In the privacy of my room later that night I dialed the number Ben had left me. Someone picked up on the first ring.
My breath caught in my throat. This voice was too low and gravelly for Ben's. And then I recognized it. "Mr. Galls?"
There was a moment of silence from the other end. "Jenn."
I nodded and my mouth lifted into a smile. He remembered me. Of course he remembers you, the voice in my head reasoned. That's why he's here, to get you.
"Yes, it's me. How are you?" I asked. It had been so long since I had talked to him. He had always appeared a tough old man, torn around the edges, but he was wise and strong for his age. He had been a good friend in Carmichael.
"I'm hanging in there," he said. "How have things been on your end of the country?"
I laughed into the receiver. "Same old, same old. Listen, is Ben there? I need to talk to him..."
"Yup, I'll put him right on...you take care of yourself, kid. No matter what you decide. You hear me?"
I bit my lip, rocked by his continued kindness. "I hear you." There was a shuffle as the phone was passed.
A second later I heard Ben's voice say, "Hi Jenn."
"Hey." There was an awkward silence as I steadied myself for what I was about to say to him. It was going to be hard to hear the disappointment in his voice, but I had been over this in my head countless times. I've decided not to use my gift as a weapon anymore. Things are still too complicated at home. My parents need me. I need to finish school and go to college and live a normal life.