To be psychic- it can be a gift or a curse, depending on how you use the ability. Choosing how to use the ability was easy for me, but controlling it is much harder.
Sometimes I can control it; I can focus on something, and see what I need to do in order to make everything work out the way I need it to. Sometimes I can make a “vision” come to me.
Though most of the time, everything tends to come in a rush. Appearing in my mind at random times of the day, often showing me things that didn’t matter much in my life.
I had never been the superhero type, considering I was too short to wear a cape without tripping over the end of it. But I had to admit; I did look pretty good in a pair of tights. But over time, I had managed to play the superhero game thanks to the gifts I had been given.
Pulling people out of the way of a speeding car before they got hit, squishing a poisonous spider before it bit someone- these were all things I had done before. I was no superman, not by any means, but the amount of gratitude that always came from the person I had supposedly saved was always enough to make me feel like there was at least a handful of people out there that actually needed me… even though half of them didn’t even know it themselves.
Life flashes past you so fast you barley have time to watch it for yourself. With one eye in the future, and one eye in the present walking down the street can be dangerous for me. It made it hard to watch my own life, since half the time I was seeing it in fast-forward. It was similar to recording a show on a video camera- you don’t really get to enjoy it, because you’re either watching it on the tiny screen of a camera, or not at all.
When I wasn’t trying to control the visions, or ignore them, I got a constant stream of the futures of people’s lives.
For example, sitting in a restaurant, I could clearly see the husbands who would be cheating on their wives at their “late night meeting” later that night. The waiter who was serving the table next to mine would quit his job in two weeks to pursue a career in singing. He would eventually make it big. All this I knew just by turning around to ask for a glass of water.
It was this same kind of situation that had gotten me into trouble in the first place. I had been at a simple corner café, admiring the scenery. I turn back around to take a bite of my apple fritter to see a man sitting in the seat across from me. Blonde hair, brown eyes, tan, freckles across his nose- typical spoiled type.
I rolled my eyes and picked up my fritter, taking a bite and hoping he didn’t notice how blank my eyes looked.
“Do you mind?”
“I was actually just going to ask you that.”
“Wow, handsome and good with words.”
“I try.” I saw him grin. “Are you okay, you look like you’re having a stroke?”
“I’m fine.” I murmured. His future had flashed by so quickly, it was amazing I had seen any of it, but yet I had still caught it all. His future was frightening, to say the least. He definitely had a rude awakening coming for him within the next few weeks. What he had done to deserve such a punishment, I had no idea. But I had seen it nonetheless. But I wanted to help him either way; I felt like I needed to.
“If you don’t want to look like an idiot I suggest you put a napkin in your lap.” I threw him a napkin, he stared at me as if I were crazy, and unfolded the napkin and placed it on his lap. As soon as he brought his hands back up to the table, a ditzy redheaded waitress dropped a plate of strawberry pastries onto his lap. The heavy cotton napkin prevented anything from getting on his pants. I smiled wryly. Right again.
“That was amazing… how did you know that would happen?” he asked after the waitress had apologized a half-dozen times.
“Maybe you should tell me your name.”
“Cole. Cole Escue.”
“Well Mr. Cole Escue… you’re in for a pretty rude awakening in the next few weeks, maybe it would be best if you just stayed home.”
“Maybe you should tell me your name.”
“That’s a pretty unforgettable name.”
“Well, I’m a pretty unforgettable person.”
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At the tender age of six, I had gotten the not-so-tender call informing me that my parents had been in a car wreck. My grandmother had driven me to the hospital just in time to see them take their last breaths; both of them had been thrown through the front window. Neither of them had been wearing seatbelts for fear that their fancy dress and tuxedo would be wrinkled. They had been on their way to a banquet for some fancy country club.
My parents had been the only ones in the entire world who had known about my “talent”. But, I had no other choice, but to live with someone else in the family.
Having been handed off to every family member in the contact book, I had eventually run out of family members. They swore they loved me, and wouldn’t hand me off to the next relative- until they were assaulted with the fact that their adorable niece/cousin/grand-daughter/god-daughter was clairvoyant.
