The day started out like any other day.
I woke up early, though I could sleep in. I liked having breakfast with my sisters before they left for public school. Grandpa usually made breakfast and this morning he made blueberry pancakes.
Reeny talked about some big project she had to do. “–and if I don’t get a good grade then I don’t know what I’ll do. This is one of the last things I have before sending out letters to colleges and if I fail at this then I might as well not go to college at all!”
Arty rolled her eyes. “You get, like, perfect grades already. What’re you worrying about?”
Reeny frowned. “You never know. Something might happen.” Reeny stabbed her pancake. “Plus there are other, er, issues at hand with being accepted into colleges…” She reached up and rubbed one of her ears.
Dad set his fork down. “Don’t you worry about that, there are plenty of supernaturals who get into colleges.”
“Witches and wizards! Not pointy-ears like me,” my sister grumbled. “How many elves do you know who went to college?”
“None of the college appl…apple…” Grandpa paused and looked at an empty seat. “Thanks. Application. None of them mention elves or anything like that, so you could just mark yourself down as human…”
“And lie?” Reeny’s eyebrows raised real high. “They have an ‘other’ box, you know. I wonder how many ‘others’ do fill that out thought. But as soon as they hear about me or see me they’ll know I’m unusual!”
“Midnight Hollow Community would accept you,” Dad said.
Reeny groaned about going to a community college but the conversation ended there and instead went to something else. Namely, Arty and some new boy at school. She blushed deeply when Reeny mentioned his name.
“Sh’up!” Arty hunkered down in her seat. “I don’t like Jonas.”
“Aren’t you a bit young?” Grandpa asked.
“I had my first crush around that age,” Reeny said with a bright smile. “When did you get your first crush, Grandpa?”
Grandpa shrugged. “Iunno, I never got to be around people as a kid. I guess my first one was… Oh! I don’t know. I don’t remember really.”
“I was about twelve I think,” Dad said, taking a sip of coffee and getting Grandpa to focus on something else; we all knew Grandpa had memory problems and trying to remember things sometimes made him all stressed out. “So, what’s Jonas like?”
“Dad!” Arty went redder. “I don’t like him, Reeny’s just being a jerk. He’s just some surfer kid who moved here recently.” Arty traced designs with her fork in the syrup. “He’s really tan but his hair is like, so blond. Stoo-ooop!” she whined when Reeny made kissy sounds. “Dad, tell Reeny to stop.”
“Reeny, stop antagonizing your sister,” Dad said with a grin.
“So what are your plans today, Daddy?” Arty asked.
“Mmmm. The usual. Fix the messes that idiots do to their computers and pretend it could happen to anyone–you know, yesterday the new head of marketing–the boss’s daughter’s fiance–actually called me to complain that his computer wouldn’t turn on and I ran him through everything I could and finally had to go up to his office only to find that the cord was plugged into the outlet but not the computer.” Dad sighed heavily and rubbed his forehead. “Damn nepotism.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Giving favors or jobs to people simply because they’re family or friend, and not because of their ability or talent,” Reeny answered. “Like, even though I know nothing about computers if I applied to work at the IT department and Noah hired me just because I’m his daughter.”
“How about you two?” Dad asked, nodding his head towards me’n Grandpa. “What’s the day like for you?”
“Schoolwork,” Grandpa said, crinkling his nose up. “Then probably video games.”
I giggled, bowing my head low. Usually it was the other way around. Grandpa and I would play video games until his dead husband yelled at him to get some schoolwork done. “And at some time, the park?” I asked hopefully. Dad and Arty both looked a bit disgusted.
Grandpa, though, beamed. “Yeah, the park sounds really good!”
More conversation and it was my job to clean off the breakfast table. I piled the dishes in the sink and made sure to rinse them off a bit cause of syrup being sticky and I couldn’t let it dry up. My sisters finished getting ready for school and both of them gave me hugs before going off. Arty to the school bus and Reeny onto her motorcycle.
I ran outside and watched her drive off because I thought she looked so cool. Something about the style made it look all superhero-y. After she drove off I went back inside to go get dressed for the day.
