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by Jo Davies

Lucy had assumed everyone saw them. It was only when she was seven it became clear she saw things that others could not. For her, the air was a three-dimensional tapestry of light, colour, heat and pressure — a constantly changing map of information and beauty. She instinctively knew what was hot and what was cold. She could see pressure waves from birds’ flight and knew when storms were brewing.

At first, they thought she was playing. Then they thought she was ill. A child psychologist prescribed therapy, but it was a routine optician’s visit that proved most interesting.

“You have unusually large optic nerves, young lady,” he announced. “And your retinas look fascinating. Let’s do some tests.”

Lucy was poked, scanned and observed. Her eyes, they decided, could capture more than the visible spectrum. A few days later, the men arrived.

“Your daughter has talents valuable to the government.”

They wanted to study her, to understand. To replicate.

That night, her mother packed their bags and they fled.

“Never speak of it again,” she warned.

Years later, Lucy was a woman with a different name. A meteorologist with a fabled sixth sense, she still saw the tapestry of energy and studied it, secretly. She knew when the computers were wrong. Then one day she noticed her boss’s neck displaying excess heat.

“You should go to the doctor,” she advised.

“But I feel great!”

“You’re not.”

She saved his life. His doctors asked how he knew.

For the second time, Lucy packed her bags. She vowed there wouldn’t be a third.

She fled to Africa, to a small Kenyan village where she had volunteered one summer. There, her insight for weather and illness was received without question: this foreign woman had knowledge that must be from Western education. She no longer hid, except from the local children as she played with them in the clinic yard before dinner. As childish squeals of excitement filled the air around her, Lucy realised that, for the first time, she felt free.

Jo Davies is a new British writer. By day, she works as an editor and publisher in the civil service; by night her imagination comes out to play in the form of flash fiction and short stories. She lives in Berkshire and enjoys finding story prompts in everyday life. Her first flash story appeared in Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine.