My first day of school was more fun than I had anticipated.

I broke the rules, but really, that's nothing new.

It surprised me that out of all the dweebs I used to hang out with, Jesse was the only one that I saw at school today. Not that I'm surprised really. Jesse is one of my best friends. He's just so much fun. A lot of people think he's a bit of a creeper, but that's just because they don't know him like I do. He's weird, but he's a total sweetheart. He's got dirty blonde hair that he spikes all the way back, not just the front like some guys do. He's always listening to music; he's like my music guru. He knows exactly what songs I want to listen to, even before I do. It's fun that way. It's secretly been my dream for a few years now to find a song that I like that he doesn't already know all the words to.

I had a bit of trouble finding my locker. Apparently, lockers 2971-2978 are completely separate from every other locker in the school. I had to ask at the office, and they were not nearly as nice about giving me directions as I would have hoped. Still, I found it eventually. I didn't really have many books yet, but I brought a mirror, my emergency make-up and sweater, my pencil case and some paper. I also brought my locker shelf, the tiny stuffed porcupine Jesse gave me for my tenth birthday, and the dream-catcher Jon helped me make when I was six.

My parents don't think it's a good idea for me to exercise my skill out in the real world. Well, more accurately, they think I shouldn't use it at school. I guess they have it in their heads that I spend all my time manipulating everyone I meet. Not to say that that isn't true, but why shouldn't I? People use their assets to make friends. People with great smiles have that going for them. People try to be nicer than they might otherwise be, people try to impress people, people do all kinds of crap to make friends. Why shouldn't I? I'm simply using another method to get people to like me. Besides, it's just for first impressions. I can't actually make anybody like me if they don't, but if my presence makes them blush or smile or think that they're happy, I'd say that's a pretty good first impression. They can deal with their actual opinions later.

I was mildly surprised when Jesse showed up, his locker right next to mine. It was cool though. It was nice to have an alliance at this huge new school so readily available. He saw me first, but I could feel body approaching. I heard the heartbeat, I felt the blood, I smelled the adrenaline. I would know that heartbeat anywhere. I tried not to think of people as specimens, but my god was Jesse a nice system. People are like cars. Each one is special and different. There are different makers and models, each with their own qualities and defects. Most people just look at the outside, the shape and the paint job, and they drive the one that's theirs. I am like a mechanic. I know the engines and the electronics and all of the gizmos and gadgetry. I appreciate the complexity of the machine and I test drive all the cars I work on. Jesse was my Mercedes Benz. Intricate and chemical like German engineering, and tons of fun to drive. Like most car lovers, I like to drive fast, but sometimes you have to obey the speed limits.

I turned to meet his eyes and his heart sped up. He did that all on his own. I think that's one of the things I love about Jesse. He's still a bit of a mystery. Some people are simple, like Fords, and you can see how they work. It's very linear and simple, and despite all their merit, the thrill is gone. Jesse still has a few secrets. I can't always tell what that emotion is, what that hormone means. Sometimes with him, you hit the gas and he revs harder than you expect. Sometimes you take a corner and you sway in your seat farther than you anticipated. He still had some thrills, and I liked that. He wasn't really my type; we were completely platonic, but still… he was fun to drive.

I dropped my bag, put my coffee cup on the shelf and left my locker wide open to go hug him. It was too early in the morning for him to run, but he walked much faster than he ever would have otherwise, and that was good enough for me. We hugged and exchanged our greetings and smiles. We talked for a while, and he never took those damned headphones off. Dweeb.

He put his books for first period into his bag, but then left it in his locker. I didn't really get why, but it was Jesse. He was one strange gumball. I call him a gumball sometimes because his headphones look like some kind of candy, and he's always bouncing along to them in that strange little bubbly way that he does. For whatever reason, he just seems like a gumball to me. A spiky gumball.

He waved to me and walked away; god only knows where he was going. He didn't go down the stairs closest to our lockers. He walked down the hallway instead, past the music rooms. It didn't really surprise me.

