Brick paused in the doorway of Misty’s hospital room, frowning in confusion.
Hovering over Misty was a woman dressed in a business suit; she was writing something in a notebook. At the foot of the bed, a man held a camera, snapping pictures of her.
Noticing Brick, Misty impulsively tried to sit up straighter, momentarily forgetting about the paralysis that restricted her movement. Helpless to shift her position, she feebly gestured for Brick to have a seat next to her.
Brick crossed the room. “What’s going on, Misty?”
“This is Sharon Trent, a reporter from the Philadelphia Daily News. She’s writing a story on me.” Misty nodded toward the man with the camera. “That’s Jack, a photographer for the paper.” She smiled at the reporter and the photographer and said, “Sharon and Jack, meet Brick.”
“Hello,” Sharon greeted, looking Brick over with a curious gleam in her eyes.
Jack grunted a salutation as he continued snapping pictures of Misty.
“Pardon me for being a nosey reporter, but I’m curious about the connection between you and Misty. Are you a relative…a boyfriend? And how do you feel about Misty’s new ability?”
Brick ignored the reporter’s questions and asked Misty, “What kind of story is she writing?” He glared at the photographer, who had resumed taking pictures of Misty. “Chill, man. Put that camera away for a minute.”
Not sure if he should listen to Brick, the photographer looked at the reporter, waiting for her instructions.
Sharon held up a hand. “We probably have enough pictures, Jack. Let’s pack it up.”
“You want to tell me what’s going on, Misty?” Brick pulled up a chair next to Misty’s bed.
“Something big. We’ll talk after they leave, okay?”
Sharon stuffed her recorder and notepad inside her handbag. “The story should be featured in Friday’s edition. I’ll be in touch if I need more information.”
“Cool. I’m excited about sharing my experiences,” Misty said and then turned her attention to Jack. “Are you sure it’s a good idea to use my photo in the piece? My face is so damaged; I’m not comfortable being seen like this. Can’t you use one of the old pictures I gave you? You know, to let people see how I looked before my face got jacked up?”
“The plan is to put an old photo next to a current one, to garner sympathy, and get some donations pouring in,” Sharon said. “The way you’ve triumphed over tragedy and then survived a coma after trying to end your life is a great, human interest piece. The psychic aspect of the story will fascinate readers.”
Brick groaned in frustration. “What psychic aspect? Will somebody tell me what’s going on?”
“I’ll let Misty fill you in; I have to get back to my desk and start working on the story,” Sharon said. With a sense of purpose, she made her way to the door with the photographer lugging his equipment as he trailed behind her.
Alone with Misty, Brick asked, “How’d you turn into a media sensation, overnight?”
“You’ll never guess.” Misty grinned mischievously.
“I don’t feel like playing guessing games. Are you gonna shed some light on the subject? When I left last night, you were feeling sorry for yourself. Now you’re grinning like a Cheshire cat. What are you up to?”
“Why do I have to be up to something?”
“Because that’s how you do. After all you’ve been through, please don’t tell me you’re back to your old tricks.”
“Don’t be so quick to judge until you hear what happened.”
“Early this morning, when the nurse woke me up to give me my meds and to take my vital signs, something weird happened.”
“Weird, like what?”
“Her palm accidentally brushed against mine, and there was a strange, stinging sensation—popping and crackling—like static when two pieces of fabric connect.”
Brick frowned in bewilderment.
“It’s hard to explain. It’s like, we both felt it, but didn’t understand what had happened. The nurse gawked at the blood pressure cuff, as if it had caused the shock. Then she started fiddling with it, and that’s when I started seeing this fast-moving video slideshow of her life.”
“Where’d you see it—on the wall?”
Misty shook her head. “Images from her life were playing inside my mind. I was able to tell her all sorts of personal information about herself.”
“It’s the truth, and she was in tears by the time I finished reading her.”
“Yeah, I gave her a psychic reading.”
Brick scoffed. “You’re not psychic.”
“Apparently, I am. The nurse is in her late forties, and I was able to see scenes from her childhood and teen years.”
Brick shook his head doubtfully.
“And get this…I even saw her future.”
“You shouldn’t have messed with that nurse’s head like that.”
“I’m telling the truth! In my mind, I saw the nurse getting out of a dark SUV and walking toward this cute little house with white siding and blue shutters. There were shrubs and big, yellow sunflowers in front of the house.”
“You were imagining things.”
“No, I saw that nurse’s future. She had on white pants and an orange and white striped top. There were keys dangling in her hand. I knew the house couldn’t have been in Philly because I saw a wooden walkway leading to sand and water.”
With his eyebrows drawn together tightly, Brick asked, “What else did you see?”
