Clayton sat in the one room of her apartment that had no windows: the closet. Here, the noisy traffic of New York City was muffled.
She breathed. It was the kind of breath that sounded like she was trying to run away from something. To relax.
And then it happened.
The thrum coursed through her, filling up everything inside her. Her eyes had only a glimpse of her veins shining bright blue before her eyes snapped shut on their own accord. Her fingers twitched, energy causing them to quake, the shiver traveling all the way through her.
And just like that, it stopped. She slid her eyes open carefully to stare at the still wire cord. The light was on, but so was she, and an odd array of shadows from the wire were projected on the back of the wooden door only three feet away from her face.
“Finally,” she whispered in equal parts relief and fear. Slowly, oh so slowly, the warmth of the energy seeped through her drowning the sadness that plagued her. She relished the feeling, closing her eyes and nearly moaning, as the comforting heat filled every inch of her body.
If there was one thing Clayton liked about her ability, it was that she could erase all of her bad memories. All of the possibilities of getting close to someone and the small chance of them accepting her could be distinguished, leaving her grounded in reality.
She gently touched the sides of her head with her hands, the blue not quite as shocking as before. Just as the pads of her fingertips grazed her skin, blue sparks flew as they always did. Then, as she brought her hands away, a long, glowing strand of blue stretched until they disconnected from her head and reattached to her hands. It shone so bright that the room seemed to go white. And away Clayton went.
Clayton was hurrying along on the sidewalk, sidestepping passerbyers and trying to steady the cup of coffee in her hand. She had exactly ten minutes to make it back to Trish’s office before the meeting had to begin. There was no way she could be late, it was simply unimaginable.
She collided with someone twice her size. A large hand grabbed the coffee cup before it could lose anymore of its contents and the other hand had slid around Clayton’s back.
“I am sorry, miss, but here is your coffee,” The man said, looking down into her eyes. He had the sort of rugged handsomeness that startled Clayton. He didn’t look like someone from the city, even though he wore a black suit and dark undershirt on a burning summer day.
“Thank you,” Clayton murmured, pulling herself out of his grasp. She went to grab the coffee, and her fingertips brushed his.
The world seemed to slow down. The bustling strangers began to walk in slow motion. The man still looked at her with a smile hidden beneath his stubble. Blue sparks, very small ones no one but her would notice, flew from where she had touched him.
The man jerked back in surprise, his eyes wide as he looked at her face. “What a zap of static,” he said with a laugh. She tried to smile back, but it came out as more of a grimace.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Clayton,” she said loud enough to be heard over the traffic.
“I’m Elijah. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Clayton.” He offered his hand, his eyes creasing as he smiled. She found it so warm that she smiled back. Then she saw his outstretched hand and terror flashed through her at thought of making contact and sparks flying again. She briefly imagined his horror and surprise as he would stare at the blue electricity zapping from her skin.
“I have to go.” She started to resume her route, but he put out a hand in front of her.
“Please, take this.” He held out a business card. One quick look made her realize that the name was the same company she worked at.
“Oh,” she said in surprise. “What department do you work in?”
He looked at her in delight. “Editorial. You work here too?”
“Same department,” she said with a rush of queasiness. She needed to quit her job. Right now. She couldn’t risk getting close to him, so he could see what she really was. After a moment of hesitation, she put out her palm. He lightly placed it, just brushing her hand. The sparks flew once more. She was so preoccupied with the touch that she forgot to see if he noticed.
“We should meet up sometime. Feel free to call me.” He flashed a smile.
Then he was gone. And now she was very, very late to a job she could no longer work at.
Clayton snapped her eyes open. She stared at the knots in the wood, grounding herself back in reality, a task not too hard now that she couldn’t remember what she had just seen. She let out a sigh of relief, her previous tension now flying away.
After a moment she stood and made her way into the kitchen to grab some water until something caught her eye: a small piece of paper, perhaps ripped off of a business card. She inspected it for a moment, eyebrows knitted together. She had no recollection to understand why her mind seemed to be going “Ding ding ding! This is important!”
Right about then, there was a knock at the door.