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Ghost Stories
Grave Importance
See Through To It


The World of Hybrids
The Stuff of Legends
The Birth of Legends [Worldbuilding]
Ideal With It
A Little Harmony
Out of My League


The World Made From A Wish
Type-Casting
The Final Front


Of Mana and Ether
Witch One?


Sisters of One Mind
An Open Book
Ever Mindful


Paths of a Fashion
Crossing Paths
Parallel Paths


Zzz... (Old, Iffy, Unsorted)
Focus
The World Was Made From A Wish
A Curious Kind of Tree





Ever Mindful

There was something she never told her sister. Something she could never know.

Her sister's power was impressive, and got her far in life. But it could only do so much for her.

Her own power, on the other hand, was much, much more useful. She could, in theory, do almost anything she pleased.

And that was a problem.

——

Having been born with the ability, Megan didn't know that anything strange was happening for quite a while.

When she was around people, she felt a strange sort of connection to them. But never knowing what being around people normally felt like, she couldn't know it was unusual.

Even later in life when she'd pretty much figured it all out, she had difficulty imagining what it'd be like to be "normal." Picturing how her sister Wendy read people's minds was a little easier for her, in fact.

When she and Wendy were young, their parents seemed to favor her. But she figured that was normal, being the second child.

Relatedly, Megan harbored a slight subconscious dislike for Wendy, finding her imperceptibly different from everyone else. Wendy, oblivious to most things she couldn't mind-read, didn't particularly notice.

Megan also made friends very easily. This didn't seem odd to her either, as there were many people she simply didn't want to be friends with who were more or less indifferent to her.

In general, there was nothing that could not be reasonably explained as a result of having kind parents, friends, and classmates, until that day on the playground.

——

Megan found a boy sitting on a bench, his face full of tears.

"Are you, um... crying?", Megan asked him, rather confused.

She'd never before seen someone cry in real life; for all she knew about crying, it wasn't a thing that would ever matter to her.

She'd never actually given it much thought, but if you had asked her, she'd probably guess that crying was something people had "gotten over" by now, so it would only show up in old books and such.

"What does it look like," he mumbled back.

"I guess it looks like crying?"

"Because it is," he blubbered.

Still, her genuine concern helped him to calm down a little, and he managed to say "They were being mean to me."

"Who?"

The boy pointed to a group of big, tough-looking kids.

"Why, though?"

The boy shrugged, starting to cry a little again. "I dunno. They're jerks."

Megan scratched her head. "Well, but people are always so nice to me, like, all the time."

The boy glared at her. "Boy, aren't you lucky," he sarcastically sniffled.

"I guess?"

Once more, the boy was bawling.

Aw, man, Megan thought. Crying looks so annoying. I guess if it does still happen, then I'm lucky I made it this far without ever seeing it.

Whatever those kids did to make him cry, though, he should really just forget about it so he can stop.

The boy's expression changed at once. "H-Huh? Why's my face all wet and snotty?"

"Probably because you're crying?"

The boy stared at her, wiping away some remaining tears. "...Really? What was I crying about? Who are you, anyway?"

"Oh, I guess I didn't introduce myself... My name's Megan."

"Okay, well, I'll see you later, Megan. Boy, that was weird," he shakily said, standing up. Then he exclaimed "Oh, those guys look friendly!" and ran over to the children he'd priorly indicated as jerks.

Crying does weird things to people, Megan thought. That seemed to fit with what she knew.

Still, she wanted to look into this further, so she followed the boy (who was too disoriented to give his own name).

"Didn't get enough the first time, pipsqueak? We'll just have to... uh..."

"Hey guys, what's up?", Megan asked, walking up. They were all looking at her.

...Maybe this wasn't the best idea. I hope they're not planning to hurt me...

"Don't worry, Megan, we wouldn't hurt you!", the tallest of the boys laughed, then paused. "Wait. Megan? Is that your name?"

"T-That's what she said, but... not to... you?", the scrawny boy replied, very confused.

Megan was just as bewildered, and soon decided to just run away before things got any weirder.

I don't want more of that awkwardness, she thought. I just want answers.

"W-Wait, come back!", one of the bullies shouted after her. "Of course you can copy my homework!"

——

It was difficult for her to perceive even when she was trying to, but it was there. Every time one of Megan's "suggestions" affected someone's behavior, she noticed a slight tingling in her brain.

