A little later, Irene sat alone on the couch, dozing as her body digested the pancakes. It was not something she was used to, but she’d been trying to teach her power to let her, well, eat. Take nourishment from the food, instead of having it provided by her power. Her parents theorised that that ought to make it easier for her to control it, by relying less on it (though she drew the line at actually having to go to the bathroom. That was just gross, no way was she going through it).
She’d even tried to actually sleep for any meaningful amount of time, but it seemed that was something she’d have to work on for a while longer – it just wasn’t possible for her to sleep for more than an hour a week (and even that was a major improvement over her complete lack of sleep until last year). And if you took into account that it had taken her until her ninth year to be able to walk. And she wasn’t even going to think about how difficult it was to talk to people with words instead of telepathy (Melody thought it was a nifty feature of her power, but it was actually just her relaxing her control, returning to what she was used to).
Her eyelids began to droop, just a bit. That was a strange sensation, but not an unpleasant one. She’d just recently discovered it – before, going to sleep had just been like flipping a switch. But this… this was quite… pleasant…
When her eyes fell closed, the first thing she saw was Melody, the way she’d looked at her at the ice cream parlor just before they’d realised her power was messing with them; and Irene still felt wretched about it, but now it made sense, if she was truly in love with her then maybe-
What is love
Oh baby, don’t hurt me
The sound of her cellphone woke her up again and her hand moved to pick it up – but it was only a text message. Mel- Oh!
LadyMom1900: Why am I concerned?
“What does she mean this time?” Irene asked no one in particular. She’d never gotten used to her mother’s eerie ability to just know when something – anything – was off. Even if it was just a finely honed intuition.
Gloomy2000: I don’t know?
The reply came near instantly.
LadyMom1900: Your father gave you advice again, didn’t he? What was it this time? Please tell me it wasn’t relationship advice.
Gloomy2000: How do you even know that!?
LadyMom1900: Mommy-Radar. Now, tell me what he said.
Irene’s thumbs paused over the screen as she actually stopped to process that line. It had to be a joke, but…
Gloomy2000: Do you actually have a superpower just for keeping tabs on me, or was that just a joke and you just had a bad gut feeling?
Oh God, she’d discovered smileys. The world was doomed. I shouldn’t have set her up with this account.
Gloomy2000: That is not an answer.
LadyMom1900: Oh, but it is😀 Just not a satisfying one😛
The couch beneath Irene burst into flames. “Goddammit!” she shouted, floating off as it turned to ice.
It took three pills and half a minute of concentration to fix it again, and relax before she finally wrote an answer (fortunately, her mother didn’t press the issue – she probably knew she’d get her answers anyway).
Gloomy2000: I was talking to him about Melody, and how I feel around her, and he said that I’m probably in love with her.
LadyMom1900: What a *~#&!$§ blockhead!
Irene actually rocked back from the phone. Wow. She’s actually swearing.
LadyMom1900: Wait, is this doo-dad actually censoring my writing? What is even the purpose of censoring it, everyone with half a brain cell knows what it says anyway!
Gloomy2000: Moral guardians.
LadyMom1900: @$$h0l3$. There, like that could stop me. But let’s get back on topic. Baby, whatever you do, do not listen to your father when it comes to relationships, humor or interior decoration.
She didn’t really know how to respond to that.
Gloomy2000: It feels right, though.
The reply actually took a while, this time.
LadyMom1900: Baby, you really should have brought this up on Sunday, because this ought to have been said in person, not by mail. But I guess better this way than not at all (leaving you with just your Dad’s view on things). You are twelve years old, and Melody is the first person around your age who’s spent any significant amount of time with you, or paid you real attention. You trust her, she trusts you and you both enjoy spending time together and seeing the other one happy. That is love, but it’s not the
LadyMom1900: same as being in love. I’ve explained the Four Loves to you before, and I’d put my money on Philia for this one, not Eros. At most, you may have a crush on her, which is, again, different from actually being in love. And that is just fine. It doesn’t have to be true love, and you don’t need to look for more than Philia from this – just knowing that you’ve found your first real friend, after all the troubles you’ve had on your way, makes me want to sing and dance. Your father, unfortunately, has
LadyMom1900: always been prone to thinking in extremes; do remind me to tell you about the Bloody Teddy Incident in our eleventh year – and I’m afraid that his wishes for you colour his perceptions too strongly for him to offer reliable advice when it comes to such matters. In conclusion, I ask you to take a step back and really analyse this. I know that’s a counter-intuitive approach at your age and in your situation, but ‘following your heart’ without using your brain only works out well in cheap novels (
LadyMom1900: or by pure chance). I’m sure if you look closer at your interactions with and feelings for Melody, you’ll realise that it is not a romantic relationship you want or need. And don’t forget what I told you about having a boy- or girlfriend before you’re a teenager!
Now her vision got a little blurry. It always made so much sense when her mom explained things.
LadyMom1900: What ridiculousness is this?! We can shoot people to Mars on rockets and get online near-anywhere on the world, but we can’t have messages longer than five hundred letters? How come no one’s fixed that by now!?
Chuckling wetly, Irene wrote a reply.
Gloomy2000: That’s because you’re using your cellphone’s text messaging function. Use the chat program with the blue icon for longer messages.
Shaking her head, Irene went back to writing a reply to… well, the important part.
Gloomy2000: I’m not sure if I can do what you ask of me. I just don’t know how to deal with all these sensations!
LadyMom1900: Welcome to puberty, baby. Nothing’s ever going to be quite as horrible as the years to come, I promise you.
Gloomy2000: Gee, that makes me feel much better. Also, I’ll be a teenager in less than two months, anyway!
LadyMom1900: And you’ll wait, at least, until the very last second before you even think about a relationship like that, or I’ll ask Uncle Jake to start telling you all his knock-knock jokes >:-(
That was actually a horrifying threat, if one knew the quality of Jake’s jokes.
LadyMom1900: There, now that we’ve got that out of the way – is there anything else you need? A hug? A kiss? I can be home in less than fifteen minutes, if you need me.
Gloomy2000: No no, I know you have to work, and I’m honestly much better now. Besides, I need some time to think it all over by myself. What are you up to, anyway?
LadyMom1900: There was a dam breach in South China, but I’ve mostly fixed that. I’m just going to hunt down a local supervillain, then I’ll fly to Australia and try to get Maddie to lay off the Protectorate for now; maybe even convince her to help stabilise the situation in Russia.
Gloomy2000: Cool! Be safe, and greet Maddie from me – tell her I miss her!
LadyMom1900: Roger! You be safe, too, and don’t let anything get you down, baby. Enjoy your week off, and don’t let your father keep you from inviting Mellybean over! Hugs and kisses!❤
She shut her phone off and put it aside, lying back on the couch. Despite it all, she could feel a smile on her lips. That came at just the right time.
Wiggling around on the couch, she got herself more comfortable without the use of her power, before she had to giggle again. Mellybean. Where did that nickname come from? I wonder what Melody will think of it.
Perhaps she should take her mother’s advice and not listen to her father too much; surely it couldn’t hurt checking up on Melody for just a moment…