“Do you remember your first time?” My best friend, AJ Dawson, checked under the door to make sure her mother’s feet weren’t nearby.
I sighed, leaning against the cushioned, and surprisingly feminine, satin headboard of AJ’s twin bed. For the past six years, I’d been trying to erase that awful experience from my mind. “Yeah.”
“Who was it with?” Krysta Richards, my other best friend, scooted closer.
I shuddered as an icy chill swept up my spine. “My mom.” I focused on one of the millions of Clay Matthews posters on the bedroom wall, trying to shut out that painful memory.
AJ’s eyes widened. She pushed herself off of her beanbag chair and sat directly beneath me on her plush white carpet. “What was she thinking?”
I shifted my gaze to AJ’s petite, white cosmetic table, which looked ready to crumble under the weight of her athletic gear. “She was depressed about my grandma,” I breathed.
Next to the time my chubby butt split my too- tight leotards in ballet class, this was one Childhood memory I wanted to forget—my first telepathic experience. Though I heard my mother’s voice in my head clearly, she wasn’t speaking. She was on the phone, just listening, eyes downcast and shoulders slumped. I thought I was going crazy.
Then the voice was louder, echoing in my skull. How can I live without her? But Mom’s lips didn’t move. After she hung up, she began to weep, and then fell to the floor in a motionless heap. My grandmother had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and given three months to live.
Although I was just a child, I knew I had been listening to my mom’s thoughts.
At about that time, I met AJ and Krysta on the playground. We made unusual friends—AJ was the jock, Krysta was the princess, and until my recent transformation, I was the fat dork.
So how did we wind up as best friends? Our “gifts” drew us together. My friends were my safety net, AJ had visions and Krysta received visits from the dead. Around them, I didn’t feel like a freak and we pledged to keep our gifts secret.
Luckily for us, we didn’t have these supernatural experiences too often, or we’d have been labeled freaks at school. We just wanted to be teens, trying to survive the pressures of school, parents and fitting in.
Since this was the weekend, we could sit around in AJ’s room, listening to The Band Perry, while forgetting about the outside world. Unless we were interrupted by AJ’s mom.
“Whatcha doin’?” Mrs. Dawson, peered through a crack in the door.
“Go away,” AJ’s two favorite words for her mother.
AJ used this expression on her mom every ten minutes. Like clockwork, we could depend on Mrs. Dawson’s unannounced interruption into our privacy. She didn’t bother me so much but I didn’t have to live with it.
“Such a little snot,” Mrs. Dawson sweetly intoned and slammed the door behind her. That was that, until this exact dialogue would repeat itself ten minutes later.
Unless…every so often Mrs. Dawson added a twist to the routine, throwing me smack in the middle. Thank God she didn’t do it this time or I would be forced to answer the question, “Sophie, do you talk to your mother like this?”
I would look from mother to daughter, hoping one would give me an out. When neither spoke, they left me with no choice but to answer honestly, “No, Mrs. Dawson.”
AJ would roll her crystal blue eyes and say, “Her mother doesn’t interrupt us every ten minutes.”
AJ’s way of saying the word “mother” like it was some venomous, foul stench, always fascinated me. I suppose this wasn’t Mrs. Dawson’s fault. If AJ and Krysta hadn’t been wild children the summer before eighth grade, Mrs. Dawson wouldn’t have become such a pest.
That was the summer Krysta’s mom ran off with a bail bondsman. Krysta’s dad worked nights, leaving no adult supervision at her apartment. Krysta begged us not to tell anyone about her mom. We kept our promise and AJ spent almost every night at Krysta’s.