With practice, she was able to hold it back. But it seemed like as long as she felt strongly enough about something, it would be suggested by default; refraining from doing so was what took effort.

Suggestion would only temporarily implant a thought into someone's head, with little guarantee it would survive for long without Megan keeping it up.

But after further experimentation, she found her powers extended much, much further than suggestion (which, as far as she knew, was all she had ever used prior).

Megan could, with more difficulty, alter a person's memories. Or their opinions. Or the way they thought about things. She could effectively rewire their entire brain to make them as stupid or smart as she liked - the latter perhaps far beyond the limits of a normal human brain.

Though she never knew the specifics. Because she never dared to investigate those limits.

As she went on discovering the possibilities (and quickly reverting them, as she was working with innocent subjects), she grew very afraid.

She felt certain now that these were powers no one else had. To make sure, she asked a few people if they did, got replies along the lines of "What the FRICK, no?!", then erased that memory from their minds.

But then, why did she?

——

Megan soon found herself thinking it would be wise to talk to her sister about the matter.

On one hand, she'd come to realize Wendy was mysteriously immune, and there would be no "undoing" with her; as such, it could be a little risky. On the other hand, despite their growing distance, she felt Wendy was the person she could trust most.

"Wendy, I need to talk to you about something."

Wendy sat up in bed, visibly annoyed. On the inside, she was laughing at that wording - Megan was the only one who ever "needed to talk to" Wendy.

"I think I have these... powers that other people don't have," Megan confessed, careful with her words.

"Oh." Wendy looked bored, like she was about to just lie back down.

Megan was a little surprised. "U-Um, aren't you going to ask me anything?"

Oh yeah, "asking," Wendy thought. "Alright, so what are they?"

"Well, I..." Megan looked down at her hands. "Sorry, but I don't know if I want to tell you, right now. If only because, if that turns out to be a bad idea, I can't make you forge -" She stopped and covered her mouth.

Wendy scoffed. "Really? It's just making people forget things? A baseball bat'll do that," she joked.

Megan thought about saying "No, it's more than that," but decided to just leave it be. For now, all Wendy probably needed to know was that she had some unusual powers.

But why didn't that seem to even surprise her?

Instead of plopping back down in bed, Wendy thought for a good while. "Well, I guess it's only fair," she eventually said. "You told me yours, after all."

"Hm?"

"I...", Wendy paused for drama, "...can read minds. I know, I know! Isn't that the coolest?"

Megan recoiled in surprise. "Y-You mean, you know what I'm thinking right now?!" Wait, but if that were true, then she'd already...

"Well, no, not your mind. I dunno. You're weird," Wendy explained. "But everyone else, yeah."

So their powers didn't work on each other. Megan wondered why that was - and why they both had unusual matching powers at all, of course.

She imagined all the things Wendy could do with her power. Things she could have already done, having apparently caught onto hers quite a bit sooner. It did seem... simpler, after all.

She didn't dare ask what Wendy had done. It scared her enough thinking about the potential of her own powers.

Which was what she wanted to talk about.

"Do you think this... you know, being able to do things no one else can, is..."

"Is what? I'm not a mind-reader - oh wait," Wendy laughed, eliciting a brief sigh from Megan.

"Fair?", Megan finished.

Wendy stared at Megan, then up at the ceiling, then started looking around. "We got a baseball bat around here? Knew I never should have told you."

"I mean, you don't know why we can do these things, do you? So... I mean..."

Megan wasn't sure what else to say. Did Wendy see nothing wrong with this?

"Megan, I can read people's minds. If there were a reason, I'd probably have heard it from somebody. We've got what we've got."

"We may have what we have," Megan corrected, "but do we really... deserve it?"

It was no use - Wendy was already lying down and ignoring Megan as she tried to fall asleep.

Megan sighed. She feared for what her sister might go on to do with her powers... but right now, she really didn't know how to convince her of anything.

For now, she just had to worry about herself.

——

It was a difficult decision, but she knew she had to do it.

She allowed one exception for the case of a total emergency, a situation that truly called for them. But other than that, Megan vowed that she would never again use her powers.

And it was rough. After willfully choosing not to control the minds of anyone around her, Megan's life began to fall apart.

