Part 3

Saturday was a long day of elemental lessons with the doctor. They took a lot of concentration and energy so I was exhausted and very hungry by the end of the day. My last lesson didn't help matters. As a last effort, my teacher had me create and control whirlwinds. It was fun but I wanted to push myself to see what kind of limitations I had. It turned into quite an adventure.

I first started with a single whirlwind and slowly increased its size from a few centimeters to about my height. Then I hit it with small bursts of air to make it move wherever I wanted. I even had it hopping up and down, and before long, I had a dancing column of spinning air that twisted and turned like a wild miniature tornado. It was quite entertaining, and made me wonder what two or more would look like.

Before I added any more to the mix, the doctor wanted to make sure I could stop it. That was the hard part. I still had trouble stopping the effects of my power. My previous experiments were easy enough. I just let the air patterns continue on in a straight line and they eventually dissipated on their own when they got far enough away from me. I could sense them with my power and feel them weaken just before they got out of my range. That wasn't always a good technique though, as I found out when I wrecked the inside of my home. I needed help.

Even after discussing and trying some possible techniques for stopping my original whirlwind, it was still madly spinning away. I knew it would eventually dissipate if I left it alone but I didn't want to wait. Instead, out of frustration, I moved it into the hedge row of tall fuchsias that lined the road just east of the village. The fuchsias shook violently and actually stopped it, and they lost very few leaves in the process. They were a common, hardy plant so I didn't worry about harming them.

After my surprise wore off, I quickly created another whirlwind, and this time, while the fuchsias shook, I concentrated on sensing the spinning column of air with my power. As it broke up, I could see jets of air deflected in all different directions. The little jets scattered and mostly canceled themselves out. That was it! I had the answer to the problem. All I had to do was scatter small parts of the whirlwind in all different directions. It took some practice and just as much energy to stop it as it did to start it, but it worked.

Doctor Franklin and I celebrated after that. She wanted to call it a day too, but I had one more task I wanted to accomplish.

I stood close to shore and created a whirlwind over the water. It started at about my height but was pulled shorter as it sucked up some of the sea water. I fought against the added water and soon had the spinning vortex at twice my height and still growing.

"Are you sure that's a good idea, Dana?" my mentor shouted behind me. I'm sure she was nervous but I had everything under control.

"Don't worry!" I shouted over my shoulder, never taking my eyes off my latest creation. "I got it!"

I soon had a towering waterspout. It must have been 50 feet tall and still it grew, with me barely breaking a sweat. My power continued to astound me.

I moved the waterspout slowly towards the mouth of Ventry Harbor and fed it everything I had. It must have been more than 100 feet tall by this time, and that's when I noticed something new about my power. The larger the air pattern I created, the farther away I could sense it. My small puffs of air that I used to lift small rocks on the beach blew out of range after 100 meters or so. The ever growing waterspout was easily five times that distance away and it felt like it was within arms reach of my power.

When my monster creation grew well beyond the size of an average tornado, I wondered if I wasn't somewhat of a monster myself. I was beginning to scare myself with the amount of raw power I possessed. I could hear fear in my mentor's voice too.

"Come on, Dana," she said. "That's enough of that. It's getting dark. Isn't it time we got something to eat?"

I didn't want to concern her but my power reserves were ebbing with the tide. I didn't think I had enough energy to stop the waterspout. Stopping it didn't seem to be important when I first started. The goal was just to make it as large as possible. I had no idea I was capable of such a feat.

Since it looked doubtful I could stop it, I thought I could at least perform one last experiment. I blew it out into Dingle Bay as far from me as I could. It was nearly sunset and the shipping fleet was safely tucked in Dingle Harbor by now. I had only the bay and open water beyond to let my windy pet blow free.

The waterspout showed no signs of diminishing even as it blew out into the Atlantic. I was afraid the prevailing winds would blow it back into the bay and possibly hurt someone so I forced it south as well as west. My plan backfired however once it got several miles away and slowly slipped from my control. It started heading back towards the coast.

"What are you doing?" Doctor Franklin finally asked as she watched over my shoulder.

"Trying not to panic," I told her as calmly as I could. "It'll take too much energy to stop it so I tried pushing it out to sea so it would die out on its own."

"That sounds like a good plan. So what's wrong?"

"It's out of my range and it's blowing back towards the coast. I'm afraid someone will get hurt. We have to do something!"