This kid I knew from a few years ago, Penny, had her locker right near mine. I don't think I'd ever spoken to her before today, but I knew who she was. Her name was Penelope, but she called herself Penny. It made sense. I don't know what it was exactly, but something about her seemed…old. Not old like an actual old person, just like… she secretly came from the fifties or something. She used phrases like, "No kidding" and "nifty." She wore a striped turtle-neck sweater, which, although not entirely unflattering, looked like it came right out of a movie somebody had watched at a drive-in. She was a little strange, but that was okay. She seemed nice enough. I didn't alter her reactions. She seemed to be reacting fine as it was.

I had some fun with the triplets though.

Noriaki, Takaeshi and Yuki Kenjo, they were called. They were kind of pretty. They all had dark hair, short and spiky, but not short little points like Jesse's. Their hair was longer, more dramatically spiked, pointing off in different directions as opposed to straight up in neat little triangles. They had nice cheekbones, deep brown eyes, and clear, soft-looking skin. They were taller than one might expect, considering that they were triplets. Not incredibly tall, but definitely not short. Probably about 5'10". The three of them seemed to be in pretty good shape, solid biceps, and powerhouses of adrenaline. Being in a room with them was like being in a field ten minutes before an electrical storm. You weren't in danger, yet, but you could feel the built up energy in the air, dying to reach out to the earth. It was exciting.

They were pretty and sleek, and I immediately saw them as Japanese sports cars. A Mazda RX-7 or a Mitsubishi Eclipse, and I wanted to drive them.

I turned the key tentatively and the three of them blushed, hearts beating faster, beating together. I liked it that way. Some distant recess of my mind considered racing them, but that would be unethical.

Takaeshi intrigued me. They had identical paint jobs, or as close as they could get, but the systems were a little bit different. Noriaki had a sun roof and the leather seats. Yuki had some serious torque and crazy high beams. Takaeshi was special though. He was a Mazda alright, but I'd be willing to bet that if you revved him just right he'd sing like a Ferrari, and probably go almost as fast.

First period geo was pretty cool. I had that with Penny and Jesse. Jesse is in all of my classes this semester. Go figure.

Jesse sat directly behind me. Penny sat to the left of Jesse. The kid who sat to my left was named Dalton. I kind of felt sorry for him. His name was Dalton. What a horrible name for a kid who looked like him. I mean, he was pretty hot and very athletic looking. If I had the task of naming him now I'd probably give him a name like Brett or Chad. He was just one of those guys who you could see being captain of the football team, starting quarterback, homecoming king, and all that jazz. All of this would be his for the taking, except that his name was Dalton. I wonder if he put so much effort into being a jock to escape from his name. If I had a name like Dalton that's probably what I would do. That, or go into politics, but that's completely unrelated.

My teacher seemed nice, and I like geography. I'm good at it, so even though it's an academic course, I'll probably be able to glide through the vast majority of it. I guess I can say that for most of my classes. I'm a relatively intelligent person and a decent student. I could probably do better in a lot of my classes if I really wanted to, but I'm lazy and I don't want to be a nerd. I want to…you know, have a life. I understand all the concepts, even in math: my worst subject. I would just understand them better if I actually paid attention in class. The vast majority of the time my mind is elsewhere, planning activities with my friends, passing notes, having silent conversations behind the teacher's back. It's not like it matters though, I still have an A average, and nobody's the wiser.

After geo I had my philosophy course, which I love. It's a lot of fun to argue with everyone, and it's kind of funny when they talk about their ways of knowing and such. I guess you can't really blame them; their intelligence is just so limited. They don't understand how the body and the brain function together. They don't understand what it is that makes you "fear" makes you "happy" makes you "angry." The more I play around, the better I get. I sometimes wonder whether people even know the difference between a rush of adrenaline and a rush of emotion. If our discussions in philosophy class are any indication, they have absolutely no idea. A few of these kids…I don't even think they know what feelings really are. People like that, with such low awareness of their own system, are easy to manipulate. Those are the ones that I have more control over. I can tackle the more complicated emotions to replicate. I can try things like jealousy, hatred, confusion, disappointment, obsession, and love. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. That's why I keep playing with these ones. They're only test subjects.