She found many of her friends had only stuck around because of her subconscious suggestions. Many drifted away, losing interest, while others clearly never liked her in the first place.

Granted, she still had friends, and was even able to make a few new ones (with considerable certainty that there was no mind control involved). But having had so many before, the shift deeply affected her.

Megan also found out the hard way that she was never a good student. Once she made her decision in the upper grades of elementary school, her scores suddenly and clearly tanked.

Her teachers were concerned for what was going on at home, and her parents were concerned for what was going on at school. She couldn't tell them - on many such occasions, she had to resort to mind control to get out of a truthful explanation.

Indeed, she was awfully young to be making such a vow to herself. Being unable to keep to it was absolutely expected.

But she told herself that these first steps would be the hardest, and as long as she could more or less refrain from using her powers, it'd get easier. Things would get better.

They didn't, really. Not for a long while.

——

As expected, Wendy didn't take much notice of Megan's plight until Megan herself brought it up.

She wasn't sure what she was expecting out of the conversation. She just... felt like Wendy should know.

"So, um... I decided I wouldn't use my powers anymore, a while ago."

"Uh... powers? What were those again? ...Ohh, right, the forgetting ones," Wendy said. Megan wasn't sure if she had actually forgotten, or if that was meant to be a joke.

She figured it wouldn't make much sense if Wendy were to keep believing that. "There's that, but there are... a bunch of others, too. But I decided I wouldn't use any of them."

Wendy gave a low chuckle. "Well, good for you. You want a medal?"

"No, I -"

"Then what the heck is with you, Megan?", she sighed. "Why can't you just accept what you've got? Not like we're the only ones born with "unfair" advantages."

"This seems... different, though...", Megan mumbled.

"Imagine all the stuff that's ever been invented, the stuff we use every day. It took some smart people to invent it, right?" Wendy paused, then swiped her hands through the air. "Now imagine they decided that nope, they wouldn't use their smarts to invent anything because it wasn't fair -"

"That's a terrible analogy," interrupted Megan. "Some advantages can benefit other people, and that's fine. But I... I don't see my powers benefiting anyone but myself."

Wendy blinked, genuinely not understanding. "Aaand... what's wrong with that, exactly?"

Megan had learned that it was effectively futile to try and talk Wendy out of that mindset. However, given she thought that way, she found herself curious about what Wendy was doing with her powers.

"Well... Wendy, what do you want to accomplish with your mind-reading abilities?"

"Get rich, get away," Wendy said without hesitation.

Get rich she understood well enough, but - "Get away?", Megan asked.

"Away from people. Take it from me, they're awful."

As a person herself, Megan was hurt. "What's so awful about them?"

"They're so loud, and self-centered, and that echo... Ugh, you'd never even understand," Wendy grumbled.

Megan had a thought. "Hold on... Can you not stop reading people's minds?"

Wendy shook her head. "Not as far as I know. I've tried. Still, knowing what I know about people, I'd want to get as far away as possible even if I could turn it off."

Megan was silent.

"So yeah, real great that you're giving up your powers, whatever they are." Wendy demonstrated her usual tactic of not caring to cope with her inability to read Megan's mind. "Guess what? Not even an option for me."

After a long, awkward pause, Megan spoke up. "Um... Sorry, but one last question."

"Hm?"

"You can, uh..." Megan realized how stupid it sounded all too late. "You can... read your own mind, right?"

Wendy laughed, still with a hint of the bitterness from before. "Yeah, Megan, I'm pretty sure everybody can do that."

"...Right," Megan muttered, lowering her head in embarrassment.

Yes, of course she could. But then...

Why couldn't Megan control her own mind?

——

Megan trudged along living a less-than-stellar life for years until finally, there was the slightest hope of change.

It was another late day studying at school. When she left the library, the halls were empty - as usual, but she couldn't help sighing.

As she was walking along, she noticed she wasn't entirely alone - Anthony walked by her, going the other way.

Anthony was among the top students in her class, but that was the only real reason she knew him. They'd never really talked, ever.

Still, she nodded in acknowledgment of him. He didn't nod back, though.

Megan hadn't given a lot of thought to it, since she felt like it was... out of her grasp, in a way. But Anthony was just the kind of guy she liked. Not even because he was smart or popular, just... because he was him.

So, I mean, if it were up to her, then maybe she would want Anthony to be her -

Megan stopped in her tracks with a realization, then ran back to catch up to him.

