Mrs. Santi’s Prism Mask

“These may be kaput,” Mrs. Santi said, patting her thighs, “but thanks to you, I’ve got these.”  She made fists with her hands and raised her arms in the traditional flexing-biceps pose.

She immediately dropped her hands to the wheels of her chair and pulled forward, propelling herself toward Jim.

Jim grinned and threw a towel over his shoulder.  “Allow me,” he said, walking around her and grasping the handles of her chair.  “I know you don’t need me to, but—“

“Are you kidding?  I just had a Jim-special workout.  I’ll need all of tonight and tomorrow to recover.”

Jim chuckled and rolled her outside to where her driver was waiting.  The young woman in the dark suit and beret hat smiled at him.  He smiled back before dropping his eyes.  He had recently learned that the young woman was Mrs. Santi’s grand-niece, Thalia.  He still felt somewhat embarrassed at having assumed she was a professional driver, but in fairness to him, she was always dressed for the part whenever he’d seen her.  Not to mention that Mrs. Santi always sat in the back.  But that, she had explained, was because the back of her car was always filled with newspapers and magazines that she was in the middle of reading.

“How’d it go?” Thalia asked.

Mrs. Santi clapped her hands together.  “James is a miracle-worker.  And a brutal task-master.”

Jim chuckled again as he lifted his client out of the chair and place her gently behind the driver-side seat, while Thalia secured the chair.  He closed the car door and looked up to find Thalia gazing at the front of the gym, where the banner still hung, announcing the new program.

“So she went for it, huh?” she said.  She turned to Jim before he could respond.  “She went for the Prism tech?”

Jim nodded.  “Her doctors all signed off on it, and one of them joined us by video during her session—her first session.  It went well, but we will continue monitoring her for all sessions going forward.  And once we start working with her legs, a physical therapist will also be monitoring the sessions.”

“Do you do that with all your clients?”

Jim shook his head.  “No.”  He glanced through the car window at Mrs. Santi, who was already flipping through a magazine.  “But none of my other clients are aiming to move things with their minds.”


When Mrs. Santi first came to Jim’s Gym (as he had so creatively named it), she was just looking for someone to help her exercise the muscles she could still feel and engage with fully, the muscles of her upper body.  She aimed to delay getting a powered chair for as long as she could.

She had heard of the Ocular Prism Interface, or OPI as the company called it, or Prism as most other people were calling it.  She had read that it was being used to help stave off dementia in some elderly people.  And she’d told Jim that if he ever got it, she’d be interested in taking a crack at it.

Prism was too new and the uses that people were finding for it too broad for there to be solid scientific studies about its effectiveness as a healing tool.  There were barely any solid studies on its first uses—for entertainment and for military training.

It was not a new type of technology.  Prism was a virtual reality interface.  But one that was more advanced and immersive than any other, while still remaining portable and accessible.  Early models had users donning a complicated network of electrodes all over their limbs and torso, and a mask with a disturbingly neutral expression.  It was thought the electrodes were needed to provide tactile sensations on the skin and the muscle.  Short of invasive brain implants, no one could think of a better way to simulate the five senses than to physically stimulate those senses.  They would also do things like release scents into the room where a user was lying, or spritz them with water when the program had them walking through some light rain.

As it turned out, however, all they needed was the human imagination.  It was powerful enough to simulate the other sensations if it believed strongly enough in what it was seeing.  The sense of sight alone was capable of convincing people, and they would fill in the blanks with all their other senses.  No one needed an array of electrodes snaking along their bodies.  All they needed was the mask.

Simplified versions of the portable mask sets became cheap enough for the average consumer to buy during the holidays.  Soon enough, Prism games had people going on quests in the real world.  Live action role players embraced the tech.  Prism-free zones had to be set up in businesses, schools, and other public places, to protect people from getting too immersed.  There were concerns about people confusing reality with virtual reality.  But with rare exceptions, such confusion did not seem to be an issue.