My last hope had been my father’s crazy aunt who made a living off of doing crazy things and traveling with a circus. And, much to my delight at ten years old, Aunt Sally had been the one who I ended up stuck with in the end.
In an attempt to erase the dark vision I had had of Cole’s future, I was doing the same thing I had done to relax since the summer I had moved in with Aunt Sally. Walking the tight rope required so much concentration; it made it impossible to think about anything else. If I thought about something other than balancing, I fell.
“Gracie!” Aunt Sally sang, dancing into the big top tent and clapping her hands together in excitement. “Oh! You’re walking again!” she screamed, referring to the fact that I was scrambling to get from the middle of the rope, to one of the platforms on the ends before I fell.
“Aunt Sal! You could have killed me just now! Don’t you ever read the sign?” I shouted breathlessly. The other performers had a sign made up for me years ago; I hung it up whenever I was practicing. It had a picture of a tightrope walker on it, and asked in a swirly font to “Please refrain from distracting the tightrope walker- it won’t end well.”
“Honey I haven’t been able to read the sign in years, I can’t see the tattoos on my hand when I hold it in front of my face!” she grinned and motioned for me to climb down. Aunt Sal had tattoo’s covering both of her arms; they were all of some kind of flower. I had counted them once when I was little there were 47 on both arms, 94 total. I started to climb down and missed the last two steps; Aunt Sally caught me with a chuckle. “I don’t understand how you manage to walk the tightrope, but then can’t climb back down the ladder without falling.” I stuck my tongue out at her. I grabbed her arm and shoved the sleeve on her thin t-shirt up to reveal the tattoos on her arm.
“When are you getting another one?” I traced my finger along a morning glory vine.
“I’ll go when you go.” She winked. Only Aunt Sally would be the kind of parent to encourage tattoos.
“You’re a horrible influence, you know that right?”
“Never mind that. Where have you been all day?” I sighed. There it was again. All those stupid visions right back in my head. I walked to the giant trunk in the corner of the tent, turning the key that was permanently stuck in the keyhole and tugging the lid open. Aunt Sal and her curiosity had followed me across the room.
You almost couldn’t see the long burgundy gown that sat in the trunk because of all the dust that covered it. I pulled it out, and shook it in an attempt to shake off the dust. It had been the dress my mother had worn the night of the car crash. I sat down on a balancing block that was usually used by one of the clowns and held the dress in my lap, tracing over the sequined belt across the top.
“Well, are you going to tell me were you’ve been all day or not?” I sighed, and slapped my hands down on the dress, making dust motes fly everywhere.
“I was at the café down the street.” Aunt Sal stared me down. I gave up, biting my lip and looking back down at my lap.
“You want to talk about it?”
“There’s nothing to talk about.”
“I think you’re lying…”
“So what if I am?”
“What was his name, and why does he have you so riled up?”
“It’s not him, so much as his future…”
“How bad is it…?
“He’s rich… and his family is under a lot of… stress…”
“I’m not sure I understand…”
“Some people are going to try and steal their money. All of it… they’re going to kidnap him… use him for ransom money.”
“Are you going to help him?”
“How can I? I’m not the FBI; I’m a tightrope walker. Plain and simple… I wouldn’t be any help. Not to mention I’d probably just get myself killed anyway.”
“Well… I suppose it is your decision.” I sighed, frustrated, and looked back down at the dress. By the time I looked back up, Aunt Sal was gone.
I shoved the dusty dress back into the chest and slammed the top back down and twisted the key roughly. I heard the usual clatter that sounded when the other performers entered the room to practice.
“How did you know I was in here?” he shouted, his heavy Russian accent made snicker as it always had.
“You swear like a Russian sailor, how could I not know you where here?”
“Your stereotypes are hurtful Miss Gracie.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet.” He came to stand beside me, giving me a solid punch in the arm. I grunted, trying to hold back the tears that sprung up immediately.
