By Giampaolo Bianchi
"Who on Earth could it be now?"
A man in his mid- thirties rushed down the stairs as he placed his robe over his clothes. He appeared tired, and he looked like he hadn't gotten any sleep for quite a while. Even now, as he was fully awake and headed to the door he felt like he wasn't totally there, like he was really dreaming. He ran his hand through his blond hair and reached to open the door. What he found on the other side almost made him close it again.
It was a TV crew. Their van was parked outside on the curb. The female reporter had her hair made up in a bun and adjusted her glasses as the cameraman readied his camera and the sound person lowered a microphone over her head. After the cue was issued, the reporter whirled to face the camera, raised her microphone and cleared her throat. "Good morning, this is Ann Bancroft reporting live from Twoson's Polestar Preschool where we bring you groundbreaking news concerning an amazing little girl with psychic powers. We have her father here, who-" She was interrupted as the man slammed the door in her face, making her jump. She turned to face the door and held the microphone up to it. "Mr. Polestar? Are you there? Can you tell us what-"
"Go away." Replied the voice wearily from the other side. "It's 5:15 in the morning… can't you leave us alone? I haven't gotten any sleep in three days…"
"But, Mr. Polestar, we'll-"
"Only take a minute, right? How many times do you think I've heard that excuse? Now leave my property or I'll have to call the cops!"
The man leaned against the door and let himself slide to the floor. He could hear the news crew pack up and leave on the other side of the door. He sighed and struggled to get back up to bed. He hadn't taken two steps, however, when he was confronted by a little, seven- year old girl in a pink dress, who was clutching a stuffed bear to her bosom.
"It was the reporters again, wasn't it daddy?" asked the little girl. She looked sleepy and her blond hair was in a tangled mess. Her father nodded. "Don't worry, honey…they're gone now. You can go back to sleep." He walked over to her and scooped her up into his arms as he proceeded to go up the stairs. The little girl grabbed her father's neck and squeezed it. "You're tired, aren't you daddy?" she asked innocently. "I can feel it."
"It's okay, sugar…" her father yawned. He entered her room, placed her in the bed, and kissed her forehead. "It's okay…"
Paula woke up late that day. She had to stay up late cleaning the house after a reporter tripped over one of the desks and knocked over a bookcase, effectively trashing the entire lower half of Polestar Preschool. For this reason, her mother let Paula sleep in. "Don't worry about the kids, dear." Mrs. Polestar reassured Paula. "I'll handle it… you just go get some rest, okay?"
And get some rest she did. It was nearly noon when she woke. She slipped out of her night clothes and into something more comfortable as she opened the window and let fresh air into her room. Fortunately, it was Friday, and it was very rare for a news crew to come in on a Friday. She walked casually down the stairs and into the kitchen, where she served herself a glass of orange juice and sat down on the kitchen table. As she was drinking, her mother stumbled into the room. "Oh! Good morning, dear! How'd you sleep?"
"Okay, I guess." Mused Paula. "I…I'm sorry for what happened yesterday. It was all my fault." Mrs. Polestar looked at Paula blankly. "I don't see what you mean, dear." She said after grabbing a Hand- Aid from the cupboard—obviously one of the kids had been hurt. "He tripped over a chair…it's no big deal." Paula looked down into her half- full glass of orange juice and sighed. "Yes, it is a big deal. I pushed the chair under his feet."
"What? But you were never near-" Paula looked up from her orange juice and stared knowingly at her mother. "-oh. I see…" Mrs. Polestar walked over to Paula and placed her hand on Paula's shoulder. "Don't worry. We all have to blow some steam occasionally. We all understand how you feel."
Paula chuckled and lowered her gaze again. "It's just…I don't know what to do…I'm getting desperate." She gulped down the rest of her juice. "Did you know that that was the second time a reporter from the Fourside Star comes over?" she sighed again. "Bet you did. I thought that if I was mean to them they wouldn't come back again." Her mother smiled reassuringly and rose. "It doesn't matter. Eventually they'll find some other psychic prodigy to torment. You'll see." She then turned and left the kitchen, leaving Paula to her thoughts.
Within an hour, Paula was supervising the children as they had their nap, while her parents went upstairs to take a nap themselves. She was sitting in the corner, quietly reading a book, when she heard the doorbell ring. Her peace interrupted, Paula tiptoed over to the door and quietly opened it. Standing in the doorway was a young man, in his mid- twenties, dressed in a short- sleeved shirt and jeans, and wearing a pair of thick glasses. He was scribbling in a small notebook when the door opened. He jumped upon seeing Paula, and almost dropped his notebook. He stared at Paula nervously, then cleared his throat. "Oh! Um…hello. I'm with the-"
"It can wait until tomorrow." Stated Paula blankly, then tried to close the door. Before she could, however, the man placed his foot in the doorway and prevented the door from closing. "This'll only take a minute! I swear! I came all the way from Fourside!"
