Since my power couldn't be activated, Doctor Franklin decided to take me home that same day. There wasn't much point doing any more tests, and after what she said in her office, I was anxious to get back. I was also looking forward to another chance to see a bit of scenery, though I don't remember much about the trip back from Dublin. I was lost in memories.
My father escaped MORFS. It was easier to avoid illnesses living in a remote part of Ireland so he never caught a virus that could trigger MORFS. He was always very careful to wash his hands and he didn't often travel far beyond Dingle. It was easy for him to stay healthy with his lifestyle.
As he got older, he kept the habits of his youth. Keeping close to home didn't matter because he loved Southwest Ireland. In his eyes, it was as beautiful as my beloved mother. I doubted that he'd ever leave.
My mother was the one exception in his early adult life. He didn't expect to find a woman to marry in Dingle. He didn't feel the need to settle down and start a family. Such is the way of good men it seems. Even when they aren't looking for love, love somehow finds them.
According to the stories my father told me, he met my mother on a rare trip to Tralee to the northeast. They met at a cafe where she was working as a waitress. He told her all about his wood crafting and explained he was in town to see about getting supplies for his business. That was all it took.
My mother loved an artistic man and was taken with him from the very beginning. Apparently my father felt the same way because they exchanged contact information and it wasn't long before my mother came down to visit. In only six months, they were married and I was born a few years later. That's the short, "happily ever after" version. There's more though.
By the time I was three, the marriage became strained. It was clearly a painful subject to talk about because it took me until last year to find out that my mother wasn't happy living in Dingle. Before I was born, she traveled back to Tralee every couple weeks. She also went to various other cities quite often, managing to drag her reluctant husband along. She loved to travel and craved life in the big city, while my father only felt comfortable in Dingle. He visited other parts of Ireland with her but he wasn't happy about it.
Perhaps a bit of counseling would've helped, even if it was before the marriage. I can't complain though. If they never got married, I wouldn't be here. Still, I wish my father was happier. Since the sea claimed his true love, he hasn't been the same.
As I arrived back in Dingle, my thoughts quickly returned to the present. I wondered what my father was holding back. It concerned my mother so I wanted to know. I had to know.
Doctor Franklin accompanied me on the return trip, though she barely said three words the whole way. The way she looked at me, I guessed she felt bad about saying anything about my mother. She probably wanted to tell me everything now, but felt I should hear it from my father instead. I suppose I preferred to hear it from him. If or when I started shouting, I'd like it to be in private.
I'm sure my father could see the fire smoldering in my eyes as I walked past him into the house. He spared me a concerned glance and then thanked the doctor for everything before closing the door. It was time for a serious father-daughter talk.
"Dana," my father spoke cautiously as he lowered himself onto one of his handmade chairs. "So what power have you got?"
"I'm an air elemental," I said with a slight scowl. I stayed standing in spite of being waved to a seat.
"Ah. That's a grand power," he said with a faint smile. "And have you been able to use it?"
"No," I growled, continuing to counter his nervous smile with a scowl. "Not yet."
"Did you enjoy the trip? Did you like Dublin? It's a rather large city, wouldn't you say?"
"I wasn't really there long enough to appreciate it, though I did hear something interesting."
"It concerns mother."
"You don't say."
"She'd been to the Institute. Doctor Franklin told me they learned a lot from her."
My father didn't say anything to that. He just stared down at the floor.
"Well?" I said after an irritating minute of silence. I put my hands on my hips and glared. I was getting a wee bit impatient. "Are you gonna be telling me why she was there?"
"So the good doctor didn't tell you everything then," he said quietly. "Are you sure you it's the truth you be wantin' to hear?"
"Father!" I shrieked. "Of course I want to know! Why didn't you tell me before? Why?"
"You've got your mother's temper," he muttered. "It's a curse it is."
That did it. He was still holding back and it made my blood boil. I was about to scream some more but I suddenly felt very strange. A pressure began to build inside my chest and spread throughout my body. It continued spreading until it completely filled every part of me. Then the feeling became stronger and started getting uncomfortable. It was like a ball of energy was slowly exploding inside me. I had to let it out. I had to release it, but I didn't know how.
