September 3

“Alone?” I ask. Weird. Why would a doctor send a kid alone like this?
“What’s that?” she asks, pointing at me.
“What’s what?” I ask. “My shirt?”
“No,” she says, “the–” She stops and squints at me. “Nothing. It’s gone now,” she says. “It was there, though, on your shirt. Like a big bug or something.”
I glance down at my chest. The Steamer is still there, boiling away slowly; it doesn’t appear to have gotten any bigger during the office visit. The girl, though, is watching me closely. “It’s nothing,” I say.
“But it’s something, isn’t it?” she asks. “I mean, I think it is. It feels like it is.” The way she stresses ‘feels’ makes me wonder. It almost sounds like she’s using the word in an entirely different way to how she thinks it sounds to me. “I– I’m not supposed to talk about it.”
I sit down across the waiting room from her. “Is there anything you can talk about?” I ask.
“No,” she says. “You’re a stranger.”
“What if I told you there was something on my chest?”
She glances at me, and for an instant we make eye contact. Her expression changes in that moment. I know how crazy this is going to sound, but I swear to you it’s the truth. I can literally feel her go through a dozen different emotions. Not just notice that she’s experiencing them, but actually feel them with her. The conflict roils in my mind just as much as hers. Is this girl a time traveler?

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