"Right," was all the doctor said as she ran for her hovercar, leaving me speechless. I was too close to panicking to see her plan. I thought she was leaving me.

She got into her car and kicked it into high gear. Then she channeled most of the extra power downward to lift the car higher than it normally rode and drove it over to me. Now I understood. She helped me climb in and we were soon riding over the waves into Dingle Bay after my monster creation.

"This'll work!" I shouted over the sound of the wind and engine. I almost felt like laughing. I was still tired but it wouldn't take too much energy to push the waterspout out of harm's way. Then I thought about the amount of energy the hovercar must be using and I went pale.

"How far can your car go like this?" I shouted.

"Let me worry about that," she shouted back. "You just worry about your windy friend."

Yes, worry was the key word. It was hard to concentrate thinking we might run out of fuel and sink below the waves. The sea wasn't all that rough but I wasn't the strongest of swimmers. I wasn't sure the car had any good floatation devices either. Luckily, I didn't have time to devote much thought to drowning. I was back in range of the waterspout.

I pushed and pushed, moving my spinning monstrosity farther south and slightly east so we could stay close to the coastline. There was no use making things worse for ourselves by going too far out to sea. The southwest coast of Ireland wasn't heavily populated so there wasn't much chance of an accident. We were just trying to be safe.

It was a surreal adventure playing out, a quest to vanquish a dreaded monster of the sea as we passed around several of the large, rugged peninsulas that jut out along Southwest Ireland. I wished I could've taken in the scenery. I'm sure it was beautiful, even as night approached, but I had more important things to do. I chipped away at the waterspout as best I could, slowly shrinking it as it moved, but it was still too dangerous to leave alone.

After traveling steadily for well over 20 miles, I started getting light headed. I desperately needed something to eat. I needed energy, and apparently, I wasn't the only one.

"Dana!" the doctor suddenly shouted, startling me. "We have to get back to land! Now!!"

I pointed to the Beara peninsula on the south side of the Kenmare River estuary and the doctor nodded. There were a few points of light to help guide her. I just hoped we didn't run into any small islands before then. I'm sure she didn't want to further drain the car's energy reserves so she still hadn't turned on the headlamps. At least I didn't need light to see the water spout. I could easily sense it with my power.

The doctor suddenly lowered the car and greatly increased the speed while I gave the waterspout a long, last push to get it around the Beara peninsula. Then I used my remaining energy to shrink it as much as I could before it got out of range. It would miss the peninsula and make it's way to the next, even in it's weakened state, but it shouldn't hurt anyone. It should be much smaller and weaker by then, and there weren't any villages to hit there anyway. I remembered my geography lessons well.

All we had left to do was get back to the coast. That was easier said than done. We were rapidly approaching a small cluster of lights near shore when the car's engine noise started dropping in pitch. It was losing power. Doctor Franklin diverted what little power we had left to try to keep us above the water and we depended on our momentum to carry us forward.

My hands tightly gripped the front of my seat when I noticed that the instrument panel on the dashboard grew dim and the engine noise continued to drop in pitch. I had to focus on something else. The waterspout was out of range so the rapidly approaching coastline suddenly had my undivided attention. Nothing was more beautiful than the waves as they broke upon the shore. Their crests reflected the lights from several nearby houses -- the lights that we were using for navigation. I thought it would nice to see those lights close up. I wanted to read the brand name of the florescent bulbs and thank the company for making them. I wanted to live!

The next moments were forever etched in my mind. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. The car had lowered enough that it hit the tops of some of the larger waves, slowing us down. By the time we were a couple hundred meters off shore, we'd lost half our speed. I had almost no energy left but I used what little I had to help give the car lift. I willed myself to keep going. We were so close.

With only a hundred meters to go, it looked like we wouldn't make it. Our speed had been halved again down to about 15 mph and was dropping rapidly. We were probably close enough to swim to shore but I didn't want to take the chance. There were too many unknowns. Were there any dangerous currents? Would I get hypothermia? Would I get smashed on the rocks on shore? It was just too much. I couldn't take the stress and I felt like screaming. So I did.

The scream felt wonderful. Besides relieving stress, I felt the pressure of my power building. I gathered what I could and channeled it where I thought it would do the most good. We needed forward movement more than vertical so I hit the back of the car with everything I had. I blasted us toward shore with an extremely strong gust of wind and my last gasp paid off. We skipped roughly over the rocky shore and up onto dry land before finally skidding to a stop. We made it.