Some people might have panicked at this point but not me. It just fueled my anger. I wasn't about to let anything distract me from finding out about my mother. If I had any rational thought, I'd have realized that how I felt must have had something to do with my power. Instead, I felt only increasing anger and frustration, and I did the only thing I could. I pinched my eyes shut and screamed.
During my scream, I felt the energy inside me flow outward and curl into a spinning ring around my body. The ring kept getting larger in volume and it spun faster and faster. As it increased in size, the pressure inside me decreased. It felt wonderful! At least it did until my scream faded away and allowed me to hear and see the results of my effort.
I opened my eyes to see the most amazing and frightening sight I'd ever seen. Papers, pens, and all manner of small objects were circling me. There were even a few larger objects including a few dishes and some books. I was at the center of a howling whirlwind inside my house.
When I finally thought to look at my father, I was truly scared. He was bent over in his chair with his arms protecting his head, and he was bleeding from several cuts and scratches that he hadn't had a minute ago. He was also screaming at me to stop. If only I knew how.
"Stop! Stop it!" I yelled at the wind storm like it was alive, like it could hear me and do what I demanded. It didn't work of course, but I continued to yell and as I did so, I moved closer to my father. Luckily, I noticed that the calm center of the wind moved with me. I bolted the rest of the way to where my father was sitting and saved him from further injury. I wish I could say the same for our house.
The sitting room was a disaster area and getting worse. Curtains and lamp shades were shredded, pictures were ripped away and the once bright white walls were dulled by thousands of scratches from broken pieces of plastic, wood and glass. It was hard to see all the way across the room because of all the paper and bits flying through the air. All I could do was stare in horror. I'd created a miniature hurricane.
I looked around, desperately trying to think of a way to stop the wind, when I felt my father's arms. He reached out for me and I knelt down to hug him. I don't know if he heard me, but I whispered several apologies in his ear. I had no idea I was capable of such power.
The wind continued to howl around us, reflecting the fury I'd felt when my father and I began our conversation. I still wanted to know what he was keeping from me, but now my priorities shifted. I had to find a way to stop my power. I had to try.
I closed my eyes and felt for the odd energy inside me. Once I found it, the pressure began to build again. I briefly considered sending it out as a ring of air blowing in the opposite direction but I was afraid the two rings wouldn't cancel each other. I also tried to reach out with my mind and stop the whirlwind directly. That didn't work so I did the only other thing I could think of. It would create more damage but I was fairly sure it would work.
I was like a wee child taking her first steps. All I could do is wobble forward the only way I knew how. As before, I built up the pressure inside me, but this time I sent the energy straight out away from me in all directions. The power level was higher than my first effort and the results were spectacular.
Amazingly enough, none of our windows were broken up to now. The whirlwind ran along the walls and only scratched the surface of the glass. My second burst of raw elemental power was in a different direction. It exploded directly at the walls and blew out most of the windows in our house. The change in pressure and temperature made my ears pop and my eyes water. The roar of two battling volumes of air also hurt my ears. After several minutes, just when I thought I couldn't take any more, the winds died down, and an eerie calm followed.
My father and I continued to cling to each other, and it was hard to tell but I think both of us were trembling. I slowly pulled myself away to stand up and heard a gull screeching outside, far off in the distance. It was over. The crazy wind was gone.
"I think I activated my power," I said with a sheepish grin.
My father flashed me a sour look before tugging on the corners of his mouth. I couldn't believe it. He was trying to be angry but ended up sort of smiling. At least his eyes were smiling.
"What?!" I said with an indignant snort.
That got a few laughs out of him, but the laughter soon turned to crying. I knelt down and hugged him until he felt like talking again. Then the words poured out of his mouth. We sat together on our lovely green sofa after brushing it off and he told me everything.
When I was 7, my mother got a job on a tour boat so she could get away from Dingle on a frequent basis. I remembered that time. She complained about feeling claustrophobic staying in the village day after day. My father finally suggested she get a job and she happily embraced the idea. She'd walk me to school and then go to the docks to wait for tourists. My father would show up after school and walk me home. That arrangement seemed to help - for another few years anyway.