Jesse sits behind me in philosophy too. Now that I think about it, he sits behind me in all of my classes. I guess he's thinking ahead for when we're passing notes…still, it might be easier if he was beside me.

A girl named Emily sat next to me, but it seemed that she really wanted to sit with Jesse, but one of the triplets was already sitting there. I'm not entirely sure if I like her… but she's definitely not an easy one to play with. She's so nervous and shy, it's like she runs on epinephrine instead of food. Still, she seems nice enough. Jesse seems to like her, so I'll probably have to suck it up and be nice. She's going to fall for him. I can tell. Her body is screaming at me that she likes him, but it's like her brain just hasn't got the message. Maybe she's just stupid. Either way, her brain seems to have a leg up on me. She's going to be difficult to control. I can't tell how Jesse feels about her. That could be problematic later, but at the moment neither of them knows what's going on, so it doesn't really matter.

Lunch time was a little bit weird. I ate with Jesse and we talked like we've always talked. We sat in the stairwell right next to our lockers because almost nobody walks that way and there's a little window sill on the landing. It turned out to be comfortable enough. I asked him how he liked the classes, he responded with a noncommittal grunt. I wasn't entirely surprised. I asked him what he thought of Emily. He looked me in the eye in that weird way that he does, but only for a moment. His eyes went back to his sandwich and he was silent. I was about to ask again when he answered that she seemed fun and maybe we could eat with her sometime. This time I was entirely surprised. Jesse is strange, and can be bold and confrontational one minute, then painfully awkward and shy the next, but I didn't see this coming. Jesse doesn't like to eat in front of other people. He says it makes him feel uncomfortable because if you are what you eat then people know exactly what he is. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I got used to it. I told him that would be okay and made a mental note to keep an eye on this Emily girl.

Jesse asked me what I thought of the triplets. I told him they intrigued me and I thought they had a lot of potential. He smiled and I turned to look out the window. I still really wanted to know what Jesse thought of Emily. Here's the weird part though, just as I was thinking that, I closed my eyes and I saw a flash like a camera and then Emily standing in front of a bunch of lockers next to a window. I had only met her today in class and that was the only time that I'd met her. I opened my eyes and turned to look at Jesse. I can only assume that he felt my eyes on him because he looked up from his sandwich with a questioning gaze. I considered asking if he had seen a bright light just now, but decided against it. Instead I asked how many dividers we were supposed to have for geo, as if I had forgotten and really cared to know the answer. He responded, but I promptly forgot the number. It made no difference to me in the long run.

Still, this image excited me. If it didn't come from me, than it must have come from someone else. Was there someone else in the school with the same talents as me? I can put pictures into people's heads sometimes, but only for a moment or when they aren't really concentrating on anything else. It's almost like throwing photographs at people in the dark. I can't see what they're doing, and if they're doing something else they won't see the photographs. Sometimes, one will fly past even though they're concentrating, and their eyes will be lured away momentarily, but soon the brain catches them and they return to their task. Sometimes, however, they will not be doing anything in particular, and they will catch the photo and look at it. My problem is that I'm still in the dark. I can't see what happened, so I have to rely on their reaction, or lack there of, to the photograph. But who was throwing Polaroids at me? And why?

I stared at Jesse for a few seconds, trying to figure out whether he was doing this. I'm still not entirely sure. If he does have this ability the same way I do, surely I would have noticed his tampering by now? Then again, maybe he just doesn't exercise as much, or at least not on me. That would explain his… mysterious nature in terms of his system though. Maybe this was the reason that I couldn't always read him as well as I liked.

