Where did I go wrong? It was the summer of 1995 when I first strayed. I hadn’t yet learned of my supernatural abilities. My friend Bobby Reynolds and I attended a graduation party in an old, two-story, colonial on the other side of town. Our entire graduating class attended that party. The girls danced in the middle of the room while the boys reminisced about high school sports and parties from years past. Joints passed from his hand to her hand, then to his, and so on. They held one boy upside down by the keg while others shouted and chanted.
Bobby and I held up the back wall, as usual. Bobby sipped his beer, and I fidgeted around with my fingers; crowds always made me nervous. It seemed as if everyone stared at me. My body seemed three times heavier than usual, and people used to tease me because I would sway side to side, shifting my weight from one leg to the other. That’s why I had leaned against the wall tonight.
I tried to fit in. The clothes I wore didn’t differ from those of my classmates. Almost everyone wore loose-fitting jeans, and Nirvana was one of the most popular bands, so many of us wore their t-shirts.
Bobby and I were very much alike, except he dressed much preppier. We went to the same Catholic Church, but his parents were more devout than mine. They’d never approve of him listening to what they referred to as the Devil’s music. His father made a few comments about some of my shirts, but it never stopped me from wearing them and trying to fit in with my classmates.
Bobby noticed me staring at Heather Thompson as she danced in the middle of the room. “Why do you obsess over her? You know she’s dating Billy Stevens.”
“Come on,” I said, “Everybody knows Billy’s upstairs fucking Sandy Malloy.”
“I understand Heather’s hot, but why do you keep torturing yourself?” Bobby asked. “You’ll never ask her out. Even if you did, and somehow, she said yes, what would you do? Everyone knows you turned Alice Gumble down when she tried to have sex with you last year.”
“You can’t compare Alice Gumble to Heather Thompson!” I snarled. “You know what, though? Alice may be ugly, but I still should have tried it. At least I’d know what it feels like.”
A smile beamed across Bobby’s face as he stared at me. “Did you turn her down because she’s ugly, or were you afraid to sin?”
Again, I stared at Heather’s fit, curvy body. My tongue slid through my lips, and I said, “Man, she looks good out there. Should I ask her out?”
Bobby laughed. He realized how uneasy Heather made me. “I don’t get why you’re so nervous. You never used to be shy. I remember back in the ninth grade. You dated that girl who moved, what was her name?”
“Stacy,” I said. “She dumped me. Then she dated Justin for a while before she moved.” My heart plunged into my guts, and I suppressed my tears as I recalled the pain. When she dumped me, I had thought I wanted to die.
I adored Heather’s long, skinny legs, and couldn’t take my eyes off her soft, milky white skin. Bobby stared at me. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have assumed he was in love with me.
“Look at you. You’re tense, and you’re sweating. Your heart’s about to jump out through your chest. Let me get us a couple of beers. You’ll need to loosen up before you talk to Heather.”
I wasn’t much of a drinker back then, but I needed something to take the edge off. I shook in my skin over the thought of talking to Heather. In my eyes, she stood at the top of a pedestal.
After about three beers, still propped against the back wall, I watched Heather dance. As I watched, she stopped and faced me. My heart dropped. Heather’s stare impaled me, while her smile commanded attention.
I stood, frozen, until Bobby’s voice crept into my ear. “If you’re going to make your move, now’s the time. If you don’t, she’ll think you’re a creeper, staring at her like that.”
As I approached Heather, her lips curled, and her eyes glistened. Although timid, I somehow worked up the nerve and asked her to dance. I’ll always remember how comfortable her body was as we swayed to the music. My wavy black hair tickled my acne covered forehead as she smiled upward at me. The stress of the situation stiffened my back, and I struggled to move. Although nervous, I was in Heaven at that moment. As we danced, I admired Heather’s silky blonde hair and her soft, milky skin, but I cowered away from her seductive blue eyes. Heather edged closer, but I kept her at a safe distance. Blood zipped through my veins as my heart pounded against my ribcage, but for the timorous boy, shame flowed with my excitement.
Frightened as I was, I realized I must say something. “So, I’m told you and Billy fought earlier,” I mumbled.
A burning sensation shot through my head. I heard a voice, but didn’t recognize it. “Come on, Michael. Speak up! Don’t show her how much of a pussy you are. Put a little confidence in your voice. Press up against her and show her what you want.” I swore those were my thoughts, but the voice sounded unfamiliar. I glanced downward at Heather, and it was evident she hadn’t heard a thing. The strange, slightly high-pitched, sly, voice came from my head.
I didn’t need to say anything further. Heather realized my intentions. She recognized that I wanted to ask her out. Tears filled her eyes, and she pushed me away. “It’s none of your business, what happens between Billy and me. Even if we fought, I’d never go out with you. We will never be more than friends, so get that into your head and never forget it!”
The party suddenly became silent as Billy stormed across the room, flicking his dirty blonde hair out of his face. His body appeared weightless, as if he didn’t have a care in the world. There was only one thing on his mind, and it was clear. After what he’d done to that girl upstairs, most people would have exhausted themselves, but not Billy. Rage burned inside Billy Stevens, and its fires fueled him with an enormous amount of energy.
My head cocked upward, and I stepped back as Billy plunged himself between Heather and me. “You’re at a party with the entire football team, and you didn’t think anybody would tell me you’re trying to get with my girlfriend. Are you Fuckin’ retarded, Caro?”
Heather tried to calm her boyfriend’s fury. “We were only dancing. Calm down, Billy!”
Billy’s fist exploded into my face faster than I could see it coming. He knocked me backward about five steps.
Our bodies are remarkable. Although Billy struck me, and I knew it should hurt, my adrenaline kicked in, and I didn’t feel a thing. He stunned me, but there was no pain. As I stared at the bully before me, my head burned as it did when I danced with Heather. Time slowed, and flames shot through the room. The voice returned, only louder and more explicit. “Come on, Michael. If you want her so bad, fight for her! Don’t stand here, petrified. Who cares if Billy was the toughest kid on the football field? Oh, wait a minute, it’s not only fear of Billy holding you back. You believed her. You couldn’t see Heather tried to spare you from Billy’s temper. Now you stand here with tears rolling down your cheeks. You stare at that stupid haircut on Billy’s head. He looks ridiculous! The long hair on top flops over the shaved sides and into his face. Grab him by his hair and slam his face into your knee! Ha hah, I didn’t think so. You timid little boy, your heart breaks too easy, and for no good reason. Oh, if you only knew the journey that lies ahead. Take that beer Bobby brought you. Watch Heather leave with Billy’s arm around her. I’ve seen your journey, Michael. Past, present, and future — I watch from the fiery depths of Hell. I am the voice echoing through your head. Some call me a trickster, the Great Deceiver. It’s lies, Michael. There is no deception with me. I tell it how it is, how it was, and how it will be. Pay attention, Michael Caro, and I will guide you to greatness.”