(This piece is a continuation of the universe established in this piece about Zoey and Allison’s first encounter. Check out the first piece if you have not read it.)
Prompt: You sit on a bus, thinking to yourself ‘Wouldn’t it be amazing to hear people’s thoughts?’. A voice replies, ‘It is’
Zoey sat in a bus seat, looking out the window at the pedestrians walking by. Her earbuds blasted music in her ear loud enough for the old woman in the next seat to hear. The music helped drown out the buzzing of people’s thoughts. Zoey had been given this gift or ability or whatever when she was born. It wasn’t something she shared with people. No one knew about this. She feared she’d be shipped off to some government lab or Area 51, so it was a secret she kept to herself. She didn’t really understand her ability but for the most part she had control over it.
When Zoey was little, the thoughts in her head was so loud it was like a crowd of people were screaming at her constantly. However, little by little she had learned ways to control it and little tricks that kept other people’s thoughts at bay. Music was one of them. Zoey didn’t like snooping in other people’s thoughts. She tried her best to give people their privacy, because she liked her own. However there were moments when people’s thoughts crept into her head and she couldn’t drown them out.
Right now she could tell that the elderly woman beside her was having a Facebook rant in her mind about millennials and their loud music and their lack of respect. However, Zoey knew this because she saw the ugly faces the woman was making at her, not because she was reading the woman’s mind. Generally she could sense a cloud of boredom, stress, and exhaustion coming from the people on the bus going home from their jobs.
This ability to sense people’s emotions was a new ‘add-on’ to her abilities. About 6 months ago, she had been at a bar where she ran into a girl named Allison. She had gotten this girl out of the bar and away from her abusive boyfriend. For some reason, Allison’s thoughts seemed pierce Zoey’s safety measures and Zoey could her Allison’s thoughts as well as feel her emotions. At first it was so overpowering, that Zoey ended up feeling the same things as Allison. Allison was crying, so Zoey ended up crying. It was strange. Now Zoey had been able to dull that ability. She could sense people’s emotions, but she was able to keep her emotions separate from everyone else’s emotions.
The woman tapped Zoey on her shoulder.
“Excuse me, Miss. Can you turn down your music?” The woman asked Zoey in that, fake, sweet, old lady voice.
“Yeah sure,” Zoey said.
Zoey put the earbud back in her ear and turned it down on her phone.
Zoey imagined opening up her mind like a door and other people’s thoughts flooded into her head. Zoey heard the back end of the rant in the woman’s head followed by a bunch of dirty slurs.
What a nice lady. Zoey thought.
Zoey began closing the door in her mind, but before she could, she heard a thought louder than everyone else’s.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to her people’s thoughts.
Yeah it is. You get to hear rants from old, racist ladies.
A young woman popped her head up from her book and began looking around the bus.
Who just said that?
Zoey quickly realized what just happened. She had somehow sent her thought to this person. That woman just heard Zoey’s thought.
Zoey ducked down in her chair and tried not to look at the woman at the front of the bus.
Did someone just. No. Maybe I’m just crazy. I must be hearing things.
The woman leaned over to the man next to her and asked him a question. He seemed to shake his head and then she frowned. The woman continued to look around and Zoey quickly averted her gaze.
Shut it. Shut it. Shut it.
Zoey imagined herself slamming the door in her mind. She was now breathing hard and the woman next to Zoey gave her a strange glance.
“Excuse me,” Zoey stood up and shuffled past the woman and made her way towards the doors of the bus. Once the bus stopped, Zoey rushed past the people on the bus, including the young woman, and quickly left the bus.
I’m so stupid. Why did I do that? I’m going to get caught.
Zoey looked around at the people waiting at the bus station. A few people got on and off the bus while others were waiting for another bus. None of them really paid Zoey any attention so she thought she was safe.
Crisis averted I guess.
“Ummm… excuse me.”
Zoey turned and was face to face with the young woman from the bus.
“Oh. Um. Hello,” Zoey said.
“Hi,” The woman said giving Zoey a nervous look. “You dropped your wallet on the bus, so I thought I’d try to stop you.”
Zoey looked down to see that the young woman holding the wallet.
“Oh. Thanks. You didn’t have to do that,” Zoey said grabbing the wallet and shoving it into her bag.
“Wasn’t a problem, this was my stop anyway,” The woman said with a smile.
“Right. Well thanks again,” Zoey said and she began to walk away.
The young woman chased after. “Excuse me! One last thing.”
Zoey turned back and the woman stopped next to her.
“Do I know you from somewhere? You just look so familiar,” The woman said.
“I…I don’t think so,” Zoey said.
Then it seemed to click for both of them.
“Your name is Zoey right, we met at Firewater about 6 or 7 months ago,” Allison said.
“You’re Allison, right?” Zoey asked.
“Yeah that’s me,” Allison said with a smile.
“Wow, such a weird coincidence,” Zoey said visibly nervous.
“Yeah I guess it is,” Allison said. “Well sorry to bother you, Zoey, something in my brain just kept nagging me. I felt like you were familiar, you know?”
“Yeah. I sometimes feel like that to,” Zoey said.
Oh God. Get out of here. This girl messes you up.
“I know this is going to sound super strange, but are you busy right now?” Allison asked. “You wouldn’t want to go grab a coffee or something, would you?”
“Ummm…sure. Yeah I can do that,” Zoey said.
“Ok great, I know the perfect place around here,” Allison said.
Zoey and Allison walked a few blocks to a small café that was nestled between a bookstore and a pharmacy.
“This is nice,” Zoey said.
