“Mindy? Are you okay?” It was her mother, her voice betraying bits of accent from her native Italy.
“I’m fine, mom. It’s just a fly. I killed a fly.”
“There’s someone here to see you,” said the voice on the other side of the door, sounding more as if she were asking a question than giving information.
“I don’t want to see anyone.”
“It’s Dave. He wants to talk to you. He’s come all the way from Wisconsin.”
Mindy froze. She wasn’t ready to talk, had no desire to try to explain what she couldn’t understand.
“I don’t want to talk to him. Not now!”
“What’s the matter, Mindy? What happened to you?” Mindy recognized her mother’s sad voice, the one she sometimes used when hoping to elicit pity. But there was no affectation in her mother’s voice now, Mindy heard the legitimate concern.
“I’ll be okay. I just need to work through a few things. I just need some time to myself.”
There was a moment’s silence before her mother resumed.
“He’s come a long way, Mindy. He just wants to talk to you. It might do you good.”
Mindy was about to become insistent in her attitude, but stopped herself short. She had no desire to put her mom through anything more than she already had, had no desire to have a war of wills with her.”
“Okay,” Mindy said, “send him up.”
Dave soon appeared, acting in that self-conscious way he had, attempting to dance around whatever negativity she might possess.
“How are you, Mindy?”
“Okay. I’m okay. I just have to deal with some things by myself.”
“I know it’s been hard. We’ve been through some unbelievable things, had to accept realities we’d rather not have to deal with—“
“You think that’s what this is all about? Because I’m scared? Damn right I am, but I’m not scared of what will happen to me, I’m afraid of what I’m capable of doing.”
“I miss you, Mindy. Maybe you’re having doubts about yourself, but I trust you. Doug too. He’s worried about you, so is Izzy.”
“Yeah, well Doug may trust me, but I don’t. I don’t trust what I’m capable of doing. I don’t trust the whole situation. And I don’t know if I trust Doug, either.”
“You haven’t answered any of my calls or texts. I was worried.”
“I told you, I need to be alone, to figure things out. I don’t trust myself. I wouldn’t have let my mom let you in, but I…”
“I was afraid to argue with her. Afraid that if I disagreed with her too strongly I would just alter her thoughts until she did what I wanted.”
The look in Dave’s face showed compassion that longed to be shared, but Mindy had no strength for that. She needed to distance herself from him and everybody else she cared for, was afraid of the connections she would make.
Dave paused for a moment before speaking, looking around the room at the items of her past. He had been her older brother’s friend, had never really been in her room before. She felt exposed, as though he was reading her past and her vulnerabilities in the items that were in her room. He had penetrated deep into her sanctuary, and she would have got angry if she trusted herself to permit such a reaction.
“I know what you’re worried about. You have a power and you’re afraid to misuse it. But nothing’s really changed. You’re still the same person, you’re just a little larger, that’s all. It’s like becoming a grownup: it’s scary, but you have to do it. You can’t run away from who you are. You can’t pretend it doesn’t exist.”
“That’s easy for you to say,” Mindy said, and she permitted herself to tap into her anger slightly. “You have the ability to see things in your dreams. You don’t have to worry about others, you just have to worry about yourself.” No, it was not anger, it was passive aggressiveness, a way of being cruel while insisting to herself that she did not have the power to hurt.
“Power is what you make it Mindy. As soon as I tell others what I see in my dreams, they become involved in my problems too. I’m responsible for others, responsible for my actions, just like you. You have to be thoughtful and cautious. You must use every bit of knowledge and wisdom and emotion, everything you are, to make sure you don’t abuse it, that you use it in the right manner. But you can’t deny it. You can’t pretend you don’t have power.”
“Yes I can. Just watch me.”
“You’re part of this world. You can’t cut yourself off from it. You have love, perspectives, desires. You can’t let them go to waste. You can’t sit on the sidelines for fear of getting hurt.”
“You think I’m worried about getting hurt? No, I’m worried about hurting. I’m worried about using my abilities wrong, of using them for personal gain, or using them without realizing I’m using them at all.”
“I know, Mindy. And I know it’s hard. But it’s what being a grownup is about. There are a lot of people walking around in the world afraid to come out of their chrysalis, afraid to be the person they have the potential to be. But the world isn’t going to be what it can be if those who have the power to change it stay in their childhood bedroom in their parent’s house.”
This angered Mindy, and the anger she had not permitted herself before she now allowed to surface. Her temper had always been her relief valve, and it felt good now to allow it to rise up in her.
“What the hell do you know? Did you even come here by yourself or did Doug send you?”
Dave looked uncomfortable. “I’m on my way to see a performer, a balancing act, in Indiana. But I came here because I care for you. You’re not being honest with yourself if you don’t realize that.”
“Get out!” said Mindy, restraining herself from screaming only so that her mother wouldn’t get involved. “Get out,” she repeated, and Dave made his way slowly towards the door. She didn’t know at that moment if she was actively walking him towards it or if he was going under his own will, and she didn’t care: either way, she was proving that she was right. She didn’t want him to be there. No, that wasn’t true. She wanted him there, she just didn’t want to deal with reality, didn’t have the strength to look her predicament straight on. She just wanted to hide, to live in a world of her own making, filled with stuffed animals and frilly drapery.
Before Dave left, he turned to her and said, “I love you Mindy. I love you and I need you. We all need you. Yes, Izzy and Doug and the others, I don’t care if you want to hear that. Hell, maybe the whole world needs you. You’re a part of it, even if you don’t feel like you want to be. In the end you’re going to realize that. You don’t want to look back at life and see all the times you could have been a part of it and weren’t.”
Dave left and Mindy slammed the door behind him. He was always too quick to give in, Mindy thought. She turned and fell on her bed, a jumble of emotions she was too afraid to iterate. Around her sat a variety of stuffed animals, glaring at her the unique personalities she had created for them. But they were merely items of cloth with plastic eyes. Whatever emotional links she had with them were merely the creations of her mind. She looked at her stuffed penguin she had named Percy, one of the oldest and dearest possessions of her childhood. The wear he exhibited demonstrated the amount of time she had spent with him. She stared at it and familiar emotions welled in her as all the personality she had invested in it came to memory. But it was only her imagination that had given life to Percy, he had no real or life of his own. She felt betrayed by that, felt betrayed by the fact that she could care so much for him and yet he would never love her back. All these years she had pretended that he was an old and dear friend. All these years she had believed in a friendship that never really was. Even as she grew old enough to put aside such ideas, she never really denied such feelings. She may have put childish ideas behind, but she could never go so far as to deny them. She simply put him aside, but the story still existed in her somewhere. Somewhere deep inside of her was still that child who believed, and the best her adult self could do was to not think about it.But now she was face to face with her childhood friend, and she felt betrayed by the idea that he would never love her back, that it was he who pretended, that it was he who abandoned her. Anger welled again as she felt as if someone had ripped away from her a childhood friend, but she realized there was no one to be angry at. And that’s when the anger turned to grief, as she realized her absolute powerlessness in the face of life. Whatever power she had, it would never get her her heart’s desire. Whatever power she had was more likely to hurt than help. But, after all, it was not really her power she was afraid of, it was her lack of it.