Prism was used for practical purposes as well, by people who rehearsed dates and speeches, by therapists helping people get over phobias, and by people who didn’t like going to the gym, but needed the motivation of a group environment during workouts.

There were some who took to heart the words of the company’s co-founder, that the first step in believing was seeing.  They argued that there was an increased incidence of superhuman abilities over the recent decade or so, and one of the obvious factors causing that rise was Prism.  They proposed using the Prism tech to develop such abilities on purpose, by having users visualizing doing things that they could not otherwise do in real life.

Gamers had already done such visualizations on a more extreme scale—witches and wizards casting powerful spells, for example, and monsters and non-human characters exhibiting superhuman strength or preternaturally keen senses.  In no official record had any of these people found themselves wielding such powers in the real world, with or without the mask on.

Then one day, news stories began to surface of a girl who’d spent several hours a day over a holiday break, playing a game in which her character—her avatar rather—was a werewolf.  After finishing the game, she claimed she could smell things she had never been able to smell before, and it reminded her of her character.  She was tested and found to have a sense of smell as keen as a dog’s, maybe keener.

It was a fascinating case study, but one that did not have many convinced that Prism tech was anything but a virtual reality interface.  And that whatever happened in the Prism environment could not be translated to the real world.

But even that one example was enough proof for those who believed that the Prism tech could be used to develop, or perhaps ever trigger, psychic abilities in a person.

If people visualized themselves using psychic powers, they reasoned, then maybe it would allow those people to awaken and develop those powers.


Mrs. Santi had a strong mind.  She was diligent with caring for her own health.  Her brain was fit, with no signs of plaques or degeneration.   She was a good candidate for this attempt at using Prism tech to awaken psychic abilities.  The loss of her legs as usable limbs provided a control at the physical level, and a potential advantage at the mental level.  Her brain had adapted to the loss of her legs, and perhaps had “room” for another sense.

If she was able to move her legs without touching them, it would mean she had succeeded in developing telekinesis.

Mrs. Santi had not believed such a thing was possible.  She didn’t care about superhuman abilities.  She just wanted to keep her mind intact as she entered the last decades of her life.  And she did believe that the exercises she would be asked to do in the Prism psychic program would be rigorous.  And she was always seeking rigorous challenges for her mind.

When Jim had her bench press weights in the Prism world that were double what he himself could do in the real world, Mrs. Santi had no trouble visualizing it.  She couldn’t repeat the feat in the real world, but she had managed to strengthen her arms far beyond what Jim would have imagined for a woman her size and age.

But the first time she tried to visualize moving an object in the Prism world, just shifting a teacup a few inches across a tabletop, she was unable to do it.

“You know,” Jim said afterwards, “Your mind knows, even subconsciously, that you are playing a game, and that you don’t actually have those abilities.  This is a good thing.  We seem to have some kind of failsafe in our brains that prevent us from confusing reality with virtual reality.  People have used Prism to have superhuman powers.  And people have used Prism to develop skills that can translate to the real world.  But most people have not combined the two.  They have not been consciously trying to develop a superhuman ability that translates to the real world.  So you have to start with the easy part first.  You have to consciously believe you can do in the real world what you can do in the Prism world.” Jim sighed.  “Then we’ll figure out how to deal with your subconscious.”

“It may never work, right Jim?” she had asked.  “I’ve been keeping up with the stories.  Some of the researchers propose that only a small subset of people have a latent potential for psychic abilities, just like there are subsets of people with predispositions to things like disease.  So it may never work.”

Jim nodded.  “It may never work.  So do you want to forget about it?  Go back to the old program?”

“Not a chance.”


Other people had signed up to do the “psychic training” track at Jim’s Gym.  Jim and his gym had even ended up in the news when they started the program.  But as the weeks passed by and no one manifested any spectacular powers, public attention drifted elsewhere.

Members began to taper off as the cost of the gym membership became prohibitive.  Prism tech was only covered as a medical expense in rare, case-by-case instances.  Development of psychic abilities, being considered optional and unnecessary, was not a covered expense.