As my father had told me before, there was more to my mother's dissatisfaction than getting away. She didn't want to just get away from village life. She wanted to go out and see the world. There was yet more though. My eyes widened as he told me the rest of the story, the part he'd kept hidden for so long.
At first I didn't understand why he'd kept it secret, but by the time he finished, I understood his pain and why he didn't want to burden me with it. I didn't just sympathize with him. I felt that same pain now myself.
My mother lived on the outskirts of Limerick. She'd gotten MORFS relatively late in her life. She was 19 at the time and was somewhat surprised by it. Like myself, she had no physical changes. The only thing MORFS did to her was turn her into a powerful water elemental. She was noticed by the same Institute that examined me and soon ended up going through an exhaustive series of tests.
When I was in Dublin, Doctor Franklin had told me her employers had learned a lot from my mother. My father confirmed this but added that my mother loved Dublin and loved the attention she was getting, but when the Institute was done with her, they gave her bus fare and sent her home. They had no more interest in her, and they neglected to mention that there might be specialized, high-paying jobs she could get with her power. She didn't have much interest in getting an education so out of ignorance, she went back to begin her career as a waitress. She'd make just enough money to move on to the next town or city and start all over again.
Most of the towns and cities she favored were on the coast. That was natural given her power. When she met my father and found out he lived in a coastal village, she was excited at first. It seemed like a perfect fit, but then the slow monotonous life began to bore her, and not even a job on a tour boat was good enough for someone with her urge to wander.
The implications were there for me to see. It made sense for a water elemental to get a job that had something to do with the sea, and getting a job on a tour boat was a good way to keep the crew and passengers safe in rough weather. Any waves that threatened to capsize a boat could be smoothed and the boat could easily make its way back to port. Unfortunately, the opposite could also be true. Waves could also be made worse and easily capsize a smaller boat like the one my mother worked on.
I didn't want to see the truth but I couldn't deny it either. Being a water elemental, my mother would most certainly not have drowned, even in the cold water of the Atlantic. If anything, she'd have thrived. She could've easily saved most if not all of the other crew and passengers too, getting some floating part of the ship for them to cling to while she pulled them all to shore. So now I had to accept that not only was she alive, she abandoned me and my father. She didn't want me, didn't love me. On top of that, it could very well be that she let everyone on the boat die. She might have even killed them on purpose by creating a rogue wave. It was a horrible revelation, too horrible.
My father tried hugging me when he saw my eyes tear up but I didn't return it. I was numb. I just wanted my mother to come home and tell me that she loved me and missed me so much, she had to come back. I sat there, willing it to happen with all my heart. If she walked through the front door right that instant, I'd forgive her, even if the rest of the village wouldn't.
Imagine my surprise when I heard a light tapping on the door. My mother wouldn't have knocked, so deep down I knew it wasn't her. The timing was impeccable though, until I realized that it wasn't a coincidence. It was Sean.
My father had gotten up to answer the door. He let Sean in and the old telepath knelt in front of me and gave me a knowing look. He didn't smile or say anything. He just reached up and put his hand on my shoulder. Normally, his unkempt white hair made me smile. He always said he never combed it. He let the wind do it instead. I didn't smile this time.
"She's not coming back, Dana," Sean finally said. "You have to accept it. You have to be strong."
My lower lip trembled but I stubbornly kept to my fantasy. I would see my mother again. I had to.
Sean got up and left me to stare. I could hear him talking quietly to my father but I didn't know what was said. I didn't care. I only wanted one thing, and I'd wait as long as it took.
It could've been minutes or hours later when Doctor Franklin showed up. I only knew this because she stood in front of me now.
"Dana?" she said, looking down at me. "How would you like to go back to Dublin?"
I didn't say anything. I didn't acknowledge her presence. I just kept staring straight ahead.
"We'd like to test you again now that your powers activated. Your father said it would be okay. We can leave right away."
"Hey," my father interjected. "You didn't say anything about leaving now. It doesn't have to be right this minute, does it?" "Can't she have a little time to herself?"
