Authors: Laura Langston
Tags: #JUV000000, #book
She had to be kidding.
“It's true,” she insisted.
M.C. had been watching
too much. Either that or the gout medicine was getting to her. “That only happens on tv, M.C. This is real life.”
“Of course, it's real life.” She thrust the thermos lid at Kitty, who slurped so loudly I was sure the nurse would hear it and think I was having a seizure. “It's a real miracle, is what it is. Miracles happen, ya know. And not just on the Miracle Network either.”
I snorted. “Yeah, they happen in comic books too.”
M.C. opened her mouth to speak, but the
of a nurse's shoes out in the hall stopped her. She grabbed Kitty and stuffed her under the poncho. “Listen to me, young lady. You're a healer now. It's nothing to joke about. Hear me?”
“Visiting hours are over,” a smiling nurse said from the doorway.
“I was just leaving.” M.C. picked up the thermos lid and the last of the soup. She leaned close and whispered in my ear. “You've been given a gift, Hannah. Use it wisely.” M.C. was wrong. She was messed up. A total whack job. She'd named her dog Kitty. Anybody who did that couldn't be trusted.
So why was there a part of me that wondered?
I was back in school on Tuesday. Not that I had to go. Mom suggested I rest for another day. I think she wanted to get me in to see Dr. Fernandez.
I didn't want to see Dr. Bad Teeth, and resting wasn't easy. Not after M.C.'s announcement that I was a healer like Jesus Christ himself. Next she'd be telling me I could turn water into wine and asking for samples.
Foods was first block. When I got to class, Ms. Drummond was frantically throwing ingredients into all the cooking stations.
I slid onto the stool beside Marie. “What's going on? I thought we were figuring out the menus for our theme dinners today.”
“There's been a change in plans,” Marie said.
Drummond was always changing things. Which might work in my favor, since I was determined to get her to switch me out of Tom's group.
Marie stopped doodling on her wrist and gave me the once-over. “You look like crap.”
“Tell me something I don't know.” I hadn't slept well, thinking about M.C.'s comment and worrying about Logan's missing medallion. And when I finally dozed off, a dream of Logan woke me. He wanted me to do something, and I couldn't figure out what. I was tired. Even extra makeup couldn't hide the bags under my eyes.
“I can't believe you landed in the hospital because of a bee sting.” Marie stared at me. “What really happened?”
For a second, I almost told her. But after Logan died and I started questioning God, Marie decided my soul needed saving, and she kept hounding me to see her parish priest. If I told her I felt a presence
Logan, she'd have the guy calling
Not that I was passing judgment. But still. My dad was a lapsed Catholic who had no time for religion, and my mother believed everybodyâChristians, Buddhists, even our neighbor who worshipped some star in the next galaxy and believed silver ufos would take us all there when the world ended.
No wonder I had commitment issues.
I mumbled something about allergies and overprotective parents.
Ms. Drummond clapped her hands. “Listen up!” When the talking faded, she continued. “Today you'll break into your dinner groups and I'll walk you through a simple recipe for a shake.”
Marie leaned close. “Kristen, Lexi and I made an amazing shake with Coffee Crisp ice cream, chocolate powder and a whole lot of vodka Saturday night. Kind of like a Frappuccino, only better. You should have been there.”
No thanks. I felt lonely with my friends, especially when everybody was having fun. They always made it a Really Big Deal when I didn't drink. I hated being singled out. Besides, how could I party with Logan lying in the ground?
“I want to see you work together before we finalize the groups,” Drummond said. “After that, we'll get you started developing menus.”
This sounded good. Tom and I did not work well together. Even a blind toad could see that.
“The usual rules apply,” Ms. Drummond added. “Clean hands, aprons, long hair tied back. The ingredients are in your stations. Look them over and get ready for my demonstration.”
I slid from the stool and headed for the back of the room. Marie fell into step beside me. “A bunch of us are grabbing pizza at lunch,” she said. “Why don't you come?”
She frowned. Marie knew “maybe” meant “no.”