Mrs. Santi and several others succeeded in shifting that teacup with their minds in the Prism world.  But no one could do it in the real world.

“There’s a cup in front of you in the real world,” Jim would say at each exercise.  “Reach out with your hands and move the cup, and at the same time, reach out with your hands in the Prism and move that cup.  Good, I can see you’re doing it.  Now, let go of the cup in both worlds.  Good.  Now, shift the cup with your mind in both worlds.”

It never worked.  Some link was missing.  And no one could figure out what it was.


One day, Mrs. Santi came in with Thalia, who had tagged along as a good luck charm.

“I dreamt that I drank a hundred cups of tea last night,” Mrs. Santi said with a groan.  “Guess what I drank for breakfast this morning?”

Jim frowned in thought.  He widened his eyes at the miserable expression on her face.  “No,” he said.

She nodded.  “Coffee.”

“Maybe we can try another object.”

“Actually, I had a thought about the teacup.  Do you have any coffee stirrers around here?”

According to her request, Jim put a coffee stirrer in the real world teacup, and adjusted the Prism program to place a stirrer in the virtual world teacup.

Mrs. Santi tried the same shifting exercise with the teacup.  First a physical shift with her hand, then an attempt at a mental nudging with her mind.

Once again, she failed to move the teacup with her mind in the real world, even though the teacup in the Prism world slid back a few inches.

Jim repositioned the cups as she requested.

Then she reached out with her hand and stirred the air in the empty cups with the stirrer.

She released the stirrer in the exact same position in both worlds.

She drew her hand back.

Jim was watching the visual feed of the Prism world where the stirrer began moving on its own.  It was Thalia’s exclamation that drew his attention back to the physical teacup on the table in front of them.

The stirrer in the real world was moving too.


“It was too big,” Mrs. Santi explained, when Jim asked her why she was able to move the stirrer and not the teacup.

It had never occurred to him that a teacup, a thing that was light enough for a child to lift, would be too heavy for the mind of a person who had never lifted anything with her mind before.

The stirrer hadn’t moved smoothly in the real world.  It had shifted and jerked, as if handled by a baby or toddler, who was still learning how to move her limbs.

Jim shared the revelation with the handful of people who still remained in the program.

All but one was still unable to do what Mrs. Santi had managed to do.  That one other person was a fifteen-year-old girl whose parents had indulged her request to join the program in the hopes it would get her out of the house, and maybe inspire her to pick up a physical exercise while she was at the gym.  They had never imagined their daughter would actually manifest a psychic ability.  Telekinesis, just like Mrs. Santi.


As the weeks passed and Mrs. Santi’s mind became more practiced, she was able to shift that teacup at last.

Jim decided not to publically report or advertise the successes of the two people who had managed to manifest telekinesis.  He decided so for the sake of their privacy and the integrity of the research that they were participating in.

One of Jim’s partners was working with the girl, while Jim and her team of caregivers continued working with Mrs. Santi.

For someone who had only wanted to exercise and strengthen her mind, she was certainly pleased with discovering that she had an ability that most others did not possess.

She came in to her sessions bragging about making her own breakfast, dressing herself, not having to call someone to fetch an item she’d dropped that was just out of arm’s reach.

“Who knows?  Maybe I’ll even be able to drive again someday,” she said one morning, laughing at the false frown on Thalia’s face.

“I’m glad you’re so happy that I’ll soon be out of a job,” Thalia said.

“I’ll find something useful for you to do…or, you can just visit your old auntie for funsies.”

Thalia laughed at that.


“Take it slow,” Jim said.

He rubbed the back of his hand against his temple and stood before Mrs. Santi.  Thalia stood behind her aunt.  An active Prism display played behind Jim, but their eyes did not leave Mrs. Santi.  She had the Prism mask on her face.  And today was the day she was going to do something she had never imagined she would do again.

She was going to stand up out of her chair.

