The walk back to my home wasn’t as awkward as I thought it was going to be after Aroura had told me she followed me. I couldn’t tell what it was about her, but she was genuinely apologetic for mistrusting me. I almost wanted to be upset with her, but I couldn’t. I looked into her eyes again and the confusion and anger melted away. I didn’t remember when exactly, but at some point on our walk, she even wrapped her fingers in mine. We walked hand in hand the whole way back to my place. It felt so normal, safe, and comforting that I almost didn’t notice it at all. It was as if she were an extension of myself rather than a separate being.
I unlocked the front door and let her inside when we arrived. She looked around the room as if she was astounded I could fit so many things into the place. I wondered that myself sometimes, so I giggled to myself seeing her reaction.
The front door opened into the living room which was small, but had a decent, used couch against the left wall, and a flat screen TV opposite it. To my right, a door was shut where my bedroom stood, and the back end of the house held the dining area and kitchen, which you could see from an opening in the wall that kept these rooms separate from the living room.
It was inconvenient, but the bathroom was off my bedroom, so if I ever had friends over they would have to go through my room to pee. It was weird, but I didn’t really have friends until I met Aroura so it was never really a problem. I was just grateful I could afford a small place all to myself, so I hadn’t thought about it being an issue until she walked in.
I understood why Aroura was surprised upon first entry. My dining room table was big enough for two people, but didn’t have plates or a center piece on it. Instead, my sewing machine had taken shop there. Quilts of all shapes and sizes were scattered across the living room, dining room, and the kitchen – as well as in the opening between rooms. Some of them were finished and some of them weren’t. One blanket was even hanging over my TV, which made it obvious I didn’t spend a lot of time watching it. All of them projects that I used to help pay the rent, as well as the few other bills I had. That was my day job, anyway. I wasn’t sure Aroura would find my night job appealing, so I kept it to myself at first.
“I guess we won’t be needing this anymore,” I mentioned, tossing the duffel bag in front of the unused television. I stepped carefully between quilts, making my way through the dining area to the kitchen. “Are you hungry? I don’t have much, but I never starve.”
She didn’t answer. I was a little worried she had snuck back out the front door. I thought I was jumpy, but she was on a whole new level. It made sense since she spent most of her life on the run, but I was hoping she would stay with me. At least for a while…
After a few moments, I made my way back to the living room, picking up a few blankets as I went. I folded them messily and placed them on the couch. Aroura was still looking around my place as if something was going to jump out of a corner at her. It definitely looked like she was about to bolt.
“It’s safe here,” I reassured her. “I promise. I’m not going to let anything happen to you.”
“It’s not that,” she breathed, barely loud enough for me to hear her. “It’s been a long time since I’ve stayed in one place for this long and it’s making me a little nervous.”
I took a few steps closer to her so I was standing a foot away. She didn’t seem to notice how close I had gotten; her gaze was focused on the TV. I took her face gently between my palms so she would look me in the eyes. I poured as much of my heart into my eyes as I could as I spoke to her.
“Nothing is going to harm you. I’m here now. I’m going to protect you.”
I could see in her eyes that she didn’t quite believe me yet, but she relaxed under my touch. She let out a slow breath trying to release more of the tension that had been building inside of her. Her stare didn’t falter. We locked focus on each other and stood there hypnotized by each other. I couldn’t tell you how long we remained there. All I knew, was by the time we separated, it was passed midday. I dropped my hands, cleared my throat, and bit my bottom lip before breaking the silence between us.
“Okay, I’ll go make us some lunch, while you scout a perimeter. How does that sound? I would trade you jobs, but I’ve never done that before.”
I giggled on the end to lighten the mood. I didn’t have feelings for anyone before and it felt strange having such a strong connection to a woman. It didn’t feel wrong, just something I needed and wanted to get used to.
She nodded, not sure what to say. She turned towards the door and I caught her by the elbow before she left the house.
“Promise you’re not going to run away on me?” I shot at her. I practically begged her to stay, worried I would never see here again if she decided to run. She didn’t look at me when she responded, just looked down at the bottom half of the door.
I let my hand fall to my side and she slipped outside. To my delight, she left the front door open so the creaky screen door was the only thing keeping the bugs outside. That was proof enough for me that she planned on coming back inside, so I turned back to the kitchen and practically skipped there.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I didn’t have much. I scavenged my cupboards and came up with a box of stuffing, box of rice, a bag of sour cream and union chips, macaroni and cheese, half gallon of milk, butter, mayo, half a loaf of bread, and several slices of cheese. I guess grilled cheese would have to do.
I took out the ingredients, setting them out on the counter. Within 10 minutes we each had two grilled cheeses to eat. I was putting chips on each of our plates when I heard the front door shut and lock behind someone.
“Is that you, Aroura?” I called. I had no idea who else it could have been, but knowing Clairvoyants like us were being hunted by Tracers…well, I was quickly learning that you could never be too careful.
“Just me,” she returned.
