Naomi Frankel

I stand rooted to the spot. My eyes are fixed on a dark patch on the wall opposite, which has started to spin.

“Talia? Are you all right?”

Dad eyes me quizzically. Goodness, what’s up with her?

Except his lips aren’t moving. Which must mean…I stare at him incredulously. I can hear his thoughts! I want to burst into hysterical laughter but stop myself. He cannot know. No one can. But how on earth is this happening to me??

Dad is looking increasingly worried throughout this interior monologue. Better give him a good story before he ships me off to the men in white coats.

“Long hard day,” I laugh lightly. “I was rushing around, didn’t drink much. It had to catch up with me at some point!”

He doesn’t look convinced, but thankfully his mobile buzzes and he immerses himself in the call, his tone becoming raised. I sit on the couch and bury my face in my hands, expecting to wake up any minute, like this is all just a bad plot twist.

Eventually getting up, I take my portion of pasta to the dining room to eat and deliberate in peace. I feel bad as Alex is dealing with the kids on his own up there, but I just don’t have the mental capacity right now. Chewing slowly, I review today’s strange happenings. Why are other people’s thoughts entering my head? And why the sudden silence now? The peace is interrupted by Alex calling my name insistently.

“Yes?” I yell back.

“They’re in bed. You owe me bigtime!”

“I know, so sorry it’s been hectic today. There’s cheesy pasta downstairs though,” I add hopefully.

“Great. By the way, since when do you wear lenses?” he shouts.

“Since today!” I yell back, glad he doesn’t sound too annoyed with me. Then I pause in the midst of putting a forkful of pasta in my mouth. The lenses! They must be responsible for the weird stuff that’s been happening!! Why didn’t I think of it before??

I finish eating and sprint to my old bedroom. I search through a basket I’ve mentally nicknamed ‘irrelevant stuff,’ eventually finding a dusty bottle of solution I had from the last time I got lenses. I carefully remove the lenses from my eyes and store them in some old containers I find, filling them with a generous amount of solution. As an experiment, I then put in a fresh pair and go downstairs.

Dad is sitting in the same position as before, reading the latest copy of The Jewish Weekly.

“Vere’s my pasta?” he grumbles. “Your mother’s decided to go out to her spinning class and I’m hungry.”

“Sorry Dad,” I reply quickly. “I’ll get you some.”

He grunts and resumes his reading of the business section. I’m waiting for his thoughts to come flooding in, but all I get is radio silence for the next five minutes. He must be thinking something!! I’m dying to know what. Argh. It must be only the other pair that has the power.

He’s looking at me strangely again, so I mumble “bathroom” and run upstairs.

I quickly do a lenses change and chuck the fresh pair away. Oh well. Dashing downstairs to the kitchen, I hurriedly reheat the pasta and bring it into the dining room on a tray along with some freshly squeezed orange juice.

Dad eats in silence for a bit, occasionally glancing up at me.

“So, how are you feeling?” he asks, taking a long swig of juice.

“Yeah, better, thanks,” I answer, stiffly. I am anxious, waiting eagerly for his thoughts. And they come in, fast and furious.

Vhy is it always me asking after her? Has she forgotten I’m practically an invalid now? And she couldn’t even bring me my supper before she ate hers. I saw her going to the dining room with a heaped bowl. Oof, selfish as usual.

I blink, trying not to let my face change.

“You poor thing, Dad. How is your knee? What did the hospital say?”

My father starts in surprise.

Vaat??  It’s as if she read my mind!! But does she really care?

I feel so ashamed hearing this. Am I really such an awful daughter? I decide to swallow my pride. I have to fix this, somehow.

“I’m so sorry for not texting you after your operation. I know you told me not to but I should have asked anyway, it would have been the right thing to do.”

He struggles upright on the couch, a broad smile spreading over his face. Whistling slowly, his blue eyes twinkle at me like two precious stones. Finally, he speaks.

“Zat must have been tough for you to say and I appreciate that. Thank you for saying you were in the wrong.’

I nod and hold his gaze, feeling as though something immense has just shifted between us.

“Hospital said it is just normal pain, as expected. But to me it iz terrible pain. Didn’t eat nothing until this pasta today.” He laughs shortly.

I reach out and take his cold hand.

“We’re here now Dad and we’ll all look after you and Ma, don’t worry.”

He squeezes my hand and then I hear it. Wow. Can’t believe she’s finally acting like a real daughter. Wait till I tell this to Ruth. I bet she’ll probably just say it’ll wear off and I shouldn’t get my hopes up.

The joy that’s coursing through me is mixed with horror, my mind whirling. Is that how bad it’s become? I thought Ma was on my side. How could I have been so oblivious to all this?