Mrs. Santi had been building up her mental “muscles” for weeks.  They grew stronger faster than physical muscles.  She was strong enough to lift herself a few inches off her chair in a seated position.  But telekinesis was not just about brute strength.  It was about the fine control it took to apply that strength to a specific object or part.

She had to focus her ability on her hips, legs, knees, ankles, and feet.  And while she moved those parts through telekinesis, she would have to move her other limbs and parts through the regular part of her conscious mind.  She had only attempted such coordination with small actions.  Moving the teacup with her mind while she stirred with her physical hand.  It was harder than it looked.  Like patting the head with one hand while simultaneously moving the other hand in a circular motion over the stomach.

It could be done.  But it took some practice.

Mrs. Santi took in one final deep breath.  She braced her hands on the arms of her chair.  She pushed up with her arms.  And she floated up into a standing position.

She threw her arms out to the side as if for balance.  She said nothing.  Jim and Thalia said nothing.

Jim gulped when he saw that one of Mrs. Santi’s feet was moving off her chair’s footplate and onto the ground.  He held his breath, ready to catch her.  She moved her other foot to the ground.  She began to raise the left leg, thigh horizontal, knee out, and lower leg vertical, as if starting to take an exaggerated step.  Again, the movements were floaty, too graceful, as if the leg had no weight.

This was not part of the plan.  She was just supposed to stand in her chair.  She lowered her leg.

Jim didn’t even dare a glance at Thalia.  He didn’t even dare to blink.

When he heard the burst of laughter, he almost jumped out of his skin.

Mrs. Santi glided back down into her chair, laughing all the way.


“You know what the next step is?” Thalia asked.

Mrs. Santi narrowed her eyes.  “Is that a pun?”

They all laughed.

Jim, Thalia, and Mrs. Santi were sitting in a booth at Jim’s favorite diner, eating a victory meal.  The usually sugar-averse Mrs. Santi had even ordered a strawberry milkshake.

“It’s superhero time, Auntie.  If you didn’t have to focus on moving separate parts, you could probably lift a person the size of Jimster.  You could probably lift yourself and your wheelchair.  Imagine how boss that would be.”  She grinned and popped a fry in her mouth.

Jim chuckled, more out of relief than future ambition.  His own muscles still felt jittery.  He looked down at his plate and all the broccoli that was still left on it.  That would have been gone in less than a minute after the plate was set down if it were any other day.  But two full hours after Mrs. Santi’s feat, his stomach was still settling.

“I’m serious, Auntie.  I’m glad you can get your own tea and all, but you have a rare gift.  I’m not saying to go into burning buildings and float people out or anything.  I’m just saying, maybe you can volunteer for one of those charities that build houses for people or something.  And just lift an entire wall and hold it in place while all the other volunteers hammer away.”

Mrs. Santi could now exert controlled telekinesis without the Prism mask on, though with it on, she could do much better.  And it was only with the mask on that she could move heavier things.  Thalia joked that the look fit, because superheroes used masks to hide their true identities anyway.

“No one is going to want to see some blue-haired little old lady superhero saving lives,” Mrs. Santi said.  “There’s nothing sexy about that.”

Jim smiled.  “I’ll be honest.  Sexiness is fun to see in the movies.  But in real life, I don’t care who’s saving me—blue-haired little old lady, a dog, a kid.  If you’ve saved my life, you are my hero.  End of story.  I throw flowers at your feet.  You ride off into the sunset.”

Mrs. Santi threw back her head and laughed a loud laugh much unlike her usual reserved chuckle.  It was a warm and comforting laugh.  Jim felt reassured.

“Well it would be nice to do some good,” Mrs. Santi said, “at least until my mind gives way.  I’ll think about it.” She rolled her eyes and sighed in mock exasperation.  “Everyone will call me when they need to move.  Imagine how bothersome that will be.”

“You’ve got to be careful,” Jim said.  “When you’re trying to walk.  You’re like a toddler who’s just learning, only your average toddler doesn’t risk breaking her hip every time she takes a tumble.”