The sounds of the waves crashing upon the shore never sounded so good to me, and the lights we'd used as beacons were still visible and still just as captivating. I stared at them in a daze until my companion interrupted.

"You really have to find an easier way to stop those things," Doctor Franklin muttered.

I didn't blame her for saying it. I was embarrassed. I would've blushed too, if I had the energy. As it was, I was feeling very faint.

The doctor checked on me and made a quick call on her eCom. Then everything went fuzzy and dark.

* * *

The next thing I knew, I was sitting up in my own bed. My father was talking to me, trying to spoon feed me some broth. I don't think it was his talking that brought me back though. It had to be the smell of the broth and the gurgling of my stomach. That along with the IV in my arm, pumping glucose directly into my bloodstream.

I was being told a grand tale of adventure while I was fed. It was about a girl and a woman, gliding low over the ocean on a flying horse and fighting a horrible beast that was larger than the whole village of Dingle. They chased the beast away and then barely made it to shore.

Of course I knew that part of the story, but my father had my ear when he continued from the point when I blacked out.

After beaching their trusty flying steed, the woman had called for help but didn't expect a fast rescue. It was fortunate that the owner of the nearest house heard the steed's rough landing. A kindly middle-aged peasant named Percy came out and helped carry the girl into his house, where she was wrapped in a thick, wool blanket and roused enough to drink a small glass of fruit juice.

I didn't remember any of that. I must have really been out of it. My head still felt a little off but I could happily lie here and listen to my father telling stories all night. Too bad all good things have to end. The broth was nearly gone so my father brought the story to a quick end.

Some brave knights from Institute Castle arrived about 30 minutes later and escorted the pair back home where they lived happily ever after.

"That's a fine tale," I said between spoonfuls. "But I think it needs some polishin'."

My father frowned in mock disappointment but his eyes lit up when I favored him with a broad smile. He could never withstand the power of my happiness.

"Do you feel up to comin' out to the kitchen for a proper meal?" he asked. "The doctor expects you'll be needin' a wee bit more nourishment before you can have a good sleep."

I nodded as I finished off the last of the broth but I had a little trouble getting up. My legs were quite weak.

My father removed my IV and helped me get up, wrapping his arm around my waist for support. Then he walked me to the dining table for another of his simple but wonderful savory meals that could make even a full man drool.

I ate more than double my usual amount of food, surprising myself once again with my appetite. I said something about it to my father but he assured me it was normal for someone with so much power. Doctor Franklin told him that I needed the extra carbohydrates to fuel my power. He'd discussed the issue with her earlier because he noticed me eating more and was also becoming concerned.

So I didn't have to worry about gaining weight, but I still fussed about the added cost of all the extra food I'd be needing. I had to console myself with the fact that I had to practice to control my power. I was afraid I'd be much more destructive without having control. One temper tantrum might destroy an entire village. That was a scary thought.

* * *

The sun woke me late the next morning. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and dragged myself to the bathroom, barely remembering to grab a robe to put on after my planned bath. At least I thought I had time for a bath, but I soon found out I was wrong.

"Dana," my father called through the door. "Doctor Franklin is here. She's anxious to get you to the Institute for your tests. Try not to take too long, darlin'." That was his way of telling me to take a shower. He must have heard me running water for a bath.

I grumbled but took a quick shower and hurried back to my room to put on a flattering pair of black jeans and a green cable knit jumper. It wasn't my most impressive outfit but it was comfortable for traveling and still looked nice enough to catch the eye of a lad or two. I hadn't forgotten about young Doctor Don at the Institute and hoped to see him again. I wasn't dressed very nicely for my last visit.

It wasn't long before Doctor Frankin and I were on our way. Her cute little hovercar was none the worse for wear and faithfully carried us towards Kerry Airport for the trip to Dublin. I watched the scenery fly by as I ate a banana and nibbled on some chocolate biscuits, and once again, that's all I had time to eat. We were at the airport in minutes. I was beginning to really appreciate that car.

After the jump jet and another hovercar ride to the Institute, I settled in for a long series of tests. The first test had me hooked up to that brain scanning machine again. Doctor Don had been called in to record the changes in my brainwaves after activating my power.

