The Mind Reader (2015)
The following day Chara waited her entire shift. She waited and waited. So this is what a child feels like at Christmas waiting for Santa Claus. Christmas is never a surprise when you can read your parents thoughts and know what they bought you and where they hid it. And her parents were so easy to read.
Chara wasn’t accustomed to not knowing things. She knew lots of things about a lot of people that they thought no one knew. But normally, she had the discretion not to burst out babbling that information to everyone. That, according to her grandmother, involved a major aspect of using the gift wisely.
By the time her shift was over, the nurse was practically in tears. He said he would call. I had no way of knowing he was lying. So why did I set myself for a fall?
She had clocked out that evening and standing at the elevator before Eli caught up with her. “Well?” That was all she asked. That was all it took. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Why didn’t he call?” she asked Eli. “He said he would.”
“The jerk,” Eli said, but those two small words spoke volumes. Besides, the true friend that she was, she continued thinking, “I’ll wring his neck with my own hands if he hurts you honey. I’ve got your back.”
Chara wiped a cheek and smiled. “Thank you.”
“He’ll call tomorrow,” her pal confidently said. “You’ll see. He was so excited about everything he’s probably in the middle of several transactions. He’ll call you tomorrow, I’m sure.”
As much as Chara appreciated the words of encouragement, she also read Eli’s unspoken concerns. “The longer he doesn’t call, the greater the odds are against his calling. He’s gotta call and soon.”
No sooner than she had heard those words, Chara heard of series of rapid-fire clicks running down the hall. She quickly pivoted on a heel to see what was going on. The closer the figure got, the more thoughts she could decipher.
“You have a phone call,” she said, nearly breathless from her rushing, “and it sounds urgent.”
Chara smiled. She knew what Barb had refused to reveal. Darn right it’s urgent, Chara thought. She sprinted back to the station, plopped behind her desk. Every nurse there told her what line to pick up. Taking a deep breath, she pressed the line and spoke as casually as she could with every muscle in her body shaking.
“Chara, it’s wonderful to hear your voice.”
“Well, I could say the same to you,” she replied.
He apologized for not calling sooner, but explained he had been bursting with energy and working like a mad man piecing a business empire back together again.
“But I promised to call you today, so I tried to make it before you left for the day. After all, this is the only number I have for you.” Chara knew that all too well.
Despite the late notice, Ted wanted to know if she could possibly have dinner with him that evening. “Like in an hour?” he asked. “We still have an unfinished conversation. I would love to tell you what I’ve been doing all day, if you’d like to know.
“Besides, I would just love to see your face again. You are a special woman.”
Chara found herself nearly in tears again, this time tears of joy. She also was quite aware that every nurse in the station refused to take their eyes off her. God forbid there were an emergency on the floor right now, she thought, I’m not sure anyone would attend to it.
“Well,” Ted said, “are you going to give me an answer or just going to let me hang?”
“Let me think, let me think,” she said playfully. She feared teasing him too much, she wasn’t about to risk losing him over something silly like that. “I would love to.”
He suggested a small diner not far from the hospital. I can be over there within minutes, he said, maybe even sooner.” Chara poured her entire being into the conversation and failed to pay attention to the thoughts of others surrounding her. When laughter broke out, she could hear it, but her curiosity wasn’t aroused. The extraneous noise merely irritated.
Then without notice someone tapped her on the shoulder. This irritated her even more, she swirled around in her chair, “Can’t you see that I’m talking to. . .?”
Her voice trailed off when she saw who it was. “Ted?” She looked at her phone, back at Ted and then at her phone again. The entire station exploded in laughter. She hung up the phone and he sidled up to her and kissed her on the cheek. Chara blushed a crimson red. The other nurses, however, weren’t satisfied with the small peck.
“Come on,” one said, “you know you want to give her more than a weak kiss on the cheek.”
It didn’t take much to talk Ted into that. He immediately embraced her, pulled her toward him so tight that even if she struggled she couldn’t escape his hold. Any tension that had been in Chara’s muscles melted away. She willingly gave in to the long passionate kiss that everyone seemed to be demanding.
She felt at home in his arms. It felt as if they had been lovers in another lifetime, another setting, another moment in time. When they finally separated, he led her by the hand out of the station and toward the elevator. Then she felt the thrill of him whispering in her ear, “Do you work tomorrow, sweetheart?” She could barely shake her head. Her heart was pounding so fast she didn’t quite know what to say or do.
“Then I may have late night plans for both of us,” he teased her. Was he serious? Chara gave this some thought and wondered how serious he was. They rode down the elevator, each with their arms around the other’s waist. Instead of wasting my time wondering what he meant I should be celebrating the moments we have together right now.