Home in his room, with books spread around as if he were doing homework, he got onto his computer. He pulled down his buddy list. A familiar name was online.
Billy boy, how are things back in Wilmington?
Is that you, Sam? I thought you’d dried up an blowed away.
Yeah, new school, but it same ol, same ol.
Uh, oh. Girl trouble?
More or less. Too many of the wrong kind.
Too many hotties or too many dogs?
You’d never believe me.
Sam, have I ever not believed you. Even with the dream girl thing. You can tell me.
Well, I’ve got three medium hot ‘buddies’, one of which is looking to snag a daddy.
Steer clear, son. Steer clear.
I am. Just smiling and keeping my shirt buttoned, at least after the first time.
“Oh let me wash that paint stain. Now sit beside me on the couch.”
I got the message when her superstructure was missing a harness and bailed.
Whew. That’s the one looking to get a big belly?
Flirty buddies. I can handle them.
Yeah. Spooky goth. Sees auras. Claims we’re destined mates.
Uh, oh. But I guess she’s no worse that that girl you see in your dreams.
Totally different. But there’s something about this one. She’s everywhere I look.
I dunno. I can’t get past the black goth stuff.
I’ve seen some pretty sexy goths.
I’ll take another look. I just wish I could find the right girl.
She won’t be the right one without “red hair, pixie cut and deep brown eyes”
Give my dream girl a rest.
Why? You compare every girl to her. Look around. Maybe she’s out there looking for you.
Dinner was lasagna. Not the TV dinner kind.
“Sam, how is school?”
“And your grades?”
“They’re coming up. I took a hit, making this move, but I should be okay soon enough.”
His father’s eyes were tracking the ball on the screen in the other room, but he was doing his duty and eating at the table with them. “Going for valedictorian?”
“Dad! You know that’s not possible. Be happy with B’s.”
“I’ll be happy when you put more effort into it. I know you can do better. You’re just coasting along. You’ll never get scholarships this way.”
He sighed. It was an old argument.
Chess club meets Wednesday 4pm. 1222 Blackburn Hall. I told them you would come.
Sam was horrified as he read the text. What gave her the right? And how did she even know about Chess club. Was it on his records some how?
He tapped away angrily.
None of your business what clubs I join. Stay out of my hair.
There was a quick reply.
School spirit. Cross town games coming up. You know you’ll win.
He turned off his phone before he was seen. No sense in getting a teacher down on him as well.
But how did she know about chess?
Steph! Steph knows her. I bet that’s it.
He plopped down at Steph’s table at lunch.
“Howdy ladies.” Candi and Clare were there as well. Steph was one of the main actresses in the play. His trio were extras on the stage--townspeople with no real lines. But their play was coming up and that’s all they talked about.
“Sam! How are you? You just missed Jason. He and Candi are planning a double-date to the movies on Friday with David and me. You could come too.”
He shook his head. “Still trying to catch up on the homework. Dad wants straight A’s this time. Never gonna happen. By the way, did you talk to Agatha recently?”
She looked puzzled. “No. Since she dropped out of Drama last year, we don’t do much.”
“So, you didn’t say anything about chess?”
“Oh, do you play chess? That looks too hard for me.”
“Yeah, I played some back at Wilmington. Just trying to track down some things.”
Okay. How did you know about chess?
He sat in a corner of the library, fuming. Her reply came a couple of minutes later.
Are you going to the meeting?
No. Answer my question.
I’ll tell you everything, after the meeting. Just attend. You don’t have to play.
He grumbled. It was almost time. He had sworn off chess. At least Chess club. He didn’t want to go back.
But he had to figure out what Agatha was up to. And he had to know how she knew about his chess skills.
He walked over to Blackburn Hall and located the room.
“Hello, are you interested in chess?”
There were three guys there.
“I’ve played a little. I’m new to the school.”
“Great, we need another player. Have a seat.”
There were two boards--a standard sized board with plastic pieces, and a fold-up pocket board with tiny pieces that plugged into holes in the board. He hadn’t seen one of those in a while--what with the digital players so common.
He couldn’t help himself. He took black on the little pocket board. The opponent, Greg, was a decent player and no one talked much. There was a little discussion of their rankings, but Sam disclaimed any knowledge of his own ranking number.
“Check.” He said absently as the game progressed. He slapped the little clock that tracked how many minutes he spent versus his opponent.
Greg grumbled. “That’s probably mate.”