"I heard you've been busy since you were last here," Don told me with a grin and a twinkle in his eye.

"That I have," I said with a blush.

I know I'd thought he was too old for me during my last visit, but I couldn't help being attracted to him. He was very professional last time I was here. This visit was different. He was dressed casually -- probably because he'd been called in on a Sunday to examine me -- and it helped me think of him as more of a young man than a doctor. He looked a lot closer to my age than what I figured he must be with all of his schooling, and he didn't use a lot of big words this time. That added to the attraction. The best part was that his telepath partner wasn't around to listen in on my fantasies -- so I fantasized.

I wasn't in a hurry to grow up so instead, I imagined Don being much younger, and of course he lived in Dingle. He decided to take the year off before going on to college. I'd see him when I'd walk to and from school everyday. He'd always be outside, like he was waiting for me, and I'd always catch his eye.

One day in spring, the wonderful scent of wildflowers filled the air, putting me in an especially romantic mood. I felt like I was floating several inches over the ground as I passed Don's house, and there he was, outside as usual. His mere presence caused my heart to skip a beat and I felt the urge to swoon. It took all of my willpower to resist.

I snuck a peek at the object of my affection out of the corner of my eye and got careless then, turning my ankle in a hole. I cried out in pain and he came running over to help me. He told me he was planning on becoming a doctor and that he knew just what to do. I tried to fend him off, saying I was fine but it was obvious I wasn't fine. I had a severe limp and winced every time I put the least bit of weight on my sore ankle.

Don pleaded with me to let him help, staring into my soul with his beautiful blue eyes. After a full minute of his treatment, I finally relented. I told him to go ahead and help me -- so he kissed me.

I'd hoped the kiss would've lasted much longer but a strange feeling snapped me out of my daydream. I felt something on my scalp and realized it was an electrode. Don was finally hooking me up to his machine to measure my brainwaves so I decided I better actually listen to him now as he explained the process.

When a technician came in to help, Don reverted back into doctor mode, using terms I couldn't hope to understand without spending several years in college. My fantasy was shattered. The age difference between us seemed like a vast, impassable chasm I could never hope to cross.

I sighed and was about to lock away my fantasy in a remote corner of my mind when the strangest thing happened. A foreign thought popped into my head telling me that the age difference would become less important as I got older. The difference would become a smaller percentage of our ages and eventually it wouldn't matter at all. Where did that come from? I didn't even think like that!

Luckily, I didn't have time to be rattled by my thoughts. Doctor Don turned back to me and told me everything was ready. First he'd take another baseline measurement. Then I was supposed to use my power to create a small whirlwind while they measured me again. I cleared my mind and prepared for the tests.

The testing went well I suppose. I didn't understand when Don described the results. All I had to go by was his wonderful smile. Everything must have went well for him to grace me with that smile. It couldn't be from my looks.

I suppose I didn't have a lot of self-confidence. I'd never been anyone special before, except to my father. Having my mother leave me didn't help. Neither did my mediocre school grades and small number of friends. I had to conclude that Doctor Don was just a nice guy who was nice to all his test subjects. I was one in a long line of lab rats.

An image of me as a white rat came to mind and added to my feeling of self-pity. I had green eyes instead of the usual pink but in all other ways, I was just an ordinary rat. Don picked me up and held me, smiling as he stroked my fur. It was a pitiful sight.

I looked down at my feet and answered Don's questions as briefly as I could so he couldn't see the sadness in my eyes or hear it in my voice. I felt I was on my way to being truly depressed, and I would've gotten there if I hadn't experienced yet another strange event.

A second foreign thought suddenly appeared in my mind. It mildly scolded me, telling me I was a beautiful lass and I was being silly.

Now I was confused and concerned. I'd never argued with myself before. I guess it was a good thing since it kept me from slipping into depression but I didn't like where it was leading. Was I losing my sanity? That couldn't be a good thing for someone with my power. I could probably hurt a lot of people before I was either subdued or even killed.

I was in a daze as I was led to a chamber called a wind tunnel for one last test. A technician handed me a helmet to wear to protect my eyes and ears. With my power, I shouldn't need the helmet, but it also had another purpose. I needed it for communication so I slipped it on and tried to concentrate on the upcoming test.

