The last train that would get Hali to class on time would leave the nearby station any second now, and despite her best efforts, Hali was unable to leave the house. She had turned on her phone before dozing off to set her alarm, but every time she reached for it, her hand would drop and she’d get an ache in her gut. Her phone was never an issue, so she had no clue why this was happening; it kept buzzing with text notifications from Lyris.
She tried to ignore it, but it went on almost all night and she must have had hundreds of missed texts and calls from Lyris by now. It kept her up all night and she hadn’t slept; even when she tried to leave the apartment for class, she almost collapsed. Hali thought about the back door of the kitchen, but the pain didn’t go away. Defeated, she crawled back up to her room, resigned to her fate of having to skip class for the day.
At least there was the chance for her to catch up on painting for her enormous project and all those sketches she was behind on. Hali took a seat at her desk. She sat and did her best to focus on that, turning on her laptop and listened to some music as she worked. The sketches were easier so Hali was going to get them done first. The music enabled her to block out her phone, putting on her wireless headphones to drown out the world around her.
She concentrated on the shading and lighting as it was the focus this entire week in class; sketching shapes with different light sources, starting with the plant on her dresser and how the light from the window hit it. For another sketch, she draped a bed sheet over her mirror and sketched it, focusing on the light and how it hit the sheet’s folds.
Hali got a lot done and before she realized it, her stomach was growling and the computer screen made her realize that it was 1PM and she had skipped lunch. She pushed her seat back and jumped up with determination. Lunch was her next task, followed by focusing on painting that portrait! Leaving her bedroom, Hali headed to the kitchen; she paused when she saw movement on the stairs. Her eyes were met with Conan’s form. He too stopped and stared at her in surprise.
Hali bit her lip as she tried to find an excuse, “I… needed a mental health day.”
He finished climbing the stairs and looked down at her. Hali only reached his shoulders and had to look up to meet his concerned grey eyes. “That’s not like you. What’s wrong?”
Hali had never told Conan about her talent for good luck, but it wasn’t like she didn’t distrust him. He just seemed… far too serious to believe such things. She glanced down at the kitchen, looked back, and motioned for him to follow. They stopped near the kitchen where Hali motioned again, this time for him to take a seat. He took a seat across from her, his concerned expression bordering grave.
Hali sat down and tried to find the words, “I… don’t feel safe leaving the building.”
“There have been things going on around me, things I’m sure you’ll never believe. It’s about last night when I fainted and that dog I saw the other night. I need you only to listen and let me explain,” she insisted “Don’t judge me.”
He nodded in agreement, “Okay. I can do that. What has been going on?”
Hali took a deep breath in, exhaled, and then she began:
“I have been able to tell right from wrong choices since I was a kid. And I don’t mean stuff like ‘it's wrong to steal and hurt others’ choices. I mean like, fork in the road stuff. If I was given two options— like if I was lost. I wouldn’t need a map or smartphone to tell me. I’d be able to sense the right direction. Or, like, I’d know when a timer was going to go off before it did. And most recently… I’ve been sensing danger, but other times, I haven’t. This entire week I’ve been sensing danger all over the place and I feel like I’m going crazy!”
He tilted his head a little and after taking several minutes to take it in, he answered: “Alright, so you can tell when you’re making a wrong choice then,” he reiterated “But you can’t lately? Did I get that?”
“I know it sounds crazy,” she said “I can’t even leave the apartment right now or I feel intense pain.”
He had that look that told her he didn’t believe her and at this moment, Hali just couldn’t take being told she was crazy. She jumped to her feet and walked over to the cupboard, grabbing several mugs. She made two trips and brought ten over and dropped them in front of Conan. Hali went and grabbed one more thing: an Oreo cookie from her own food supply. She plopped it down in front of Conan, flipped all the mugs upside-down, and pointed to them. “Hide the cookie under any of these mugs. I can blindfold myself and I can pick whatever mug it is you hid it under.”
“I mean, if you want to try, we can… but Hali, that would be quite the feat,” Conan explained.
Hali grabbed a clean dish cloth— a long one— and tied it over her eyes. She stood in front of the table and said insistently, “Hide the cookie. I’ll show you what I mean.”
Hali could hear the mugs move around the table and knew he was trying to trick her to make sure she just didn’t pick whichever one it was just by sound. She appreciated that. Hali could really prove herself this way.
“Okay, find the mug,” he said.
Hali raised her hand and traced it over the top of the mugs, but never touched any. Her hand stopped over one and pointed down. “This one,” she explained. “Also, it’s a black mug.”
There was silence for a moment, and then she noticed Conan say something under his breath; followed by the clink of a mug. Then he spoke in agreement: “Yeah, that’s right.”
Hali turned her back to the table and covered her face with her hands, despite her eyes still being blindfolded. “Do it again. It’s not a trick, I can really sense it.”
“Okay,” he responded, and he moved the mugs around again, lifting several. He did it for several minutes, trying to throw her off again.
Using her hands the same as before, she hovered them around. She sensed nothing at first, but then she sensed a direction to move… and then sensed another one further away from the others, the one in front of Conan. “This is Ryan’s I Hate Monday’s mug.”
“Hali?” she could sense the surprise in his tone. “How are you doing this?”
She reached for the mug herself, and took the cookie from underneath. She broke the cookie in half and put them back down. Hali took off the blind fold. “One more time. Hide them both. But I’ll step outside and shut the door.”
Before he could say another word, Hali did just that. She went out, clicked the door shut and stood outside. Several minutes passed before his voice called out to her and she came back in. She stopped in front of the table, staring down at the mugs, studying them.
“Hmmm,” she said.
“What?” he asked.
There were several mugs that she believed were the right choices. Several more than there should have been. Hali gasped, “You broke the cookie into four pieces! You sneak!”
She reached for the black mug again, two plain white ones, and a cracked blue one. Each revealing a piece of broken cookie underneath.”
His eyes went wide as he looked up at her, his mouth ajar, “How are you doing this?!”
A small blush crept to her cheeks, but she smiled and took a seat. “I told you, I’ve always known right from wrong. But I am in danger, and I don’t know what to do. Conan, I need help with this. I know we don’t know each other that well, but I need more allies.”
Conan still seemed stunned by the display of her ability right in front of him, but still he nodded, “Yes… if you need anything, I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
There was a wave of relief, but that disappeared when her phone began to ring down the hall. She frowned. It was Lyris, she could sense it, but her gut told her to once again, not go near that phone. And she had no intention of doing that.