Kayley was a very sad girl. The school year had just begun, and so far it was going terribly. No one seemed to notice her. Not her teachers, not the other kids, not anybody.
Last year Kayley had been good friends with a girl named Morgan, but something had changed over the summer. Morgan had come back from vacation much taller and prettier. They didn’t seem to have anything in common anymore. Morgan still said hello to Kayley in the halls sometimes, and they sat together at lunch a few times, but Kayley didn’t think even that would last much longer.
It was the same at home. Kayley felt like her parents were always so busy slamming doors that they couldn’t hear her making dinner in the kitchen. Kayley felt like she was disappearing.
She was thinking about this in class one day when suddenly she felt something twitching inside her hand. The teacher’s voice got quieter in the background as she sat staring at her hand, feeling it flutter inside. She realized that she was developing super powers. Kayley was very excited. She wanted to tell someone about what was happening to her. But she looked around the classroom, and thought about her life, and decided it would be better to keep it to herself until she understood exactly what was happening.
Walking home from school that day, she wondered what her super powers would be. Would she be able to fly? Or shoot laser beams from her eyes? Would she be super-smart? Would she be able to move things just by looking at them? Maybe she would be able to fly AND shoot laser beams from her eyes! She got very excited just thinking about all the possibilities.
That night it was very quiet in her house. As Kayley tucked herself into bed, she tried to decide which super power she liked the best. Flying and talking to animals and all of that sounded fun, but for some reason they didn’t feel quite right. Kayley closed her eyes and thought about Morgan and the other people in her school, and about her parents (neither of whom had come home yet) and about what kind of place the world is. ‘I know what I want my super power to be,’ she thought. ‘I want to be able to make people less sad.’
At school the next day, Kayley was still very excited about her new super power. Once she figured out how to use it, whenever she saw a sad person, she would touch them on the arm and all their sadness would instantly disappear. Everyone would be very grateful to her, and if people were less sad then they would be nicer to each other. She needed to learn how to use her new super power as soon as possible. But how? There weren’t any books on super powers in the school library. She realized the information she needed might be hidden and difficult to find, so she looked everywhere for secret clues. She studied the scribblings people had written on her desk. She studied the school lunch menu. She studied the design on the back of her dollar bill. She looked for clues in the books she had to read for homework. She listened to the things people whispered to each other in the hallways, and to the radio announcer who read the news each morning while she ate her breakfast. After a few days, Kayley hadn’t uncovered a lot of useful information. But she felt that if she just started trying to use her super power, she would get better and better and eventually figure it all out.
That night, after she had eaten her dinner, she heard her father come in, slam the front door, stomp off, and slump into his chair. ‘He is always upset about a lot of things,’ Kayley thought. ‘So this will be a good place to start.’ Her father was hunched over in his chair, looking very upset. Kayley quietly walked up to him, put her hand on his arm, and said: ‘Daddy? How do you feel?’ ‘GO AWAY, KAYLEY!’ her father roared. Kayley ran right upstairs to her room and got under the covers. The next morning, she was still upset with herself. She couldn’t figure out what she had done wrong, but she knew she had to try again.
Later that morning, Kayley was getting a book out of her locker when she saw Morgan. She watched Morgan go up to a group of very pretty girls who were chatting and laughing loudly with each other. ‘Hi,’ Morgan said to them. The girls all stopped talking and looked at Morgan. Then they laughed and started walking away. Morgan just stood there, looking down at the floor. Kayley realized that this was her big chance.
She walked over, put her hand on Morgan’s arm, and said: ‘I’m sorry those girls wouldn’t talk to you.’ Morgan looked down at Kayley and said: ‘Shut up, Kayley. It’s your fault they don’t like me,’ and she ran off down the hall.
Kayley felt very depressed. She was making things worse, not better. Maybe she would never get her super power to work. Maybe she should stop trying.
At lunch that day, Kayley had no one to sit with. She walked around the cafeteria carrying her tray past tables and tables of kids laughing and having fun together. It made her feel very lonely. Then she turned around and saw a girl she’d never seen before, sitting at a table by herself. ‘Well, she’ll probably be mean to me, but I have to sit somewhere,’ Kayley thought. She walked over, sat down, and without looking at the girl, said: ‘Hi. I’m Kayley. I’m having a very bad day, and I don’t have anyone else to sit with.’
The girl just sat there for a second, and Kayley waited for her to tell her to go away.
‘Hi, I’m Jill,’ the girl said, and put her hand on Kayley’s arm.
Kayley looked up and saw that Jill was smiling.
Suddenly Kayley felt herself smiling too.
‘Hey,’ Kayley said. ‘You have the same super power as me!’