My newest adventure is underway. It has lead me to take up residency in a new blog,
Like the Feathers of an Arrow (affectionately known as LFA).

...don't open...don't throw away... is not disappearing completely (not yet),
but postings here will be limited.

With Just a Touch

With Just a Touch has been an ongoing tale of a very unusual girl. Thus far it is 12 posts and counting. Here is the tale laid out in a single continuous read. It will continue to grow and develop both in its intermittent form and here. Enjoy!

Male: Hey.
Female: Hi.
Male: You know who I am?
Female: Yes.
Male: Are you ready?
Female: Yeah...
Male: It won’t hurt.
Female: will...

[He held out his hand to her palm up. She hesitated for a moment then slowly placed hers in his.]

The scenes flashed in front of her like she was on a speeding train. She could only catch glimpses of the different events if she focused just right. He brushed back her hair, trailed his fingers along her chin line and tipped her head up for a kiss. She could feel more than she could see and was innately aware that this was their first kiss. Now she is walking toward him slowly, she can't hear the music in the background but he's decked out in a tux. It is their wedding day. She catches glimpses of them watching tv, dancing in a cheesy little bar (where she feels the recognition of this being one of their favorite little dating spots), making love under the stars. Again her focus holds a bit longer and she catches a glimpse of herself in a store window. Her belly well swollen with life. She sees his hand rest gently on her stomach and she raises her gaze to look at him in the mirror. The love in his eyes is unmistakable. As the scenes whiz by she can feel all of the emotions that come with each passing moment...the love...the anger...the joy...the sadness.... She finds herself in a hospital room. He is holding her hand. She can feel there is something wrong. She doesn't know what, but she feels it. She can see it in his face. He too knows it. She jumps ahead. A small grave stone staring back at her. The sorrow overwhelms her. Time passes though she barely notices it with the immense pain that wraps itself around her heart. She sees herself walking along the sidewalk, his hand in hers. She watches as she looks into his eyes and sees what she has become over the past few months. She steps to the right, stepping down off the curb into oncoming traffic. His hand slips away from her.

[She pulls her hand abruptly out of his hand.]

Male: I'm sorry.
Female: Me, too.

[He turned and walked out.]

She reviewed the tape one last time, checking over the transcript. There was very little conversation during this most recent session. Sometimes she preferred things that way. The less talking there was the less time she had to ponder all the 'what ifs' that tended to plague her when meeting someone. Plus, it made the transcribing a lot easier. Her finger hit the save button and closed the program down. She looked down at the transcript, at the generic use of 'female' and 'male'. When she had first started this she had used the terms 'me' and 'him', but after many many disappointing episodes, she found it easier this way. It allowed her to distance herself from the whole process; she could squelch the hope and the disappointment by pretending it wasn't her.

Carefully she reread over the center of her notes, the ones she did from memory. She closed her eyes and opened her mind for a brief moment allowing the visions to replay themselves in her mind. The nice thing about the replay is that they lacked the emotions and feelings that enveloped her during each of the sessions. She opened her eyes, looked over the words she had written, and felt satisfied that they were accurate. Closing the notebook, she put down the pencil and grabbed the gloves that sat next to her. Slowly she pulled on one long shoulder-length glove and then the other. Today her signature apparel was bright pink with alternating thin and thick black stripes running their length and width creating a checkered pattern. She brushed her fingers along her shoulders were her blouse met her gloves assuring that there was no gap. Satisfied that she was well covered, she stood and left the analysis room.

[She sat quietly in the chair look down at her hands and does not notice when he enters. He watches her for a moment from the doorway without saying a word. He steps in and clears his throat. She looks up and a thin forced smile appears on her lips.]

Her: Hello
Him: Hi

[He walks over and sits down next to her.]

Him: I'm James
Her: Hi James. How are you today?
Him: Good. And you?
Her: A little tired. It has been a long day for me.
Him: I guess I'm not your first today?
Her: Actually, you are. I've just had a lot of stuff to deal with this morning.

[He nods.]

Him: So how exactly does this work?
Her: Pretty simple really. We just touch hands.
Him: And then.
Her: No one explained you this all to you?
Him: Well there was some jumpy kid all hopped up on what I hope was caffeine or sugar. He talked a mile a minute and I could barely keep up with him. Before I could ask any questions, he pointed to the door and walked away.
Her: I'm sorry. The regular greeter is out today. As for the jumpy kid, I'm sure he's hopped on both.

[He smiled and gave a bit of a laugh.]

