Dawn gave an involuntary shudder as they drove past the beach. The gray tide pitched forward, swallowing the slick mirror of sand. She gazed down at her knuckles, fisted in her lap. Her mother and Jeff worshipped the ocean, but to her it was a mysterious monster foaming at the mouth.
She heard Ken’s voice rambling about some girl, Renee, and how he planned to approach her at her locker. Renee had a boyfriend, but Ken had seen them fighting a couple times over the summer. Maybe if he started saying hi to her, he’d have a chance. After all, she’d smiled his way at the movies last weekend. At least, Ken was pretty sure the smile was meant for him. All his friends were getting hooked up and he wanted to find someone special.
Dawn turned away from the beach, surprised and a little flattered that Ken was confiding in her. “What’s she’s like?”
“You listened to me talk to Billy last night, didn’t you?” he demanded. “I don’t believe this. I don’t get any privacy.”
Hot numbness swept over Dawn’s face. Oh, no. Ken hadn’t been speaking aloud just now. She’d picked up on his thoughts. Every once in awhile, that happened and Dawn couldn’t control it. Sometimes she caught on and managed to avoid making a fool out of herself. Other times, she blurted out something dumb. You idiot, you’ve got to think before talking, Dawn chastised herself.
“What were you doing, standing outside the door?” Ken asked.
“I walked by your door when you were on the phone. Sorry, I didn’t mean to overhear.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet.”
“I didn’t do it on purpose.” Dawn swallowed as he tightened his grip around the steering wheel. What an awful day, and it was only 7:15 a.m.
“Why’d you bring up Renee now?”
“I don’t know. I … I thought maybe I could help.”
“I doubt it. Just forget it, okay?”
That was exactly what Dawn wanted to do.
“Sure.” She let out her breath as Ken fixed his attention on the road.
This curse had haunted her since she was seven. Dawn never confided in anyone that she was psychic, but whenever she slipped, other kids shrank away from her. Like last year, with Samantha, a transfer student Dawn tutored in math. She and Samantha hit it off until Dawn asked why Sam’s father was in prison. Samantha’s eyes narrowed and she asked how Dawn knew that. No one knew that. Soon, Samantha found a new best friend.
At least Ken had accepted her apology and his own explanation, even though it made her look nosy.
Something made her turn her head. A weather-beaten cream cottage rose on a bluff, stunted and defiant against the broad swath of sky. Shades blocked the windows and silver wind chimes swayed from an overhang on the white-painted porch.
Iciness dripped over her body. A word detonated in her mind.