"Look around you Mr. McKenna. It's very clear she isn't able to control her power very well. She's a danger, to you, this village, maybe even herself."
They started talking about me as if I wasn't there. I hated that, but I guess it was only fair since I was unresponsive. It wasn't until the doctor mentioned that I was dangerous that I had to speak up. I had to let her know that I wasn't going anywhere, anytime soon.
"I'm only a danger to you, doctor, if you don't respect my father's wishes," I coldly stated, though I kept staring in the same direction.
Doctor Franklin wasn't looking at me directly when I spoke, but her head snapped back to look me in the eye. I don't think she liked what she saw there because her face suddenly lost a lot of its color.
"Dana!" my father shouted. "There is no excuse for that sort of behavior. Now apologize to the doctor."
His voice snapped me out of my dark mood but I was still very angry and hurt. I didn't apologize. I just sprang from the sofa and ran to my room, slamming the door behind me. I flopped face down on my bed and wailed as only a heartbroken teenage girl can.
"Why?! Why did you leave me?! How could you do it?!"
I cried and pleaded, soaking my bed covers with tears, but it didn't change the fact that my mother abandoned me and wasn't coming back.
* * *
I awoke in my bed sometime later, still lying on my stomach. I heard the sound of tapping at my bedroom door, followed by my father's voice.
"Dana? May I come in?"
"Okay," I said, my voice muffled by my bed.
My dear old father cautiously poked his head inside and frowned. Then he slowly made his way over to my sturdy twin size bed and sat down on it. The bed easily held us with nary a sound. He'd made the bed frame years ago so it had to be good.
I watched him out of the corner of my left eye but I remained face down. I was still having a good pout.
"Are ya feelin' any better?" my father gently asked.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. I was ...," he trailed off. I could tell it was difficult for him. He'd obviously felt the same pain I was feeling, and he'd carried it with him much longer.
"Afraid?" I finished for him.
"Yes. I was afraid of hurting you, more than you already were."
"You thought it was better to let me believe she was dead?"
"Wasn't it?" he asked.
I turned my head and looked into his eyes, and I could see a horrible sadness. At least when I thought my mother was dead, I eventually felt like I could move on. I had closure. Now, knowing she was still out there, the pain was back stronger than before, and my closure evaporated. I suddenly realized that I needed my father more than ever, so I pushed myself up and reached over to hug him. It gave me some small comfort and answered his question at the same time.
"Are you ready for some stew then?" he asked me.
I shook my head yes and followed him out to the kitchen.
I'd forgotten all about the mess I'd made of the rest of the house until I left my bedroom, and I was amazed at what I saw. Every room was cleaned up and all the windows had been replaced. Except for the shredded drapes, scratched walls and a few small pieces of various broken objects scattered about, I would've thought my wind storms were all a dream.
My father explained that several villagers, including Sean, helped him clean everything up in no time. We'd have to pay them back as we could but we couldn't very well live in a house without windows this time of year.
I made a note to thank everyone and then chewed my lower lip when I thought about the cost. It would take a large portion of the shop's profits to pay for all the damage I did. That was motivation to control my power if ever I had one. Of course I didn't want to hurt anyone. That was motivation too, but it was hard to stop myself when I lost my temper. It might sound shallow but money was the one thing that helped me keep a cool head. I took business matters very seriously.
Helping my father run his shop was important to me. I loved him and wanted to help him any way I could, but I suppose the biggest reason I felt so strongly about money was because I wanted him to have a comfortable retirement. I wasn't so concerned about having money for myself. No, I worried that I might not always be able to take care of him. I wanted to make sure he had enough money to see himself through many more cold and wet Irish winters.
The two of us puttered in our cozy little kitchen as I mentally fussed about expenses. It was too easy to fuss, even while preparing for our hearty supper. My father had started simmering his stew earlier in the day so it was ready to serve. I just had to get a glass of water for myself and grab a couple bowls and spoons while he ladled the stew. I could do that simple chore blindfolded. Luckily, I had other senses to break my train of thought.