This last test made me a little apprehensive. Doctor Don's voice came from a speaker inside the helmet, telling me he wanted to test my limits. I remember Doctor Franklin mentioning this test and arguing against it. She'd seen what I could do and explained the dangers but it looked like the Institute insisted. I just hoped I didn't hurt anyone or break anything.

The test was simple. I was just going to block the wind in the wind tunnel for as long as I could. There was a microphone in the helmet so I could let him know if or when I reached my limit. When that happened, they'd immediately cut the power and the testing would be over. Why did I have a bad feeling about this?

The wind started out as a strong breeze and increased in 10 mph increments. When the wind speed hit 100 mph, everything was going well. In fact, it was so easy my mind started to wander. I began to think about my nonexistent love life again. By the time the wind speed hit 200, I was ready to cry. The wind howled around me and I barely noticed. I wish I could say the same about my emotions.

I'd never had a boyfriend and now I thought I'd never get the chance. Who'd want to date a freak like me? All the lads would be scared to death of my power, just like Brian was at Ventry Harbor yesterday. A tear ran down my cheek and my control began to waver.

The air stream curled around me and began to spin. It was reflecting my inner turmoil, and I didn't care. It still couldn't touch me so I was safe. I couldn't say the same for the chamber but it didn't matter. I just wanted the pain to go away, and it suddenly did.

A third foreign thought popped into my head, and I finally figured out the source. It was that darn telepath! I should've known. I didn't see him anywhere but he didn't have to be within line of sight to listen in on my thoughts. He was lurking in my mind the whole time I'd been at the Institute.

The name, Edgar, appeared as another thought that wasn't my own. He was communicating through telepathy, telling me that Don really did think I was lovely and wished I was just a few years older. The telepath was in my head and I didn't like it one bit. Couldn't he know he was making things worse?

Yes, I thought. He knew. He was telling me he knew, and he was trying to make up for it.

"Get out!" I suddenly shrieked. "Get out of my head!"

It felt wrong to have someone probing and sharing secret thoughts, and it was driving me crazy. It also made me extremely angry. My temper was about to make itself known once again.

I let out a primal scream and sent out a powerful shock wave of air. The turbine powering the wind tunnel groaned with the sudden strain but my power quickly put it out of its misery. By the time I finished, sparks, smoke and twisted turbine blades were all that was left.

I'd really gone and done it this time. I destroyed what had to be a very expensive piece of equipment. I moaned when I thought about how long it would take to pay back the Institute.

Don's voice came through the helmet, asking me if I was okay. I nodded and then squeaked out a "yes" when I realized he couldn't see me. Then my anger rushed back and I pulled the helmet off and threw it across the chamber before stomping out to give Edgar a piece of my mind.

Don and Doctor Franklin immediately ran up to me as soon as I left the wind tunnel. I was pleased to see no fear in either of their eyes. There was only what looked like genuine concern. That didn't stop me from wanting to confront Edgar but it was nice to see. It almost made me smile.

Lucky for him, the telepath burst into the room, saving me the trouble of finding him. He held his arms up as if to surrender, and I had to suppress a smirk when I noticed a little fear in his eyes. It served him right.

"I was told to do it," Edgar muttered. "It's my job."

Oh, the delicious irony. He was monitoring me to make sure I didn't lose control and it was his power that set me off. I should've known I'd be monitored but it still upset me. I felt violated and embarrassed.

"You should've asked me first," I growled. "But you didn't even tell me. You snuck around inside my mind and filled my head with some very personal thoughts. It's not right!"

"I'm not a psychologist," he said, getting defensive. "I just did what I thought was right. I'm ... I'm ...," his voice faded out and I thought I heard a faint thought in my head saying he was sorry. He couldn't bring himself to say it out loud so he finished the sentence telepathically. He invaded my mind again but he apologized, and he did it in spite of his obvious fear of me. I had to give him credit for that.

"Okay," I said gently. "I forgive you. Just please don't ever do that again."

"I won't, lass," he quickly said. "I won't."

I smiled and tried to move on, but I was curious. I had to know something first. I sent out a mental question, asking Edgar if he'd been telling me the truth. I suspected he'd just told me what I wanted to hear.

"Only the truth," he blurted out, staying true to his word that he wouldn't put thoughts in my head. He got some funny looks from Don and Doctor Franklin but they must have figured it out. They turned around and led me to Don's office to discuss the last test, allowing me to sneak in a brief smile.