Her: As far as I understand it, my experience is a bit different than others. I guess it just comes with the territory. For you it is pretty simple; it is kind of like watching a movie on fast forward and every once in a while things play at normal speed. You don't really feel anything, outside of normal emotions you might have while watching a movie and then that is only when things occur at normal speed.
Him: It's different for you? Do you mind if I ask how?
Her: I don't mind.

[She looked down at her hands, flexed her fingers, then turned her attention back to him.]

Her: I feel everything. Every emotion. Every touch. Every thought. It matters not whether I'm in fast forward or regular motion. I experience it all as though I were right there in that moment and in that time.
Him: Seriously?!?
Her: Yes.
Him: That has to suck!
Her: Yes, more than you know.
Him: So why do you do this?
Her: I have been wondering that myself lately.

[Silence drags on for a good minute.]

Her: So are you ready?

[He looks at her, studying her closely and hesitates. She stays silent.]

Him: I guess. If you are.
[She held out her hand to him. The right corner of her mouth twitched into a half smile. He lifted his hand toward her, but stop an inch away from touching it and withdrew his hand. He looked up at her; his brows drew in.]

Him: I'm sorry. This all just feels weird.

[She looked at him without saying a word.]

Him: Maybe we could just talk for a little bit.

[She rested her hand back on her lap, a small sigh escaping her as she did. Then a inaudible laugh escaped her. She shook her head and smiled, one that actually reached her eyes.]

Her: We can talk. But I warn you it has been a while since I had a normal conversation with someone. I might be a bit rusty at the whole small talk stuff.
Him: It's like riding a bike, it comes back to you pretty easily. How about I start?

[She nodded.]

Him: How long have you been doing this?
Her: Wow. I think it has been almost two years.
Him: How many guys have you do it with? Sorry, I didn't mean it to sound like that.

[She smiled.]

Her: It's all good. would make 52, so 51.
Him: 51, exactly?

[She nodded.]

Him: Any you know the exact number off the top of your head because...
Her: Well, each of the sessions, as I believe you were told is recorded. After each session, I transcribe what took place. Before I 'do it' with a new person, I file all of the previous sessions and begin a new dossier. Yesterday I started folder number 52.
Him: What's in my dossier so far?
Her: Your application, which includes your family history and your medical history.
Him: So you already know more than any of first date might.
Her: Yes and no. I don't really like to read all of that information up front. I prefer to...
Him: To...what?
Her: I like the chance to get to know someone the old fashion way. Granted things happen in the flash of a vision, but there is still that feeling of getting to know someone.
Him: How often do you get to know someone outside of a vision?
Her: It has been quite a long while.

[He gestured between them.]

Him: Does this count?
Her: Well, it has been a bit one sided so far. You asking questions; me doing most of the revealing. And even then your questions have been a focused like an inquisition. I'm not so sure this counts.

[A half smile appears on his face as he nods in thought.]

Him: Well then, what would you like to know about me?
Her: Hmm. I don't really know. Like a said I'm not really good at small talk and it has been a long time since I had a chance to really get to know someone.

[He waited patiently, not saying a word. A minute passed in silence.]

Her: I suppose you are waiting for me to come up with a question.

[He shrugged, but the smile on his face was a silent agreement.]

Her: Fine. Why are you here? What made you decide to participate in this research study?
Him: Curiosity.
Her: That's it? Curiosity?
Him: Yeah, pretty much. I saw an article in a magazine about you and was a bit fascinated by the whole idea. So I did a little research and found out about this study.

[He shrugged.]

Him: I thought why not?
Her: So then, it would appear that you know more about me than I know about you.
Him: Maybe, but not the important stuff.
Her: Like?
Him: you have a boyfriend.

[She laughed.]

Her: Seriously? Do you really think that I could manage a boyfriend, when I can't touch him; when he can't touch me...

[She glanced up at the clock.]

Her: It appears our time is up. If you are still interested in participating in the study, you can speak with the hyper kid who brought you in and he'll set up another appointment.
Him: Wow, I did not realize how quickly time seemed to go by. We never...
Her: It's okay, you're not the first to bide his time when it came to first contact.

[She stood and gestured for him to preceed her. He opened his mouth to say something, then shook his head and exited in front of her. She slipped her gloves out of her pocket and slowly placed them on before following suit.]

She finished up the transcript of the newest test subject. He had researched her. The thought popped back into her head like an itch she couldn't scratch. Why the idea of this so intrigued her, she could not say. She thought back over the session. It had been so outside the norm. Yes, it was true that others had procrastinated when it came to the first touch, but most of them had decided to fill the time rambling on about themselves. They felt the need to explain why they were participating in the study. A rare few had spent the time hitting on her. They weren't interested in getting to know her, not as James had seemed to be.

