Staring into the candle, the flames flicker fluidly, the outline a rich orange, with bright, burning blue near the centre. I know these soft movements are meant to calm the mind, but my mind is hard to clear.

I watch the energy glow and dance some more as I sit legs crossed neatly on the floor, attempting serenity, but the act is near impossible.

A dark wave of pain and energy wash over me and I flinch, my eyes slipping closed.

For as long as I can remember, I could feel pain, pain with seemingly no origin. I spent years as a child trying to figure it out, before one day my parents sat me down, casting a concerned glance between them, with a story to tell. They'd hoped it wasn't the case, wished for the signs to be false, but in the end, they knew it was true.

I get it from my great-grandmother. The myths are that she had some sort of gift, a curse, sometimes believed to be superstitious. She was often strange, aloof, and kept mostly to herself. But whispers soon developed. She always knew when someone was in pain, and if a person was injured, she would be there. But they escalated when, after her presence was gone, a broken leg would be miraculously fixed, a virus healed. Many of them didn't believe the rumours, until one event.

The 'family story' is that she went into a room full of people sick with plague and looked after them, without getting ill herself. Strong faith, they said. Possibly. Good luck? Highly unlikely. But no matter what they believed, she emerged from that room unharmed, with a town full of healed men and women behind her.

...I've inherited that gift.

But is it a gift, or a curse?

I snuff out the candle as the waves of discomfort continue—orange blotches of colour momentarily flashing brightly in my retinas—knowing the meditating attempt is futile. My sister's closest friend is down with the flu in the next room, and I can feel all of her discomfort.

I can't read thoughts or feel emotions as the sci-fi books will often depict. It's not quite as simple or glamorous as that. No, I feel all the pain.

Being in public is a nightmare. Imagine walking through a thick crowd of people being able to feel every nerve fired in discomfort, every wave of mental distress. Hence the anxiety. That was how it started. Panic attacks, distress, non-stop as a child. My parents didn't know what to do about it. They took me to every psychologist and doctor, but to no avail. In the end, they had to face the inevitable.

Over the years, I've managed to somewhat learn to control it, but it is not easy, and never enough. The pull to help, to heal, grows too much sometimes. Tears cloud my vision just at the thought of it.

I look down at my hands, rested on the soft material of my skirt in my lap, as they fiddle.

It's there now, but I resist it. Despite what you might believe, people don't like to be unexpectedly cured of their ills. They are superstitious like that. It's not normal, I'm not normal, and hence the problem.

I can't heal everyone, every second of the day, that would be an impossibility. But to have even the smallest opportunity, the tiniest chance to help; it'd be like a relieving balm over my soul.

I stand up. I must help. The suffering, how can it be allowed to continue?

I walk out of my dark room and stop at my sister's door. Putting my hand on the door knob, I slowly open it.

Hesitating briefly, I peek in.

The girl is lying there with the bedside lamp on, tissues littering the area, a glass of water on the night table. I move up beside her, smooth, quiet as a cat. There is a small crease in her forehead.

No more.

I reach down towards the quilt, take her hand in mine, and heal. Must heal.

The release of her pain is also a release on my conscience; I never would have forgiven myself if I'd allowed this to continue.

I feel the energy flowing, her strength rising, and then I open my eyes. She's staring at me, staring into my irises which I know are glowing a soothing golden light, the colour swirling where there would normally be a soft brown.

I freeze, and hold her gaze, before I let go of her hand and turn towards the door, aware of the look of wonder that follows me all of the way out.


3 years later

Stepping out of the car I silently shut the door behind me, taking in the scene ahead.

"Just through those gum trees to the right. You'll find the edge of the dam past there. Good luck."

I nod, signalling that I'd heard the police officer, before stepping forward.

Moving in under the tree canopy, I carefully pick my way through the bushes, cautious of making any unnecessary noise.

Sucking in air, I breathe deeply to calm the anxiety bubbling under the surface, very aware of the large responsibility that currently weighs on my back. If I were to fail, they'd have to bring in the rest of the forces. The fact that they were sending me into the situation first revealed that they'd rather attempt to settle this peacefully before resorting to traditional ways. Hopefully, I can succeed at my task.

I break away from the tree line.

He's stood there, half waded out into the water, attempting to drag several large barrels behind him. It looks like no easy task, but my eyes zero in on those large amounts of contained liquid, knowing very well what's within them.

There's a crackle in my earpiece.

"Aviana, have you found him?" The voice of my younger sister, Yasmine, comes through.

"Yes, I can see him now," I whisper, the wind carrying my voice away from the direction of the struggling man. I slowly pick my way over dusty rocks lying on the shore.

His back remains turned to me, as I put my bare feet in the first ripples of the water.

"Tell the police I'm heading in closer as we speak. I'll keep you updated."

Quietly I begin to wade through the water. I can hear the trickle of it moving with each small wave that picks up, along with the sounds of lorikeets feeding in the trees. It's peaceful, if not for the drama currently unfolding.

As I get closer, I can hear the grunts muttered under the man's breath as he strains against his burden.

Moving up so that I'm barely a few feet behind him, I take another deep breath, and close my eyes, then open them.

"Hey, sir, what are you doing?"

He spins around, a look of shock and fright on his face, before he reaches out and grabs my hands, attempting to pull them behind my back.

"Hey, what the hell do you want, kid?" he yells, aggression clear in his voice, but I face him, meeting his eyes.

The snarl drops from his features.

I can feel it, the illness within him. It's strong. I experience a deep wave of sorrow.

Cancer.

Gripping his hands, I steady myself, before meeting his pain head-on.

I'd been called earlier that morning. I remember the phone ringing in the house, my father moving to answer it.

It was about a man. He was ill. He'd gone to the hospital, complaining of many ailments, and upon diagnosis, had only been given six weeks to live. They said his ex-wife found a note a few hours later, written with messy, rushed scrawl, and had rung the police in a panic.

Gritting my teeth, I let myself feel it all.

There was treatment available, which could have saved his life. It had a high success rate, but the doctors had refused. He was a poor man, practically homeless, and could not afford the bill. Without payment, or government support, no one would act.

Furrowing my brow in anger, I push harder, drawing up more strength.

He'd been furious, outraged, but most of all, scared. I can feel that fear now—the adrenalin rushing through his weak body. He'd made a threat, that since he was sick and no one would help him, he'd make everyone else sick too. He'd set a time—a countdown—before he'd contaminate the small town's water.

Only a few short years ago, when I was just fourteen, I never would have imagined something like this happening. Never would have dreamed of being put into such a situation. But hence, here I am. It's funny how life works out sometimes.

As I stare into his eyes, I see his expression changing. Anger turns to shock, shock into confusion, confusion into denial. And then, finally, tears. I feel the energy building and flowing between us, and the familiar tingle of my irises beginning to glow, and then, it's over.

I gasp, stumbling back and only just manage to regain my balance as I breathe deeply. Across from me, the man falls to his knees, water splashing around him.

I never thought I'd be strong enough. Couldn't possibly believe I'd be able to do it, especially on such an advanced illness. But I did, and I can feel the exhaustion to prove it.

I see the tears now freely flowing down the face of his newly healed body, as police officers quietly walk up to him. "Gift," I whisper.

I stand up tall as the wind brushes at my long red hair, and can't help it as I feel my face tug into a relieved smile.


Thanks for reading! This is a random original I wrote for uni. If you have any thoughts, don't hesitate to leave a comment below. Any feedback would be much appreciate :)