Edgar left me alone with the doctors and the three of us had an animated discussion. With the destruction of the wind tunnel, it was decided that I could very well be the most powerful air elemental on the planet. I was awed.

"I told you," was all Doctor Franklin said with a grim face.

"Okay," Don said. "I'm sorry I doubted you."

I was surprised. I'd heard two men apologize in one day. Aine always told me that men -- and lads -- never apologized. Maybe she just had to meet the right guy, I thought with a smile, and I couldn't help wondering if Brian might be one of those guys.

* * *

Silence was nice but sometimes I wish I felt more comfortable in conversation. I'd never been much of a talker. I was an only child with few friends so I didn't get much practice. Even my father talked more than I did. He spent a lot of time with his friends in Murphy's pub exercising his tongue as well as his drinking arm.

On the journey back to Dingle, I expected another quiet ride, with plenty of time to reflect on the past couple days. After the activation of my power and all the people I'd met, there was a lot to think about. My introspection would have to wait however.

It had seemed that Doctor Franklin was as quiet as I was but I was wrong. As soon as we were on the way to Dublin airport, the doctor began talking. About the only time she stopped was to handle our flight details at Dublin Airport or to take a breath. It was a wonder to behold. My mentor must have just needed to get to know me better before she felt comfortable being herself. That was true of a lot of people.

The trip home didn't give me much of a chance to talk. I had trouble getting a word in edgewise with my talkative traveling companion. I was still happy though. I got a chance to get to know her better, and the more I found out about her, the better I liked her. I even began to entertain notions about inviting her over for supper to see how she matched up with my father. He'd been lonely for far too long.

With all the conversation, time passed much more quickly than during my previous visit to the Institute, and I barely noticed Dublin Airport. Last time, the busy airport added to my anxiety. If my extreme hunger hadn't distracted me, I was sure all the planes, people and activity would've been overwhelming. This time I had a much better distraction, thanks to Doctor Franklin's way with words.

It was almost as if she was a different person, and I found myself feeling much closer to her. I must have needed a mother figure more than I thought. My father gave me a lot of attention but there were some subjects he didn't feel comfortable discussing -- my mother being one. Doctor Franklin gave me a woman's perspective on a lot of issues, and more importantly, she truly seemed to care about me. I didn't realize how much I missed some maternal attention until that trip home.

Before we got to Kerry Airport for the final leg of our journey, the doctor had been in fine form. She'd told me a few things I hadn't known about my mother and added a little background about the Institute. Apparently, her employers were known for being indifferent and even insensitive when it came to their MORFS test subjects. It was that way when she started. Then she came in and shook things up. She challenged the company and its methods, and made some progress in getting some significant changes. There was still a long way to go but they were getting there. That was good, as it now allowed her to spend a lot of time with me over the next few months to continue my lessons. I wish my mother could've gotten the same help.

By the time we were in the hovercar on our way to Dingle, I knew all about the doctor's friends, family and places she'd visited. There weren't many things left to discuss but Doctor Franklin was thorough if nothing else.

"You don't have to worry about the wind tunnel," the doctor told me suddenly. I gave her a guilty look but she just smiled. "The Institute will cover the cost. It wasn't really your fault and to be fair, I did warn them how powerful you are."

I must have looked dubious because she pretended like she didn't want anyone to overhear a secret, even though we were alone. I think she was trying to be funny. She looked left behind me, then right, then turned around quickly to look behind her briefly before snapping her head back to look at me and speak in a quiet voice. She reminded me that I hadn't signed a waiver or contract of any kind. If anything, I could sue them for negligence. That might get them to behave. Hitting them in the purse never failed to get their attention.

We both had to laugh at that. Then she got serious again.

"I know how responsible you are about money," she said. "Your father told me. He's really very proud of you."

"Thanks," I blushed.

"I'm proud of you too. I think you've done a fine job handling a very dangerous power. You've done some damage but at least no one's been injured. I expect you'll be just as responsible with your power as you are with money."

Now I was really embarrassed, and very pleased as well. My guilt had evaporated, and in its place was a warm glow that filled my heart. It was a glow that can only come from love and friendship. I had a freakish power but I was still human. I needed love just like everyone else.

Doctor Franklin finally started winding down as we reduced speed to enter Dingle. She ended our talk well though. I had meant to talk to her about my experience with Edgar in the lab and forgot. She remembered though.