It wasn’t. Sam reluctantly pointed his finger at a rook.
“Oh. Sorry.” Greg made the move, but a minute later it was over.
“Did you want to join the tournaments?”
He shook his head. “I’m too new here. I’d better wait a bit.”
“Are you that guy Agatha mentioned?”
“Oh, what did she say?”
He shrugged. “Just that she’d seen you play and were pretty good.”
“Really? I haven’t played since I moved here.”
“Don’t worry about it. Agatha is always getting information from her ‘visions’. Maybe that’s where she saw you play.”
They all chuckled at that. Apparently, she was a known source of odd stories.
When they broke up, Sam wandered down the hallway. His phone vibrated.
She was waiting at a table, her painted eyes watching for him.
He pulled up a chair.
“Okay. I went to the meeting.”
She nodded. “You won.” It wasn’t a question.
“Well, yes, but that’s not the point. How did you know I played chess?”
She sighed, and looked down at the table. “I suppose you don’t believe in clairvoyance?”
“I don’t believe high school girls in black clothes that talk of auras are statistically likely to have useful clairvoyant skills.”
She chuckled and smiled up at him. “You sound just like...someone else I know.”
You look so much better with a smile. Her brown eyes glistened. Billy had been right. He should take another look at her.
“Okay, I’ve had this discussion many times. Forget the word ‘clairvoyance’. I am intuitive. I come up with testable information without obvious research.”
He nodded. At least she knew words he could understand. ‘Testable’ meant she’d predict things that could actually be checked--proved true or false. Not just claim knowledge about past lives or secret thoughts that no one could test.
“Okay. So you just guessed I knew chess.”
“Exactly. I knew that you played chess. I know you are good. Some number in the two thousands keeps popping up in my head but I can’t make sense of it. Is that a ranking?”
“And you didn’t go online and look up my Elo chess rankings?”
She nodded. “I wouldn’t know how to do that. I can understand how you might not believe me, but that’s what’s happening.”
“You told Greg, at the chess club that you’d seen me play.”
She smiled. “I’ve seen you doing many things. Some in the past, some in the future.”
She looked off to the side, and blinked, as if recalling something.
“I saw you without a shirt, talking to Julie. I saw you playing chess with a large group of people--lots of games going on at the same time. I saw you crying in a Jeep, on the side of a mountain. I saw....other things. Lots of other things.”
Sam was quiet. The rumor mill could have relayed the shirt incident. She could have made up the chess tournament. But nobody knew I went up on Baldy that night. Nobody.
She shrugged, and it occurred to him that there were tears in her eyes. Why?
“We are linked. I said so from the first. We are mates.” She straightened in her chair, and cleared her throat. “I’m more likely to pick up emotional events. Although, personally, I hardly think playing chess is all that emotional--but that’s just me.”
“You said future events?”
She nodded. “I’ve seen you and me. Together.”
He didn’t ask for details. She could be lying, or projecting, but it was so close to his own recurring dream that his thoughts veered away from thinking about that too closely.
“Three years. You said something about three years ago.”
She nodded. “I’ve had dreams all my life. Little things mainly. I’d even seen you. But they were all vague.”
She looked behind him again. “It was the auras that changed. I put a few pieces together and realized you would be coming.” She looked down at the table again. “It’s hard to explain. Especially when we don’t share the same concepts.”
He nodded. “Like auras. You mean like the Kirilian photographs?”
“No. I know about those, but those are just some kind of electrostatic things. The auras I see are different.”
He was frustrated. He’d read about auras. But none of the descriptions made any kind of physical sense. If you couldn’t photograph auras, then they weren’t light. And if they weren’t light, how could people see them.
She was smiling at him, now.
“Okay, do you have the magic piece of information that would help me understand it?”
“Nope. I just see them. I can make testable predictions based on what I see. And I can’t make anyone else see them, or understand what I’m seeing.” She shrugged. “I don’t try to make people believe me. But I can’t just lie and hide what I’m experiencing either. I’m content with people thinking I’m crazy. What does it matter in the long run anyway?”
She reached to her side and picked up her bag. “I’ve got to go.”
“No. Wait. I have more questions.”
“My ride is here. I have to go. We’ll talk more later.”
He got up with her and walked with her to the entrance. He wanted to get another close look at her eyes, but she just kept on going, walking out the entrance sidewalk right as a car drove up to meet her. He watched as she got in the front seat with her mother, black haired like her. As they drove off, he thought he saw her lean her head against the woman.