Paula rolled her eyes and scoffed. "The Fourside Post again?! Don't you ever give up?" The man stared at Paula blankly and adjusted his glasses. "The Post? Oh, no! I'm not from there! I'm from a little-known organization that studies paranormal phenomena. We've heard a lot about you, Ms. Polestar!" Paula cocked an eyebrow and stared at the man. "Oh, really?"
"Yep. The psychic angel who commands the wrath of the gods and is of unquestionable beauty!" The man stopped to take a deep breath. "We're fans." Paula blushed and raised up her hands, embarrassed. "Um…listen, Mr…"
"Carpenter. Tim Carpenter."
"…yeah, Mr. Carpenter…I'm flattered…really! But it's Friday and we don't accept reporters on Fridays. Besides, I'm way too young to date someone like you…" Tim adjusted his glasses again. After a short pause he gasped and his mouth spread into a smile. "Oh, I see! I'm sorry if you misunderstood. All I wanted is some data on a real psychic, and I decided to try my chances with you. I hope you don't mind." Paula let her shoulders droop and shot Tim another look. He smiled in expectation. Oh, brother. She thought to herself. What kind of a lunatic did they stick me with now?
"All right, you can come in. But only for a little while, okay?" Tim's glasses gleamed. "It'll take half an hour, tops." He said excitedly. He opened up his notebook and scribbled a few notes. "Now…shall we proceed?" Paula rolled her eyes and escorted Tim inside. As soon as he was in, she closed the door and began to tiptoe through the room full of sleeping children. Tim was busily writing in his notebook when he noticed the kids. "Ah, children!" he exclaimed. "Interesting. Interesting indeed." Paula stopped and turned to him. "Do you mind?" she whispered. "They're sleeping."
Tim nodded. "Won't happen again." He whispered. He then moved his thumb and forefinger across his mouth, as if zipping his mouth closed, and smiled again. Paula sighed and led him into the kitchen.
As soon as the kitchen door shut behind them, Tim took out a small recorder and placed it on the table. "There." He mused to himself. "Now all the guys back home can listen to the conversation." Paula snarled. "Do you enjoy treating me like some kind of test subject?" she demanded. Tim blinked. "I don't see your meaning." He said. Paula snarled. "Never mind. Let's just continue."
"All right! Let's." Tim pulled up a chair and motioned for Paula to follow. She did, and crossed her arms, hoping this would all be over. Tim opened his notebook, then scribbled some notes and muttered a few words to himself. After a few seconds, he shot a glance in Paula's direction and chuckled. "What's so funny?" Paula asked rudely. Tim chuckled again. "It's nothing. You're just different from how I imagined you." Paula's face contorted into a sneer. "Now, don't be getting any ideas!" she exclaimed. Tim looked at her with a puzzled expression for a second, then realized what Paula meant and laughed. "Oh, no! I don't mean anything like that! I just expected you to have brown hair."
"What does that have to do with anything?!" Paula was losing her composure quickly, and wasn't minding the volume of her voice anymore. Tim was quick to wave her off, though. "Well, I just figured you'd have brown hair."
"Dunno. All psychics have brown hair." Tim readjusted his glasses for the hundredth time and pressed the Record button on his tape recorder. He then cleared his throat and began speaking clearly into the microphone. "August 23rd, 199X. Polestar Preschool, home of renowned psychic Paula Polestar. Time…" he glanced at his wristwatch. "3:34, seventeen seconds." He turned to Paula. "Now, Ms. Polestar, can you tell me when you first became aware of your powers? Try to be specific."
"Is this really necessary?" Paula rested her arm on her knee and hunched over. "I mean, you have a notebook, right? Why not use it?" Tim looked down at his notebook. "Oh, you mean this? This is for my personal notes. The recorder is for my friends in Fourside." Paula sighed. "Fine, then. I first became of my powers when I was around four years old. I can't remember the exact date, though."
"I see. How did it happen?" Tim scribbled a few notes in his notebook. Paula paused. "Well, I can't really remember how, but…" she took a deep breath, then closed her eyes. "…but that's when the reporters started coming."
"Were there many of them?"
"Not at first. In fact, we actually liked the attention. But after a while…they began to bother me. My father hasn't had a good night's sleep in years. It's starting to affect his health."