If she hadn't told me about her teenage years, I might have thought she could read minds. She told me she didn't get any powers when she got MORFS. She just lost a lot of weight and height. That explained her small size. It didn't look natural.

Anyway, she wasn't happy about how I was handled in the lab. The Institute should've found someone else to monitor me. Edgar had a lot of experience and success with adult males but she was sure he didn't know how to handle me. He obviously couldn't relate well to teenage girls.

I don't know why but an image of Edgar wearing a dress and going to my school popped into my head, and I couldn't help but giggle. My giggling was contagious too.

"I'm sorry Doctor Franklin," after we both composed ourselves. "I just pictured Edgar in a dress and couldn't help myself."

The doctor flashed a wicked grin.

"Oh, that's perfect," she said. "Now I'll probably have that image stuck in my head when I get back to the lab, and I'm sure Edgar will see it in my mind. I can't wait for that."

We giggled again just as the hovercar pulled to a stop at my house. Before I could unbuckle my seat belt though, the doctor had one more thing to say.

"Please, Dana. Call me Alice. Okay?"

"Okay," I told her with a tearful smile.

I felt better than I had in a long time then. The doctor and I had reached an important point in our relationship. We were definitely good friends.

It hadn't really been a very long ride but I was full of energy after bonding with my new friend. I hurried out of the car and bounced into the house with her trailing behind. I couldn't wait to tell my father everything.

It took awhile to find him. It was Sunday so he wouldn't be working, and I didn't think he'd be down at Murphy's. I figured he'd be waiting for me to get home. I dashed through the whole house calling his name until I saw him through my bedroom window. He was working in the garden. That was a surprising sight.

My mother was the one who started the garden and spent most of the time caring for it. After she left, my father and I let it go. I'm sure neither one of us could bear the memories it triggered. Now I had to wonder what got him interested in it. It couldn't be a coincidence.

I noticed that most of the soil had been turned over and my father was pulling up some remaining weeds and throwing them into a pile off to one side. He had his back to me most of the time, but as he turned to toss another weed, he must have seen me out of the corner of his eye. He stood up tall and stretched with his back to me and turned around.

I stood at the back door of our house and gave him a questioning look. He just shrugged and gave me a sheepish grin. Fair enough, I thought. We could discuss his new hobby later. First, I had to tell him all about my day before it burst out of me. I shrugged back, gave him a big smile and ran to his arms for a hug.

"Alice and I are back!" I squealed as I ran.

"Alice? Who's Alice?" my father asked.

"That would be me," Alice replied, having caught up to me.

"Ah yes. 'Tis a fine name, Doctor Franklin."

"Please, call me Alice. Both of you."

"Only if you call me Tom," my father responded with a twinkle in his eye.

"Right. Tom it is."

With the new introductions out of the way, we returned to the sitting room for a long discussion, and I even got to describe most of the day's events. My new friend only added a little technical background now and then and explained the reasons behind some of the tests. That was nice because it gave me time to take a breath. I was in a rare chatty mood that evening.

As the conversation turned to small talk, I managed to squeeze in an invitation for Alice to stay for supper. She tried to decline but my father thought it was a grand idea and refused to take no for an answer.

Supper was to be a simple affair, and I insisted on preparing it while my father and Alice got to know each other better. I'd already had the pleasure of her company so now it was my father's turn. It normally wouldn't take me long to make what I was planning but I went slow. I wanted to make sure my father spent lots of quality time with our guest. I hoped it was the start of something special.

I stalled for as long as I could but after an hour, I was threatened with help if I didn't hurry. I couldn't have that so I confessed that everything was ready. Soon, we were all sitting at the dining room table, eating and enjoying pleasant conversation.

Most of what we talked about was fairly mundane but when we were nearly finished with our meal, Alice brought up a very interesting subject, one that hadn't occurred to me.

"You know, Dana, with your power level being so high, you should easily be able to keep yourself aloft."

My father's eyes went wide and I was afraid he'd choke when he heard that.

"You mean she can fly?" he asked.


Now my eyes went wide. When Alice said I could keep myself aloft, I was picturing myself hovering, like I did with the rocks on the beach. I didn't imagine I could soar through the air with the seagulls.

Alice added to my shock by telling me that starting tomorrow after school, I'd be taking a really big step in the development of my power. I'd be learning to fly.


(To be continued)




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