Maybe it was simply the fact that it had been so long since someone seemed genuinely interested in getting to know her. Most people either looked at her as some kind of freak or were intent on using her. It was something she had become use to and accepted. She did have genuine friends. But most of them she had grown up with. She had known them long before she had allowed her 'gift' to push her into her own social exile.

A soft knock on the door stole her away from her thoughts, which she silently gave thanks for. "Yes," she called out. The door opened just enough for Marc, today's hyper assistant, to stick his arm in and hand her a note. "Thanks," she said as Marc smiled and shut the door behind him. It seems that he had mellowed a bit since this morning. Unfolding the note, she saw that James had made another appointment. A small tingle of excitement tugged at her. She shook it away, but couldn't stop the smile that was beginning to form on her lips. After a few seconds she cursed herself for being so foolish. She knew better by now than to allow someone to get under her skin. He's just another test subject, nothing more! She told herself as she started gathering her belongs to head home for a nice relaxing evening with a good book. She tried fruitlessly not to think about the next time she'd see James again. She growled at herself in frustration. This is going to be a long four days!

She laced her gloved fingers together, bent her head, and took in a slow deep breath desperately trying to squelch the feeling of anxiety that was building in her. How she had let Kat talk her into going out to dinner was beyond her. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if Kat weren't so late. There was no one to occupy her mind long enough to forget that she was surrounded by people. She was beginning to feel claustrophobic.

A rather large sigh escaped her as she reach across the plate to pick up her water glass. Kat was right; she had been cooping herself up too much. It had only taken five minutes of sitting here alone to begin to feel the stares. She knew the stares were all in her head. There were enough uniquely outfitted people in this world to allow her to blend relatively easily. She shook her head with sigh of a laugh, "this is crazy." I can't keep doing this to myself. I need to face my demons, before they consume....

The sound of her phone pushed through her thoughts. "Hello, Kat."

"I'm so so sorry. Please. Please. Don't hate me."

She should have seen this coming; Kat was never late. "You're ditching me. You guilt trip me into going out to dinner with you. Give this whole speech were I'm like the worst friend on earth. And now you're ditching me. Nice." She managed to keep the smile out of her voice. Strangely enough, she wasn't particularly mad.

"Now you know that's not the case. Don't make me feel like more of a cad than I already do."

"It's all good. I guess I just wasn't meant to brave the world today." The idea of going home and curling up with a good book helped to melt some of the tension that had been building since she left her house to come to the restaurant.

"Don't you dare leave. You're already out. This is a good thing. Stay. Eat dinner. I'll catch up with you by the time you're ready to eat dessert."

As if. She pushed the response back. "You're joking. You know I don't like eating alone, at least not out in public. It would be one thing if the place was quite and scare of people." She looked around out the overbearing number of people. "But no. You had to go and pick one of the most popular, busiest restaurants around."

She could hear Kat sigh into the phone. "Fine. But you owe me a rain check."

"Wait. Who standing up who here." She laughed. "I don't think I owe you anything. Lucky for you, I like you. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

"Sounds good."

"Oh, and Kat."


"This does not mean I forgive you. You better have some major peace offering the next time I see you. Bye."

"I'll see what I can dig up. Have a good night."

As she placed her phone back in her purse, she wondered if it was wrong to leave when she had occupied the table for a good twenty minutes and only had a glass of water. Her thoughts had so distracted her that she was surprised when she turned back to the table and found out that she wasn't alone. And to think she had managed not to think about him for the past half hour.

"Hey." James smiled brightly at her.

This can't really be happening. She mustered a smile, unable to recall the last time she had been this nervous. "Hi. How are you?"

"Good." He began to reach his hand across the table towards hers, "And you?" His fingers came within inches of hers and she reflexively pulled her hand back. She saw the slight glimpse of hurt in his eyes.

She immediately felt horrible. "I'm sorry. It's a reflexive habit."

"It's okay. I understand." He gestured toward another table near the back corner near the bar. "I'm here with some friends and I saw you sitting over here alone. I just thought I'd come over and say hi."

She replaced the glass of water she had picked up and sipped from as he talked. "Good thank you. I was actually about to leave."

A puzzled look crossed his faces as he studied her for a moment than the empty and obviously unuse table settings. As he looked back up at her, she couldn't help but stare at the way brow furrowed. "It doesn't look like you've eaten yet."

"I was stood up." It took her a moment to realize how that sounded. She had told him just yesterday that she didn't date. She hurried to clarify. "My friend Kat got caught up at work. So..." She moved to pick up her purse.

He reached across the table again. The gesture was meant to get her attention, force her to look back up at him. "Why don't you join my friends and me? We have plenty of room. And I think you guys would get on well."