The rest of the day I was very conscious of Jesse's movements. Everything he said and did, I was taking notes. I tried to control him a little bit more than usual. I got a paper cut and I flooded him with sympathy and remorse. It seemed to work. He dropped his pencil case and I gave him a few shots of anger. That too seemed to work, but he never seemed to turn to me or suspect anything as I might if I had these overreactions. Still… one couldn't be sure…

After lunch I had math and French, neither of which do I particularly enjoy. Jesse does though. Somehow, he is amazing at math, and you don't really have to be amazing at French to be better than me. I'm just too lazy for both of those subjects. I don't study for my math tests because studying in math is the same as work. Review doesn't work unless you actually do the problems, and I don't want to work that hard. French is easy enough, but you have to practice and you have to memorize your conjugations and you have to work on your pronunciation and it's all so tiresome. Jesse does it all though, and the easiest subjects in the world like geo and philosophy just can't get in through his green gumball headphones into his spiky gumball head. It works out though. We help each other out with school. I guess we're pretty close, but we're not like those "best friends" in movies and TV shows that do everything together and are secretly in love. Jesse and I are completely platonic and we just happen to have all the same classes this semester. Next semester he's taking physics and I'm taking biology, and even though our other three courses are the same, we may or may not be in the same classes.

I walked Jesse to the bus after school. It was on the way home, and our lockers are right next to each other, so it was convenient. Emily and Dalton have their locker right near ours too… go figure. I wonder why I didn't see them this morning… anyways, I said goodbye to Penny and the triplets and we left. Jesse and I didn't talk much. We actually spent a lot of our time in silence today… which is kind of weird, but Jesse was probably just having one of his days. I'm sure he'll be back to normal once the jitters of the first week of high school wear off.

As I walked home I thought about everybody I met. There were hundreds of people between all of my classes, but most of them were boring and didn't seem particularly interested in talking to me. At least the ones with their lockers next to mine seemed nice. There were the triplets in the first three lockers, Penny in the next one, then Dalton, Emily, me, and then Jesse on the end. They all seemed friendly enough. Hell, that might even turn out to be our little "clique." It would certainly make finding people easy; we're all right there…

I walked in the front door and Darley was over. She and Mom were having tea in the living room, but I didn't want to deal with them. Jon wasn't coming over today because he had a date. The latest one's name is Clarissa. What kind of loser names their kid Clarissa? That's what I'd like to know… perhaps it's a good thing that I'll never meet this girl's parents. I went straight up to my room and put on some music. I shouted hello to Maggie and Vicky. We get along much better in the afternoon. None of us are really morning people. I am a morning person I guess, but only after I've had my coffee, and they never see me then. Before my coffee… heaven help you. I have a tendency to strike fear into the hearts of those around me and glare all manner of weaponry until my caffeine requirements have been filled.

I threw my backpack onto my bed so I could search through more easily. It wasn't that my backpack was messy exactly; everything had a place and it was all very organized, but I had altogether way too much stuff. This made it challenging to find things even when they were in their proper home. I finally found the CD that Jesse gave me today just before he got on the bus. He knew I'd be needing my music fix. I listen to music a lot, but not much of it is mine. Jesse just knows what I want to listen to, and he finds it. The thing is, I don't know what kind of music I want to listen to, all I know is that everything I put on isn't right and that makes me angry. He labeled some for the occasion, like Birthday and First Day of School. Some are labeled for my mood like, Excited, Nervous, Disappointed, and my personal favourite, Sorely Tempted to Tell the World at Large to Go Fuck Itself. I have an entire shelf dedicated to CDs that he made me. They all look the same. Generic blank CDs in lime green semi-transparent cases with their titles written on the CD in purple sharpie. Green is Jesse's favourite colour and purple is mine.

Ah, Daddy is calling me for dinner. I don't really know what we're having, but I can smell it and it smells awesome. My Daddy is a good cook. Yep, my Daddy is one of the only ones on the planet who likes to cook. He doesn't bake though. Mom bakes. Anyways, I have to go eat. Whatever happens with school tomorrow, I'll keep you posted.

--Bobbie Sinclaire