"I guess it's tough to have to deal with all those reporters. You probably didn't grow up in a very normal atmosphere, did you?" Paula's eyes narrowed and became tiny slits. "I don't see how that's any of your business." She growled. Tim took off his glasses and wiped them, then pressed the Stop button on the recorder. "You obviously don't want me here, do you?" he stated. Paula nodded. "What was your first clue, Einstein?"
Tim seemed visibly hurt by that last part. He placed his notebook on the table, then rose. "I see I have overstayed my welcome." He said softly. "It would appear that you are not the same person I imagined at all. Don't worry, though; I'm leaving." He headed for the door. Once he reached it, the door swung open by itself. "Thanks. I could have done that myself." He said, without turning. After that he sighed and left the room. What a waste. He thought to himself as he did. To think that she was our idol…wait till I tell the guys about THIS.
Those last thoughts rang in Paula's head like if someone had yelled them over a megaphone. As a psychic, she was able to read minds, and she always dipped into people's thoughts. She particularly enjoyed doing this to reporters, just to see what they thought of her.
What have I done? She thought to herself. She was about to get up when she noticed the notebook sill lying on the table. He forgot it…I wonder what's inside? Paula opened the notebook and flipped a few pages to the last written page. She was shocked by what she read.
It was a diary. There were sporadic entries every week or so, and the present date had been highlighted. Paula gulped as she began reading.
August 22rd , 199X
My dream has just come true! I'm going to get a chance to interview the one and only Paula Polestar! I'm so excited! I've dreamt of meeting her for ages now! Out of all the psychics I've interviewed, she is the one I am most looking forward to meeting. I hope I don't mess up…what if I act wrong and she doesn't like me? I guess there's no time for that. I have to get packing so I can make the bus to Twoson!
August 23rd, 199X
I'm right in front of her house. She just opened the door. She's beautiful! Although I imagined her to have brown hair like all the others I've seen. Oh well…I can't really complain. Anyone else would have killed to be in my shoes!
Wow! She lives in a preschool! She must be a very kind person to take care of all these kids. But she's been so rude to me…I wonder why?
Well, I just started the interview, and I'm so excited! I can't wait till all the guys back home see this! They'll be so happy! I hope I can work up the guts to tell her how much I admire her…
The diary stopped there. Paula let a tear run down her cheek and drip onto the pages in the journal. Out of all the reporters, he was the only kind one…and she scared him off. Why? Why couldn't she see this coming? Paula tucked the notebook under her arm and dashed out the door. Maybe I can still catch him! She thought to herself as she ran out the door.
Tim sat on the bench in the bus station with his small suitcase beside him. His eyes were distant and his glasses dangled from his ears. He realized he had forgotten his notebook once he was outside, but it was too late to go back now. He sighed sadly and hunched himself over. He sat like that, staring at the floor, when he heard someone step up to him.
"You forgot this."
Paula held the notebook to her chest and stared at Tim, breathing heavily. Tim adjusted his glasses and stared at her blankly. "Did you run all the way over here?" he asked. Paula nodded. "I…your thoughts were full of sadness. That's how I tracked you." Paula sat down on the bench beside Tim and cast her head down. Tim looked away. "Are you here to torment me some more?" he said, his voice pained. "I've had enough for one day."
Paula shook her head. "I guess I deserve that." She let another tear roll down her cheek. "Listen…I'm sorry. I was just so tired of reporters and news crews…I didn't think you'd be different." She placed her hand on his shoulder. "And I'm flattered that you admire me so much." She paused. "I guess what I'm trying to say is…will you give me a second chance?"
Tim turned to Paula and raised his eyebrows, smiling sheepishly. "You mean…I can interview you? For real?" Paula nodded. Tim stood and cheered. "Yes! Wow, I'm so happy!" Paula let out a small chuckle. She rose and looked at him in the eyes. "Thanks." She said. "I didn't remember what it was like to meet people like you." Tim blushed and chortled slightly. "Really? Like me?" Paula nodded again. "Yep. Like you." Tim's face grew ever redder. "Well, then let's go!" he timidly offered Paula his arm, which Paula gladly accepted, then strolled back to the house.
"So, what say we get something to eat first?" Tim asked casually as they walked. "Like maybe a pizza?" Paula chuckled and shook her head. "No, thanks." She said politely. "I don't like pizza." Tim shrugged in response and turned to look at her. "I dunno…you might like it."
Paula smiled at him. "Well…if you insist." She said after a moment.
"Great." Tim said. "After all, you never know when things will be different, right?" he said with a wink. Paula smiled and pulled herself closer to him. "Yeah…you never know."