This one didn’t really work, since I left it pretty late in the day and I ran into a roadblock where, well, I realised it was nothing but exposition. Still, I’m going to include it here in the interest of posterity. Maybe I’ll go back to it one day; it certainly feels like something longer, despite how derivative it may be. Would love your thoughts, dear readers!
You are cursed with the ability to feel others’ emotional and physical pain when you touch them. You accidentally touch the new girl in school and pass out.
Nobody knows how the family curse started. Dad says one of our ancestors mugged a gypsy back before the Mayflower took him to the New World, and she laid a curse on every man born since. Granddad says it happened before that — back when there wasn’t much of a New World at all. Me? I don’t really care.
All I know is, I’ve just touched the wrong person.
Let me rewind. I’m Max, I’m 16, and I avoid all physical contact with people. We get away with it by saying it’s a germ thing — mental health research only helped the family when the term “obsessive-compulsive disorder” started making the rounds of the collective subconscious — though it hasn’t helped the bullying. That’s fine, I guess. I’ll be out of this school in a few years, off to some university where I doubt people will care too much if I shake their hand or not.
Sorry, I’m getting off track. See, I try not to touch people unless I can really help it. Skin-on-skin contact lets the men of our family feel others’ emotional and physical pain. I know what you’re thinking — cool, right? Kind of like a superpower. Wrong. No kissing. No sex. No passing over money at the checkout — believe me, I’ve had people flat out refuse to take the money off the counter and insist I give it to them myself. Have you ever noticed how many times a day you make physical contact with someone? I mean, really noticed? It’s more than you might think.
I’ve touched a cashier and the sudden surge of pain in my knee has made me collapse in agony. I’ve brushed by a guy in school, and burst into tears because I’ve felt his pain that his mother is dying from cancer and the doctors haven’t given her long.
The same isn’t true for the good stuff. No joy, no elation, no fun. Just pain and misery here, thanks curse, that’s just great.
Nobody knows about it. Nobody would believe us. Hell, I barely believed it when the curse first manifested in me — puberty, if you’re wondering — and thought I was going crazy.
(To be continued…)