She smiled and shook her head. "You barely know me. How can you be so certain that your friends and I would get along. Beside, as I mentioned yesterday, I'm not really all that good at being social." She sat back the chair with a slight shrug of her shoulders. "Bad at the whole small talk thing and all."

James smiled at her. If she wasn't careful that smile could be deadly for her. "Please, as I recalled you did quite fine with the whole small talk thing. We did managed to talk for the whole hour. And besides, how you going to get any better if you don't practice." He sat back and crossed his arms like he had just won the argument. Strangely she didn't feel much like arguing with him.

She looked over in the direction of the table where his friends were sitting; one of them was looking at them. Who am I kidding? She asked herself as she shook herself out of her contemplation. "Look I really would prefer not to contend with people quizzing me about my gift."

It was as though the air itself thickened around her as he leaned forward his jaw clenched a he tried to contain the anger that seems to flare up inside him. "First you should give my friends a little more credit. Give me a little more credit than that." She watched him carefully as his bottom jaw slide back and forth in the hopes of releasing the tension. "Secondly, they don't know who you are or about your gift. They have no idea I'm participating in the research. As far as they are concerned, I met you at work."

Before she knew what she was doing, she reached across the table toward him. Reaching out toward anyone was definitely not a normal reaction for her. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to insult you, or your friends." James stared at her hand that lay between them on the table.

He shook his head, washing away the last of the raw emotions that she had inadvertently stirred up. "No, I'm sorry. I over reacted. I can't imagine what it must be like for you." His hand stretched across the table towards hers. He stop just shy of touching her gloved fingers. "So," they both looked up from their hands, "would you care to join us?"

She drew in a deep breath. The internal battle that ensued from such a simple question was crazy. While her mind battled with the anxiety and fears, she thought about the idea of letting go of it all and maybe for one tiny moment in time she could feel normal. She longed to say yes, but just the idea caused her chest to tighten. James seemed to read the impending no on her face. As she opened her mouth to speak, he leaned forward again, looking as though he were trying to come up with some other argument for why she should join them.

Whatever they were going to say was cut off by the arrival of the waitress. "So," the waitress looked from her to James, "can I get you something to drink while the you look at the menu?"

For a moment, she was caught off guard by the smile that pierced James's face that she almost missed his reply. "Actually, we were just about to join my friends over there. If you could add the tab to that table's bill, that would be perfect."

Before she could say a word the waitress nodded and disappeared from the table. She watched the waitress's retreating form in a bit of a daze. Her attention was drawn back to the table as James stood, picked up her drink and nodded for her to follow him. She stood to follow him before her brain caught up with her. "Wait."

He turned back to her; his lips pursed to one side. "Look, you are already out. It would a shame to waste a perfectly good evening. You have to eat. Do you really want for me to rattle on and on with reasons why you should join us? Because I will. I can be very tenacious."

She smiled at him. She couldn't help it. He had a way of making her forget herself. The battle going on inside of her seemed to settle. "Is that a nice way of telling me your stubborn?"

"Maybe." He gestured toward the table. "Ready?"

"What do you do?"

He looked at her with a puzzled look on his face. "Hun?"

"I believe you mentioned our cover story was that you met me at work. It might help to know where you work in order to keep up appearances."

He turned back toward her. "Good point. I own a bowling alley book store."

Now it was her turn to look puzzled. A bowling alley book store was definitely an odd combination. "Seriously?"

He shook his head. "No. While it has always been a dream of mine, I'm not really sure the world is ready for the unique combo. So I settled for half. I own Thrice Told Tales, a small book store."

"Twice Told Tales? Why does that sound so familiar?"

"It's possible you've driven by it before, but I'd guess that you've probably heard the radio show." He looked a bit sheepish as he mentioned the radio show, as though he were embarrassed about it.

She began to shake her head, when she realized what he was talking about. "Your Just James." He sighed at the statement and gave a slight nod. "Wow."

"Wow good? Wow bad?"

If he only knew the number of times she had fallen asleep to the sound of his voice and the way it entered her dreams. She prayed the warmth she felt in her cheeks did not give away the direction of her thoughts. "Wow good." She did not want to elaborate any further.

He nodded, "well then, we ready now?"

She glanced over to the table where is friends sat and let out a deep breath. "Not really, but." She shrugged off the rest of her thought not really sure where it would take her.

