We stepped outside.
Daniel shut the door behind us, and we stood on the walk in front of his front porch, stopping next to a light shaped like an old gas street lamp.
Looking back at the house, I asked, “Is he getting worse?”
“I don’t know. It seemed like one of his good days. He knew who everyone was, and he was in a good mood. It’s so stupid. Do you think he’s worse?”
“it seems like ages since the last time I saw him, and the last time… Wow. You know, the last time I was here, he seemed to think he was still fighting World War 2. That was worse. He was doing something weird, but he was in the real world–if that makes any sense.”
Daniel frowned. “Maybe. Maybe not. That’s how he used to practice. He grew up in New York City during the Great Depression so his family didn’t have much. He’d practice his control while putting away dishes.
“He told me that his mom walked in on him while he was practicing once and started screaming about how he might drop the dishes. Unfortunately she surprised him–”
“Ugh. How many did he drop?”
“I don’t know. He told me the story when I was little. I remember hearing that it didn’t exactly make his mom stop screaming. He laughed about it when he told me, but as a kid he felt guilty for years. Dishes were expensive.”
“He seems to have recovered.”
“Yeah. Can we talk about something else?”
I nodded. “Do you want to stand here, or take a walk, or something?”
Daniel took a step toward the sidewalk. “Let’s go.”
We walked down the block, not saying anything at first. We’d done it before, and we’d do it again, but in some ways this was the last time. High school was over. Who knew where we’d be next summer? Daniel was going to the University of Chicago. He might stay there all summer next year . Jaclyn had decided to go to the University of Michigan. Maybe she’d even see Rachel every once in a while.
It almost made me rethink my own choice. I’d opted to go to Grand Lake University, and stay in town. If I joined up with the Stapledon program, they’d pay for any college that would let me in. I’d never thought to apply to MIT, but that seemed possible if I wanted it enough. Isaac Lim might even be willing to pull some strings to get me in.
Still, the thought of leaving Haley in Grand Lake made me feel a little funny, and I wasn’t at all sure how to bring the Rocket suit along if I left home.
Ahead of us, Mr. Welch, a grey haired man in a t-shirt mowed his lawn. He waved at us as we walked past, the roar of the mower making conversation impossible.
I imagined poking Daniel in the stomach, making sure to imagine the uncomfortable feeling as vividly as I could.
He made contact, or at any rate, made the tenuous contact we already had stronger.
Daniel: That never gets old.
Me: It got your attention.
Daniel: A lot of things get my attention.
Me: Did you catch what your grandfather said about a power device?
Daniel: I did, and I’ve got no idea what he meant. Dementia or not, his shields won’t let me get anywhere.
Me: That sucks.
Daniel: I know.
Me: It seems kind of ominous.
Daniel: We can add it to the list. My dad still won’t say anything about what he was doing in space, and neither will Mom. And she was in contact with him the whole time, or at least when they were both dreaming. Then there’s Martin Magnus, Gimpy and all the other Cabal remnants that still have to be out there. Plus, Lee.
Me: I can clear up Lee at least.
Daniel: And strangely that doesn’t make me feel better at all.
Me: Me neither, but it’s nice to sort of understand what’s going on.
We stopped at a city park a few blocks from Daniel’s house. We’d played there together as kids, usually with Daniel’s mom watching us.
Two boys sat on the swings, shouting at each other about something. I might have caught the word, “Pikachu.”
We walked over to some trees and stood in the shade. Daniel pulled out his phone. “I might as well call Cassie. Do you have any movie ideas?”
On the playground, the two boys had jumped off the swings to race for the slide.
“I’m working on it,” I said.
The End of Book Two: Powers