“Sorry Gracie.” He bit his lip. “What can I do for you?” Pankrati had been like a big brother to me since I moved in with Aunt Sal.
“I have an idea I’d like to run by you, if you don’t mind.”
Our next performance was exactly a week after I met Cole. That gave me exactly a week to learn the act I would have to do. It had been no problem. I sat in the makeup chair letting Roselle plaster my face with glitter and bright eye shadow, praying to god that Cole had found the mysterious letter I had left for him the previous night. After running my idea by Pankrati and Aunt Sal, I had pretty much broken into Cole’s house and left a ticket to the show and a letter telling him to skip the party his parents were throwing and come to the circus instead.
I knew he would come. He wanted to know more about me, so he wouldn’t hesitate to skip the party… as long as he found the letter.
“Ten minutes!” Aunt Sal jogged through the back tent where everyone was preparing to go out. The dozen or so clowns jumped up at her warning, and jogged in the direction she had come from to start warming up the crowd.
“It’s been a while Gracie, are you sure you want to go out there? I can still go for you, if you want.” Roselle had been hired to take my place, when I decided after four years of performing; I didn’t want to be the crazy circus girl.
“I’ll do fine… I kind of miss performing.” Roselle smiled and helped me lace up the back of the corset I had to wear; it was white with red sparkles. The tutu-like skirt I wore was red and sparkly as well. I laced up the white high-heel boots that matched the rest of the costume they had made for me last minute.
I could hear the crowd beginning to grow tired of the skits the clowns had been putting on, and took in a deep breath. I slipped a dark red cloak on over my costume and felt the adrenaline begin to surge through my body as a was hoisted up onto a platform, that was picked up by Pankrati, along with three other of the “macho” men.
Aunt Sal and Rolan were already out there announcing the beginning of the show. It was a big crowd tonight, despite the crowds I knew I would do perfect. The screaming got louder as we entered the main tent. I could barely see out of my cloak’s hood, so I couldn’t tell if he had come.
“The return of a performer who has been missed for years now-“ the theme song to the act I would be doing began to play. A double tap on the bottom of the platform I was sitting on signaled for me to be prepared to hit the ground. Once my feet hit the ground, I relaxed a little bit; landing on my feet without really being able to see was the hardest part.
The hood of my cloak shifted just enough for me to see the front level of people in the stands- to see that Cole sat in the very middle front seat. I sat down in the dirt as Aunt Sal began to back towards the exit and finish the introduction.
“The last time you saw her here was six years ago, she’s my favorite performer-” I smiled as the lights dimmed, and lowered my head to quickly check the future for mistakes- there wouldn’t be any. “- Gracelyn The Grand!” The lights dimmed completely, the music started over and grew louder, and the performance began.
When the words to the music began I threw off the cloak, and watched for the reaction of the crowd… more specifically Cole’s reaction. His eyes grew wide with recognition the way I had seen they would.
The trapeze artists swung from the shadows on the ends of the tent out into the light and began dropping metal hoops for me to catch. As I caught them I threw them over my body, letting them pile up and make a wall around me. With some fog and a few muttered words from the magicians on either side of me, the hoops that had been up to my waist had now disappeared.
With another burst of fog and sparks another one appeared in my hands. I held it up in time to be jerked up into the air by the trapeze artists. The gasps that came from the crowds made me smile; I knew how they felt.
I had never been fond of flying in a plane; it made me nervous. But yet, I had always dreamed of flying in general. Flying with wings, or maybe flying because of some special power- that was the kind of flying I dreamed about. My hands and arms shook with nervous excitement as I laughed at myself.
I was turning into Aunt Sally, I was going crazy- laughing at myself as I performed a trapeze act had to be solid evidence to that. Maybe it ran in the family.
Then again, how could you keep from laughing when you were flying through the air, the way you had dreamt about for years?
“That was amazing! I can’t believe you’re a circus performer… I mean you don’t look like a circus performer!” I stared down at my costume and raised my eyebrows.
“Really Cole, I don’t look like a circus performer?” I motioned with my hands to the sequined skirt and corset ensemble.