The stew smelled wonderful as always. I could almost live on the fumes. It was a pleasant distraction that had me smiling in no time. My stomach gurgled its agreement.
After my stout loving father grabbed a pint of Guinness, our family of two sat at our small, wooden table and ate in silence. As usual, my eye was drawn to the spirals of carved ivy on the table corners while I shoveled in spoonful after spoonful of delicious Irish stew. There was nothing better.
After I'd finished off my second bowl of stew, I was disappointed to find that there wasn't any more left. I didn't normally eat that much but I was still hungry. House wrecking and crying myself to sleep took more out of me than I thought.
I spent the next 30 minutes amusing my father by rummaging around for something more to eat, and since he was done with his meal, he decided to fill the silence.
"I hope you're okay goin' back to Dublin. I think it's important to be tested."
I just grunted as I chewed on some sourdough bread.
"You could learn to control that power of yours better too I imagine."
Again, I grunted. I was listening but I didn't want to talk about the subject. I didn't want to think about what might happen if I lost my temper again. I wasn't exactly fond of the Institute. Doctor Franklin wasn't really so bad. I guess the doctor and telepath weren't bad either. There was something else that bothered me about the place. I wasn't sure why.
"Well," my father said carefully. "You should know I scheduled an appointment for you on Sunday."
I growled through a mouthful of bread.
"Now Dana. Have a care. The doctor has been very helpful and nice so far. She'll go with you again."
I stopped growling but I'm sure my glare didn't help make my father feel at ease. It was a good thing my mouth was still full of bread or I might have shouted an obscenity or two. I was trained well by my parents not to talk with my mouth full.
"Actually, she's staying at Darby's bed and breakfast the next couple nights. You might even see her before you leave. She said something about wanting to help you control your power."
That news calmed me. I think my father's wisdom was showing through. He not only took advantage of my eating to keep me from shouting, he knew the right things to say.
I stopped glaring and simply shrugged, hiding the fact that I was secretly pleased. I reasoned that if I was given such a grand power, I'd learn to use it the best I could. I'd make my father proud. I might even catch my mother's eye.
* * *
The next morning, Aine showed up. She thoughtfully brought me all the homework assignments I'd missed in school. After thanking her with a hug, I had her sit down while I filled her in on what had been happening. Her eyes went wide when I told her about activating my power. She looked over at the walls and could see the scratch marks in the paint. It would be some time before my father and I would have time to get everything back to normal.
The worst part of my story was when I told my friend about my mother. I thought Aine was going to be sick until a tear trickled down her cheek. I'd seen her cry as a young girl but not as a teen. She was normally too busy talking, laughing and boy chasing to cry. I finally gave her a good reason.
We hugged each other and cried together. It felt good to have another female presence to share my grief. Aine and I had been friends since we were little girls. We shared everything - the good and the bad. We'd always be the best of friends.
After a last hug and an encouraging smile, Aine left me alone. My father was at his shop and I had some catching up to do. I looked at the stack of homework and grimaced. I liked school. I really did. So much was happening and I had so much on my mind, I just wished I could get a break.
Two hours and five finished assignments later, I was saved by a knock on the door. It was Doctor Franklin. She'd finally come to see about helping me with my power. I would've stubbornly continued doing my school work until I fell asleep at my desk if she didn't come.
"Good afternoon, Dana," the doctor said with a faint smile. She was still a little unsure of me and I didn't blame her. I wasn't exactly on my best behavior yesterday.
"Hello Doctor Franklin. I'm sorry about threatening you. I was more than a wee bit upset."
"It's okay. I understand. Your father told me everything."
I got a hug from her and gladly returned it. It was one of many I'd be getting over the next few days, and I needed every one of them. In addition to offering sympathy, they could also offer forgiveness. I still felt a twinge of guilt about what I said to her but it looked like things were moving forward.
We climbed into the doctor's small gray hovercar and she wisely drove me a short distance west, well away from Dingle and all things breakable. We parked along side the road overlooking Ventry Harbor and walked down to the shore to begin my lessons.
"You've seen how strong your power can be when unleashed," the doctor began in her best lecture mode. "How about we try some fine control on a much smaller scale? It should be easier to start small and work your way up."