She turned to start walking toward the table, when he spoke, "wait." She stopped and turned not realizing how close behind her he was. The stood face to face. He was so close she could feel the warmth of his breath, smell the scent of him. For a moment they seemed to just stand there frozen. The world seemed to evaporate around them and she could help but think what it would be like if he just leaned in a bit more. The thought woke her from her trance. She knew exactly what would happen and she stepped back adding a good bit of space between them. She didn't say anything, just waited for him to speak.

James shook his head slightly as though he too had been caught in a similar trance. "What does the J in J.C. stand for?"

She smiled and shook her head. "It stands for Jaycie. J-A-Y-C-I-E. Somewhere along the way I got tired of correcting people and my name turned into initials. I have been toying with the idea of legally adding a middle name that begins with a C, but I have been having trouble deciding on one. So, we ready now?"

With the sexiest little grin, he nodded and walked with her toward the people infested table.

"So, that wasn't so bad was it?" Jaycie waved goodbye to James's friends and turned toward him.

"I think your definition of so bad and my definition are slightly different." She watched as his brows raise and his lips twitched into a small grimace. Who was she kidding? The truth was that she had finally--for once in her life--felt normal. Yes, her nerves had wreaked havoc on her throughout the entire evening and would continue to do so for the next several days as she played everything over and over again in mind, but she had smiled. A smile for her was a rare and potentially extinct creature. Strange how since meeting James only yesterday she had smiled more than probably her entire lifetime.

A sigh escaped her lips. "It wasn't so bad. I actually had a very nice time." He smiled and gestured with his arm for her to begin walking. She started off in the direction of her car, acutely aware of his presence next to her. "Your friends are very nice."

"I'm glad you enjoyed yourself. I would say you made quite an impression on my friends, as well." She felt the tightening in her chest as her brain twisted his words. He must have noticed the look on her face, because he was quick to expand his statement. "Lucy is usually very quite around new people, but with you, it was as if she had known you forever. And Marc," they came to a stop in front of her car, "well let's just say he definitely enjoyed matching whits with you. All in all, I'd say you fit in quite nicely, though I had no doubts that you would."

She smiled. "Thank you."

"You’re welcome."

They stood there for a moment in silence, save for the slight sound of her car door unlocking as she pressed the button. Jaycie stared at the keys in her hand. It had been a long time since someone had walked her to her car. She shook the erupting thought from her mind. This is crazy. Your acting like this is a date. And it is most definitely not a date. She looked up from her keys to find James studying her. Her heart squeezed reacting against her will to his gaze. Jaycie cleared her throat. "So, I'll see you Thursday, then."

"Yeah. Thursday." For a moment, it looked like he wanted to say something else, but he just smiled and took a step back.

A small pang of disappointment at his retreat took her by surprise. "Okay, then. Bye." She turned, open her door and climbed in. He raised his hand, with a slight wave, she heard him say goodbye as she pulled the door close. He took another step back as she started her car and put it in gear. As she started to make her way out of the parking lot, she glanced back in her rear view mirror to find him still standing there were she had left him. She smiled at him in the mirror, a mixture of sadness and excitement mingling in her veins. Until Thursday, she thought.

The clock's ticking echoed through her brain. She sat back in her chair, closed her eyes and let out a sigh. This is crazy. She thought to herself. Her fingers moved caressingly over the folder that sat on the desk. Never before had she felt the need to peek. Peek, a sigh of laugh escaped her lips as she shook her head, please. He had invaded her thoughts constantly. No matter what she tried to do to distract herself, he weaseled his way into her thoughts. She wanted more than anything to know him--know everything and anything about him. The folder wouldn't answer all of her questions, but it was a place to start.

She shook her head. This isn't just crazy; it is absolutely insane. I should just cancel. Her chest tightened at the thought. While a part of her rationalized it was the smartest thing to do, especially after engaging in activities outside of the research center, she so enjoyed the way he seemed to make her feel. She had smiled and laughed. And they were completely genuine. It was selfish of her to want more of that. Canceling would provider her with an opportunity to get to know him outside of the folder and outside of the touch. Eventually, they would touch. Eventually, things would change. But it would be so nice to just get to know someone for once.

The knock at the door disturbed her thoughts. "Yes," she called out.

Marc opened the door and popped his head in. "I just wanted to remind you that your appointment is in fifteen minutes."

She swallowed back the words that loomed on the surface of her tongue. "Excellent. Thank you, Marc." Marc smiled and closed the door behind him leaving her with the sound of the clock ticking away. Another sigh escaped her. That too was something she found herself doing a lot of over the past few days. She looked up at the clock, fifteen minutes. A smile pierced her lips. She leaned forward, picked up the folder and filed it back in the drawer where it belonged. Maybe I'll get lucky and we'll go another session without touching.

[She's seated when he enters. She looks up when she hears the door open.]