“–think it’d be good for Apollo!”
I stopped, frozen, hearing Dad say my name in a stressed out sort of way. He was in his office. I knew easedropping wasn’t good but… well… I might have dropped something outside his office door. It was possible wasn’t it? I got on my hands and knees and accidentally heard things while I looked.
“Are you sure it’s just Apollo you’re worried about?” I heard Grandpa say.
“You’re unhappy?” Dad asked which didn’t seem like a very on topic response.
“No–no! Of course I’m not, but um, I’m–I don’t wanna be a burden on you.”
“You’re not a burden! I’m very glad you’re here. You’ve been more help than I could ever even imagine… or begin to thank you for! I don’t think I would have survived these years without you.”
“I’m happy I can help, and you know I love the kids. But it’s been ten years…”
“I–I won’t… I won’t stop you if you want to move out.”
“No, no. Not move–I mean, well, one day move out. I think. But I don’t want to get in the way of anything, that’s all.”
“Apollo’s only nine. I don’t know if I can afford a tutor or private–“
“I could still come in and watch him during the day, and help cook meals.”
“Soooo basically everything you do only you’ll be paying someone else to live somewhere else at night as well as either paying someone to drive you around or having to call us to go pick you up?” Dad snorted.
“Well. Um. Put like that it does sound silly.” A scuffling sound. “I just don’t want you to feel like… well, you know… obli… blo… forced into anything. Oh, yes obliged. Thank you. Obliged to do anything. It’s probably hard to, um, pursue anything with your deceased husband’s dads living here with you.”
“What? No! Pursuing isn’t–“
Grandpa giggled. “I’m not blind. Suzanne is a very nice lady.”
I frowned. Suzanne? Who the heck was Suzanne?? Dad, though, was sputtering. “I’m not–it’s not–she’s–I know it might–it’s n-not what you think.”
“It’s been ten years,” Grandpa said again. “I’m not upset, if that’s what you’re worried about. Zaid of all people knew and understood what it’s like to love again after losing someone you’re married to… or, well, intentionally partnered for life with. Er, essentially. Not intentionally. Thanks sweetie. I doubt he’d want you to be single for the rest of your life, unless it’s what you reallllly want.”
Dad was real quiet for what felt like ages. “You’re right about that.”
“Is it just Zaid’s memory?” More silence. “Ahh. It’s not.”
“She doesn’t… know… about… Apollo. Oh no, I mean, she knows of his existence–she did meet him at that picnic. She just doesn’t know about… well, you know.”
“You’re afraid to tell her?”
“…I suppose I am. For his sake, really…”
“You can’t protect him forever, you–“
“I can protect him for as long as I like!” Dad snapped. “You don’t understand what it’s like!”
“Specter and I raised a werewolf. We do know what it’s like. And I was a ghost, at Apollo’s age. I was locked up inside day in and day out. It was hell for me. I more or less ran away.”
“Apollo’s not locked up.”
“No, but you’re afraid of letting him live a normal life. You’re afraid of letting people into your life because of wanting to protect him. Protecting our kids is good. Very good. But you can’t evolve your life–er, revolve your life around just that. It makes things hard for you. And for the kids.”
“H-has Apollo said something?”
“Oh no, no. Don’t worry, he seems pretty happy right now. But I just don’t want you giving up everything. Including the chance at happiness again. Romantic happiness, I mean.”
“I–I suppose you’re right.”
“Of course I am.”
Dad chuckled. “Yeah. Well, uh, I just don’t want to… risk… you know.”
“Her freaking out when she finds out about Apollo’s ability?”
“I guess you could say that.” Dad sighed. “Okay yeah. I just want–“
“Ooh. Hold on. What, sweetie? Oh. Ohhhhh. Hold on.”
Silence. Then suddenly the door swung open and Grandpa looked down at my guilty face. “Er. Hi!” I stood up, trying my best to look innocent. “I just dropped something out here…” I looked past Grandpa and saw Dad looking very white and frightened. “You okay, Dad?”
