I had a tough time deciding what story to share this time. Ultimately, I went with a scene from ANAH ON TENTERHOOKS, the YA speculative fiction I’m working on turning into a novel. I’ve used this character for a WEP entry before.
WEP Writing Contest link
Scene set up–
Anah and her parents are telepaths. The US Government has declared telepathic powers to be illegal. There’s an agency, the HSMTF, rounding up people. But the government only knows about the lower level telepaths. The levels, referred to by telepath’s as Eve and a number, go up to Eve Nine. There’s a rumor that it could go as high as Eve Ten. Anah’s father is an Eve Four. Her mother is an Eve Six. Anah is an Eve Nine. A telepath is born at whatever Eve number, and that is and will always be the amount of potential the person could unlock.
Anah has an English teacher who is an Eve Two. He’s the only person in her life she’s not related to who is also a telepath. She had one brief fantasy about him while writing a short story in her journal. Her parents worry because that’s an inappropriate age difference, as she’s 15. So her dad arranged for Anah to spend three days with Tyler, an Eve Five cousin, at Lewis University. Her dad believes that Anah just needs to be around more mature boys closer to her age, to see a possible future is only a few years away.
(Lewis University is just outside of Chicago, IL. The Sigma Delta Fratority is, as the name suggests, not gender exclusive. In this story, it is quite popular to this day, and is where Tyler resides.)
Italic words are telepathic communications.
Anah’s Plausibility Cage
Tyler throws his baseball toward the ceiling. We watch as gravity returns it. Laying on beanbag chairs, watching gravity work, is this what college is like?
“Do you think Hermione ever believed in the tooth fairy?” Tyler asks as he throws the ball again.
“It wouldn’t be logical, so probably not,” Mark says. His room, across the hall, is covered with Harry Potter paraphernalia. I expect the bronze eagle doorknocker would give me a riddle if I tapped it.
“Yeah, but we don’t start as logical beings, do we? We’re all born in a cage with plausibility for bars.”
I lean closer to Tyler. “You smell like cigarettes and bourbon.”
He stops throwing his ball. “No, I don’t. It’s just how my bodywash smells on me. It smells like wood and citrus on other people. I’m just weird.”
So you don’t smoke or drink? Or you do, but you don’t want Mark to know?
I don’t. And I’m tired of being accused of it. But I hate the smell of other soaps. Ivory makes me sneeze.
“I bet she did believe. I bet she put her teeth under her pillow like any other kid. And her dentist parents came to get them, but got all caught up staring at them. Because, you know, dentists. And she woke up and caught them lying about the tooth fairy. Bam. Plausibility bars shattered. She got out of that cage.” Tyler throws his ball again.
“And then went to a school with magic? How many letters do you think she destroyed?” I ask.
“Faculty delivers letters to muggle-borns. A professor would have shown up and explained everything. Offered proof.” Mark explains as he shakes his can of soda as if more will appear.
“Is that why she read the book on the history of the school? Because she was looking for more proof it was real?” I sit up.
“Probably. Then again, she also really liked to read.” Mark rolls off his beanbag chair, waves, and is gone.
There. You’ve met a guy closer to your own age. You’ve had a philosophical conversation. A future path has been presented.
I stare at Tyler’s ball. Instead of falling back into his hands, it twists around and knocks him on the head.
“Oww.” What was that for?
Mark isn’t like us. True, his thoughts were quite an upgrade from the guys at my school. But he still isn’t like us.
Well excuuuussseeee me. Didn’t know you were exclusively dating in the Eve gene pool. How’s that working out for you?
Tyler rolls on his side so he can stare me down.
Not exactly getting hit with flashes of happy memories over here. Not feeling any waves of butterflies, either. Come on. Share one.
I flip him the finger as I wall off my mind.
“So that’s why my aunt and uncle are worried. It isn’t just that you showed interest in a guy who is too old for you. It’s that you’ve never shown interest in someone appropriately aged for you.”
“Leave me alone. Don’t you have homework or something?” I roll toward the wall and broadcast the It’s a Small World song at top volume from my head.
A pillow muffles my face. It gets dark and hot so fast. The hold is too strong for my hands to break. If I don’t panic, I’ll be able to breathe longer. Right? But it’s so dark. And he’s so strong.
What if it isn’t Tyler with the pillow? What if he left because the song was too loud? I stop playing it.
What if it’s an HSMTF agent? Am I about to be taken?
The pillow moves. He gets off of me.
“You okay? I just wanted you to stop drowning me out. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“I wasn’t scared.” I run my shaking fingers through my hair and wipe the tears from my face. “Your pillow stinks. I thought I was getting cancer from the secondhand cigarette smoke.”
He shoots a death glare at me. Tyler’s mind curses at me for picking at his insecurity. But I feel him filter it. “Funny.”
I lean my head on my knee. “That’s why I haven’t dated. What you just did.”
“The pillow thing?” He tosses it out his door. It lands in Mark’s room. A Dobby toy thanks him for a sock. I laugh.
“No. Where you said funny but, in your head, you were cursing me out. People say polite things, but they don’t mean them. And those unsaid thoughts, especially of the guys in my school, I can’t stand them.”
Tyler slides beside me. “My first girlfriend cheated on me. Well, not really. Just, one day, she started thinking about another guy. I broke up with her before she had a chance to be a cheater.”
“So she might not have cheated? Given enough time?”
He wraps his arm around me. “That’s how it is for us. We don’t know the future. But we have more information than others. I could have waited. She never did get with the guy. But, to me, it was like she had. For you, those thoughts you hear, they might never happen.”
I lean against him. His bodywash is truly awful. I’ll miss the smell when dad picks me up tomorrow.
“The reason I didn’t curse you out verbally, in case you missed it, is because I know you were feeling defensive. I provoked you. You defended. I attacked. You hid. We both know you could take me.”
I giggle. “Me? Take you? Tyler, look at me. I’m the size of one of your legs, and that’s being generous.”
He taps my head. “No. You’re an Eve Nine. You’re the best of us. Break your plausibility cage bars. The wings of your mind will let you soar. No one can defeat you, Anah.”
977 words FCA, please! (This is a scene from a book I plan to indie publish, so I welcome all thoughts, notes, proofreading, everything!)