“Yes, father, I’ll be careful.”

“I wonder if you can do it often enough that it becomes subconscious, like how we learn to walk,” Thalia said.  “We don’t have to think about it anymore.”

Mrs. Santi’s smile faded a bit.  “Tell me something, you two.  By trying to walk again, am I betraying all the other people who sit in chairs like this?  Or would I be betraying them if I didn’t try to get out of the chair?  Maybe I’d know if I’d been in it all my life.”

Jim set his fork down.  “I’m sorry, Mrs. Santi.  If I could, I’d wave a magic wand and restore everyone’s limbs and senses.”

She put her elbows on the table and folded her hands before her face.  “Do you know something, Jim?  I’m not afraid of never walking again.  I can live with that.  I’m scared of losing my hearing or going blind, but I think I manage that too.  There is one sense and only one sense that I’m terrified of losing.”

Jim remembered then the first reason, the real reason that Mrs. Santi had first asked him about the Prism tech.

“Your sense of self,” he said.

She nodded.  “My mind.  Just let me keep my mind until I die.  All the way until I die.”

Thalia reached out and rubbed the back of her aunt’s hand.


Jim had been to Mrs. Santi’s home many times before, to check up on her, to have dinner with her, and once, to help install a new home theater system.

Unlike his clean but cluttered home, busy and noisy with the sound of three kids in various stages of childhood, Mrs. Santi’s home was clean and tidy.  The only clutter, if it could be called that, was the odd stack of books or periodicals here and there.

But when he entered her home a few days after that triumphant rising from her chair, he was stunned by what he saw.

Every clichéd description came to mind.  It was as if a poltergeist had opened every drawer and cupboard and tossed out all the insides.  Or maybe federal agents had searched the place for urgent life-or-death evidence.  Or thieves had tossed the place for hidden treasure.

The housekeeper had called the police upon rising and finding the place in a shambles.  She hadn’t heard a thing the night before.  She called Thalia next, and Thalia had called Jim.

When he arrived, she and Mrs. Santi were in the living room, speaking to an officer.  They signaled to let Jim into the house.

“I know what happened, Jim,” Mrs. Santi said after the police left.  Jim knelt before her and took her hands.  She looked scared.  “I did it.  In my sleep.”


Mrs. Santi made Thalia and every member of her housekeeping staff stay out of the house any time she slept.  Thalia didn’t like the idea of her aunt being all alone at night.  The housekeeper who’d been at the house the day the accident of sleep telekinesis happened had not been hurt, nor had her quarters been touched, or the room that Thalia usually stayed in.  Mrs. Santi thought that might be because she did not venture into other people’s private spaces, even within her own home.  But she didn’t want to take any chances.

Thalia looked it up and found a few mentions of people moving objects in their sleep.  It was difficult to prove as no one yet knew what force linked a telekinetic mind to the things that it moved.

Mrs. Santi worked with Jim and her team of doctors and therapists.  It seemed that as her conscious mind became stronger and stronger, her subconscious was also doing so, only without the fine control and judgment of her conscious mind.  She found that if she slept with the Prism mask on, she was able to prevent moving objects about while she slept.  It was a slightly uncomfortable solution, but a reliable one.  And, she hoped, a temporary one.

Mrs. Santi worked hard and pushed herself to get her telekinesis under greater control.  The more she did, the less she needed the mask during sleep.

“The researchers say it’s a reflex,” Jim said one day.  “So you won’t be able to completely stop it from happening.  But on the bright side, it means that if someone tried to harm you while you were sleeping, you’d probably fling them across the room before you had a chance to wake up and say, ‘what are you doing in my house?’”

“That is not making me feel better, James.”

Three days later, at his own behest, she consciously lifted Jim off the ground.  He thought Thalia would laugh or throw a few “bravos” at her aunt.  Instead, she looked shocked as she ran toward him and insisted that her aunt put him down.

