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"Damn, there goes all my fun, Liz!"
"See? You were about to wish something without even realizing it."
"Christ, you're right." She ran the past few sentences through her mind. "How am I going to get through this? I can't do it. It's just too much responsibility." Panic ran through her veins. She felt hot, her face flushed and she was scared to death!
What would she do if she accidentally hurt someone because she was having a bad day and they pissed her off? How could she live with herself? There wasn't any way she could stay in her home for the rest of her life. For starters, her bank account couldn't support it. Then there were errands and doing things with her kids.
Oh my! Her kids! She couldn't tell them. She definitely had to figure this power thingy out before they came home. Why was this happening now? Didn't she have enough to deal with at the moment with her two ex-husbands? Wasn't that stressful enough? Now, somehow, she'd been given some type of power and she didn't know why she had it or how to control it. What if she ended up the last person on earth because she wished for time alone?
Suddenly, right then, the thrill of it all had faded. It was replaced with a huge, heavy burden. She had to watch everything she did and think through every thought before something bad happened.
"This sucks! Yeah, it's nice to have things the second I think it." She leaned forward on the table and rested her head on her arms. She ran her hands over her hair, smoothing it flat. "But do you realize with one slip of a word, how things, bad things, can happen without me even really meaning it?" She sighed and rested her cheek on the table, stretching her arms out straight, then she yawned.
"It was fun for a while, but now ... now I'm afraid to think and leave my house." She sat back and slumped in her chair.
"Do you really think you can hurt someone?"
"Don't know, but it's not easy to swallow that possibility is there. Look at all the things I wished for today. It's possible and that ... oh God! How do I not let stuff happen? An instruction manual explaining all of this would come in handy right about now."
"That's brilliant! Why don't you wish for one?"
Melissa crossed her arms over her chest and frowned. "Already tried while you were gone, and nothing. Not even one single line of a helpful hint."
"Shit, I'm sorry, Mel. But somehow I don't think you'd be able to actually kill someone," she paused, "I hope."
"That makes two of us. I'm starting to really be afraid of this. Actually," she swallowed hard, "I'm scared shitless!"
"I'll stay tonight if you want company," Liz offered.
Relief washed over Melissa and she didn't hesitate taking Liz up on the offer. She didn't need to be asked twice, and somehow, just knowing someone would be there just in case something really bizarre happened settled her frayed nerves. Not enough to sleep soundly, but perhaps to sleep off and on. Okay, catnap would be more like it!
"I bet after a good night's sleep, things will be different in the morning. You won't be so afraid and will figure out something."
"It's worth a try. Maybe something will click in my head. It has been a long day."
"Right now it's new and overwhelming. I think in the morning, a solution to helping you deal with this so you won't be afraid to leave the house will come to you. You're just too tired and excited to think clearly."
"You're probably right."
"There are pj's in the third drawer." She pointed to the dresser and walked towards the bed, pulling the shammed pillows off and placing them on the chest at the foot of the bed while Liz took the pajamas and went to the bathroom and changed.
Melissa turned down the bed covers and crawled in on the right-hand side, leaving the left uncovered for Liz. It didn't take either of them long to get comfortable and say goodnight before both drifted off to sleep. They were purely exhausted from the long day they had with testing her powers.
* * *
Melissa didn't have any trouble sleeping through the night. She didn't dream or toss and turn at all. She felt rested, relaxed, and as if this whole thing had been a fabrication of her mind.
Until ... Liz started moving on the other side of the bed. This morning though, Melissa didn't feel like she was an accident waiting to happen. And probably by the time she had her first cup of coffee, things would look even better. The bed jiggled when Liz moved again and reached for Melissa's arm.
"Good morning, Liz," she said and opened her eyes.
When Liz's grip grew tighter and Melissa turned her head, looking at Liz. But she could only see the back of her head. And t hen she felt Liz slowly sliding closer, almost pushing Melissa off of the bed with her butt and legs.
"What are you doing? I'm going to fall off. Stop it, Liz!"
But Liz ignored her. In fact, it took only a few second for Liz to push her off of the bed completely and the two of them fell quickly to the floor.
"Shut up! Do you have a gun?" Liz whispered.
"What? No! I have kids."
"Anything that can cause damage?"
"What the hell is going on? You're scaring me."
"There's a man in this room!"
"Shut up! We need something to hurt him so we can get the fuck out of here safely. We need to call the cops, too!"
"Where?" she whispered. They pressed their cheeks to the floor, looking underneath the bed and could see his booted feet; the mattress hid the rest of his body from their view.
"How big do you think?"
"Don't know, I saw him then blinked, thinking I was still sleeping and then I stole another peek and he was still standing there! If we stick together, it's two against one. We can make it out okay." Liz whispered.
"It was a hell of a lot better than any idea Melissa had planned-which was nothing at the moment.
"Good morning, ladies." The low voice made them both hold onto each other. Scared out of their skins.
Excerpted from 39 & Holding by Tia Bangs Copyright © 2006 by Tia Bangs. Excerpted by permission.
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