That sounded good to me. I began by keeping small rocks hovering a few feet off the ground with a jet of air. That turned out to be surprisingly easy. Next, I found I could keep several rocks aloft at one time. That confirmed what Doctor Franklin suspected. I could sort of program my power to act on something and then go on to something else. My subconscious seemed to be able to maintain several tasks at one time. That came in very handy.
The weather wasn't the best for working outdoors but I was able to compensate nicely for it. It was a misty gray day with frequent gusts of wind that I shrugged off with a thought. I could also keep the mist away with a stream of air in the shape of an umbrella. I was really starting to like my power. It wasn't only useful for destructive purposes like I first thought.
My little experiment was interrupted as I was reminded to continue my lessons. I started with some rocks again, and after keeping a dozen of them floating in a circle around me, I started playing with the heights. I lowered them and raised all the rocks at the same time. Then I created a wave formation that pulsed around me. Each rock would rise and lower back down as the wave passed. The gusting wind threatened to interfere but as I did before, I easily stopped it.
The doctor was impressed at the progress I was making and decided to step it up a notch. I got to go on the offensive. I blasted small rocks far out into Ventry Harbor until I got close to the land on the other side. Then I switched directions and was able to shoot rocks beyond the mouth of the harbor into Dingle Bay.
I confess that I didn't expect to enjoy the rock hurling so much. I thought it more of a boy's pastime. That's probably why I blushed so much when I heard a familiar voice shouting at me. It was Brian. He'd ridden his emerald green mountain bike and was standing on it by Doctor Franklin's car.
"Not bad Dana! But can ya hit the moon?"
It was true. I considered him my friend in spite of his occasional bad behavior. He's said more kind things to me than unkind, and I tried to ignore him as he continued harassing me, but there's only so much a girl can take.
"I think I'd be impressed if you could send a rock into orbit," he shouted. "Can ya do that much?"
That did it. My temper flared and deep down, I knew the result wasn't going to be pretty. I only hoped I didn't hurt anyone.
With a sharp burst of air, I lifted a roughly spherical rock that was about six inches wide and shrieked. As I did so, I channeled as much power as I could, creating a super condensed column of air that exploded outward towards the rock. The explosive force launched it far out into the sea, well beyond the distance of any of my previous attempts.
I was impressed and a little scared - for good reason. The result caused a sonic boom that threatened to blast my eardrums and those of Brian and Doctor Franklin. Luckily, by reflex, I was able to use my power to deflect the majority of the shock wave with a very strong gust of air. Our ears still rung but we wouldn't be deafened.
After that demonstration, I stomped off down the shore away from the others. I needed to cool off and get away from my loud mouthed friend. At least I thought I did. Brian was more than a little rattled so he wasn't any more trouble. The doctor later described the look on his face, saying that if his eyes went any wider, his eyelashes would be tickling the back of his neck. I wish I could've seen it. It sounded priceless.
Doctor Franklin let me walk off my anger. She confessed that I'd caused her some concern after my outburst and didn't want to chance setting me off again. It seemed more prudent to let me calm down by myself, and she was right. I eventually turned around to come back, walking much more slowly on the way back. My glare was gone and the doctor began to walk towards me, meeting me half way. Brian was nowhere to be seen. It was safe to resume my lessons.
In spite of the unfavorable first impression she made on me, it didn't take long to warm up to her. She had a typical dry British wit, which I liked, and her eyes sparkled as well as any Irish woman. More than that, it was obvious that she cared about me. I wasn't just another MORFS survivor with a potentially dangerous power. I was a teenage girl with normal human frailties, trying to cope with superhuman powers. I desperately needed her help.
Over those next few hours, Doctor Franklin became my favorite teacher. She didn't have any powers herself but she had a lot of experience with those who did. I was one of many in a long line of MORFS students. I also found she was quickly becoming something more. Before we were done, I was sure she'd be a mentor and a role model, and I hoped to call her friend.
(To be continued)
The entire MORFS Universe can be found at http://morfs.nowhere2go.org/