It was a strange feeling, somewhat like what it felt like when an elevator suddenly stopped.  Or like that trick he used to do with his friends when they were little, where they stood in a doorway and pressed their arms against the frame.  Jim remembered doing it, then dropping his arms to his sides, and watching amazed as they rose all by themselves.


“I can either focus on moving my legs, or focus on moving other things.”  Mrs. Santi gripped the arms of her chair.  “I still need this.”

She could use her telekinesis to simulate walking, but it wasn’t the same as actually walking.  It took too much focus.  Mrs. Santi preferred to just float things over to herself, or move her chair with her hands and arms.

They were working on some regular exercises when they heard a bang and crash outside.  The building seemed to wobble a bit, and then it stopped.  Jim and Mrs. Santi rushed out of the room to see what had happened.

Jim’s partner ran across the main floor, holding out his hands and apologizing to everyone.  Jim asked someone standing nearby what had happened.

A few barbells had gone flying across the room, hitting the opposite wall.  One of them had chipped and dented a brick.

“Her training needs to be accelerated,” Mrs. Santi said.  Jim looked down at her.  “That girl.  So she doesn’t hurt anyone.  On accident or on purpose.”

“We’d like to but we can’t,” Jim said.  “Not everyone is a model client like you.  She keeps missing every other appointment as it is.  We’re playing catch-up.”  The gym’s only other telekinetic client was also not doing her exercises with the same rigor and reliability that Mrs. Santi was doing hers.  “She’s a good kid.  She’s just having a hard time focusing.”

“All right, Jim, but I hope you figure something out.  Remember what happened a few weeks back when I had a hard time focusing?”


A week later, Jim and Mrs. Santi were just outside their room after a successful session, chatting about their families.  They heard a sudden scream, and the entire building began to quake.

The floor jerked under his feet.  Jim threw his arms out and crouched.  People were rushing past him toward the door.  Jim looked at Mrs. Santi, whose eyes were wide and frozen in a stare.  A nearby window cracked and then shattered.

Jim covered Mrs. Santi to shield her from the glass.  He heard the roof cracking above him.  He didn’t have time to grab her and run.  He could hardly remain standing.  He heard debris falling around him as the ground continued to jolt and buck.

Jim held on and he tensed the muscles of his back, as if they could stop whatever might fall on top of them.

When the shaking stopped, Jim realized that he had closed his eyes.

He opened them, and for a moment, just caught his breath.  He choked on dust and particles, and sucked in more when he gasped in a breath.  He tried to move slightly, astonished that he was able to feel all his limbs.  They were covered in debris, but it had fallen in such a way that it was supporting itself and not crushing him and Mrs. Santi.  But something might shift at any moment.  He felt Mrs. Santi in his arms, still sitting, frozen and shivering.  He was able to reach for the phone in his pocket.  He called for help.  And he stayed bent over Mrs. Santi, just in case.


Rescue workers were slowly and carefully shifting the debris to get them out safely.  When they finally did, Jim felt Mrs. Santi relax and go faint.  He straightened, feeling the ache in his back.  He lifted her out of her chair and handed her to the waiting firefighter.

By the time Jim was lifted out and given a blanket, Mrs. Santi was already seated in the back of an ambulance, conscious and alert, and sipping on a cup of water as a paramedic continued to check her vital signs.

Thalia was sitting next to her, but she glanced over at the rubble, as if she’d been doing that periodically.  She called for another paramedic to go tend to Jim.

Jim walked slowly toward them.

“He threw himself on top of me,” Mrs. Santi said, clutching at her niece’s hand.  “Why did he do that?  I could have moved out of the way.  Why did he risk it?”  Through tears, Thalia held her aunt close, and as she spoke words of comfort that Jim couldn’t hear, she looked at Jim.

Jim knew what gratitude looked like.  He had helped dozens of clients over the years get stronger, slimmer, and healthier.  He had seen what tears of gratitude looked like.  Thalia had some deeper look in her eyes.  Something that looked familiar.  Jim realized that it was the way she usually looked at her aunt.  He dropped his eyes and glanced over at the paramedic who was wrapping a blood pressure cuff around his arm.