“Well, you do now, but before…”
“Yeah, I’m not quite as obvious as the bearded lady.” He laughed and tried to catch up to me as I shoved through all the clowns and tried to find us a clear path to the main quarters trailer where everyone hung out after shows.
“There’s a bearded lady?” he sounded like a disappointed child who had missed the ice cream man.
“No Cole, there’s no bearded lady.” I chuckled. “Aren’t you glad you skipped the party for this?”
“Speaking of that party… how did you know about that… how did you even know where I lived?”
“I told you I was unforgettable.”
“I still want an answer to my question…?”
“I’ll explain later, for now, I have a party to attend, and if you don’t ask questions you’re invited too.”
Upon entering the “party” I was showered with confetti and anything else the performers could find and throw at me.
“Welcome back Gracie!” they screamed like it was a surprise birthday party.
“I’ve been here the whole time guys, I haven’t gone anywhere.”
“But the circus version of you is back!” Pankrati shouted giving me a bear hug tight enough to crack my spine.
“I think it’s always been here… “
“Its just been covered in a bunch of dust like an old wedding outfit!” Aunt Sal bellowed. Everyone laughed at her odd comparison
“More like covered in a bunch of tattoos like your arms!” I winked at her, and she grinned so wide I was afraid her dentures would fall right out of her mouth.
We all ate until we couldn’t eat anymore, laughed, and told stories about life in the circus. Cole was fascinated, but it was all part of the plan.
I felt like I had committed a felony, as I darted across Cole’s huge back lawn. I still didn’t completely understand why he had forced me to get out of the car with him.
“Is there a specific reason you’re making me help you break into your own house? Don’t you have a key?”
“Yeah, but if they catch me before we get in the house I’m blaming-”
“You!” a ratty, screeching voice screamed out of the shadows of the porch. Cole and I both screamed.
“Mom you gave me a heart attack!”
“What are you doing running around in the middle of the night, with none other than a prostitute! Not to mention you weren’t even at our party!”
“She’s not a prostitute! She-”
“Ma’am, I’m not a prostitute… I realize the costume is more than a little flashy, but that’s the point I-”
“She works in the circus… she invited me to come see it.”
“So you skipped our family’s party for a circus?” she spat the word out like a bad piece of meat.
“Hey lady, it’s not like I’m a carny trying to steal your wallet here! I’m a performer, not a-”
“Well you look like a hustler to me!” I bit my tongue to keep from giving her anything else to add to the “hustler” theory. “Cole do you have any idea what went on while you were gone? I called you a dozen times trying to figure out if you were okay!” This is where it all started; the events that had happened tonight while Cole was at the circus would start off the crazy events to come.
“What happened?” he asked confused.
“Some men came here looking for you Cole, they had guns… They told your father they wanted money; otherwise they wouldn’t stop looking for you. Your father refused to write them a check… he called the cops instead after they left.” She glared at me and wrinkled up her nose like I smelled bad. “We’ll finish talking about this inside.” Translation: we’ll finish talking about this when the prostitute is gone.
I sighed dramatically and spun on my heels, trying to walk away quickly before the rich old hag could call me anything else that had to do with carnies or hookers.
“Hey Gracie wait!” I stopped walking and turned to face Cole, letting him catch up to me.
“Sorry about my mom… she’s a little protective.”
“It’s okay, I understand. She wants you to marry a lawyer or a doctor just like every other mom, I’m pretty much at the bottom of the marriage pyramid so I get it all the time.”
“Yeah,” he chuckled and ran his hand through his hair. “Maybe after this whole craziness about the kidnappers is over we can hang out some time?”
“If I were you, I’d be a little more afraid of the kidnapper situation…” I slapped him on the shoulder sarcastically. “And I’ll be around.” I started to walk away, letting him stand there and wait for me to say something else. Right before I turned around the corner of a tall bush, I gave him what he was waiting for.
“Oh, and aren’t you glad you skipped the party?”
“Wait… did you know this would happen?”
“Now, that would be weird wouldn’t it?”