TALIA SILVERWOODS LOOKED DOWN at her textbook and started to tap on it with her fingers. She looked sideways at Michael, who was completely engrossed in his notebook. Tomorrow was her midterm exam and here she was sitting in a car on the lookout for one of her "customers". She was getting a little tired of trying to maintain the balance of the world. If she wasn't out doing Destiny's bidding every day, maybe she could get a B grade once in a while.
She sighed out loud and Michael looked towards her with a frown on his face. "Why aren't you studying?"
Talia leaned her head back and rubbed her eyes. "I'm working, remember?" Her hand distractedly touched the amulet. She had accidentally chipped it a week before while she was playing badminton with Michael and she had worried that her Aunt would scold her for being so careless. So, she had decided not to tell her. And what possible harm could that do, anyway? Stanley was safely locked away in an asylum.
Michael closed his notebook and looked out the windshield. "Still don't see him."
Talia closed her eyes. She hated her job and if Aunt Rosalind knew this she would be reprimanded, but right then she would do anything just to have a normal life. She had been assigned the role of a teacher when she had stripped off Stanley's powers, but she had been reassigned to her role as the helper of Destiny when her student had made a serious blunder during work. No one was ever supposed to showcase their powers in front of anyone, and poor Shane had done just that. Apparently subtlety hadn't been his "thing", as he had explained and then turned up the volume of the music.
She opened her eyes as she heard two high school girls giggling loudly and licking ice cream cones. Talia frowned and turned to look at Michael, who was staring wistfully at them.
"Hey!" she cried and slapped his wrist.
"What? I was just wondering ... we should get ice creams. It's too hot in here."
Talia raised her eyebrows. "Already bored of me, huh? What happened to 'we're meant to be together'?"
"We are!" Michael said.
Talia crossed her arms and shook her head at him. "I hate this!"
"I was just looking out and they happened to be there." He explained.
"Not that," Talia said. "I'm starting to really," Talia rubbed her forehead, "loathe what I do."
"Have you been getting headaches?" Michael asked, and put an arm on her shoulder. Talia leaned on him and took a deep breath.
"Sometimes," she said. "Maybe the stress of this is getting to me. I've been getting these weird dreams." "
Talia nodded. Michael drew her closer and started to massage her temples.
"That feels nice," she murmured as the pain started to subside almost immediately, "you really are my helper."
Michael chortled. "That I am. Are you sure your Aunt is okay with me knowing this stuff?"
"Not really," Talia said, "but I can't lie to you."
Michael drew in a sharp breath. "So do you know who your new protector is?"
"I'm not supposed to know apparently." Talia said, "Something about my mind being read. After what Stanley did to me ..."
"It's okay. I can take it," Michael said, "you don't have to side step every time you talk about him."
Talia shrugged and sat up straight. "Oh, hey! There he is." She pointed at a thirty-year-old man coming out the bank. He was tall and good looking, and through her powers she had known what kind of life he led.
"So what's he like?" Michael asked.
"Thirty years old, has a wife, just had a baby girl and got a huge bonus for sealing a deal," Talia said.
"And what's the game plan?"
Talia tapped her fingers on the door handle. "He just had a baby for heaven's sake!"
"You don't have to break his bones or anything," Michael said.
"No, I just have to do something that would create a lasting dent in his otherwise perfect life. Someone else screws up and I have to be the cleaner."
"What you do is important." Michael explained, and Talia frowned at him. She really did love Michael, but there were some days she wished he wouldn't be so matter-of-fact. Why wouldn't he just agree with her already? From what Aunt Rosalind had said, Michael had pretty much done her bidding in her previous life.
Talia bit her lip hard. What was she thinking? She loved Michael and whether she liked this or not, he was telling her what was right.
"I just wish it wasn't today. Not so soon." Talia said, "Maybe when his daughter is a teenager or something."
"Then he probably wouldn't want any help at all. His life would already be a ..." he trailed off as he saw her face and grinned at her.
Talia pulled on the handle and got out. "Come with?"
Michael pointed at his textbook and Talia sighed. She closed the door behind her and started to walk towards the man. What should she do today? A parking ticket won't do much; neither would her breaking his car. What were her options? A sharp pain pierced through her and she gasped. Just as suddenly the pain subsided, leaving her feel disoriented. What was that? Maybe she had been using her powers too much. Last week she had caused a woman's new car to enter a ditch. Not only did her car get scratched from the barbed wire near the ditch, but the glass pieces in them had punctured three of her tires.
"Great times," Talia said to herself. The poor woman had cried and Talia had walked away guiltily, knowing that what she had done was required of her, but couldn't Destiny replace her heart with stone? Her powers were growing stronger by the day. She had only to think of an obstacle and the obstacle would appear that very second.
She turned her thoughts back to the man who was now walking towards his car while talking on his cell phone; probably his wife telling him to get some groceries or something for the baby. Talia stood across the road from him and realised that she didn't have a plan yet. She would have to think fast and it had to be right now.
Maybe she could start off with letting his expensive cell phone slip from his hands and into the gutter. And then when he bent down, she could ........
Just then the man clutched at his chest. The cell phone slipped and fell into the gutter just like she had imagined, but that had been it. The man started to gasp and his face started to redden.
"Oh my God! He's having a heart attack!" someone yelled, but Talia's eyes were fixated on the man. What was happening? This wasn't supposed to happen. "Someone call an ambulance!"
The man collapsed on the pavement and started to sweat profusely. Talia crossed the road and ran towards him. She screamed, "Call for help!" She knelt beside the man and wished she had known CPR. Why hadn't she paid attention in school when she was being taught?
In the distance the ambulance arrived, but Talia knew that it was already too late. The man lay motionless and everyone around him, started to step back and make room for the medics.
"Luckily we were in the area," she heard one of the medics say. Talia got up as the medics moved in and covered her mouth to keep from screaming. She hadn't done this, had she?
"He's dead," one of the medics said.
Talia turned around and ran across the road, almost getting hit by a car. She saw Michael getting out of the car with a confused look on his face.
He asked, "What's going on?"
"He's dead!" Talia said and started to cry. "He wasn't supposed to die! If he was, I would have never been told to go to him!"
Michael took her in his arms and she sobbed loudly, "I couldn't help him!"
"You couldn't have," Michael said soothingly and stroked her back.
"If I hadn't repeated my life I would have still been the good one and made sure the medic was right there."
"The medic was in the area." Michael said. "I saw them coming. There wasn't any traffic."
Talia looked up at him. "Then how did he die so quickly?"
Michael looked towards the dispersing crowd and frowned. "This doesn't make sense."
A thought suddenly occurred to her and Talia pushed herself away. "I think I did it!" She said, "I think I made it happen!"