When I walked into the only cooking station large enough to take a wheelchair, Tom peered at me over his sunglasses. Logan would never wear sunglasses again. I bit down hard on my lip. Because Tom had goaded him into that car.
“Hey, Hannah Banana,” Tom said.
Beside him, Alan Kim laughed and fiddled with one of the chef's knives.
“Don't call me that.” Never mind that Tom had coined the phrase first. It belonged to Logan.
“Lighten up,” Marie murmured.
Ignoring them both, I checked the counter to see what we had. There was vanilla yogurt, milk, juice and a selection of fruits: bananas, blackberries, pears. “Looks like your basic fruit shake,” I said.
Tom grinned. “I've got a way to make that special.” He flipped open his jean jacket. I saw a small bottle of Malibu rum. Marie snickered.
Alan whistled. “Nice work, Shields.” He picked up a second knife, juggled the two of them clumsily.
“Don't even think about it,” I said.
“You never used to be such a priss,” Tom challenged. “Not way back when.”
I felt the flush creep into my cheeks. A long time ago (before I developed a brain), I'd dated Tom Shields (gag me). In fact, he'd introduced me to Logan. He hadn't been so bad back then. A little bit out there, but mostly okay. We'd gotten along.
Not now. Every time I looked at Tom, the pain of Logan's death hit me again. Tom had gotten off with a sore leg. Muscle damage, he said. I wasn't so sure. Half the time he was in his wheelchair, half the time he was on crutches. I figured he used both for effect.
“Still playing with balls?” he teased.
Alan almost dropped a knife. I didn't bother replying. Tennis was my thing; I'd come close to making the USTA junior team last summer.
“I hear doubles is the way to go.” Tom's eyebrows danced up and down his forehead.
Alan hooted. The knives clattered to the floor. “Shit, Shields, now look.” One of the knives had hit his thumb on the way down. “Shit, shit, double shit.”
Drummond was talking to a group at the back. But she was going to notice any minute. Especially with the blood dripping onto Alan's jeans.
Alan grabbed a towel, wrapped it around his thumb. Within minutes, the blood seeped through.
“You might need stitches,” I said. “We have to tell Drummond.”
“No.” He was whiter than the milk on the counter. I wondered if he'd severed an artery. Did thumbs have arteries? “You know what a tight-ass Drummond is about knives. I'll be kicked out of class and my dad will string me up.” Alan jerked his head to the towel. Blood was dripping to the floor. “Do something!”
I grabbed a clean towel from the counter and removed the soiled one. My breakfast waffle flipped in my stomach. Talk about ugly. The tip of Alan's thumb was hanging by a string of skin.
I slapped the clean towel on before anyone could see. “Get Drummond!” I squeezed Alan's thumb, applied as much pressure as I dared. “He needs a doctor.”
Then I felt it. The same buildup I'd felt after the bee sting. Only this time it happened quickly, like a movie on fast forward. And this time I didn't pass out.
The voices of my classmates faded; the color of the fruits on the counter blurred. Suddenly the presence was there. Making me bigger, fuller, softer.
And warm. Especially on the palms of my hands.
The moment became an hour, and the hour turned into a day. Time hummed, stretching up and out, wrapping itself around me, around Alan's thumb. I felt grand yet small. Love-filled. Perfect. I knew Alan was perfect too.
I heard Drummond's voice off in the distance. “What's going on?”
Tom said something about the knife slipping. Marie added that the gash was ugly and deep. As soon as they spoke, the hum started to fade. The
tugged at me.
“Let's see.” Drummond reached for the towel.
The instant she touched us, it all stopped. Time snapped into its small self, like an elastic returning to size. The presence left. So did the hum.
As Drummond unwrapped the cloth, I knew exactly what she would find. A cut, for sure, but no stringy bits, no hanging thumb. I started to shiver.
“You must have thick blood,” Ms. Drummond said, staring at the gash. “The bleeding's already stopped. But we still need to get it looked at.”
After Drummond took him away, Marie and I wiped the counters. Or Marie did. Suddenly I was so tired I could hardly stand. “That was
” she said.
