Chapter 1

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The first time I knew I was psychic, I was in the first grade

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The first time I knew I was psychic, I was in the first grade. Tommy Yukomora (my childhood crush) invited me to play four square with him. When I agreed, he took my hand and I went ballistic on the blacktop. I was in hysterics and nobody could stop me from crying, not Tommy and not the teachers. They had to tear me away from Tommy Yukomora. They called it a panic attack.

After that, I was inconsolable for the rest of the day. I kept asking my mom 'why did Steven have to die?' She was confused. Neither of us knew a Steven.

Three days later, Steven Yukomora died in a freak gas explosion at a shopping center. We didn't go to the funeral, but I really wanted to. I wanted to tell Tommy that his older brother was at the Elsewhere now. From the way Steven was talking, it didn't seem like Elsewhere was so bad.

Mom told me that the message wouldn't help Tommy or his family.

So we moved. My brother Harrison and I were excited because this new place would be somewhere warm and mom even promised that we'd get a real house instead of an apartment. We'd lived at the new place for about a year and a half, but then I predicted another death, then an accident, then a lottery winner.

We moved again.

My predictions got rarer and further between. Sometimes I'd just have inklings of feelings. It was impossible to explain, though I'd tried many times to explain it to Harrison; my twin brother could never quite understand.

The feelings were always triggered by something like touching Tommy's hand or seeing Mom scratch off a lottery ticket. The feelings got stronger in some of the places we moved to but in other places, my 'gifts' were completely dormant.

I didn't choose when it happened. We found that out the next time Mom tried to win money from a scratch-off and told me to pick the card. None of them spoke to me, but I picked one at random thinking it was a fun game. Mom still won $600 and she was so excited. She swore that my psychic abilities were going to make her rich.

I didn't dare tell her that it had just been a lucky pick.

Harrison thought it was a fun game too. We'd watch jeopardy on the television at the motels while mom was off finding work. Our game wasn't to see who knew the right answers. Instead, Harrison and I would always try to guess the categories before Alex Trebek would announce them. Neither of us were very good.

Harrison was the only one I could reliably sense everything about. I knew what type of mood he would be in. I knew three days before it happened that he would sprain his ankle trying to climb an evergreen tree when we were driving through Colorado. I guess we took twin telepathy to the next level. Or, at least, I did.

We'd moved around a lot, never staying in a place for more than a few months. Mom was never able to hold down a job for more than months at a time. She always described herself as a free spirit. She'd homeschool us when we'd go on our long drives to find another town. Harrison and I found ourselves growing up in the back of an old Chevy pickup. We named her Penelope.

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