She had been very slow in realizing it, but Anthony's face was all bruised.

"A-Are you okay?!", Megan asked.

The way he suddenly stopped and slowly crouched down on the ground, tears welling up, implied "no."

"Could you leave me alone?", he said, trying to keep his voice from sounding too choked-up.

"C... can I?", Megan worriedly stuttered. "I just... want to help, if I can. I won't tell anyone if you don't want me to."

She crouched down with him, and he looked into her eyes. They certainly didn't look spiteful.

"...I don't know what they want from me," Anthony eventually mumbled. "I guess... I guess they want anything but me."

It was silent again. Thankfully, there really was no one else on campus, it seemed.

But Megan couldn't just walk away. She wanted to say something.

"I, um...", she stuttered. "I know you don't know me... that well, but I... I wouldn't..."

She gulped.

"I wouldn't want to change anything about you."

He looked at her in surprise, and a smile slowly formed. Anthony had never before smiled at Megan, of course, yet it was a smile just as big, if not bigger, than the ones he showed his friends.

Eventually, he laughed, all his prior sadness gone. "Don't sweat it. I appreciate the thought, absolutely. Things would be a lot better if everyone thought like you."

That made Megan think. "You know, I actually could -" Then she abruptly stopped, because clearly she had not thought long enough.

"Could what?"

"B-be... your friend..." Megan's face went red immediately after saying it.

She really, really should have thought that through for longer. Thankfully, she'd avoided telling him about her powers, but in exchange had blurted out something else she hadn't meant to. Now he was going to -

Anthony laughed, but not mockingly. "Sure! What's your name?"

"M... Megan...", she stammered as she stood up, then took off running. Anthony stood up too and watched her.

He knew, before she did, that this would be the start of something good.

——

Megan visibly jumped when Anthony came to say hi the next day.

Yesterday had been so embarrassing for her, she reflexively tried to forget all about it just as soon as it was over.

Also, of course, she had not expected him to keep to his word about being friends.

Oh, but how could Anthony lie? Granted, he was surely only doing this to briefly humor her, but he was too kind to outright -

"...Hello?", he interrupted.

"H-Hi! Anthony!", Megan blurted out.

He scratched the back of his neck. "Oh, so you already know me... Still, sorry I neglected to introduce myself yesterday."

Did he? Megan didn't even notice. Well, as was said, she forgot the encounter.

While Megan puzzled over what to say next, the two stood awkwardly in the hall as others passed them by. Thankfully, no one seemed to stare, despite her certainty someone would.

Being convinced Anthony was acting out of mere courtesy and nothing more, she didn't want to take it too far. ...Or maybe she should, since this would be her only chance? Or...

"Heydoyouwanna... help... math?"

Yeah. Great. Those were words.

"Sure!"

She was just as surprised at his reply as she was at her own stupidity.

He thought. "Hmm, I'm not sure when I'd be free..."

The anger at her stupidity came back. Of course Anthony would have a busy schedule, he didn't want to waste his time on me, he -

"Well, I can spare about twenty minutes. Now would probably be the best time, if you want?"

"O... okay."

After that, Megan wordlessly followed Anthony to the library. She asked herself questions the whole walk there.

Why is Anthony so readily giving up time for me? Why isn't he laughing at how stupid and tactless I am?

But she wasn't suspecting anything of Anthony. She was suspecting herself.

Maybe this was exactly why she had been hesitant to admit her interest in Anthony in the first place. Because once she found the slightest reason to believe he reciprocated, her stupid mind-controlling brain wouldn't stop.

No way he would be doing this without her subconsciously telling him to. She thought she could keep her powers in check, but now she knew she was wrong. Even as she desperately tried to block her every thought, he wouldn't give up the farce.

Once at the library, Anthony indeed helped her with her math homework. He had completed it pretty easily, he said - and she was very careful to keep him from getting anywhere near letting her copy it outright, knowing better than most how that wouldn't get her anywhere.

The disaster in her head aside, Megan appreciated the help, feeling she understood the problems much better than before.

And it had only wasted a small part of Anthony's time. In fact, maybe he was telling the truth when he said he could spare about twenty -

Anthony suddenly stood up from his chair. "Oh man, I lost track of time... Hope I'm not late to class. See you later, Megan."

