Melanie smiled to herself as she ate. She sat a brightly colored picnic table at the restaurant’s outdoor patio. The kids swarming the play-park reminded the mid-40s woman of simpler times. The setting sun left the sky twilight-purple. The year’s first cold front breezed across the back of her neck and gave her a slight shiver. It reminded her of the end of summer.
Summer’s end always came with its own kind of melancholy. Her childhood summers were spent at a cousin’s lake house. She lost touch with Ivy over the years, but they were close once upon a time. The last time they actually hung out was during college. Ivy tried to talk her into a tattoo, but even at 46 Melanie is scared of needles. One of their favorite games was “mind-reader.”
Somehow, Ivy convinced her cousin that she could read Melanie’s mind. The 9-year-old version of her was annoyed that she couldn’t read Ivy’s mind. Ivy helpfully gave her an explanation.
“You’re the only one that can’t read minds!” Melanie replayed her cousin’s words in her head. “YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN’T READ MINDS!” she chuckled at the thought. “Maybe I am,” she thought. Then, she noticed the playground seemed quieter. She looked up from her fries and realized everyone, kids and adults, was staring at her. “What’d I do?” she wondered idly. As one, all the strangers took an uneasy step back. The kids all flocked to their parents while the adults quickly gathered their things.
Melanie looked around herself in confusion wondering if she missed an emergency that was happening. She did not see anything unusual and was about to ask one of the strangers rushing away but her phone rang.
“Hello?” Melanie did not recognize the number but answered it anyway.
“I can’t believe you went and got a tattoo without me!” Ivy’s familiar, forgotten voice complained. Melanie smiled to herself. They may have lost touch, but she picked up right where they left off.
“Are you drunk?” Melanie asked. “Tripping? Why are you calling me out of the blue with such a weird question?” Their friendship didn’t run on pleasantries. Ivy laughed on the other end for a moment, then she went quiet.
“Wait. Are you serious? You don’t have one?”
“Yes,” Melanie said. “What’s going on?”
“Holy crap, that’s amazing! Uh, okay. Hold on I’ll see you in a bit.”
“See me in a bit? Where are-” the call disconnected before Melanie got her question out. She navigated through the phone to call Ivy back but heard the familiar voice behind her.
“Hey!” Ivy said. Melanie turned to see her cousin walk out of the restaurant. Despite being a year older than Melanie, Ivy looked almost 20 years younger. Her cousin looked lean with a healthy tan. Her once dark hair was dyed green and pulled back in a long ponytail. She wore blue jeans and a black blouse with a mint sprig affixed to it like a brooch.
“Holy crap, girl. You haven’t aged a day,” Melanie said as she stood and hugged her cousin. “I didn’t know you were in town,” she said.
“I wasn’t,” Ivy smiled. “But then you started blasting out, that’s why I thought you got a tattoo.”
“Blasting out? What do you mean?” Melanie asked as they both sat down at the table. Ivy immediately reached for the fries.
“You really don’t know?” she asked with a broad smile, then shoved several fries in her mouth.
“Yes, I don’t,” Melanie answered. She nodded and shook her head at the same time wobbling her head around. Ivy smiled, then swallowed. She took a sip of Melanie’s soda, then cleared her throat.
“You’re the only one that can’t read minds,” she said with a low whisper. Melanie broke into a fit of giggles.
“I was just thinking about that,” she said. Ivy nodded.
“I know,” she replied. “Everyone knows.”
“Uhhmmmm…,” Melanie narrowed her eyes at Ivy and waited for an explanation.
“A few minutes ago, everyone in the world heard a thought in their heads. Someone told every person that they’re the only ones that can’t read minds.”
“What? I had that thought too… wait. You’re saying it didn’t come from me?” Ivy laughed and shook her head.
“I’m saying you’re the one that did it. Of course, only people that have heard your voice know it was you. You can talk to everyone in the world.”
“No I can’t,” Melanie said with a shake of her head. “I don’t know how you pranked me, but I’m not trusting that again. Just because you convinced me when we were younger doesn’t mean I’ll fall for it.” Ivy sighed.
“I didn’t trick you to convince you. Back then I could hear your thoughts just like I heard it today. Look,” Ivy reached across the table and took Melanie’s hand. “Just get a tattoo, it’ll clear everything up.”
“You’re still with that, huh?”
“Well back then I didn’t know why I was so determined,” Ivy smiled. “Now I do.” She tapped the back of Melanie’s hand. “Get a little ’37’ right here and everything will make sense. Accidentally blasting out your thoughts to everyone will be a thing of the past, and you’ll learn how to do it intentionally. Now, I can honestly say: if you get a tattoo you’ll get some pretty neat superpowers.” Melanie chuckled.
“Superpowers? Really?” Ivy nodded and lifted her hands to show Melanie her palms. “What are you-“
Melanie started to ask but stopped. A long, leafy, green vine slithered onto the table. It coiled around a french fry then lifted it to Ivy’s mouth. She took a bite and smiled.
“Yeah, really,” she said as she finished chewing the single bite. Then she leaned forward and stretched the neckline of her shirt a bit. She showed Melanie a tattoo of a potted ivy on her shoulder. The number 52 decorated the clay pot.