Rooted Star

“I hope you’re willing to give me more than that,” Vinny winked at Cael as they hugged. He arrived to pick her up for their first official date as a couple and she greeted him with a quick peck on the lips.

“A ton more,” Cael replied with another quick peck. “But first, now that we’re official I need to confess some things to you.” A blur of white caught Vinny’s attention and he checked the space above Cael’s mocha curls. The number 7 hovered above her head followed by the word, ‘billion’. It surprised him so much he needed to take a step back.

“Vin?” Cael was suddenly concerned.

“What.. uh.. what kind of things?” Vinny asked. He racked his brain trying to decide what it meant. He’d been able to see numbers above people’s heads for years. It was never really more than a minor curiosity for him. He did not know what the numbers meant, but he never saw a number above a five over someone’s head before; now his girlfriend displayed 7 billion. If there was ever a time to figure out what it meant, it was now.

“Sit down,” she led him to her red loveseat and coaxed him into sitting down next to her. However, he leaned closer to the other end of the couch than to her. “No matter what I tell you, I’m still me. Nothing about me has changed. The truth is I have some powers that I don’t want to keep secret from you in our relationship.” Cael sighed and looked into Vinny’s dark eyes.

He watched golden stars begin to glow in the center of her light-brown eyes.

“Powers like yours,” she said. The glow faded from her eyes. “Not exactly like yours,” she added. “You can see stats and stuff; I see what someone is.”

“You know what I can do!?” Vinny asked with wide eyes. “Since when?” Cael grinned; gold stars flashed in her eyes again.

“Since we met,” she said.

“Do you know what it means!?” Vinny closed the distance between them; he took her hands in his to beg for the answer.

“What what means?” Cael asked.

“The numbers!”

“Oh,” Cael shrugged. “No. That’s kind of up to you. You can see pretty much any statistic you want so whatever the numbers mean is going to vary. Now that you know, try it on me,” she said. Vinny stared above Cael’s head, but no number appeared.

“There’s nothing there,” he said.

“Think of a statistic. I know! Wonder how many donuts I’ve had today.” Vinny nodded and focused.

I wonder how many donuts she’s eaten today,” Vinny wondered the question as deliberately as he could. ’03’ appeared above Cael’s head.

“You’ve had three donuts?” he asked. Cael nodded.

“Wow, this is… you’re amazing!” Vinny leaned forward and kissed Cael on the lips.

“That’s not everything yet,” Cael said. She wiggled her fingers at the air and a plate-sized portal opened to hover in the air next to her head. “I’m actually from a different universe. There are many, many alternate universes out there and I have the ability to travel between them at will.”

Vinny had been seeing numbers above people’s heads for years. He was open to the unexpected and mysterious. Rather than waste time doubting Cael, Vinny used his newly mastered abilities instead.

How many Earths has she visited?” Vinny wondered and glanced up.

“93” hovered above her head in white numbers.

“Okay, wow,” Vinny said. “I think we’re in for an interesting relationship.” Cael agreed and leaned forward to kiss his lips. “You’d better keep those coming,” he said. “I’m going to need a lot more.”

Fluttering white numbers caught Vinny’s attention as Cael leaned in for another peck. He looked up, ‘7 billion’ floated above Cael’s head.

I can live with that,” Vinny thought. Now that he knew the number meant he wrapped his arms around Cael and pulled her closer.

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