She awkwardly waved goodbye as he left.

As soon as he was out of earshot, she slammed her head on the desk over and over. Only one thought filled her mind.

whyyyyyyyyyy ammmmmmmmmm iiiiiiiiii soooooooooo stuuuuuuuuuupiiiiiiiiiid

——

As weeks passed, Megan began to see that she may have been wrong.

Not about being stupid. But about how much Anthony was really being influenced.

She did all she could to consciously block all suggestions around him, and yet he continued to talk to her. The more this happened, the greater the likelihood of it being genuine seemed to become.

Gradually, she stopped freaking out so much. (Not about Anthony himself, just about the accidental use of her powers.) And she carefully began to test how far this "farce" could naturally go. Very, very slowly.

Hoping the first occurrence was genuine, she kept making up reasons for them to study together, and Anthony gladly obliged. This slooowly moved to studying after school, then slooowly to weekends. Then -

"You don't need to keep making excuses about studying for us to hang out, you know?"

Megan recoiled in surprise. For a brief moment, she suspected Anthony was a mind-reader. No, that was even stupider of her than usual.

She supposed they had become rather friendly, despite a rough beginning (at least on her end).

But she had kept to the "studying" excuse for a reason. It wasn't just sticking to what worked. Well, it was, but... she just wasn't sure what else they could possibly do together.

She felt like she didn't have much in common with Anthony. He was smart, she was dumb, so he was a great study partner. Beyond that? She had no idea.

Maybe she was fine with that.

It was thus surprising, and a reconfirmation that he was indeed thinking for himself, when Anthony made a suggestion that same day he called her out on her excuse.

"Want to go out for lunch this weekend?"

After a brief shock, Megan quickly collected herself. Yes, she supposed she did.

She tried to erase from her mind all the restaurants she personally felt like going to and asked, "Well, where would you want to go?"

"Hmm... Well, there's this restaurant with really great food, but the service is always so slow. So... nah, maybe somewhere a little more timely..."

"No, that sounds great," Megan said, suddenly leaning in.

Anthony looked at her in confusion. "Huh? You don't even want to know the name of the restaurant or -"

"No, that sounds great."

——

Saturday came, and she felt unready.

"I don't see my powers benefiting anyone but myself," she'd once said to Wendy.

She hoped she was wrong.

As they entered the restaurant, a waiter asked, "Are you lovebirds a party of two?"

Megan's cheeks went red hearing it out loud. Bad start. Bad, bad start.

"What did he say?", Anthony whispered to Megan.

"I... um... "shove turds," I think," she stammered. Oh my god. She couldn't believe she said that, either.

"How rude of him," Anthony frowned.

The place looked very crowded, and there was nowhere to sit as they waited.

"I told you this place was bad," Anthony said. "They just plain forgot about me once."

As if on cue, they were called to be seated immediately after he said it.

Anthony looked around at all the other people waiting in confusion - how did they get ahead of all of them? - and they looked back with suspicion. Megan didn't dare look anywhere but straight ahead.

They were seated, and a waiter came by to take their order not long after. This time, Anthony was pleasantly surprised sans confusion.

"Wow, Megan, you must be my good luck charm," he laughed.

Megan handed her menu off to the waiter, no longer able to hide her beet-red face in it. This was such a bad idea.

As she went on to manipulate the kitchen crew to work exclusively on their meals, she was unable to focus on what Anthony was saying, just occasionally nodding. That was all she could usually do in conversations with him, anyway.

After what seemed to her like forever, but to Anthony alarmingly fast, their food was ready. Once Megan released her focus from the kitchen, she caught the tail end of what Anthony was saying.

"- and he does seem really nice. You're a good friend, Megan, what do you think?"

Drained from the intense focus, she matter-of-factly and truthfully answered: "Nothing."

Anthony blinked, then smiled. "Well, okay."

Then he too was distracted by the sight of their food arriving. "Wow, already?!"

Megan devoured her meal; she was always a hungry girl, and it helped her get her energy back. Then she watched Anthony eat, looking away every time he noticed her gaze.

She felt like she'd done everything wrong. If she wanted to get closer to Anthony, wouldn't it have been better to actually listen to him while waiting an eternity for the food? But she also didn't want to waste his time.

At any rate, seeing him enjoying the food so much, she supposed Anthony had benefited more from her powers than she had today.

