Candace Strange smoothed her chiffon skirt as she sat down on the sofa across from Doctor Bell’s chair. The teenage girl forced a glimmer of a smile—one that caused her eyebrows to raise—as she anticipated the start of this session. “How are-?”
“We don’t have to do this,” the mousey girl said, interrupting the woman.
“Do what?” Doctor Bell asked.
“Go through this… whatever this is…”
“You don’t think you need to talk about what happened last week?”
“I do,” she said. She frowned then. She hadn’t expected that. She sighed at the look of confusion on the therapist’s face before continuing. “Okay, so… you know how my powers work, right?” Doctor Bell was compelled to answer, but Candace proceeded to talk over the woman. Even though her question had been rhetorical, she knew the effect it would have. “I mean, they had to brief you… The thing is, my powers command myself and everyone around me to tell the truth. I can’t lie—not to you and not to me. Believe me, Doctor Bell: I’ve already been down this road. I already sat down and just started talking about everything that happened and… I know exactly how I feel about what happened.”
“Why don’t you enlighten me?” Doctor Bell asked, slightly amused.
“I hate myself. I mean, if Christmas hadn’t been knocked out in the crash and Absalom hadn’t got Gideon with that headshot? Either of them could have tore him apart. I mean, Carl can fly and shoot laser beams from his hands; Gideon’s a robot from the future; Christmas saved the world from the Basileus… Me? I make people tell the truth…
“Gideon’s got some sort of mission here in the past and Christmas… She’s bummed that they wouldn’t let her skip her senior year and join the Vindicators but…” Candace shrugged. “I think it’s obvious that this year’s just a hiccup in her plan. Honestly, given how she took care of all of us? The Espers, I mean? I wouldn’t be surprised if she was leading the Vindicators a year from now… I mean, if Carl isn’t doing it…
“My point is, they’re all so obviously destined for great things. Me? What am I? I make people tell the truth…”
“And you don’t think that’s not incredible?”
“Yes and no. I mean, it’s the reason I’m getting straight A’s. Think about it: if I’m taking a test, all I have to do is ask myself ‘What are the first five years of Nero’s rule collectively called?’ or ‘When was the Council of Nicaea held?’ and I know it’s the quinquennium Neronis and 325. It’s essay questions that slow me down. I mean, let’s say Mister McDougall puts something like ‘Why is it significant that Beowulf borrows Unferth’s sword before facing Grendal’s mother?’ on a test; unless the question is asking something that I know for a fact, my powers aren’t going to spit out the answer. Algebra is kind of a problem too: unless I’ve seen the equation solved—that specific equation—then I’m not going to immediately know the answer. I have to discern it using what I know and that can trip me up…
“But in my day-to-day life? My powers are more of a bane than a boon.”
“And why do you say that?”
“We all ask plenty of questions we don’t want answers to,” Candace said. “Are you married?”
“Divorced,” Doctor Bell said.
“Think about everything you ever asked your ex-husband where he was expected to answer a certain way: ‘How do I look?’ or ‘Does this make me look fat?’ ‘Was it as good for you as it was for me?’ ‘Do you think she’s prettier than me?’ Imagine now that he told you the truth: that he told you that he sees you getting older, gaining weight and yes, he was thinking about the babysitter the last time you two had sex.”
Doctor Bell smirked. “How do you know he didn’t?” she asked, jokingly. “I did say we were divorced…”
“I would seriously hope that it would take a lot more than that to make two people give up on love,” Candace was forced to say. Immediately, she started to blush. “Sorry, you asked me a question and…” She sighed. “I hate my powers.”
“I can only imagine what it must be like.”
“You don’t have to imagine,” Candace said. “Why did you and your husband split up?”
“Our adopted daughter manifested her powers and he couldn’t handle having a Neo-Sapien as a daughter.” Doctor Bell’s eyes bulged. “I see what you mean.”
“Yeah. Now picture that… but all the time. I mean, when I leave, you get to go back to telling whatever white lies you want: you can lie to yourself or to Doctor Howell… If one of my classmates asks why you and your husband split, you can tell them that he cheated or things didn’t work out… What’s the one celebrities always use?”
“Irreconcilable differences,” Doctor Bell offered. She smiled knowingly at Candace. “So, since your ability forces you to tell the truth, I have to ask: is this all just a smokescreen? Did you come in here and start rambling on about how your powers let you already dig deep into your soul for how you feel because you thought it would distract me from directly asking you that very question?”
Candace frowned. “Yes,” she said.
“After I read your file and saw your ability, I thought it would be best to just jump right in and get to the chance. It was going to be the first question I asked you, and you cut me off at the pass.”
“Don’t be. It was fairly clever of you.”
“So how are you?”
Doctor Bell nodded. “Why don’t you tell me about it?”
“Like I said: my powers aren’t anything stellar—not on the level Carl or Christmas or Gideon are on. There’s a reason they’re on the New Vindicators squad and I’m in the equivalent of the special ed class. It’s just that what happened got me thinking about what could happen. If Carl and I continue seeing each other—if we’re still seeing each other when he’s a Vindicator one day?—he’ll make enemies, right? Enemies who could use me to get to him.
“What if I become Carl’s weakness?
“Absalom kidnapped me—used me as bait to lure in Lloyd. He got Lloyd where he wanted him—he shot him and killed him. How many times is that going to happen? How many times will someone take me and use me as bait to lure Carl or his teammates into a trap they never walk away from?”
“I don’t know,” Doctor Bell was forced to say.
Candace grimaced and steeled herself for asking the question she didn’t want answered: “I need to break up with Carl, don’t I?”
To Be Continued... wrote:Raanan.