My reaction probably seemed extreme to Talya and my friends. Quite honestly, it seemed extreme to myself. But it was just so much information to process in so short a time; I hadn’t yet been able to sort through the contradictory thoughts and emotions that having such an ability inspired. I owed them all quite an apology – after I had taken the time to sort myself out.
If it were true, if this was some kind of psychic thing I had managed to acquire… The implications were even more mind-boggling that any one of us had started to realise. On the one hand, I basically would become the last chance at justice for many of these people; if I failed them, if I didn’t manage to see the correct detail, if I lost this ability, they would never see their killer brought to justice. The thought of finally being able to do more than the usual to make my community better – volunteer as hospices, mentor troubled teens, contribute to charities – was so empowering. I almost felt like calling up a fashion designer to draw me some superhero outfits. The thought of me ambulating asleep through the streets in the middle of the night in tights and a cape made me smile.
Two kids passed me on their bikes, laughing and exchanging banter. The boy reminded me of Shona, my little princess, and I sighed. On the other hand, what would be the consequences of my having this ability on my family? Even now, that pile of paper on my dining room table was damning evidence for 30 people; out of 95 dreams I had had up to now, that was the number of crimes that had yet to be solved. What if only one of these criminals were to find out what I was capable of, what I had already done? They had already killed once, who knew if they would stop there?
The police would probably be able to protect me. And, if the information I could see were to be used, I had to go to them. But even that would be a potential problem. As Talya had already pointed out, there was a big chance I would be considered the prime suspect. What if, by some fluke, they would some sort of evidence linking me to one of these crimes? What if I didn’t have an excellent alibi? What effect would it have on Patrick, to see his Dad go to jail? Or, even worse, what effect would it have on Patrick to see his Dad go to jail for something he didn’t do?
“Dad!” Patrick shouted, breaking into a run.
I grinned as he slammed into me. I couldn’t lift him anymore; I missed it. “Hey big boy,” I said, ruffling his hair. “Surprise!” I waved at his friend’s mother, to whom we had asked to pick Patrick up. “Thank you!”
She waved back and I was able to focus my entire attention on Patrick. “How are you buddy?” I asked, taking his lunch box.
“I’m good!” he said, tucking his hand in mine. “How come you’re here? Mrs. Akhavan was supposed to drop me off. What happened?”
“Well Reena, Connor and David are home, and we were working on a project together with your Mom, and I got a little overwhelmed by it so I decided to take a walk.”
“Yay!” he shouted, skipping on the next couple of steps. “Dad?”
I chuckled. “It’s overwhelmed.”
He tried a couple of times until he kind of could pronounce it. “What does it mean?”
“You know when you have so many things to do that you can’t think straight? And then you end up doing nothing?”
“That’s being overwhelmed.”
He thought for a few moments. “I don’t understand how you can get overnelmed.” I guess it was better than overnemd…
“How come, son?”
“Because you just have to do one thing, and then another, and the another, until you have finished it all up and then that’s it, you’re done. That’s what Miss Batchelor” his teacher “always tells us when we complain that we have too much homework.”
“That’s some really good advice,” I said, smiling down at Patrick.
In yet another demonstration of my sub-par parenting skills, I tuned Patrick’s subsequent rambling out as I focused on what he had said. The child truly had some wise advice to give me nowadays. He was right; I was over thinking everything, and it wasn’t helping me deal with anything. Quite the contrary, it was keeping me from finding a solution or, at the very least, to figure out what the next step should be.
I sent Patrick up to his room as soon as we arrived home and walked into the dining room, feeling a little apprehensive.
“Where the heck did everyone go?” I said.
The room was empty, save for the four places that had been set (by the haphazardly placed cutlery, I knew Shona had helped). Talya came into the dining room, wiping her hands on a kitchen cloth.
I nodded. “Listen, about my outburst earlier… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped at any of you.”
“Pretty good,” she said. “Keep going.”
I smiled. I recognised the tone; I was off the hook. “However hard it is on me, it also has been hard on you, and you have done nothing but help me.”
“You’re Wonder Woman.”
“And you don’t deserve me,” she said with a wink. “Don’t worry, I won’t make you sleep on the couch tonight.”
I followed her back in the kitchen to help with the last minute details. “Where did everyone go?” I asked again.
“Back home. We figured you had had enough for one day. They will be back on Saturday afternoon.”
“But the kids… Do we want to do it when they are in the house? I don’t want them to accidentally hear about what we are doing. Patrick is worried enough as it is.”
“We’ll send them off to someone’s house for a play date. I’ve done enough of them that I can pull a few strings and call in a favour. Or two, if needed.”