“That’s it. But when I told her details about the house, she got excited. She said she’d been looking at property at the shore, and the house I described sounded like a house she fell in love with, but it was out of her price range. She’d tried to get the owners to lower the cost, but she wasn’t successful.”
“So, what does that prove?”
“It proves that she’s going to move into the house of her dreams. She said she doesn’t own an outfit like the one I saw in my vision, but that’s only a minor glitch in my story.”
“I think it proves that you’re not actually seeing the future,” Brick reasoned.
Misty rolled her eyes. “Why are you being so negative? I know what I saw, Brick; I’m not making this up. Anyway, the nurse said she’s read about people coming out of comas with newfound psychic abilities. She was so excited, she called a journalist friend of hers. She asked her to interview me, and as you already know, the reporter I introduced you to is going to write a feature story about me. It’s gonna begin with the tragic night that a hater brutally attacked me and left me for dead, and it’ll end with me waking up from the coma with the ability to prophesize the future.”
Brick shook his head apprehensively. “Are you seriously going to allow people to believe you can predict the future?”
“Yes, because it’s true. The reporter said I’ll probably start getting a lot of donations when people read about my misfortune. I’m hoping to turn this into something much bigger than mere donations.”
“So, the old Misty is back with a brand-new hustle,” Brick said sarcastically.
“You’re making it sound like I’m going to be scamming people. I came out of that coma with a gift and there’s nothing wrong with profiting from it.”
“Are you planning to set up shop with a crystal ball and a deck of tarot cards?”
“Think bigger, Brick! First, I need to get my appearance up to par. Get some cosmetic surgery on my face so I can look good—you know, for my clients and also for you.”
“I’m not worried about how you look. I told you you’re beautiful to me exactly the way you are.”
“That’s sweet, but I want cosmetic surgery. When I look in the mirror, I want to smile at my reflection, not cringe.”
“When you were staying at your mom’s house, you told me you didn’t care about your appearance anymore. You said you were
through with material things and uninterested in earthly pleasures.”
“That’s because I was planning on killing myself, but if I have to live in this world, then I don’t want to look like a monster.”
“You don’t look like a monster, babe.”
“Yes, I do. It’s bad enough that I’ll never be able to walk again, but having to live with a hideous face is too much for anyone to deal with and not lose their mind.”
Brick squeezed her hand reassuringly. “I accept you. Why can’t you accept yourself?”
“You didn’t turn down cosmetic surgery when my mother offered to get the scar removed from your face, so stop being a hypocrite.”
Brick laughed. “Wow, like old times, you’re still running off at the mouth. I get that you want to look like your old self, but I’m skeptical about this psychic thing.”
“Why do you think I’m lying about being psychic?” Misty asked.
“I’m not saying you’re lying, but maybe your mind was playing tricks on you.”
“Remember what I told you about being with Shane…around the time I convinced you to help me kill myself?”
A shadow fell across Brick’s face. “I don’t want to think about that. Those were dark days. At first I thought I had killed you, and after your mom revived you, she wanted me locked up for attempted murder. If you hadn’t pulled through, I’d be spending the rest of my life in jail.”
“Well, I did pull through, and I’ll tell anybody who thinks about accusing you of anything that I took those pills on my own.”
“We both know that I helped you try to end your life, Misty,” Brick said with a grave expression.
“And no one needs to know. That’s between you and me.”
“Getting back to this psychic stuff, do you really want the spotlight on you when you should be focused on recovering?”
“I need to focus on something other than lying in bed for the rest of my life.”
“You’re not going to be confined to bed. I’m going to get you one of those motorized wheelchairs.”
“Am I supposed to be happy at the prospect of getting around in a wheelchair? My life is fucked and we both know it; give me some credit for trying to be self-reliant.”
“You don’t have anything to worry about; I’m gonna take care of you.”
“I don’t want to have to rely on anyone other than myself. This is a chance for me to lead a productive life and be useful; I don’t want to miss the opportunity. So, stop being negative and support me in what I’m trying to do.”
“What exactly are you trying to do?”
“With the media coverage, I’ll be able to attract clients. Eventually, I’d like to do seminars and group readings. I want to write books…maybe get a TV show. Psychics make a lot of money.”
Brick looked at Misty with pity in his eyes. “I don’t want you to set yourself up for disappointment. Suppose last night was only a fluke?”
“It wasn’t a fluke. Like I was saying, before I came out of the coma, the last thing Shane told me was that I had to come back here so I could touch people’s lives.”
“Shane is dead; I’m never gonna believe you were actually with him.”
“Believe what you want. I know we were together, and I know what he told me.”
Brick glanced down at his hand, which was resting gently on hers. “Our hands are touching; do you see my life flashing in your mind?”
“No, but that’s probably because I already know everything about you.”