Tara briefly explained to Tamy what their mother said about Alex’s money disappearing as the two of them sat at the counter, pouring bowls of Fruity O’s into blue-green milk.
“Yeah, that is a problem,” Tamy sighed.
“What do we do?” Tara asked, shoveling Fruity O’s into her mouth.
Tamy stood and paced to the sink, bowl contents sloshing. “How should I know? Quinn was right that we don’t really know anything about finances.”
Tara glanced towards the hall, barely visible through the kitchen’s archway. “I think asking Nick to make more fake money is out of the question.”
“I think telling Nick to stop making fake money is definitely in question,” Tamy answered.
“What if we help Quinn with his pizza job?”
Tamy quit pacing, the kitchen descending into silence. “Uh, how?”
Tara just shrugged.
“What about a lemonade stand?”
Tara swirled her cereal with her spoon, biting her lip. “Do we have lemonade?”
“I don’t know. And I don’t actually want to do a lemonade stand,” Tamy grimaced. “That sounds boring.”
Tara sighed in relief. “I don’t either.”
They both fell silent as Nick crept into the room. Tara shoved a spoonful of cereal into her mouth, splashing milk on the counter.
“Hi Nick,” Tamy smiled, setting aside her breakfast.
“I listened,” he said, gazing between the two of them. Tara stared out the window, pretending to be fascinated by the bees gathering around violet bushes.
“Listened to what?” Tamy asked. “Did you want to make a lemonade stand?”
“Alex,” he said.
Tara slowly exhaled through her nose. Tamy audibly gulped.
“So, you know you can’t make fake money anymore, right?” Tamy asked carefully. “Especially when it hurts our mother and Quinn, or someone else.”
“They wanted money,” Nick said. “So Alex gave them money.”
“Nick, your powers respond to people’s thoughts,” Tamy said. She leaned across the counter and whispered in Tara’s ear, “Right?” Tara shrugged, and her sister hesitantly continued, “but you can’t just give people money that isn’t real because they’re expecting money. Especially when it’s not even real money.”
Tara glanced toward Nick, finding him wrapped in a shimmering blanket. She turned to her sister. “I didn’t think that,” they both said. Tara snorted.
“Nick,” Tamy said, “maybe we should try and teach you how to meditate.”
Tara furrowed her brow. “How’s that going to help us make money?”
“It’s not,” her sister explained. “This is so Nick can learn to control his powers.”
Nick’s shimmering blanket disappeared. “Control my powers?” he asked eagerly. The kitchen walls burst into fire and Tara jumped.
“That’s not controlling your powers,” Tara scolded him, scooting her stool away from the very real heat.
“Why did you think of fire?” Tamy asked, and the fire disappeared. Tara glanced around just to be sure nothing had been truly singed.
Nick shrugged. “I just did.”
Tamy sighed, muttering, “this might be harder than I thought.”
“Especially if Nick thinks the difficulty into being,” Tara replied, tipping her bowl back.
“If I do what?” Nick asked.
“Nothing,” Tamy said quickly. “Come on, I think we should meditate outside.”
“We’re not qualified to do this,” Tara hissed, sitting cross-legged in the back lawn. Some neighbor kids were shouting and a dog yapped at the fence behind them.
“We’re the only ones he has,” Tamy hissed, seated on her heels.
Tara glanced at the door, where Nick had disappeared a few moments ago, claiming he needed a blanket to sit on.
“But you’re terrible at meditation,” Tara whispered.
“No, I’m just bad at sitting still,” she whispered back. “I’m good at the whole ‘finding your center’ stuff Mrs. Luywai talks about.”
Tara didn’t know what to say to that, since she didn’t understand the whole finding your center stuff. “Meditation center” was distinctly different from your center of balance, so Mrs. Luywai was fond of saying.
The door creaked, and Nick ran across the grass with a fluttering blanket behind him. He tossed it to the ground and sat on the bundle, knees curled under his chin. He smiled.
Tara immediately crawled over to him. “Let me straighten this out for you,” she pointed to his blanket. He nodded, but didn’t stand, so Tara awkwardly tried tugging the edges out further. She gave up with approximately a quarter of the quilt spread over the grass. “I guess that’s good?” she said, hesitating before sitting back and crossing her legs again.
“Do you know what meditation is?” Tamy asked.
Nick turned his wide eyes to her and shook his head.
“Okay…” Tamy pursed her lips. “Meditation is like…being still and listening to what’s going on in here,” she tapped her temple.
“But sometimes you don’t have to be still,” Tara chimed in. “You can do it while, say, doing jumping jacks. It’s more about being aware of what’s going on inside you.”
