Wednesday, June 28th
About a dozen chairs sit in their usual, perfectly spaced out, circle. I can’t understand why they refuse to give us the ones with soft cushions for these stupid meetings. The hard plastic is cold and uncomfortable under my boney butt. Why don’t they just sit us on the damn floor?
I’m feeling extra fidgety today and can’t seem to find a comfortable position. I try to sit with my legs crossed, right over left.
Left over right.
I pull my knees into my chest, digging the arches of my feet into the edge of the seat but it’s bothersome. My socks won’t allow me to get a solid grip and with no energy to force them in place, I let them drop to the floor.
Ugh. My hair is coming loose. I pull out my ponytail holder, and throw my hair back up in a half-fast pony bun.
By this point I’m sure I’ve missed most of the introductions. There’s a new girl in the group today. Malina? Marina? I heard someone mention her name when I was walking in but I wasn’t fully listening. I’m not a morning person. Not that it really matters. Eventually I know everyone’s business whether they like it or not.
My foot shakes with vigor. It’s an uncontrollable habit. Anyone here who really knows me—which very few do—will know I’m tired or nervous. There’s only one person here who knows me well enough to know that it’s a combination of both and he’s sitting directly across from me.
My thumb finds its way to my mouth as my eyes dart around the tiled floor, sifting through the annoying swirly pattern for camouflaged spots of dirt. I try to find a piece of fingernail to gnaw on but most of them have been chewed down to the skin. I try my other thumb and find a tiny, thin layer of nail I must have missed. Yes! My teeth get a grip on it and tug with determination.
Ouch. Shit. That friggin hurt.
I look at my finger. It’s bleeding. I suck on it.
Sam! It’s your turn!
As usual, the familiar voice has managed to get through the barrier I’ve put up to block out everyone’s mental ramblings. I look across the circle. Josh is slumped in his chair, hands in his sweatshirt pockets. Like me, he’s too tall to sit with any sort of comfort on these school-like chairs.
He lifts his thick, dark brows, his jade colored eyes widening. Go! It’s your turn!
My eyes shift to Libby, the moderator for today’s meeting. She’s smiling softly, patiently. On a normal day it wouldn’t bother me so much but today I feel like slapping it right off her face. Not that it would make a difference. She’s one of those people who would only smile wider. I’ve never seen her lose it. I’ve never seen her angry or upset. It pisses me off. It doesn’t seem normal.
My hand goes up to say hello, but I feel more like an Indian Chief saying, “How.” My eyes shoot around a crowd who may or may not be looking at me. I don’t know. I didn’t actually make eye contact with any of them. I go back to sucking on my finger and continue my search for dirt spots on the floor.
Boy, aren’t you the happy camper. Forget to take your anti-pissy pill today?
My eyes shoot across the circle again. Shut up, Josh.
He’s the only one who can get away with talking to me like that and the only one in this entire facility who has the same telepathic ability as me, something that bonded us rather quickly. I never had a lot of friends. I never wanted them, but Josh left me with little choice. He’s been here for over ten weeks—well, not here at this location. He transferred from another facility a few days after I arrived. When he found out we had the same powers he refused to shut up, barging into my head and reading my thoughts relentlessly until I thought my brain might explode.
I glance at Libby who’s looking back and forth between Josh and I. She knows what’s going on, of course. Most of the people here do, but they don’t care. They’ve given up trying to figure out if and when we’re having a conversation and whether or not it’s about them.
“Sam, Josh, not here,” Libby says, sitting with her perfect posture, her blue eyes shining through her rimless glasses. “Using powers during group sessions is not allowed. You know that.” Her tone is even, placid.
From my periphery, I see everyone’s gaze bouncing back and forth between Josh and I, like they’re watching a tennis match.
“Sorry,” Josh and I say simultaneously. His apology sounds much nicer and more sincere than mine. Mine came out sounding like it was sandwiched between two slices of annoyance. It was. Maybe I shouldn’t have rolled my eyes. I mean it’s not her fault that today is Make Amends Day.
I’ve been dreading this day since I first heard about it when I arrived here seven weeks ago. Make amends? Ugh. The mere thought makes me want to vomit my half eaten bagel and tea. I mean, why the hell would I want to apologize or make amends with my mother? She’s the one who put me in this damn prison…I mean, “treatment center.”
Treatment center. Ha. Whatever. Like I need to be treated.
I’m here because I’m a “troubled, adolescent Person Of Powers.” I’m not a damn alcoholic or drug addict or someone with an eating disorder—although some of the kids here are those things as well. Nope. Not me. I’m just a freak of nature—a POP. So what? All of us here are. Our powers are not an addiction or disorder that can be treated. It’s not something that can just go away or be healed, or solved. There are no underlying issues that have traumatized us or caused us to have the powers we do. We were born this way.
God is a friggin comedian.
My hand goes in the air.
“Samantha, would you like to share with the group today?”
I’m sure she’s trying to sound inexpressive but the inflection in her voice rings surprise. She should be. I never share anything at these meetings. And I’m not about to break that streak.
“I feel sick. I wanna go lay down.”
I’m not being entirely dishonest. I do have a pounding headache, but I get them so often now that I’ve learned to deal with them…for the most part.
She takes a deep breath and cocks her head to the side. “Samantha, don’t you think—“
“Damn it, Libby, I feel sick.” My eyes lock with hers. I’m not afraid to challenge her and she knows it. My tone reminds everyone else of it as well. Some of them shift in their chairs.
As always, Libby remains calm and collected. I can feel my anger teetering on the brink of a major tantrum as she sweeps her bangs to the side and away from her eyes. Neither her facial nor bodily expression show any reaction to my insolence. What I wouldn’t pay to know the thoughts she’s really having—to call her out on her nobody-can-get-to-me pretense. The fact that she—and most of the staff—have the skill to block their thoughts from me at will only fuels my fire.
Chill out, Sam, Josh says with a hint of laughter. He finds my tough exterior humorous. He always has.
I ignore him, pushing the barricade of my mind further out to block what’s coming in or out, refusing to allow any distractions—even from Josh. I want to get out of here.
Refusing to avert my eyes and show submission, I keep them fixed on hers. I don’t even blink.
Damn her and that perpetual smile.
It takes every fiber of my being to not go caveman on her ass. I picture myself grabbing her by her long dark ponytail, dragging her into a corner and beating her with a club. Of course I would never do that for real. It would only land me another God knows how long to my sentence. I mean, “stay,” here at Alina Lodge. Besides, Libby can be pretty cool sometimes. More so than the other jerks who work here.
“Okay, Samantha,” she says. “Just make sure you sign out your time at the desk. Someone will be by soon to check on you.”
“Thanks,” I mumble under my breath as I get up. I don’t feel I owe her any appreciation, but I hope my attempt will satisfy her. I can’t afford to be an insufferable bitch all the time if I have any hope of getting out of here one day.
Josh, let me know when you’re done, I say as I make my exit.
You know it. Feel better, he says.
Already do, I say with a huge grin none of them can see.
I know, he responds. I don’t look back but I’d bet my left eyeball he’s shaking his head smiling.Ah…freedom for two whole hours.