I didn't know how I was going to explain this ability to Wendi. As we were talking, as we were conversing, I was watching people without identities-no gender, no face, no features-walk around my room. You could learn from these translucent beings; your appearance doesn't matter, it's your actions, how you treat people, it's your life that counts.
But I refused to sound corny. Telling Wendi that seeing past reality was seeing what really existed, and not just hat the world now tried to push on everyone. Belief had so much power, and most people didn't believe in all the things that I could see, which is why there were very few of us who could see things that everyone else couldn't see.
Insane people weren't really insane, they just saw what was there. And for that, they were put in mental asylums; it was really just sad.
"Carter, I'm so confused. I don't know what's going on." Wendi sounded frustrated, really frustrated. It was 2 in the morning, and I'd been trying to explain this whole ability for some three hours. She had to be discouraged by this point. She sounded like she was drained.
I couldn't keep her on the phone any longer. I did have to deal with her later on today. "You know what, Wendi? I think you really need to get some sleep, okay?"
"No!" She protested, but her voice cracked in exhaustion. "Please, don't hang up. I don't want to go to bed. I want to know more about this... whatever it is."
A smile stretched across my face. That was cute. She wanted to stay awake. Probably not to talk to me, but to comprehend this ability. But it was still cute.
Belief had a lot to do with it, but it was also having the power to do so. Which could be passed on to chosen individuals.
It was an extremely tedious topic, and there were many ideas to this ability. I couldn't explain it all at one time. It took weeks, even months, to master this.
"I can always tell you at school. You've got to be exhausted."
She sighed. "I'm not, really." Then her voice got quiet. "It's another one of those people. They're looking at me."
I laughed. I couldn't help it. I'd been listening to her freak out every single time one of the beings walked into her room for the past three hours. "It's okay, Wendi, I promise. They aren't here to hurt you, but to help you. They're supposed to help you understand life."
"Well, I must be a disappointment to your 'unearthly realm' or whatever because I don't understand life at all."
That response, it almost made me go off. A disappointment? That was a ridiculously senseless statement. But I controlled myself. "No, Wendi," I said quietly. "You're not a disappointment. This is your first night of really seeing the world for what it is. You've got to get used to it. Understanding life, it takes a while. Even I don't comprehend it fully. And I'm not new to this, not at all. You can't blame yourself for not being perfect at seeing the first night. That wouldn't be normal."
"This is already extremely abnormal." She shot back.
I sighed wearily. She was wearing me out. Not that I had a problem with it, but we still had school. "Look, maybe I can show you tomorrow afternoon. You should come to my house, or I to yours, and I'll show you how this works. We do have school to go to in, well, now we have five hours. Please, promise me you'll get some sleep."
"Why do you care?" She asked in a teasing tone.
How should I answer this? "Because I have to deal with you at school. So I'll see you then."
She gave in. "Fine. Night, Carter."
The phone clicked, and I knew she'd hung up. Come on, I didn't really want her to hang up. But it was for the best. I didn't want her to be irritable when I had to deal with her later. And was she actually going to come over after school? She hadn't actually acknowledged that. I hadn't given her the chance, anyway.
I laid back on the couch and watched the beings walk around. A couple of them made contact with each other. They shook hands and made gestures, showing that they were talking. Sometimes I could hear snipets of their conversations, but mostly it was just seeing, not hearing.
That was okay. I watched and heard people talk all day. Just watching these translucent beings was peaceful.
I ran my fingers through my hair. I wasn't going to be able to sleep. There wasn't a certain reason, I just got like this sometimes. Maybe it was a combination of moving here to this new place so recently and making a friend of Wendi, transferring a power to her, attempting to explain it unsuccessfully for three or four hours.
I was tired, but not sleepy. What was I going to do for four hours? I wished I hadn't gotten Wendi to hang up, because now I felt an overwhelming loneliness. Sure, I had these entities, but communicating with them was out of the question, point blank. It wouldn't end well. Besides, I favored human company more than I did the beings.
The beings were mostly why I'd never had friends. I'd spent all my time watching them in past schools, in past neighborhoods. At the public pools, over various summers, instead of splashing around and socializing as all the other kids did, I'd sit in the pool chairs by the edge of the property, and watch all of the different beings run around amongst the humans.
I was so interested in the beings themselves that I didn't feel the need to pay attention to humans.
I had my own company.
And usually, the other kids didn't care. No one acknowledged my existence. To them, I was just as invisible as my translucent friends. In every single school. I had no friends.