Him: I brought you a cup of coffee.

[He walks to where she is sitting and holds out the coffee to her. She looks at his hand and then at him without moving.]

Him: Oh, sorry.

[He places the drink on the table beside her and sits down across from her. She smiles at him as she picks up the cup.]

Her: Thank you.

[They both sip quietly from their drinks. She puts the coffee back on the side table.]

Her: So... / Him: I...

[Both begin to speak at once than stop. She gestures for him to go first.]

Him: I was a bit worried you might cancel.
Her: Why?
Him: Well, I wasn't sure if the other night was breaking some kind of protocol for your research.
Her: Well, I admit that I did think about it, but technically as long as there was no physical contact there really is no break in protocol. I did record the incident, but you aren't the first volunteer that I have bumped into and conversed with outside of these four walls. Though you are the first that I have had dinner with.
Him: That's good. The not breaking protocol part I mean, not the first dinner date. Though, I'd be lying if I didn't say I was happy about the dinner.

[She smiled and shook her head at him.]

Her: So... / Him: Why...

[Both begin to speak at once than stop.]

Her: Please.

[Again, she gestures for him to go first.]

Him: Why would talking not make a difference where touching would?
Her: Um, because the experiences visualized during the physical contact is an integral part of the research.
Him: Yeah, but couldn't we just touch again, here?

[He gestured to the room around them.]

Her: Yes, but the first experience and the second experience wouldn't be the same. For control purposes, the protocol requires all contact to take place within the facility.
Him: Things change?
Her: Yes, every time. It's not about seeing the future, so much as seeing a possible future. When we know what the future holds, we tend to make changes and adjustments to alter certain, usually negative, experiences. This study focuses on how changing a small detail like not answering a phone call might effect the future and how changing a larger detail like an action that leads to an argument impacts the future. That's why after each physical contact, we debrief separately and then come back and discuss what alteration will try to change our reaction to.
Him: Can not answering a phone call really have that big of an effect?
Her: You would be surprised?

[She took another sip of her coffee.]

Him: See now here I thought you were using this as a way to find someone with whom you could have a happily ever after with.

[She shook her head.]

Her: Already found him. But my 'gift' can strain any relationship. He is now happily married with two beautiful little girls.
Him: I thought you said you never had a boyfriend?
Her: Actually, I believe I said I did not have a boyfriend. That does not mean I wasn't foolish enough to try a couple of times.

[She smiled and laughed.]

Her: My first boyfriend was in high school. I broke up with him when he tried to kiss me. Dating in high school didn't go to well after that.
Him: But you did date again?
Her: I was naive to try dating in college. That was a joke. That was probably when I decided not to date, ever. A couple of years after college, though, I met a guy who was very persuasive and when we finally did touch, the future was picturesque.
Him: So what happened?
Her: I'm not sure how to explain it. He's actually probably the reason I started this study. Knowing the future isn't all it is cracked up to be. It gets tiring and boring. You make little changes just to see what will happen. Eventually, while our future showed us together, we weren't has happy as we had been during the first foreseen future. He could see it in the visions and I could feel it. Things became strained. We decided it was best to call things quits.
Him: So, how long did you date?
Her: Just over a year.
Him: And that was it? Never dated again?

[She shook her head. They sat quietly for a few moments, each of them nursing their coffee.]

Her: So... / Him: Do people...

[They both began to speak again. This time he gestured for her to go first. She sighed.]

Her: Look, it's not that I don't mind explaining some of this stuff to you. Though, I'm not really use to or particularly comfortable talking so much about myself.

[She shook her head as she trailed off.]

Her: I understand if you are not comfortable with the prospect of seeing the future, so to speak. You wouldn't be the first person to steer clear of my touch. But you did volunteer for this. If you've changed your mind...
Him: I would have thought people would be jumping at an opportunity to see the future.
Her: You're changing the subject.

[He looked down at his cup watching his finger trace circles around the rim.]

Him: I know. I'm sorry. I haven't changed my mind. Not at all. I just guess that considering that touching is as good as having a full blown relationship, I just wanted to get to know you a bit before we dive in and get...down and dirt, so to speak.

[He looked up at her as he said 'so to speak'. She smiled at him. He returned her smile.]

Him: So not everybody jumps at the opportunity to know there future?

[She stared at him for a few moments.]

Her:  No, but even if they did, the touch doesn't quite work like that.

Him:  How does it work?
Her:  It's a bit complicated.  I don't exactly see what the future has in store for people.  

[She paused and looked down at her gloveless entwined fingers.]