My tiny house never felt like home before. It had always felt a bit empty, even with the quilts to keep me company. Her with me at that moment – I felt at home. Like the two of us in this place together was where we were meant to be. I had a feeling that it didn’t matter where we were, as long as we together we could do anything.
I took a deep breath before picking up the plates and bringing them into the living room for us to enjoy. Aroura had taken a spot on the couch closest to the door. She hadn’t bothered to move any of the quilts before sitting down, and it surprised me that I didn’t mind. I placed the food on the coffee table in front of her, hoping she would like it.
“Did you find anything?” I questioned. “We weren’t followed, were we?”
“No,” she said calmly. “We’re safe for now.”
“I know it’s not much,” I began, motioning to the sandwiches. “But grilled cheese is the best I can do right now.”
“Do you have mayo?” She seemed a little apprehensive asking the question.
“Uh, yeah,” I stated, turning back to the kitchen. I returned with the mayo and a knife as requested, and watched her slather it onto her grilled cheese. “Does that really taste good?”
I scrunched the bridge of my nose, as if that would somehow make the idea more appetizing.
“Of course,” she responded, incredulously. “I wouldn’t have asked for it if I didn’t think it was good!”
“Duh,” I chastised myself. “I suppose that would be logical.” I giggled to hide my embarrassment.
“No big deal,” she shrugged. “I get a lot of stares whenever I bring out my grilled cheese and mayo. How did you know these kind of chips were my favorite?”
“Oh, I didn’t,” I admitted, blushing slightly. “They’re my favorite, too. It’s the only kind I ever buy.”
She smiled at me with a newfound admiration that sparkled in her eyes. She attacked the sandwiches as if she hadn’t eaten in days, even though we had pizza yesterday. I found it extremely endearing. I imagined she didn’t get very many meals like this on the run so she was trying to enjoy it while it lasted. Especially since she wasn’t sure when she would be back on the streets hiding from Tracers.
“Can you teach me?” I inquired, picking up my second sandwich. Aroura was finishing up the chips on her plate.
“Teach you what?” she asked, confused.
“You know,” I hinted. “How to use the powers we Clairvoyants have. It’s still strange saying I am one and have gifts.”
“I guess,” she shrugged, rubbing her hands on her jeans absentmindedly. “I’ve never really taught anyone to use their powers before, but I think I can handle it. Part of it will be figuring out what you’re able to do and where your limits are.”
“That sounds ominous…” I stared at my hands, a little worried. I picked at my cuticles, hoping she wouldn’t notice my nervous habit.
“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” she reassured me. “We just need to figure out what you can do before we start training your powers.”
“Yeah, I guess that makes sense.”
“Okay, remember we have the six different Clairvoyant abilities,” she started. “Empathy, Telepathy, Voodoo, Persuasion, Elemental Manipulation, and Communion. Where would you like to start first?”
“No pressure, right?” I giggled, nervously. My cuticles were starting to hurt from pushing them back so far. They weren’t going anywhere and yet I kept picking at them.
“Not at all,” she reassured, sweetly.
She took my hands in hers to stop me from destroying my nails. Her hands were surprisingly soft against my fingertips. I had no idea what I expected, but knowing she had been running her whole life had me imagining rough palms and fingers. She ran her finger pads against the top of my hand, tracing the veins before turning my hands over and tracing the lines in my palm. Her subtle touch relaxed a lot of the nervous energy inside me.
“This is all a part of you,” she continued. Her breathing had slowed and deepened as if meditating as she etched designs into my hand. “If you weren’t protected in some way, you would have been confronted long ago by the Tracers.”
“Yeah I suppose,” I muttered.
My breathing was starting to match hers. Feeling a little vulnerable, I gently removed my hands from hers and placed them in my lap as nonchalantly as I could hoping to everything that was holy she wasn’t offended.
“How about we start the training tomorrow?” I suggested. “That way we can use tonight to lay back and enjoy the calm. You’ve been running for a long time now, I bet some time to chill would be amazing. Maybe help you feel like a normal teenager rather than on the run?”
“Yeah,” she nodded. I peeked up from my lap to find her smiling. “That sounds like a great idea.”
“Wonderful!” I cheered. “What would you like to do?”
She looked around the room as if trying to find a hint of what normal people did when they didn’t spend their time running from Tracers. After several minutes passed without knowing what to say, she admitted her uncertainty.
“I’m not sure, to be honest,” she conceded. “I’ve never really been able to stay anywhere long enough to know what normal people do.”
I frowned. I couldn’t even imagine what that was like. To take some of the pressure off her shoulders, I made a suggestion.
“Okay, no problem,” I reassured, doing my best to think on my feet.
I jumped up and rushed to the left of my TV where a small CD case was filled with movies. I unzipped it and flipped through the choices. I didn’t know what kind of movies she liked, but something was better than nothing. I pulled out The Phantom of the Opera and placed it carefully into the small DVD player I had next to the TV before turning back to Aroura.
