to you,” I said, looking squarely at Monica this time to show her how serious I was.
Monica was quiet for a moment.
“Algebra,” I said.
Monica’s eyes went wide. She was starting to believe me now. “Do one more,” she said. Not daring me, per se, but wanting this to be true, wanting to believe I had this power.
“Ms. Colette’s necklace,” I said.
Monica plopped back down onto her stool. “Sam. What the…”
“I know. I just realized it the other day,” I wanted to try to explain more, but it was hard to find the words. “I just get a feeling.”
“Like intuition, you said?”
“Kind of. And then I get a word or phrase. I don’t like, see the word. It’s just in my head. No details or extra information. Just ‘algebra’ or ‘lizard.’”
“Or ‘Ms. Colette’s necklace,” Monica finished the thought.
I nodded. “What was up with her necklace today? Even I know that’s a hideous thing to wear.”
Monica smiled at me. Monica the skeptic was being replaced by Monica the cheerleader.
“Sam, do you realize what this means? Think of all you could do with this.”
“I know. I can’t stop thinking about it. I had to tell you.” I paused. Not for dramatic effect or anything, but because I knew the words I was about to say were totally ridiculous and yet true at the same time. “I want to use my powers for good. Will you help me?”