Home > The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(4)

The Strange Power (Dark Visions #1)(4)
Author: L.J. Smith

Joyce and the principal both looked at her, startled.

"I can't," Kait said again, more loudly, pulling her walls close around her. She needed the walls, or she might succumb to the shimmering picture Joyce was painting in her mind.

"Don't you want to get away?" Joyce said gently.

Didn't she? Only so much that she sometimes felt like a bird beating its wings against glass. Except that she'd never been quite sure what she'd do once she got away. She'd just thought, There must be some place I belong. A place where I'd just fit in, without trying.

She'd never thought of California as being the place. California was almost too rich, too heady and exciting. It was like a dream. And the money . . .

But her father.

"You don't understand. It's my dad. I've never been away from him, not since my mom died, and he needs me. He's not... He really needs me."

Ms. McCasslan was looking sympathetic. Ms. McCasslan knew her dad, of course. He'd been brilliant, a philosophy professor; he'd written books. But after Kaitlyn's mother had died, he'd gotten ... vague. Now he sang a lot to himself and did odd jobs around town. He didn't make much doing them. When bills came in, he shuffled his feet and ruffled his hair, looking anxious and ashamed. He was almost like a kid-but he adored Kait and she adored him. She would never let anything hurt him.

And to leave him so soon, before she was even old enough to go to college-and to go all the way to California-and for a year-

"It's impossible," she said.

Ms. McCasslan was looking down at her plump hands. "But, Kaitlyn, don't you think he'd want you to go? To do what's best for you?"

Kaitlyn shook her head. She didn't want to listen to arguments. Her mind was made up.

"Wouldn't you like to learn to control your talents?" Joyce said.

Kaitlyn looked at her.

The possibility of control had never occurred to her. The pictures came when she wasn't expecting them; took over her hand without her realizing it. She never knew what had happened until it was over.

"I think you can learn," Joyce said. "I think you and I could learn, together."

Kaitlyn opened her mouth, but before she could answer, there was a terrible sound from outside the office.

It was a crashing and a grinding and a shattering all together. And it was a huge noise, so huge that Kaitlyn knew at once it could come from nothing ordinary. It sounded very close.

Joyce and Ms. McCasslan had both jumped up, and it was the plump little principal who made it to the door first. She rushed out through the office to the street, with Kait and Joyce following her.

People were running up on either side of Harding Street, crunching through the snow. Cold air bit Kaitlyn's cheeks. The slanting afternoon sunlight threw up sharp contrasts between light and shadow, making the scene in front of Kaitlyn look frighteningly focused and distinct.

A yellow Neon was facing the wrong way on Harding Street, its back wheels on the sidewalk, its left side a wreck. It looked as if it had been broadsided and spun. Kaitlyn recognized it; it belonged to Jerry Crutchfield, one of the few students who had a car.

In the middle of the street, a dark blue station wagon was facing Kaitlyn directly. Its entire front end was accordioned. The metal was twisted and deformed, the headlights shattered.

Polly Vertanen, a junior, was tugging at Ms. McCasslan's sleeve. "I saw everything, Ms. McCasslan. Jerry just pulled out of the parking lot- but the station wagon was going too fast. They just hit him. ... I saw everything. They were going too fast."

"That's Marian Gunter's station wagon," Ms. McCasslan said sharply. "That's her little girl in there. Don't move her yet! Don't move her!" The principal's voice went on, but Kait didn't hear any more.

She was staring at the windshield of the station wagon. She hadn't seen before-but she could see now.

People around her were yelling, running. Kaitlyn hardly noticed them. Her entire world was filled with the car windshield.

The little girl had been thrown up against it-or maybe it had crunched back up against her. She was actually lying with her forehead touching the glass, as if she were looking out with open eyes.

With wide eyes. Wide, round, heavy-lashed eyes. Bambi eyes.

She had a small snub nose and a round chin. Wavy blond hair stuck to the glass.

The glass itself was shattered like a spiderweb, a spiderweb superimposed on the child's face.

"Oh, no-please, no ..." Kaitlyn whispered.

She found herself clutching, without knowing what she was clutching at. Somebody steadied her.

Sirens were wailing closer. A crowd was gathering around the station wagon, blocking Kaitlyn's view of the child.

She knew Curt Gunter. The little girl must be Lindy, his baby sister. Why hadn't Kait realized? Why hadn't her picture shown her? Why couldn't it have shown her cars crashing, with a date and a place, instead of that pathetic kid's face? How could it all be so useless, so completely freaking useless. .. ?

"Do you need to sit down?" the person holding her asked, and it was Joyce Piper, and she was shivering.

Kait was shivering, too. Her breath was coming very fast. She clutched harder at Joyce.

"Did you mean that, about me learning to control ... what I do?" Kait couldn't call it a talent.

Joyce looked from her to the accident scene with something like dawning realization. "I think so. I hope so,"

"You have to promise."

Joyce met her gaze full on, the way people in Thoroughfare never did. "I promise to try, Kait."

"Then I'll go. My dad will understand."

Joyce's aquamarine eyes were brilliant. "I'm so glad." She shivered violently. "Seventy degrees there, Kait," she added softly, almost absently. "Pack light."

That night, Kaitlyn had a strangely realistic dream. She was on a rocky peninsula, a spit of land surrounded by cold gray ocean. The clouds overhead were almost black and the wind blew spray into her face. She could actually feel the wet of it, the chill.

From just behind her, someone called her name. But when she turned, the dream ended.

Kait got off the plane feeling giddy and triumphant. She'd never been on a plane before, but it had been easy as anything. She'd chewed gum on takeoff and landing, done twists in the tiny bathroom every hour to keep limber, and brushed her hair and straightened her red dress as the plane cruised up to the gate. Perfection.

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