Up until this new school year. I'd walked into Harper Duncan High School, and I'd seen Wendi watching me walk in. The first in seven years, since nine years old, when I'd started seeing everything. She was the first other than my own family to acknowledge that I was a person, just by making eye contact.
She'd watched me walk down the hallway for reasons I don't know. And I realized that maybe she could, would be capable of seeing the things I did, if she was capable of seeing me, unlike the others, and I wouldn't be alone in this. I'd have a friend.
This wasn't just about being alone. That first day, when I'd sat with her at the lunch table, I figured that maybe she would be able to see what I saw if I helped her. And I had. All I needed to do was make physical contact, give her a little boost of-could I call it this?-power. Just a little, so she would be able to see.
She thought it was a joke. When I gave her the paper. I was trying to be mysterious, I'll admit, by writing: You'll see, I'll teach you. It wasn't descriptive. That's how I'd intended it.
And I figured that by the time she had gotten home, she'd be able to read the note-yes, I realize that passing notes was something middle-schoolers do, but it made me seem mysterious. I just wanted to seem mysterious. Okay? Don't judge me. Apparently, it's what girls like, and if I was going to make her my buddy, friend, partner in this, I needed her to like me. Maybe not love like, but like enough to want to hang out with me. And so far, it was working.
Anyway, I looked her up and got her number, and I know it's creepy, and that wasn't what I'd told her, but lying seemed to be the only way to get rid of that skeptical tone. Afterwards, she seemed only happy that I'd called, even at 11 P.M.
And now, after talking from 11 to 3, I'd made her hang up for her well being. Which was a little funny. I cared about her well being after three days.
Maybe it was the fact that she could see. She was now a seer, like me. Maybe it was the fact that I knew I wasn't alone anymore.
Perhaps I already cared about her for selfish reasons. Or perhaps it was that I had a friend, after all these years of being invisible.
It was quite amazing that things could change so abruptly. The translucent beings-it's what I'd been calling them ever since I first saw them-seemed to agree. They all faced me. Maybe they were agreeing, maybe they were criticizing me to each other. I didn't know, they didn't have facial expressions.
I lay my head back and stared at the ceiling fan. At some point before 6:30, I fell asleep.
It felt like only seconds when my mom came down the stairs and yelled for everyone to wake up. 'Everyone' including myself, my father, my brother, and my sister. My siblings usually didn't acknowledge my existence, either, only my parents.
I rolled off the couch and onto the floor, managing to hit my head on the coffee table on the way down. When I picked myself up, my brain was foggy and my eyelids were heavy. My feet were like lead. I'd be lying if I said I was completely together.
There was no way I would make it through the day. But there was our one-cup coffee maker.
Drank my fifth cup of coffee. It wasn't even 6:45 yet. I downed it and made another cup. This time Pumpkin Spice. Oh my GOD, it was amazing. Made another cup. French Vanilla.
"Uh, honey, don't you think that's enough?" Mom asked.
I laughed. "Don't be crazy, Mom. Don't be crazy. I'll just drink one more cup, okay? Just one more. That's all I'll drink. That's all. I haven't had much, anyway, so maybe I should drink two more. That's all, okay? Then I'll go get dressed and ready for school and then the bus will come and I'll go to school and I'll teach people, or actually learn because I'm a student."
She didn't seem to care, because she gave me a concerned look and walked out of our spacious kitchen. I almost followed her, because all of my friendly transparent people were, but there was our one-cup coffee maker...
I only drank two more cups, like I'd promised, and then ran upstairs, got dressed in my usual outfit, grabbed my satchel, brushed my teeth, and didn't do much to my hair. Then I ran outside just as the bus pulled up to my house.
"Hey there, Carter," a tired-looking Wendi smiled.
Now before I continue, allow me to describe her. Her hair was brown, but tinted red; it was wavy. Her eyes were brown with a green outline. Full lashes, pink lips, pale skin. She wore large shirts and tight pants. Always with U.S. Polo Assassins and a black shoulder bag. Her eyes outlined in a light black liner. She wore a little mascara.
"Hey there," I replied, jumping a little. My fingers tapped against my thighs, then my face, then they were brushing my hair out of my face, then...
She smiled at me. "You look, well, hyper."
"A bit so, yeah. Yeah. I only drank eight cups of coffee, though, so it doesn't quite make sense, you know?"
Wendi covered her face with both hands. "Eight cups? What is your problem?"
"It was just so good. It kept asking me to drink more."