“Yes. What did you hear?” he asked, with the tone of voice he got whenever he asked Reeny about driving around on her motorcycle. Like, he expected her to say she had some horrible wreck and her being in front of him was a magic trick or something.
“Ummm…” I thought about lying. Sometimes they believed me. “Not much. Just something about someone named Suzanne and is Grandpa moving out? I don’t want him to move out! Who’d watch me during the day?!” I managed to look kinda freaked out, hoping that would make them too worried about me to keep asking me about what I did… or didn’t… hear.
It worked. “No, poliwag, I’m not leaving!” Grandpa got on his knees to hug me tightly, almost crushingly. “I won’t move out until you’re older.”
I looked over his shoulder at Dad who folded his arms. “He’s right about that, I think, but that was mentioned much earlier in our conversation; what else did you hear?”
Dang, it didn’t completely work. “Nothing.”
Grandpa let go and I tried to look more distressed. “Aren’t you going to be late for work?”
“Apollo James, tell me the truth.”
I swallowed and then bowed my head. “I heard a lot. That there’s someone named Suzanne who can’t know the truth about me cause you want to protect me? Wh–what’s that mean?”
“That’s what–” Dad stopped then ran his fingers through his hair, frowning, then looked at his watch. “I’ll call in late for work.” With that Grandpa gave him a surprised look. “You’re the one who told me last week it was about time he knew.”
“No. Specter said it. Not me.” Grandpa folded his arms. “But I guess you’re right.”
I grew hot with annoyance that they were talking about me like I wasn’t even there! “What about me?” I demanded.
Dad reached down and ruffled my hair. “We’ll talk about it in a bit. It’s very important so I’m going to take some time off work to talk to you, all right? It’s not something that can… or, uh, should be rushed. Go and get dressed.”
I gave them both curious looks then ran upstairs, feeling worried and excited.
Twenty minutes later Dad and I were at the beach. It was a chilly day so we were alone. I kicked at the sand as went and usually I’d be super happy that Dad took me to the beach since he usually hid away inside at any possible chance he got. But I couldn’t be super happy today. I was about to find out something important about myself.
Dad stayed quiet though. I picked up a small stone and threw it into the small waves, watching it skip. Finally I could not bear it ONE SECOND MORE! “Dad?” I asked, turning my face up to him.
He gave a bit of a shudder. “Yeah. Um. Yeah. Wow, I don’t know how to explain this to you really. It’s difficult. And, uh, complicated.” He looked out at the ocean. “Your father–your other one… Zaid… he um, uh… well, he had a special ability. To speak to his sister inside their heads. They could hear each other’s thoughts almost all the time, unless they worked hard at keeping each other out of their minds.”
“Ohhh. So. Mind reader?” I asked.
“Sort of, yes. But only with each other. I–oh damn it, I don’t know if this has anything to do with it.” He turned back to look at me. “You’ve got… you sort of inherited… there’s a little bit of…” He looked very freaked out now and I felt sick. “You’ve got an ability.”
“I can read minds?” I scrunched my face up. “I think I woulda noticed that. Orrr can I put my thoughts in other people’s heads?!” I went red at that, embarrassed that people have been able to hear my thoughts all this time and some of those thoughts weren’t always nice. “Oh no!”
“No,” Dad chuckled. “Don’t worry. Nothing like that. It’s different. It’s very different but,uh, vaguely psychic-y so I’m guessing it’s how you got this ability.”
I jerked, not expecting that response. “What do you mean by that?”
“You know when you wake up from bad nightmares?” Dad asked and I glared, not wanting to talk about that right now. “You–the thing is, when you have the vivid dreams and nightmares that wake you up… you… you shout them, or talk about them. In your sleep. You’ll be laying there, reciting what’s happening in your dream. If it’s very intense, you shout it.”
I held my hands at my sides, feeling confused by this. It didn’t make sense.
“You’ve been doing it since you were a baby. At first we didn’t know what was wrong, you’d make noises in your sleep and wake up crying. Then you started talking and eventually we realized you were… repeating your… dreams. And after a time we realized that what you spoke about was…” Dad swallowed and I waited. “True.”