Maybe it had been a success after all.

——

"Well, I had a great time, Megan," Anthony said to her outside the restaurant.

Even though they had barely talked to each other. Did he just mean the food? It made her sadder than it had any right to, but she hid that sadness from him.

"Yeah, so did I," she smiled.

He checked the time. "We got out much earlier than I expected, though. Do you want to go anywhere else?"

"N-Not really," she hastily answered. Maybe she did, but she didn't think she could handle it today.

They stood around awkwardly, both unsure if they should move to leave.

They were... standing rather close. Facing each other.

Maybe... maybe if he just... leaned over...

Before she realized what she was thinking, Anthony's face was astonishingly close to hers. His eyes were closed. His lips...

She pushed him back, trying to be gentle in her haste.

Anthony opened his eyes. They were confused. He looked around as if to get his bearings, then weakly waved to Megan as he left.

Why? Why? Why? Why? WHY? WHY?!

She wanted to impale herself on a spike. Why had she done that - made him do that?

Unmistakably, it was her. She'd thought how nice it would be, after their - date, was I really considering it a date?! - if he leaned in and kissed her. I actually thought that!

And if that wasn't enough, he was confused when he opened his eyes. Absolutely bewildered. He never would have done it of his own free will...

All of a sudden, she recalled that tail end she'd caught in the restaurant.

"- and he does seem really nice... What do you think?"

Now she really wished she had just listened.

There's a significant chance that Anthony is gay and I almost made him kiss me?! WHAT is WRONG with me?!

And yet as awful as she felt about herself, it only seemed to get worse.

She thought, if only she could just read his mind to know for sure if he was gay or not, and exactly what he was if not... God, she was absolutely awful. She couldn't just ask?

No. No, of course she couldn't just ask.

Because she was a tactless idiot, and she didn't know why Anthony humored her at all.

——

When Megan arrived home, she plopped onto her bed and lied there for the rest of the day.

Wendy only glanced at her.

That's the spirit, she thought with a smile.

——

Though Megan was greatly bothered by the incident outside the restaurant, Anthony seemed to have more or less forgotten it.

Megan wasn't sure if she would have rather he remembered. Megan wasn't sure of anything, really.

She was absolutely fine with just being friends with Anthony; she found that made most sense. Yet clearly her brain thought otherwise, or else that incident wouldn't have happened.

They went on to do various things together, some of which her idiotic brain called "dates." Thankfully, however, they ended less awkwardly than the first.

And sometimes, she would again think of ways to use her powers to "enhance" things ever so slightly.

She didn't know exactly why. What had it been back in the restaurant, even? Did she just want to make Anthony happy, or was there something more to it? She hoped she wasn't honestly hoping for something more.

Though maybe it didn't have to do with him specifically. Ever since her talks with Wendy, she'd been wondering what good, what selflessness could come of her powers.

Yet as many minor ways as she found to make it useful for others, the dangers still seemed much more prominent, and... dangerous.

Especially when this power was in her hands.

She couldn't control it. She really couldn't. This was no power for a teenage girl. Or young girl. Or, let's be honest, anyone.

She suspected she might be able to spread the power to others. That was something she quickly cleared from her mind - no doubt it would take too much effort to do accidentally, but she would take no chances.

Except... If someone else had her powers, then they might be able to take them away from her... No. You stop thinking about that right now, brain.

Megan sighed.

"What's wrong?", Anthony asked from beside her.

"Nothing," she weakly smiled.

——

They had walked home together to his house after having dinner out.

They stood outside, beside each other in an uncomfortably familiar way. Megan tried to clear her mind as usual.

And yet Anthony leaned over and kissed her. For a good couple long-lasting seconds.

He was blushing as he pulled away.

"I-I, um... I don't know what came over me."

But she did.

"See, I... started dating that guy I keep telling you about. But I still feel like I'm trying to figure things out for myself, so..." He trailed off.

"So?"

"...so I hope you can bear with me, I guess. Look, I know. I feel like such a jerk. You probably had a different idea, I'm sure. It's completely my fault."

Megan was silent. She knew that last part wasn't true.

"But however it turns out... I want you to know you're my best friend, okay? Absolutely my best."

Neither could that be.

——

They said goodbye for the night, and Megan walked until she found a bench.

She sat down and punched herself in the forehead.