She gave me a doubtful look. "Really?"
I laughed and started walking toward my first class, Art. "No, Wendi. I was just tired. I drank a lot of coffee and so I'll be spending my morning waiting for the crash."
She followed, her eyebrows raised, but she didn't reply. She just walked next to me in silence. How, I don't know. I couldn't stop talking.
"Did you know that almost 500 meteorites strike Earth's surface everyday? Every day. Did you know that you can't communicate with the translucent beings? They're for looking, not speaking. I don't even know if they have mouths. Probably not-"
"So," Wendi interrupted, "Am I coming to your house or are you coming to mine?"
This confused my buzzing mind. "What? When?"
"This afternoon, Carter," she said. "You know, like you said this morning? You have to show me more about this little gift of ours."
Of ours. That stood out a little to me. But I didn't acknowledge it. "Ah, right. Perhaps you should come to my house. If I'm going to teach you anything, I need to be on my own grounds."
She agreed that that was probably the best idea. She seemed almost eager to learn more. It boggled my mind. I'd only tried this once before, and my test subject had been desperate to get away from it all. It didn't end well with him...
I waited as Wendi contacted her mom to let her know where she'd be. "I'm going to my friend's house to study, okay? I should be home by curfew. Yeah, yeah." She glanced at me and turned around so her back was turned toward me. "Love you, too," she muttered.
I grinned as she shut her phone, but didn't comment. I didn't have the energy. She pursed her lips. "So," she said, "How are we getting to your little, uh, mojo?"
"Oh, please. I actually call it my house, Wendi. And I usually take the bus, but there are certain-gah-things on that bus that I don't think you're ready to see. So I figured maybe I could just call a taxi, if you can deal with it." I smirked at her.
She gently punched me in the arm. I grabbed her hand, just playfully at first, then I saw her face and saw that her eyes were widened and distant.
"God! God! I'm sorry, Wendi!" I yelled, letting her hand go.
She covered her eyes. "What are the red ones?" She whispered.
"I'm so sorry," I said quietly, "I guess I can't control it sometimes. I'm so, so sorry, Wendi. The red ones can't hurt you if you don't look directly at them. I've learned that. Just keep your eyes covered, I'll lead you to somewhere safe for now."
I felt so bad. I had to learn to concentrate on keeping my power restrained. Now, I'd given her enough power to see the demons, too. And it wasn't going to be very pleasant until she got used to it.
She sobbed into her hands. "It was on fire, Carter! It was burning!"
As I listened, I saw her being flash from strictly human to a beautiful creature of purity and wholesomeness. Large white fluffy wings sprouted from her back and she suddenly wore a long, shimmering white gown that gave her a look of perfection. Her brownish-reddish hair grew and suddenly flowed down past her waist. It was perfectly curled and shone. She still covered her face and cried into them. The air around her glowed in a lovely golden light. A crown of gold embedded in emeralds and rubies sat atop her head.
But I saw, in that instant, that she was one of the only pure and innocent people in the world.
My heart nearly stopped, but then her form flashed back to her human form. She was back to Wendi. Still sobbing. I couldn't blame her.
I pulled her toward me and wrapped my arms around her to comfort her. How else could I make her feel better? By telling her it was going to be okay? The demon was damned, it wasn't going to be okay.
I saw the demon that she'd seen. He watched me with his cold, black eyes. His form was burning. And I figured that was the part that upset Wendi the most. The demon had a look of permanent pain on his face. She believed that no person, or thing, deserved such pain no matter how evil they were. I could tell that from that instant flash of her angelic form.
The demon stared at me, and I glared at it, ignoring the pain building up inside me. But after a good thirty seconds, the pain was too much. I had to look away.
"Let me call a taxi," I said quietly when she calmed down a little. "We should get on over to my house."
She nodded and backed up, giving me space. Mascara was running down her face. I felt really bad. I didn't know how to make it any better. I just pulled out my iPhone and dialed the number to my uncle's taxi cab company. As the phone rang, I glanced at Wendi and saw that she kept her eyes on the ground.
Quite wise on her part.
We sat in the back of the cab silently. My uncle's friend, Nico, kept looking in the rearview mirror at Wendi. She looked a mess, I didn't blame him. Her face was streaked in black tears. She refused to look anywhere but her hands.
Why did I have to be so reckless? If I had just been a little more careful, she wouldn't have the capability to see the demons. The translucents were enough to scare her without the burning beings.
I mentally kicked myself until Nico pulled into my driveway.