“True.” I curled my hands into fists. I wasn’t angry. Just still confused.
“Your dreams, they’re the future. You see the future in your dreams. You talk about them, or shout about them, and they come true for the most part,” Dad said very quickly. “It happens a lot during the day too. You tend to fall asleep and have these–er–dreams. And, um, shout. Shout them. Or just regularly speak but, uh, often shout.”
I remembered all those times with my family running to me, promising me I just had bad dreams, that none of it was real. But it was real? “I dream about stuff that happens?”
“Yes. We figured it out when you talked about a cave-in. You were about four or five. You were asleep in my lap and began talking about these poor miners being trapped, and–” Dad stopped then his ears went a bit red. “It doesn’t matter, really, what you said. But everything you said we saw on the news a week later. Even down to the number of survivors, and what sort of injuries they had.”
I tried to remember something like that happening but couldn’t.
“It kept happening. Sometimes after only a day, sometimes not for weeks or even years. Some of them we’ll never know if they happened and some, well, probably haven’t happened yet. That’s why we never let you watch the news, in case–you saw something and figured it out too, before you were old enough to understand…”
I closed my eyes tightly, hands shaking a bit. “It’s not possible though. That’s not real life. People don’t just–see the future!”
Dad put a hand on my shoulder. “You live with a ghost and an elf. Your uncle and cousins are werewolves. Your other uncle is a shape-shifting cat, married to a werewolf–and their kids are shape-shifting cat-wolves!”
I scowled, thinking of my cousins (who weren’t really biological cousins) and the fact that for the first year of their lives they were almost always cats. Uncle Max had said (proudly) it was cause they liked to walk around and get into trouble, not something they could do as babies. Only during the full moon they were wolves. Like Uncle Royce. Yeah, not normal.
“You know all this, but you think seeing the future couldn’t happen?”
I shoved Dad away, embarrassed more than angry. “Okay, okay! Fine. So I dream the future, is that what you’re sa–wait. So is that why I was taken out of school?” My mouth hung open, realizing things.
Dad nodded. “You’d occasionally fall asleep at your desk and start shouting about fires or guns or earthquakes. Not something the school felt was appropriate. I tried explaining a bit to your old principal but she was very enraged by everything and was going to expel you. So I took you out before that happened.”
Being called freak, the kids avoiding me at recess, the teachers giving me odd–and scared–looks. It all fit together. “I see the future. My dreams are the future. Um.” I went white at one thought. “All my dreams?”
“Hmm, I don’t know. I don’t think so,” Dad answered. “Why?”
“Last week I dreamed that I was riding a T-rex.”
“Then I doubt all your dreams are of the future.”
I snapped my fingers. “Dang.”
Dad smiled at that and ruffled my hair. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, but it’s not something… easy. I guess I keep hoping you’d grow out of them. And, well, I didn’t want you… erm… worrying about the whole thing.”
I sniffled a bit then moved so his hand fell away from me. “Who knows about this?”
“Most the family. Your sisters and grandpa and, um, granddad of course. Grams and Gramps,” he said, meaning his mom and dad. “All your aunts and uncles. Some of their kids, though not all of them–mostly the ones on the Danevbie side, and the ones old enough. Max and Royce, and I suppose when their kids are old enough to understand–and you want them to know–then them.”
I rubbed my head, whimpering a bit. So many people knew. I burned with anger at first then calmed down. No use getting all mad now. Least I knew what was going on. I shouted horrible things. Did I shout the happy things too? Or, uh, talk? I had really happy dreams that were all real-feeling, like the bad ones. Like a wedding or surprise party. Or, like, the time I dreamed about those two girls kissing in the rain and crying happily because the one just came home from a long trip.
Those must have happened too. Or will happen. Just like the bad ones? Not every dream, obviously, but probably the ones that felt so real. The ones that I could feel pain and felt like I was really, really, really there. Like the rain one, I could feel the rain and feel my clothes getting wet and hear the one girl hiccuping from her tears. Or the ones with fire–those were awful. But really real.
I dreamed the future… I just didn’t know if that was a good thing or not. But plumbobs did it sound cool!