The Mind Reader (2015)
The silence she experienced in Ted’s room abruptly changed once she entered the hallway. She could hear a large, loud group of people excitedly thinking. This could only mean that a gathering of some group was experiencing a lively discussion.
Chara learned a while back that for every one or two sentences someone in a group – any group -- verbalized, there were at least two or three thoughts rummaging through their minds. This made for one large, raucous and sometimes confusing discussion to follow. More than once the gifted mind reader would accidentally agree with a thought that hadn’t yet been vocalized and sometimes never intended to be. She prayed she didn’t do it this time.
It appears, as she closed in on the group and some of the thoughts became clearer, she heard her name – and not just being spoken out loud. Upon a more intent listening she was fairly certain that she was on all of their minds. It also becoming increasingly clear to her why. That made her leery of them, but unfortunately, there was no way to get behind the desk without walking around them.
One of the group saw her and called, “Hey, Chara! We hear you’re having lunch with the new doctor.”
Chara felt her cheeks getting warmer and warmer. Her body froze in mid-step as she searched the eyes of the other nurses. She concentrated on untangling the mess of knotted thoughts bombarding her.
Most of them were friendly and encouraging. “Lucky woman.” “Way to go!” “There’s more to you than meets the eye, kiddo!” But the one thought that leapt out louder than the rest came from her best friend, Elizabeth Bethlehem or better known to her as Eli. Every single thought of Eli’s was nothing but uber-supportive. Further proof to Chara was Eli was such a dear friend.
There were a few disgruntled women who appeared to be jealous. Jane Hudak, a single mother of two who had several more years seniority as a nurse than she kept repeating to herself, “What does she have that I don’t?”
“Listen ladies,” Chara said as loud as she dared. “I only agreed to meet Dr. Renault in order to consult with him on a few of our patients. He’s only trying to come up to speed.”
“Yeah, right,” Jan finally verbalized out loud, “up to speed perhaps but not on his patients.” The group laughed and even though Chara thought the remark clever, she couldn’t bring herself to even smile at it.
“Wait a minute,” Chara said, “how did you guys find out?” She thought she read some of the minds, but she also knew that sometimes what people thought wasn’t exactly how it happened in reality. People either purposely misremembered events or got the wrong impression.
“Dr. Renault called the nurses’ station,” Jan volunteered, “with a message for you that he was running a few minutes late. But he would be there.”
Chara took a deep breath, thanked the group and tried her best to walk with dignity down the hall to her lunch appointment. That’s it, she thought. I’m going to call it a lunch appointment. Not a date. That elevated it to a professional level. She hoped.
As she took the elevator to the basement cafeteria, fear shot through her. An appointment, she kept reminding herself, an appointment.
She prayed the elevator would take her down to the cafeteria swiftly, she was driving herself crazy alone with her thoughts and doubts. Just at that moment, the car stopped and another passenger. He made movement to push the floor number he needed to get off on and a moment before he could reach for it, Chara volunteered, “Here let me do that for you.”
Without even asking she pressed the second floor. “Uhm, how did you know?” he asked, appearing to be unnerved by the action. Chara deep in her preoccupation with what to call her lunch with Renault had once again acted hastily. “Actually, I didn’t really. It was just a good guess. Most people coming onto the elevator from that floor need the second floor for some reason.”
She hoped that would satisfy the gentleman – and help him relax. He thought he was trapped in the elevator with a witch and wondered if she carried a magic wand. Actually, Chara was thankful he appeared. Now she found herself focusing on his thoughts instead of hers. There was nothing worse in the world than a person who could read minds to be stuck in an elevator alone – and be faced solely with her own thoughts.
The man next to her had been released from the hospital that day and was headed home. His doctor, though, had admonished him to take it easy. That meant he was not to go back to work for at least seven days. Despite the obvious pain he was still experiencing – and Chara could tell he was – he seriously considered disregarding his doctor’s orders and go to work before the seven-day rest period had passed.
He wanted to call his supervisor right away and make arrangements to go into work the following day. This was all Chara could gather before the doors opened to the second floor.
“Have a nice day,” she said, as he stepped out of the elevator car. Then she held the door open and added, “Sir, you really should listen to your physician.” He pivoted on a heel and looked her straight in the eye.
“You know you’re in too much pain to got back to work tomorrow. Just rest for the next seven days. You’d be amazed how even a little bit of rest can make your pain disappear.”
Chara gave him the sweetest smile she could muster. And at that moment she could make out his thoughts. “She really is some sort of witch.”
The elevator door closed and Chara laughed out loud a moment. What a wonderfully delightful, if yes, slightly wicked, attempt at diversion from her own problem. Despite her lighthearted approach, she sincerely hoped the gentleman would opt to take the days off.