“Yeah I’ve been here a few times,” Allison said taking in the atmosphere.
“Any times with Zach?” Zoey asked.
Stupid. Why did you bring him up?
“Oh. No. He never took me to places like this,” Allison said looking down at her coffee.
“I didn’t mean to offend you,” Zoey said.
“It’s fine. It’s just that that is over,” Allison sighed.
“Well I didn’t like him anyway,” Zoey said.
Allison looked up at Zoey.
“You’re one of those people who can, like, read people, right?” Allison asked.
Zoey almost choked on her coffee.
“What do you mean?” Zoey asked.
“I mean like you seem to be a good judge of character. Almost like you can read people’s thoughts,” Allison said.
“Oh. Well…ummm… I guess,” Zoey said. “I just pick up on stuff easily.”
“I envy you. I wish I could read people’s minds,” Allison said. “I’m usually the last to pick up on stuff. People say I’m naïve, but I honestly just want to believe the best from people.”
Allison’s thoughts and feeling buzzed around Zoey. Her mind was full of whispers and thoughts of sadness and betrayal and hurt. Glimpses of a bedroom filled Zoey’s mind. Flashes of Zach. In bed. Naked. With some other girl.
Zoey shook her head but the images remained. She grabbed the side of her head.
“Hey, you ok?” Allison asked.
“Yeah, I just need to go the restroom, real quick,” Zoey said.
Zoey stood up and her legs were shaky, but she managed to get to the restroom.
She stood at the sink and splashed water on her face. The door in her mind was closed tight but she still felt the concern and confusion radiate from Allison. Zoey splashed water on her face and looked at herself in the mirror. The images of Zach’s cheating faded from Zoey’s mind.
“What is going on?” Zoey asked out loud. “This girl is doing strange stuff to me.”
Zoey felt Allison’s presence grow stronger.
There was a knock on the restroom door and Allison popped her head in.
“Hey, are you alright?” Allison asked.
“Yeah I’m fine now. Just a migraine, I think,” Zoey tried to smile through the pain.
“Oh, ok. I’m going to head back to our table,” Allison said.
“I’ll be right behind you,” Zoey said.
Allison disappeared from the doorway and Zoey wiped the water off her face with a paper towel. Worry spread over her, but Zoey wasn’t sure if she was feeling Allison’s emotions or her own. Both seemed to be blending together.
Eventually Zoey came out of the bathroom and back to the table where Allison was sitting.
“No offense, but it looks like you’re coming down a cold or something,” Allison said. “You don’t look too good.”
“None taken,” Zoey said. “But you’re probably right. I need to head home.”
“Ok. Yeah thanks for whatever this was,” Allison said with a smile.
“Yeah, just two strangers meeting for the second time,” Zoey gave a small grin.
“Maybe a budding friendship,” Allison shrugged.
“Sure,” Zoey said with a nod. “So how much do I owe you?”
“Oh you don’t owe a thing! I owed you one for 6 months ago,” Allison said. “Here.”
Allison handed Zoey a napkin.
“Sorry, I didn’t have anything else readily available,” Allison said.
“What is it?” Zoey asked.
“My phone number,” Allison said. “I thought maybe we could hang out sometime. You know, as friends. See a movie or something.”
“Ummmm…” Zoey was speechless.
“If you don’t want to, it’s cool. I know that we don’t really know each other, but there’s just something about you. I can’t place it, but I think I could use another female friend,” Allison said with a nervous smile.
“Yeah me too,” Zoey said. “I’ll text you and we’ll meet up sometime.”
“Ok sounds good. Hopefully you feel better,” Allison said.
“Yeah I should bounce back,” Zoey said.
Zoey gave a small wave and then left the coffee shop. She ducked around the corner into an alleyway. She put one hand against the wall and vomited up her coffee. The nervousness mixed with the pain must have gotten to her. She leaned there and emptied her stomach until she didn’t think she had any more stomach contents to give. She wiped her mouth and then steadied herself next to the wall.
Not too many people were walking by at the time and the people who did walk by, didn’t seem to pay any attention to Zoey. Day drunk in a college town is nothing new to the locals walking by.
Zoey took a few deep breaths and she tried to compose herself. She didn’t know what it was about this girl, but for some reason, being around Allison made Zoey feel things more. Every emotion seemed to be deeper and fuller.
Of course Zoey had a crush on Allison, but she had crushes before. This was different. And all the stuff with her mind reading. It was almost like Allison knew but didn’t know.
“You’re one of those people who can, like, read people, right?”
“I mean like you seem to be a good judge of character. Almost like you can read people’s thoughts.”
Allison’s words echoed in Zoey’s head.
Did Allison know? That would be impossible right. Of course I did send her a telepathic message earlier today by accident. It was almost like Allison’s presence leads to me unlocking more of my abilities.
Zoey tried to shake it off. She wiped the sides of her mouth and made it back out onto the sidewalk. It was about a 10 minute walk home from the café. Zoey opened up the door to her apartment and laid down on her couch. She kicked off her shoes and held the napkin up.
Zoey read the numbers over and over again, memorizing their sequence. Of course she could have gotten Allison’s number anytime she wanted, but this was legitimate.
Remember. She said ‘Just as friends.’
Zoey was used to having people who were just her friends. Many girls befriended Zoey before they know she was a lesbian, and it didn’t usually bother them. It was 2017 after all. Somehow Zoey knew that this was different though. Maybe Allison was right about something. There was a longing feeling that Zoey and Allison were somehow connected. Maybe it was just a sense of hope or maybe the universe was telling her something.