How could she be so lacking in self-control?

Or was she assuming wrong? Even if she could read his mind, she might not find a clear answer; he said he was figuring things out. Which she had no choice but to believe was true. Maybe now she understood Wendy a little better.

But why was he "figuring things out" instead of just dating that guy, as it felt like he should be? Was it her? Not because of her mere presence in his life, but because of her unconscious influence?

Megan shuddered. She hated to think.

Did she do what she had told him she never would: change who he was?

Even if she hadn't - god, she hoped she hadn't - she hated herself, her mind, for thinking she could "figure him out," and with such limited information.

That kind of behavior would come naturally to someone with powers of mind control, wouldn't it. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

After thinking on it for years, she knew very well that the underlying problem with her mind control was simple: it was a slippery slope.

It could start with just wanting a friend. I like you; come, be my friend. They never wanted to in the first place, so to even keep that up would require repeated suggestion.

And then maybe I'm not satisfied with the friendship you provide. Do whatever I say, friend. Hug me, friend. Kiss me, friend.

Suddenly the original person is long forgotten, and it's just me talking to myself.

Yes, she knew how it would go, as she had already started down that slope with Anthony.

This kind of thing could easily spread to everyone around her. If anyone didn't act in the way she wanted, she could change that person to her will.

By the time she realized she was surrounded by clones of herself, robbed of all individuality and thought, it would likely be too late.

That was the great fear that rose above all else. Yet as much as she feared it, she still could not stop her mind from going down that path.

She hated herself unfathomably.

The only way she felt she could live with herself was if she could just forget about that kiss.

Forget.

Forget.

Forget all about...

...Hold on. What did I just forget?



WHAT DID I JUST FORGET?!

——

Megan stumbled back home, holding her head in confusion.

She had forgotten... something about Anthony. But... too instantaneously for it to have been normal.

That awakened an even deeper fear.

She could control her own mind.

It was difficult, naturally. She had never done it before - probably. She never really tried, and told herself she simply couldn't, because she was deathly scared of what it would mean.

Awful visions ran through her head, far worse than the ones she imagined before her realization. In a single lapse of judgment, she could do something irreversible to her own mind.

...She quickly decided what that irreversible action would have to be.

——

Megan opened the door quietly, careful not to wake Wendy. But she was also shaking with nervousness.

She wouldn't do a single thing else. She especially wouldn't make herself forget anything about how she'd used her powers.

...Though there was one thing she felt she had to do, just in case.

She wrote a note to Anthony, just to make sure he would understand what had happened.

Once it was finished, she sat and closed her eyes.

She had no idea what she was doing. But she had to do it.

She had to take away her own power.



For a moment, everything went dark. Darker than the backs of her eyelids.



Megan opened her eyes. She wasn't dead. So she tore up the note and threw it in the trash.

She wondered. "Did I do the right thing?"

She had no one to answer that but herself.

——

One night, years later, at a house her sister had bought largely with gambling money, Megan decided to tell Wendy the whole story.

"I can't believe you," Wendy said, shaking her head.

"I think you still have some things to learn," Megan replied, with a faint smile.

Wendy gestured in front of her, emphasizing her seriousness. "No, but, seriously. From what you said, you could of just made yourself smarter."

"Could have. And no, I couldn't."

"But you could have."

"We're talking different definitions of "could," Wendy."

"But, I mean...! Hyper-intelligent brain...! Doing bad in school...! Graaahhh!", she groaned in frustration.

"Still a lot to learn," Megan repeated.

"I'm a mind-reader, Megan. Sorry to say, but I don't think I'm cut out for learning." Wendy paused. "Anyway, did Anthony dump you or what?"

Megan furrowed her brow at her sister's gross misunderstanding of the situation. "We're still best friends, of course. I can't be too sure I didn't change him, but... well, he seems like the same old Anthony to me."

"Sheesh, put yourself through all that and didn't even get the guy..."

Megan groaned. Wendy needed all the help she could get from her.

After a while of silence, Wendy spoke up. "One last thing."

"Hm?"

"You were calling yourself stupid again and again every time you did something dumb around Anthony."

"Yeah. I was."

"But you could control your own mind the whole time."

"...Yeah, I could."

"So, I'm just putting it out there, maybe that's why you're such a -"

"Good night, Wendy."


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