Joanna let her tray fall flat to the ground; make a very loud sound and spilling everything everywhere. Everyone around her stopped right where they were and looked at her, as if she had exploded herself. She had fallen to her knees and was grabbing her head, saying something very fast over and over and over. Some people tried to get close and help her but they would suddenly get a horrible headache. One teacher started bleeding through the nose and young girl fainted. But after a couple of minutes, Joanna fainted and she was taken to a hospital. Everyone in the school talked about it for days and concluded, very fast, that she was just insane. It wasn’t unheard of that students could become crazy and that’s what everyone thought had happened to Joanna.
But in the hospital, the doctors did not find any anomalies on her brain or anywhere else. Her body was in perfect shape except for the fact that this was the third time she was admitted for a similar event. However, this time seemed to be special as, a full day after the incident, she was still sleeping and the doctors could not do anything to wake her up. Her mother, father and brother came in and tried to help the doctors but it was useless. Joanna would remain sleeping and also mumbling whatever word or words she had thought about just as the incident happened. Her mother stay in the hospital with her a whole week until finally Joanna woke up, as if nothing had happened. She was scared. She had no idea what had happened and the fact that a week had passed her by didn’t help to calm her down.
The doctors checked her up one last time but couldn’t find anything abnormal. They asked Joanna’s mother to get her to a psychiatrist in order to help them with her problems at school. He had said it as if Joanna had done something awful to one of the students or something but the truth was that every time something happened, Joanna suffered the only real injuries. The nosebleeds and fainting were nothing compared to what she described as a massive headache, where she could hear many voices inside her head. But these voices were not random ones but the voices of her classmates, her teachers, her family… Something was very wrong with her and it was Joanna who first said so in therapy.
She went to the psychiatrist two times per week and her parents decided to home school her, at least for the remainder of the school year. It was obvious she wasn’t ready to be with other kids and seeing them everyday after what they had seen her go through was clearly not the best idea in the world. And the truth was she didn’t miss anything about school. After the first incident, when she had started screaming in gym class, every single one of her so-called friends stopped talking to her. They only looked at Joanna as if she was a freak and made noises and mocked her. So she was happy to get rid of that.
Her parents did not know this. Only the psychiatrist knew and she had told Joanna that it was very normal to see fear as a reaction when people didn’t know what was happening. In their sessions, they always talked about the voices in her head and that, once she had realized they were the voices of her classmates, she could choose to hear one of them over the others. And that made her even more nervous. When she let the tray go in the middle of the cafeteria, she had happened to break in the thoughts of a boy she had always found mysterious and handsome. And inside of him, he heard the most awful things, thoughts of suicide and of killing others. He felt guilty and alone. For her, it had been very painful to hear him in her head, so she let the tray go and screamed.
The psychiatrist thought that Joanna was internalizing a lot of anxiety and had created this “power” in order to get attention. She thought Joanna had channeled a huge amount of feelings into one single event and now she thought she heard people’s thoughts. In the following sessions, the doctor tried to get Joanna to understand that what she heard was just herself. She had created this great power but now she had to let her go in order to get better. Joanna did as the therapist said and followed her every advice. She began doing yoga to relax the mind and started talking to her mother and father in order to have a better connection to them, as a real family should be.
The truth was they had always been a little bit too private. Her parents were the kind of people that think that their children should be shielded against everything, even the fact that the parents are humans and have feelings and failures too. It was hard for them to tear down that wall they had built around their two kids but day by day, they made progress and Joanna started to get better. She was smiling again and soon she had finished her school chores and exams. She did it sooner that her classmates in the actual school, so her parents and the therapist agreed that the best thing would be for her to get some responsibility.
As summer was beginning, her mother found her a job as a lifeguard in a public pool not very far from home. Joanna was not thrilled about the idea but decided that she could use the money and maybe it could be the beginning of her working life. The first day, it all went perfectly. She helped many children to their parents and even saved one girl that had fallen by accident. Many people praised her and thanked her. She saw many people that she knew from school but decided not to say a word to them. That was the past for her and she did not want to go back to it. That evening, she told everything about her day to her mother and she was happy that her daughter was so much better now.
But then, it happened again. Joanna was in her post, looking at the kid’s pool when a gorgeous young man came in. He was very handsome and his swimming gear was perfect on him. Joanna smiled to him and he smiled back and then she could hear his thoughts. Only that this time, it wasn’t painful. She didn’t collapse or scream. She had learned to relax so the voice just came in and she heard him think that she had beautiful her. She went a bit red on the cheeks and decided to try it out with other people. She saw a mother with her child and heard her think about the father of his son and how worried she was he may not come back from his next business trip. Apparently, she though he was cheating on her.
It was the best thing that had ever happened to her because she realized that her gift was not something awful and hurtful but a great way to know what people were thinking in order to make their day happier. She brought balloons for kids that were sad and tried to cheer up many people by doing fun activities like exercising in the water. She was glad to be of help and for people to finally like her as she really was. At night, she would write it all in a journal and even thought of telling herm other but she stopped short because she realized it would be too much of a crazy story for her to believe it. If she said anything maybe her mom would think she needed more help or something more permanent to help her and Joanna did not want to go to any more doctors.
She did, however, go to her therapist one more time. It was her last appointment and she wanted very thing to go great but she had the feeling she had to tell someone about her powers and how now they were just good and under control. But the therapist was an adult and adults did not take these things as good things, always afraid of everything. She went through the whole session without any reference to her powers until the phone rang and she couldn’t resist knowing what it was about. She realized the therapist was talking to the boy she had heard in school, the one with suicidal thoughts. Joanna had described him to her. He was called Evan. And he was her next appointment.
Without any hesitation, she asked her therapist if Evan was going to be ok. At first, the woman seemed surprised but then she calmed down. Joanna asked her if she believed in her powers now. She read her man and asked her why she was thinking Joanna was unbalanced. The doctor smiled and told Joanna that Evan had serious problems, because he had already tried to kill himself only a few days ago. Joanna went the rest of the session trying to pretend everything was fine but the truth was she remembered how Evan had felt in school and needed to see him herself. After the session, he was there and, crazy as it sounds, she talked in his mind, asking him to join her in the hall.
She had no idea if that could work but moments later she heard Evan apologize to his mother and the doctor, saying he really needed to pee. He stepped outside and joined Joanna. They looked at each other. Evan was a little bit scared and shaken and Joanna was too but also hopeful of what her powers could do. Then, she just hugged him tight and he responded the same way. They did not say a word, only Joanna left another message in his mind: "call me soon". She left and he went inside. And they both felt better about themselves because they had realized they were never alone.