part of this thing
All Kristin really wanted in life was to be normal. To outward appearances she seemed normal enough; good grades but not great, a decent boyfriend, a small group of friends, a license but no car. Nothing that would say “there is something strange about this girl”. She did her best to keep it that way.
So it was with a confused lack of enthusiasm that she opened what appeared to be an acceptance packet to a college she had never applied to. Skimming the letter, her eyes immediately zeroed in on one word: magic.
She went back and read the letter again, more carefully. It was an acceptance packet, all right. To a university for people with “special abilities”. People like her.
She viciously crumpled up the letter and shoved the whole packet into the trash, slamming the lid down on it as if she were only forceful enough, it would all go away.
Later that night, after dinner, her mother gave her that “we need to talk, dear” smile and sat down in the kitchen, placing a slightly crumpled but already familiar packet on the table. Kristin’s heart sank.
“I saw you got this in the mail today. I didn’t know you’d applied…?”
“I didn’t,” Kristin replied flatly. “It’s probably a mistake.”
Her mother hesitated. “I know you don’t believe that… It sounds like a lovely school. Maybe you’d like to visit?”
“No. I’m not going.”
“It could be good for–”
“I’m not going!” Kristin stood abruptly, slamming her hands down on the kitchen table. “I don’t care what you think! I wouldn’t be caught dead at a school for freaks like that!”
Her mother winced. “Kristin, please. At least–”
“You can’t change my mind and that’s final!” Turning on a heel, she stormed out of the kitchen and ran up to her room, slamming the door behind her.
She was angry; angry and upset, and (although she would never admit it) frightened. Angry about the letter, upset that maybe her mother was right. Maybe she would have to go. And frightened, because she’d forgotten herself and lost her temper.
Within moments of the door closing, she felt a dreaded but familiar sensation, a silent mental clarity. The feeling that always came before she started to hear.
The voices came all at once, as they always did. The constant thread of worry of her mother. Algebra problems from her younger brother. Watching the news. The neighbor’s complaints about his wife, the wife’s despairing over her dead-end job, a video game, playing soldiers with LEGO, vomiting up with the flu; a dozen, two dozen voices, all talking at once, all in her head.
Whimpering, she dove into her bed and huddled under the covers, willing herself to breathe deeply, to stay calm. If she could just stay calm, they would go away.
Half an hour later, she sat up again in merciful silence. Slowly climbing out of her bed, she walked over to her desk and looked down at the list of colleges she’d applied to.
“I’m not going,” she whispered. “I’m not a freak.”