Ch. 27 - The heart of everything

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Dinner was somewhat strained. Gretch was still not happy with Rhianna. Gran was distracted, so the pork chops were tough and the peas were mushy. Raisen and Jenny kept smiling at each other which seemed to make Gretch even more annoyed.

When the dishes were done and they had gone upstairs, the awkward silence followed them. Raisen and Jenny sat on the bed together, Gretch grumbled about there being no room for her anywhere and slumped into the armchair.

Rhianna sat on the end of the bed, where there was plenty of space. "So I guess I need to practice sending my thoughts out if I am going to beat this mask."

"Do you think it would work with us?" Jenny asked.

"I never thought of that. So far I've only done it with Kasubia and Teasel. He didn't say it wouldn't work with humans." Rhianna closed her eyes and focused like she had with Kasubia, using the imagery trick Teasel had taught her. She imagined a glowing blue thread connecting her mind to her friends.

"Pick a word or a picture, like those ESP tests. We will try to guess."

Banana.

She pushed outward. Behind her eyelids she saw a dark purple pulse travel out along the threads. She lingered with the vision for a little while, sensing something. Clamoring emotions, like being tuned halfway between two radio stations. The strongest feeling was loneliness. But it was strange. She understood the feeling, it called up a series of disjointed flashbacks of every time she'd ever been lonely. But she didn't feel it, except as something faded.

She opened her eyes.

They stared at her.

"Well?"

"Oh, is that it?" said Jenny.

Rhianna nodded.

"Wavy lines?" Raisen said with an uneasy laugh.

"Horse?" Jenny said and then shrugged.

Rhianna shook her head.

Gretch leaned forward furrowing her brow. "Yellow? Crescent? Maybe the moon?"

Rhianna's eyes popped open. "Wow, that was close! Banana!"

"That is so cool. Gretch, it's like you have a psychic connection." It seemed like Jenny was talking about something else for a moment. Her words were too forced.

Gretch seemed to take it that way too. "Yeah cool," she muttered. "I am going to go get a glass of water." She stood up and left the room abruptly.

"What is the matter?" Rhianna whispered after she left. "Is she still just mad about me keeping secrets from you guys or..."

Raisen sighed. "It's not you. It's us."

Rhianna laughed, and then stopped when she saw the serious looks on their faces. "Huh?"

"The three of us have been friends for a really long time, going back to kindergarten."

"We've been through everything together," Jenny said.

"Spend, pretty much all our time at one another's houses," Raisen added.

"We even call each others mom's 'mom.'" Jenny reached out and took Raisen's hand in hers. "But Rai and I have sort gotten a lot closer."

Raisen squeezed Jenny's hand.

"Oh," Rhianna said as she understood.

"Yeah," Jenny said, with a confirming nod. "And I guess Gretch feels like we have gone from three friends to two, plus her."

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