“It wasn't that bad.” I didn't want to think about what it meant if it was that bad.
Tom wheeled over with more paper towels. “Are you frickin' blind?” He stared at me so intently I wanted to squirm. “That was a slice and dice. Alan's thumb was practically off. And then it wasn't. It was totally weird.”
Weird was right. Even weirder was the fact that my palms were still hot.
I didn't want to think about what that meant.
Alan's slice and dice totally freaked me out. Something had happened in that foods room. I'd felt it. Did that mean I was a healer like M.C. said? No way. I was as normal as a slice of cheddar and just as boring.
Then why was al l this stuff happening?
News of Alan's accident spread quickly. By the time I got through English, I had five text messages from people wanting details, including a note from Marie reminding me about lunch.
That was so not on my “to do” list. I didn't want to hear any more about Alan, and I was too tired to talk. Thinking fresh air might perk me up, I switched off my phone and headed for Bartell's. I wanted to look for Logan's St. Christopher. Maybe even talk to Bentley about bee stings.
The sky was overcast. The air was still but warm. The walk cleared my head, calmed me down. By the time I turned the corner and came face-to-face with the spot where I'd been stung, I was feeling better. I knew there had to be a logical explanation for everything.
And I knew Logan's medallion was somewhere in the grass too.
The scent of flowers was heady. A lone bee buzzed through the bright pink blooms. I tensed and stepped back. When it finally moved on, I dropped down and searched the ground. I even gave the flowers a quick shake, thinking maybe the medallion was stuck between some stems. It wasn't.
Disappointed, I headed across the parking lot, my gaze settling on the spot where
had happened. Where I'd left my body and talked to Logan.
There was an
parked there. I stood beside it for a minute, wanting to understand. Hoping Logan or the presence would come back so I could ask some questions. Nothing.
Inside the drugstore, Lila was beside the cash register, filing her nails. “Anybody turn in Logan's St. Christopher medallion?” Mom had put up a missing sign, but it didn't hurt to ask.
“Not that I know of, but Bentley would know for sure.” She stopped mid-file and squinted at me. “Aren't you supposed to be in school?”
“It's lunchtime.” I headed for the pharmacy.
Bentley was just finishing up with a customer. As she left, I sidled up to the counter and gave him a little wave.
“What are you doing here?” He clicked his pen and slid it into the pocket of his white lab coat. “Don't you have classes today?”
“It's lunch.” Why did every adult think they were the school police? At least Bentley was a parent. Lila was just nosy. “I thought I'd stop by and see if anybody turned in Logan's medallion.”
“Not yet. Sorry.” He peered at me over his gold-rimmed glasses. “Nice to see you up and around. You gave us quite a scare.”
“Yeah.” I hesitated, not sure how to put into words what I wanted to ask.
“I'm wondering, do people ever have long-term reactions from bee stings?”
He began straightening the cough medicine display on the counter.
“Occasionally people who are sensitive to stings become more sensitive. If that's the case, your doctor can give you something to carry with you.”
“But nothing else?” I asked.
“In rare cases, it can take people a full twenty-four hours to react to a sting, but that's about it.” Satisfied that the cough medicines were in line, he looked at me. “What else were you thinking of?”
Serious, crazy, superpower effects.
“I don't know. Like maybe it rewires their brain or something?”
He chuckled. “I don't think so.”
I tried again. “Or maybe they get electric tingles, or feel full in their head, or spaced out or...” My voice trailed off.
“I've never heard of it,” Bentley said.
I felt a wet tongue poking into my ankle. I looked down.
The phone rang behind the counter. Bentley turned to answer it. “But if you're not feeling one hundred percent, go back to your doctor.”
I heard the familiar
of a walker hitting the tile floor. “Hannah!” M.C. called. “Just the person I want to see.”
Kitty raced around me in circles, leaping and jumping and whimpering for attention before she started bathing my other ankle. My stomach flip-flopped. The change in the dog was nothing short of a miracle. She was acting like a six-month-old puppy. I liked her better when she was ten thousand years old and stuck in her basket.