Nick, clearly confused, squinted his eyes and screwed up his face.
“How about we try something?” Tamy jumped in. “Let’s sit cross legged, like Tara is, and think about…what your toes are doing right now. Are they cold? Can you feel your blanket?”
Following along, Tara shut her eyes and wiggled her toes. Grass stems tickled her skin, dew drops sticking.
“I feel my socks,” Nick said.
Tara opened her eyes.
“Right. Of course,” Tamy said. “Uh…”
“How about your nose?” Tara suggested. “What does your nose feel? Is there a breeze? Can you smell anything?”
Nick sniffed. “No.”
Tamy sniffed too. “Well, I smell funny soap. And I think I can smell your socks.” she sniffed again. “They don’t smell very good.”
Tara gaped as a sock flipped through the air and planted itself on Tamy’s face. “Hey!” Tamy exclaimed, jumping to her feet. Tara coughed, trying to cover a giggle. “That was rude,” Tamy muttered, tossing Nick’s sock back. Tara stared, since both Nick’s feet were still covered.
“Okay,” Tara said loudly, pointedly looking away from the extra sock. “Let’s focus on the rest of our senses. What can you hear? Can you taste something? What do you see, or feel?” She bit her lip as Nick glanced around them.
“I see the backyard,” he said. “And you were talking, and I don’t taste anything.”
“But you understand how it works, right?” Tara asked hopefully, watching his knees bounce. “So can you do the same thing with your powers? What do people…think? What are you thinking?”
Nick stared at the ground and his bouncing knees fell still. “You want this to work. You’re both worried it won’t. Tamy doesn’t like wet grass. There,” he pointed, “somebody is mad at their dog. Mother is at the front door, worried because she left something in the car.” He pointed past Tamy, “somebody wants toast but can’t find any bread.” Shapes flickered in the lawn, and Tara’s gaze shot to the house. Mother was on the front porch?
The lawn erupted in a myriad of flashing lights, shifting shapes; loaves of bread, dog treats, wrinkled shirts, what seemed to be the towering peak of a roller coaster, piles of money, and Alex spinning in a circle, arms twirling through the fence corner.
“Nick, stop it!” Tamy exclaimed. “Focus on–focus on what your toes are doing! You’re wearing socks, remember?”
The shapes flickered out, and Tara’s arms snapped forward as Nick’s eyes rolled back and he fell unconscious.
“That went worse than planned,” Tamy said, crawling towards the two of them.
“We didn’t have a plan,” Tara shot back, pulling Nick closer. “But yeah, okay, that didn’t go well.”
Tara leaped from the ground, holding Nick close.
“Mom?” Tamy asked, scrambling to her feet and kicking Nick’s blanket behind her. “We were just…uh…”
Their mother slowly slid the door shut. “What was that?”
Tara slowly glanced around, and then stared up at a patch of clouds, eyes darting. “What was what?”
Their mother crept away from the door, eyes wary. “All those…colors. And…” she rubbed her forehead. “I had the distinct impression my car keys were back here…”
“Your car keys?” Tara asked, baffled. “Shouldn’t those be near, like, the car?”
“Those colors,” Their mother stood up straighter, and finally seemed to notice Tara was holding Nick. Her gaze hardened, flicking up to Tara’s face. “What did you do to him?”
Tara took a step back. Her sister grunted. “Do to him? We came out here to watch…the bees and he fell asleep.”
Their mother marched across the lawn, sweeping Nick from Tara’s grasp. “What did you do to him? And what were those colors? That was not natural,” her lips drew to a thin line as she bounced Nick, gaze settling on the blanket behind Tamy’s feet.
Tara met her sister’s eyes. Tamy shrugged imperceptibly. “Nick’s powers,” Tara blurted. In her periphery, their mother froze perfectly still as Tamy gaped.
“Nick’s…what?” Their mother finally exclaimed.
Tara couldn’t make herself glance over and meet her mother’s expression. “Nick’s powers,” she repeated softly, folding her arms.
“Nick has powers, okay?” Tamy cut in, stepping in front of Tara. Which is when she glanced over and found their mother glaring sharply. “Something about telepathy, and making people see what they want–”
“No,” their mother took a shuddering inhale. “No, it was bad enough when they took you two away. It was bad enough with Quinn… No. Not Nick.” she turned away and stormed to the house, the door squealing open and slamming.
“Mom…” Tamy called softly.
Tara put her hand on her sister’s shoulder. Who slowly turned around, slumping. Tara glanced at the doorway, where their mother stood inside, clutching Nick in her arms.