Secret Powers – Pandora
Maddie had been psychic as long as she could remember. And from before she could remember she had had her special power as well. From her watery home inside her mother’s womb a sense of anticipation would suddenly seize her making her kick and thrash. Her mother would grab her expanded belly with a gasp just as booming fireworks burst over-head or when a car loudly backfired in their normally quiet neighborhood.
“There she goes again!” her mother would exclaim as she came to expect the baby jerking from inside. But no matter how much soothing and calming her mother tried to convey to her unborn child, there would still be times when she would be thrashing about. Her mother began to realize the connection to the noise or events was out of sequence. The baby would react BEFORE the noise. She began to take heed of this and listen more carefully to what the baby was telling her through her movements.
“You even saved your papa’s life!” she explained to the child when she was 4 years old. “I felt you moving all around in there so I knew something was about to happen. Your papa was out in the driveway tinkering away under that old junker of a car that never ran. Tires off and up on a jack it was just a big eye-sore in our driveway and I was bugging him to get it running or get rid of it before you were born. But the minute I felt you twitching I came outside and yelled out to him to come quick. Thinking it was something the matter with me, he came running, and right when he got to the porch that old car just slammed into the ground. Fell right off the jack. If he’d still been under there you wouldn’t have grown up with a papa.”
Knowing this information and understanding what she could do was still beyond Maddie’s comprehension at that age, but she did feel pretty proud to have done something so significant even if she couldn’t remember it. Her awareness of her power didn’t come fully into focus until the next year when she entered Kindergarten.
Entering school was traumatic for Maddie. She didn’t have any brothers or sisters at home, and her mother had kept her always close to her side because they couldn’t afford day-care. Upon entering school Maddie quickly realized that she did not fit in with all the children who had already formed social skills and friendships through pre-school and day-care. In addition to feeling outside the group, Maddie was also faced with a constant sense of trouble. Kids fall down and hurt themselves and she was picking up on this constantly. She hadn’t mastered the art of tuning out the low frequency hum from the major jolts that alerted her to imminent danger. So she tried to physically separate herself to create a quieter more peaceful feeling inside her jangling mind.
“Maddie, why don’t you come join the other children on the new jungle gym?” Ms. Harrison the play ground monitor gently asked.
“No thank you.” Maddie politely replied. “I’m building a secret room to hide in from the sky monsters.”
Ms. Harrison had been around a lot of shy and imaginative kindergartners so she knew to give Maddie her space and let her come to the group on her own terms. “Alright sweetie. You just let me know if you want to come play with the others and I’ll make sure they make room for you on the new big toy.”
Maddie went back to digging out a space in the loose wood chips up that she imagined would become a hole large enough for her to climb into and disappear from the chaos of the playground. On that day Maddie felt an even stronger sense of imminent danger and was trying to make the noise in her head stop. Looking back at the children swarming on the new play structure Maddie saw a boy from her class, Tommy Deyoungen, scaling to the uppermost bars. She knew in an instant that he would fall and was faced with the dilemma of what to do. She had no allegiance to Tommy, but the feeling of danger was so strong she rose up and went over to Ms. Harrison.
“Excuse me.” She said quietly to the playground monitor’s back. The teacher didn’t hear her over all the shrieks from the happily playing children and was busy talking to another teacher who had come out to bring more jump ropes to the playground. Maddie paused while the teachers spoke but then nervously tugged on Ms. Harrison’s sleeve after the other teacher turned to go back inside.
“Oh, yes Maddie! What is it? Do you want to play with a jump rope?” asked Ms. Harrison.
“Um, that boy…” Maddie said pointing to the top of the monkey bars.
Just as Ms. Harrison looked to where Maddie’s small finger pointed, the boy, now hanging upside down from the highest point, slipped and crashed headfirst to the ground.
“Oh my god…” Ms. Harrison’s voice trailed off. “But how did you…”
Maddie dropped her arm to her side. She shrugged her shoulders at the half-asked question. She always felt relieved after the premonition had been fulfilled, but also felt drained and breathless as if the anticipation of the event had prevented her from breathing deeply. Now her throat felt dry as if she had been yelling or running. “May I have some water, please?” she politely asked the still stunned Ms. Harrison. The simple question broke the teacher’s spell as she quickly began to move towards the fallen boy, around whom all the other children had gathered.
“Yes, child! Go find Mrs. Mathews, the nurse! Tell her there is a hurt child! Hurry!”
. . .
Maddie sat inside the nurse’s office on the smooth molded plastic chairs with her paper cup of water long after the ambulance sirens had receded. She heard a teacher in the hall say, “… A broken arm and a dislocated shoulder, but he’ll be fine.” Maddie knew at this moment that her secret power was something uniquely hers. And that she needed to act on her premonitions more quickly. Deciding how to tell Ms. Harrison that they needed to dig a much bigger hole so that all the children would be safe from the sky monsters was what Maddie needed to do next.