Her:  What I see is the moments and events that the person and I share.  In some cases, depending on personalities and compatibility that may be quite a lot.  But more often than not the relationship is superficial.  More acquaintance than friend.  So while I can see a potential future if my path and theirs continued to cross, I don't see everything.  I'm not sure that makes sense, but I'm not sure how else to explain it.
Him:  So is it possible for you to see and feel nothing.  If you have nothing in common with the other person and you would never be friends, might you not see anything at all.  

[She sighed and shook her head.]

Her:  If only it were that simple.  I always feel and see something.  Sometimes it is quicker than others.  But I the experience is very out of body and overwhelming.  It is just easier to avoid touch.  Besides those I most would want to get close to are the ones who will provide the most fodder for my gift.

[She stood up and walked toward the middle of the room away from him.]

Him:  That must be hard.

[He stared at her until she turned around.  She met his gaze and shrugged in reply.  He looked off to the side as though he were thinking. He turned back as the thought took hold.]

Him:  You had a boyfriend.
Her:  I believe we covered that.
Him:  What about sex?

[She stared at him for a moment.  She jaw obviously tensed as she grated her teeth together.  She took a visible breath and looked at the clock on the wall.  She pulled her gloves from her pocket and begins to put them on.]

Her:  It's late.  I think it is time we call this quits.  

[He watched her for a minute, opening his mouth as though to argue.  He stopped, shut his mouth, shook his head and stood.]

Him:  Okay, I'll see you...

[She shook her head and interrupted him.]

Her:  I think it would be best to call things quits completely.  It has already been two sessions and I really can't continue to waste time.
Him:  Look I promise next time...
Her:  This is best.  Have a good evening.

[She turned abruptly and walked out of the room.]

The knock startled her out of her daze. She sat up in the chair and looked at the screen in front of her. The video had stopped. When, she couldn't say. Apparently she had zoned out. It seemed like she had been doing that a lot these past couple of days. The culprit starred back at her on the monitor. She felt a small tug in her chest, just as the knock sounded again. "Come in," she called.

The door opened slowly. Mark shuffled back and forth in the doorway. While he was an unusually hyper person, the movement reminded Jaycie more of someone who was nervous. He stood there quietly in the open doorway; his gaze on the floor in front of his feet. "Is something wrong, Mark?"

"Umm," he said as he lifted his head from the floor to meet her eyes. "I'm not sure."

Jaycie couldn't help but smile. It seemed strange how often she had found herself smiling lately. Her eyes darted back to the screen for a split second before refocusing on the antsy intern standing at her door. "Well, why don't you tell me what's on your mind and we can figure it out together."

"I know you said things were finished. And I figured that meant that things hadn't gone well again and that you wouldn't be continuing the sessions anymore. I got the impression that you were going to move on the next person, but he was really insistent. He said you two had agreed to give it one more go. He was very insistent." The spewed from his lips at such a rate that it took Jaycie some time to process his words. She felt the tug at her chest again and bit her bottom lip in response. It was crazy how much a single person could have such an effect on her. It had been so long since someone had managed to get under her skin like this.

When Jaycie didn't respond right away, he took a breath and continued. "I can call him and cancel if you want." His eyes again became glued to the floor. "I knew I should of checked with you first," he mumbled under his breath.

Jaycie had to say his name twice to get his attention again. "It's okay. Don't worry about it. I'll give it one more go." Mark seemed to still at her words. "When is the next appointment?"

"Monday at 10." His gaze shifted from the monitor to her. "Are you sure you don't want me to cancel? I don't want to mess up your research."

A small laugh escaped her lips as she shook her head. "No, it is all good. The more input I get the better. I would hate to have wasted two sessions, if I can salvage them."

"Okay." Mark nodded and started to back out of the room before stopping. "Oh, I almost forgot. He asked me to give this to you." He held out a small piece of paper toward her.

After she took the paper, Mark turned and walked out of the room. Jaycie sat there starring at the note in her hand. She couldn't seem to place the feeling that was gnawing at her. Finally, she shook off the unidentifiable feeling and opened the note.

Don't blame Mark. I was very persuasive. Anyway, I wish I could explain this need for me to get to know you more before we share such an intimate connection. But I promise, ready or not, Monday is the day. I was hoping, though, I might have at least one more opportunity to just talk. Maybe you could give me that and an opportunity to apologize for being such a pain. Coffee at Maurice's Cafe? Tomorrow 5 o'clock? I'll be there. Hopefully, I'll see you.

After reading the note through a third time for good measure. She folded it up and put it in her pocket before turning back to the monitor and continuing her transcription.

