“No one is useless in this world
who lightens the burdens of another.”
The rest of the school year was uneventful. Max was right, the schoolwork was harder but everyone, was nice. Well, almost everyone was nice.
Amanda and I hung out pretty much every day at school. She didn’t come over to my house much. I think Lillian must have said something mean to Amanda. Amanda said she preferred being home. I fixed up my bike. When the weather was nice, I rode over to Amanda’s on my good days. I did not mind the ride, and Amanda’s mother is always nice to me.
I did not see Max as often. He was busy with high school and Jamie. At the Thanksgiving break, we played some X-box and hung out. That is when he told me about the visions and the Everywhen.
“The Aboriginal people of Australia call it the Everywhen or Everwhen. It is something like a trance where the past, present, and future are all visible. Like a movie in your mind.”
“Is that what happens to you? A trance?”
“Not really. Well, maybe. I don’t know exactly. All I know, is when I focus, I see things that will happen. I don’t even have to hold the Orb. I just focus and it connects.”
“Connects? How does it connect?”
Max pauses, thinking about my question. I flip off the game console before turning back to Max.
“The Orb is giving me the visions, or it is allowing my mind to connect to some ability that is already there. Maybe, yes, I think it is opening up an ability that we don’t know how to use.”
“Do you think it is hurting you?”
“No. There is no pain when I see the future. If I tell someone what I saw, or if I make something happen that I know will alter what I saw in the future, I feel pain. Mark and Jamie say they feel the stings. Tell me about the stinging you get when I am in the Everywhen.”
“It is like a little electrical dance over my skin that stops, here and there, and bites like an ant.”
“Do you see anything or just feel it?”
“I feel it. Max, it is not that bad. I think… Maybe it is more intense when you are seeing something that makes you upset?”
“That is a good question. Let’s experiment. Do you want to help me?”
Max jumps up, closes the door to his bedroom, then steps up on his nightstand. He turns the screws on the heating grate, pulls off the cover, before reaching in and retrieving a small box. After replacing the grate, he steps down and opens the door. Opening the box, he cradles the Orb, and sits back down on the carpet.
“Okay, here is what we are going to do. I am going to let the Orb show me something. You focus on what happens to you. When the vision is complete, we’ll figure out what happens to you.”
“Okay, but what do I do if it gets too painful?”
“Just say: Max, stop.”
Sitting Indian style, Max holds the Orb in both hands. Resting his hands on his shins, I see light bouncing and refracting through the Orb.
In seconds I begin to feel tingling on my skin. I stayed focused and notice the tingling comes and goes in waves.
Then something changes.
The stinging starts.
I let it continue for what I think is a long time but is only a few minutes.
Max opens his eyes. He looks sad and worried.
“I felt the tingling as soon as you closed your eyes. It sort of came and went in waves. Until the end when it started stinging. I tried to hold on, but the stings got harder… No, not harder. Just more of them at the same time.”
“What do you think it means?”
“If you tell me what you saw, maybe we can figure out why it is happening.”
Instinctively, Max grabs his side before he feels any pain. I cut him off before he can speak.
“You know it will hurt you to tell me?”
“Yes, but I can manage. It is not as bad now.”
“Not as bad? What changed?”
“I don’t know what changed but I can manage the pain. In the Everywhen I was seeing Mark. He was playing Hockey. He is really good, the only Freshman to ever start on the High School Varsity. Scouts are coming to see him. Then it happens. In a couple of years, it happens”
Max stops and leans to his left, trying to protect his side from the pain.
“Max, what happens?”
“Mark becomes Captain of the team. He is going to be offered scholarships. But a goon hurts him.”
Max stops, and grimaces, before he finishes.
“In a couple of years, they will take out Mark’s knee to win the state championship.”
Max stops, opens his eyes, and looks at me.
“You have to tell Mark.”
“Yes, but when?”
“You will know when, but you have to tell him. No matter the pain, you can’t let your friend get hurt.”
“I know… Jac, will you help me?”
“Yes, of course. How?”
“In two years, when you are a Freshman, remind me to tell Mark.”
“Remind you? Why, what are you talking about?”
“Please, just remember what I told you and do not let me forget.”
“Okay, I will not let you forget. But, Max, what else have you learned?”
Max shakes his head no. Puts the Orb back in the box before setting it on the nightstand. Turning back to me, I understand without being told it is time to leave. While I am standing to leave, Max lies on his bed, I let him know I will help him.
“Max, the stinging happens when you see things that make you sad or unhappy. I think the stinging helps lesson your pain. If you want me to help, I can take the stinging.”
Max smiled, nodded positively, then closed his eyes. I close the door behind me on my way to the stairs and the back door.
I will take the stings for Max.
I will own it for Max.
What is Max not telling us?