Miraculously, both Jim and Mrs. Santi were all right.  There wasn’t a scratch on either of them, just dust and dirt.

Jim turned around and looked at the debris.  The roof had collapsed in an odd shape.  He wasn’t an engineer or an architect, but it looked like some kind of modern art piece the way the debris was angled and twined to hold itself together.  The rescuers were still recovering a few trapped people.  They worked quickly.  They got those people out in the next fifteen minutes.  Once they did, and once they cleared the area of their own people, the roof collapsed into a pile of disarrayed rubble, more like what Jim expected.

The girl, the other telekinetic, stood nearby, crying and begging the police to arrest her for what she had done.  Jim walked over to his partner, who was comforting her and explaining that it was an accident.  They were both outside when the collapse happened, and per their protocol, Jim’s partner had a list of everyone who’d entered the gym.  After the last few people were pulled out, everyone was accounted for.  No one was seriously injured.  And no one had died.  Jim couldn’t believe it.  The entire roof had collapsed.  There had been people dashing past him.  How had everyone avoided getting crushed by the falling pieces of the roof?

As his partner tried to convince the girl that everyone was okay, Jim glanced at Mrs. Santi.


Jim visited Mrs. Santi at home a few days later, having respected Thalia’s wishes to give her great-aunt some time for doctor visits and rest.

He asked her about the roof collapse and the real cause of her shivering.

“It wasn’t fear or panic, was it?”

Mrs. Santi shook her head.  “If I were in my right mind, I would have carried both of us out of there. Instead, I almost doomed us both.”

Just as Jim had thrown himself over her by instinct, she had thrown out her power by instinct, holding the roof as best she could until she couldn’t, and then letting the pieces fall as gently as she could, and in such a configuration that it would not crush whoever was left in the building.  And she did it.

She saved everyone.

“It felt different Jim.  I’ve been telling Lia.  It felt different from the controlled way I moved my legs, and different from moving an object I could see or imagine in my head.  I felt that rush of adrenaline and lost my senses.  I had no idea what I was doing.  What I’d done.”  She pulled a kerchief from her pocket and dabbed her temple.  “Isn’t that frightening?”

“Not to me,” Lia said, her tone heavier than it usually was.  “Whatever that instinct was, it saved both your lives.  I don’t care where it came from.”

“They didn’t take her away did they?  That poor girl?”  Mrs. Santi’s gaze implored Jim.  “We haven’t had a chance to check up on her.”

“No, but her folks think I’m the reason that she got out of control in the first place.  And they’re right.  If she never used the tech—“

“She might have manifested her abilities anyway,” Thalia said, “like so many people have done throughout history long before Prism was created.”

“Maybe, you really think so?”

“Even if the Prism awakened an ability that might have otherwise slept for all her life,” Thalia said, “you guys were trying to help her.  But it’s a two-way street.  She had to accept that help and meet you halfway.  Just like Auntie did.”

“In any case,” Mrs. Santi said.  “Maybe my niece and I can pay her family a visit, and convince them that we can help her, that I in particular, am uniquely suited to helping her.  We should have been learning together all along.”

“If that worked out,” Jim said, “that would be great.”

Mrs. Santi tapped her temple.  “There’s your superheroics, darling,” she said to Thalia.  “Helping to teach a young mind before I lose my own.”

Thalia sighed.  “You’re not going to lose your mind, Auntie.”

“We will all lose our minds someday,” Mrs. Santi said.  “But until we do…”

She furrowed her brow just a bit.  One of the bookcases against the north wall shifted slightly and rose a few inches into the air.  It glided toward them, one book tipping out but stopping and sliding back in as if caught by an invisible hand.  It settled between the main sofa and a lounge chair.

Mrs. Santi smiled.  “…let’s make good use of them.”


Copyright © 2018  Nila L. Patel

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