“How about a movie?” I suggested. “We can sit and watch it while I work on one of my quilts. How does that sound?”
“Sounds perfect,” she grinned. She seemed relieved I had taken the initiative and made a decision so she didn’t have to show how little she knew about being a teenager.
I turned the television on, and the DVD menu was already playing. I pushed ‘play’ on the DVD player and the movie started. From the moment the first note played, she was hooked. She was going to introduce me to the world of Clairvoyants, but I had the pleasure of introducing her to the world of musical theater. I expected her to watch me as I used the sewing machine at the small dining room table to create different square patterns, but her gaze never shifted from the TV screen.
By the time the movie had finished, I had almost completed another quilt. Aroura seemed so sad the movie was ending that she asked me to start it again. I laughed, happy to acquiesce to her request. I loved this movie and was thrilled I had someone to share it with. We watched it twice more before she was satisfied. I had finished the quilt project I had started on the first showing, and another half of one by that time. She was so excited to be able to watch movies again that when the end credits were rolling on the last play through of The Phantom of the Opera, she got up from the couch and started searching through my collection for something else to watch.
“Finding anything interesting?” I called from the dining room. I was running a square through the sewing machine when she had gotten up. I wanted to finish it before getting up and taking a break.
“Tons,” she breathed. “So many, I’m not sure which one I want to watch first!”
“Well don’t worry,” I chuckled. “We’ll have plenty of time to watch them all.”
She seemed to believe that she might be able to stick around here for longer than a day or two. I could feel the hope reach into her heart and flow through her body making her smile and bite her lower lip. I couldn’t see her from where I sat, but I could feel it so strongly from her that I could practically visualize it happening. Was this part of my powers, or was it the strange connection we seemed to share? I wanted to know more. The longer we spent together, the more I wanted her around. It wasn’t a dependency, though. It was more like the strange connection we shared tied us together and gave me life.
I finished the square I was working on and made my way to Aroura, who was still sitting on the floor looking through my movies.
“Do you know what kind of movie you want to watch?” I asked, genuinely curious.
“Not really,” she mumbled, focused on the different choices. I imagined most of them she hadn’t seen before or heard of.
“Mind if I make a suggestion?”
“Yes, please!” She sounded relieved. She handed me the container of movies and I flipped through them.
“Do you want another musical movie, or no?” I inquired.
“Musical!” She cheered. A deep blush covered my cheeks thinking about how cute she looked. I let my hair fall into my face to hide. I wasn’t ready to come to grips with my feelings just yet.
I flipped a couple more pages and took out another DVD. I crawled around Aroura and exchanged the Phantom of the Opera for Chicago. She got up from the floor and took her place back on the couch. I stepped away from the TV and made my way towards her.
“Hungry?” I offered.
“Hmm?” She was so engrossed in the beginning credits that she had to tear her eyes away from the screen to look at me.
“Do you want some dinner?” I laughed. “We spent a lot of time watching Phantom of the Opera three times so I’m getting a bit peckish.”
“Sure! I could eat.”
“What do you want? I don’t have anything else here to make, unless you want more grilled cheese and mayo.”
“I wouldn’t mind that,” she giggled.
“How about we do something else?” I suggested. “I’m kind of in the mood for some Chinese food, what about you?”
“I’m not sure it’s safe for us to go out right now,” she hinted. Her mood shifted a little from ecstatic to suspicious.
“We don’t have to leave,” I reassured. I sat on the couch next to her and placed my hand on her shoulder. “There are a few good places that deliver!”
“Oh!” She brightened back up. “In that case, I’ll have some Shanghai noodles!” She was practically bouncing in her seat as she clapped softly.
“I’m on it,” I giggled.
An hour later, we were dining on shanghai noodles, white rice, and beef with broccoli while Chicago continued to play. In all honesty, the evening was rather boring. Well, it would have been to most people. I loved spending this time with Aroura. I wanted to hear more about everything she had been through, but I didn’t want to disappoint her by taking her attention away from the movie, either.
She started the movie over a second time and I went back to quilting. Selling them was a good way to make money, but it took a lot of time making them. I was almost finished with another quilt when the end credits for Chicago were rolling for the second time. I looked over at Aroura to find her head drooping slightly. It seemed like she was exhausted from not sleeping the night before, but desperately wanted to keep watching movies.
“Wow, I’m tired,” I yawned. I was, but not nearly as sleepy as Aroura looked. I stretched out my limbs as if they had become stiff from quilting. “I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to go to bed.”
“I don’t know,” she mumbled, rubbing her eyes.
“Come on,” I insisted. I got up from the dining room table and walked over to her so I was standing just to her left as I spoke. “I’m hoping you’ll be around for a while. I promise I’ll do everything in my power to make sure you experience everything you’ve missed.”
“Oh, alright,” she conceded. “But first I’ll repay you for this amazing day by helping you with your powers. Then, we watch more movies!”
“Okay addict,” I laughed. I bent down and grabbed her hand, dragging her to my bedroom for sleep. “That requires sleeping first!”