She stared at blindly ahead. Her focus shifting from the door to Maurice's Cafe to the vacant space in between. Mindlessly she unfolded and folded the note that she had long ago memorized. This is crazy, she thought as a sigh escaped her lips for perhaps the hundredth time today. She looked down at the note in her hand. It was hard to fathom that someone could plague her mind this much, and without having experienced his touch. Staring blindly at the words on the note she tried fruitlessly to figure out what it was about him. Maybe it was a simple as the fact that he genuinely seemed to want to get to know her. Most people just wanted what her touch could offer; and were disappointed by the experience. She didn't want to disappoint him. The idea that she might pulled at her chest.

This is crazy, she thought again and tucked the crinkled note into the pocket of her jeans. She placed both hands on the steering wheel trying to ground herself, maybe getting ready to start the car up and leave as she aught to, and maybe fortifying herself as she summoned the nerve to open the door and make her way across the street to the cafe. Just as her eyes closed, a knock startled her out of whatever decision she was going to make. She glanced across the passenger seat to find James smiling at her through the window. He raised his brows and glanced at the window. She barely hesitated before pressing the button. Her breath seemed caught in anticipation as the window slowly lowered.

"Hey," he said as the window finally touched down. "Coming in," he asked as he nodded ever so slightly to Maurice's. "Or you going to sit here a while longer in debate?"

Her breath finally came back to her with a little laugh and a smile that seemed so less scarce when he was around. "I haven't decided yet."

Jaycie watched him nodded in understanding. His gaze turned to the ground outside the door, as he contemplated her words. A pang of loss poked her at the loss of his stare. He shrugged and then extended his arm through the window and across the passenger seat toward her. "Coffee?"

She looked from the cup he offered to him and back again. "Thank you," she said as her hand rose to take the cup from him. Her gloved fingers lingered ever so slightly as they brushed against his on the coffee cup.

He raised his own coffee, "cheers." She smiled and drank in the warm liquid as he did the same. As the cup pulled away from his lips, he glanced down as the passenger seat and raised he brows questioningly. "Do you mind?"

She unlocked the door in respond than watched as he folded himself into the seat next to her.

The silence permeated the air between them growing thick and heavy on her mind. She raised the coffee cup slowly to her lips trying not to focus on his presence there beside her. Leisurely she took a sip, breathing in the intoxicating aroma of the delicious beverage and savoring these few moments of reprieve. Her indecisiveness was moot. Lowering the cup, she fortified herself and turned in her seat to better face him. His head turned in her direction, lips kissing his own coffee cup, and she couldn't stop herself from wondering what that kiss might feel like on her own lips.

She pushed the thought quickly from her mind with a huff of a sigh. "Tell me about yourself," she inquired in a matter of fact tone.

James slowly smiled at her over the mouth of the cup and again her thoughts turned back to how those lips might taste. She pulled her gaze away from his mouth fearful that he might be able to read her thoughts. "What do you want to know?"

She sighed loudly and shook her head. "I don't know. Anything. Everything. I feel like all of our encounters have involved you badgered me with questions. All I really know about you is what I gleaned from having dinner with you and your friends. And that really wasn't much."

His left brow turned inward and his mouth curved on the left into a intoxicating grin. He broke into a full smile with a soundless laugh just before he opened his mouth to speak. "Badgered?"

Jaycie could not help but return his smile. "Yes," she began with a lightheartedness to her voice. "Badgered. I made it perfectly clear that I was not particularly comfortable or good at the whole small talk, getting to know you conversation. And you proceeded to ask question after question until I was fully exhausted. So, I think badgered is a perfect term."

Silence lingered in the car as his gazed stared her down. Then he shrugged, smiled and nodded. "Okay, I'll give that to you." He looked out of the front windshield and took another drink of his coffee. Jaycie followed suit afraid of where her thoughts would take her if she continued to watch him. "So, where to begin?" Jaycie adjusted her position turning more toward James and schooching a little so that she could comfortable rest her head on the back of her chair while she faced him.

He smiled. "Comfy?" She nodded her response. "Good." James adjusted himself slightly in his seat to match her. "I'm 32. Born and bread right here. I have two brothers and one sister. I am number three. In high school I was an oxymoron. A smart jock." She hid her smile behind a sip of coffee. "I graduated magna cum laude from NYU and was hired right out of college and spent the next six years making a name for myself on Wall Street." He paused to take a sip of his coffee. As he lowered the cup he inquired, "is that what you're looking for."

"It's a beginning," was her response. "So, what happened next? Why'd you leave Wall Street?"

The silence again seemed to grow heavy between them as he studied her face. As his gaze lingered on her lips, she itched to skin to skin and discover what thoughts were running through his head. He sighed and shook his head. "I quit." be continued...