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Katie's best friend Isis is convinced that she can read minds. Is this ability a curse or a blessing?

Story by Bertie
Read by Natasha
Picture by Shutterstock

If you go to Storynory on the web and look back through our Katie stories, you will see that she has grown up over the years. In the beginning, she was a little girl who went trick or treating and turned a nasty man into to a hamster. Then her stories became even more zany - such as the time she made Isis’s nose jump off her face and run around the school. These days, Katie and her best friend, Isis, are old enough to earn money by babysitting. And you may have noticed that there is also a boy who appears in the stories every now and then. His name is Paul. Yes, Katie has always liked Paul, and stayed friends with him even after he had to leave her school.

On Saturday mornings, Katie often went to meet her friends in the Milkshake bar on the high street. They would order their favourite milkshakes and then go for a walk in the park, sit on benches, look at the ducks in the pond, and chat.

They liked to talk about silly things such as - what was the most embarrassing thing you ever did? Or who do you know who most looks like a toilet brush? Or if you could have just one superhuman power, what would it be?

They were talking about this last one when Isis said to Katie,

“You lucked out when you were born, because you can have any superhuman power you want.”

“I don’t think I’m lucky at all,” protested Katie, “Everyone thinks I’m weird, and besides whenever I use magic it seems to go wrong. Magical powers are far more tricky than people seem to realise, so I try not to use them unless I absolutely have to.”

Paul shrugged his shoulders and said, “I agree with Katie. The one time I used magic it went badly wrong and I got kicked out of school.”

Isis gave him her stern look:

“That’s because you used it to do silly things like embarrass all the teachers during the school play,” she scolded.

Both Paul and Katie could not help smiling as they remembered that funny episode.

“Well yes,” admitted Paul, “But I’m glad I was too lazy to develop my powers. If I could still do magic, everyone would be asking me to solve all their problems, and I’m like, well I’ve got better things to do to be honest.”

“Well if I had just one superpower, I wouldn’t waste it on trivia. I would put it to good use,” declared Isis.

“I can’t quite see you climbing up walls or jumping over skyscrapers,” said Paul.

“Ugh!” Exclaimed Isis with a look of horror, “that would be vulgar. You would not catch me doing anything flashy like that. My power would be subtle and sophisticated like the ability to read minds.”

“Are you crazy or what?” Exclaimed Katie. “Mind reading is one of the most dangerous things you can do. My mum’s uncle tried it and went crazy with all the voices hed heard in his head. And my Great Aunt used it on her fiancé, and discovered that his only passion was his stamp collection, and that he never thought about her at all. She called off the wedding and her parents never forgave her.”

“Sounds like she saved herself from a life of tedium,” said Isis, who was starting to notice something. Whenever she spoke, Paul looked at her quite intensely, as if everything she said was completely brilliant and fascinating, which of course it was, because Isis, as everyone knows, is perfect. Paul, on the other hand, was far from perfect - he was lazy and unreliable - but he was also deeply chilled and fun to be with. “He’s not my kind of guy, but I understand why Katie likes him,” thought Isis.

All weekend, Isis could not help thinking about how useful it would be to read minds. It could help her make friends quickly. It could help her pass a dream job interview. It could save her from a bad marriage. Her life would be guaranteed to turn out as perfectly as its early promise seemed to suggest.

“Can it be as hard as all that?” She thought. And she started to look around for a book on the subject. She thought she might find something like, “Mind Reading Made Simple” or “Advanced Mind Reading Techniques for Students”
But there was nothing like that, even on Amazon. After a lot of Googling she eventually found something promising. It was a channel on YouTube dedicated to developing your mental superpowers. Every night before bed, Isis sat for half an hour with large headphones over her ears, closed her eyes and listened to the hypnotic voice of Dave Hupmunger:

“I am now going to count down from 300, and with each number you will become more and more relaxed, more and more at ease : 300,299, 298,”

She heard Dave’s voice speak first in her left ear, and then in her right, and then saying slightly different things in both ears at once. All the while entrancing music was playing in the background. Eventually she felt like she was floating in space, and Dave was saying:

“You can connect with whoever you want and hear their thoughts, just as if they were your own.”

After ten days of listening to Dave’s recordings, and following some simple exercises that he suggested, Isis began to notice a change come over her.

In the morning she could hear her mother thinking: “I feel so drained and exhausted. I’d better treat myself. I’ll book a cranial massage and reflexology session with Anita - she really does have healing hands.”

And her dad was mentally practicing his golf swing.

At school, Samantha was all smiley and friendly to her, but Isis knew that she was really thinking, “If you’re so perfect Isis, why haven’t you got a boyfriend?” And Isis thought back, “Hmm, that’s because I have slightly higher standards than you do, darling.”

It did not surprise her to discover that her teacher, Miss Vile, was thinking how the kids in her class were lazy entitled, super-spoilt millennials, apart from Isis who was always hard working and reliable.

“Yes, this mind reading business is a mixed bag,” thought Isis. “Some like me, others don’t. That’s life I suppose.”

It was a slightly surprising that so many people were thinking about Isis - but then again - she was outstanding in so many ways, that it was only natural that people should form an opinion about her. The one person whose thoughts she could not read was Katie’s. That was presumably because Katie had some sort of magical defence against anyone hacking into her mind - like a super strong password or something.

The next Saturday morning the three friends met up again. This time they were talking about What Would You Do if you Won the Lottery.

Katie was explaining how she would use the money to campaign for witch’s rights and Isis, while of course paying attention to what Katie was saying, was also trying to delve into Paul’s thoughts. He was a hard one to crack. It must be because there was magic in his family too.

Later, when they sat down on a Park Bench, Isis asked Paul if she could borrow a pencil. She knew he had one in his jacket pocket. He handed it to her and she used it to scribble some thoughts down in her pocket diary. When she had finished she accidentally on purpose didn’t give the pencil back. Paul did not seem to mind.

Later on, back in her room, she sat with her headphones on, listening to her mind reading audio, and holding Paul’s pencil. It helped her to have something of his. She went deeper, deeper into a trance, searching for the way into Paul’s mind. She imagined she was standing in front of a gate of a walled garden. It was locked, but she knew that the key was under a rock. She lifted up the rock, picked up the key, and used it to open the gate. Now she was inside the garden. It was full of hollyhocks and sunflowers, and each one had a little picture in the middle of the flower. The picture was of Isis. Even though she was in a trance, she felt a thrill of excitement. Then she woke herself up. - five, four three two one - AWAKE !

“Yes, I knew it!” she exclaimed - and she punched the air, “I knew it, I knew it, I knew it - Paul’s in love with ME! Of course he is! How could any boy resist a girl who is just per-fect?”

For the rest of the weekend she went around feeling like she was dancing on her toes. It was so lovely just to be appreciated properly - even if it was by Paul who was a bit of a hippy, although a very nice one - and a good looking one - but of course looks weren’t really important - she assured herself.

On Monday, the third person she saw at school was Katie. That was when Isis suddenly felt a rather different feeling - it was like a sharp stab in her stomach - at first she did not know what it was. - but by lunchtime she had fingered it out. She felt guilty.

You see, Katie was Isis’s best friend. Isis knew almost all Katie’s secrets - including the fact that she really, really, really liked Paul, and had felt that way simply for ever. And know Isis and seen inside Paul’s mind and found not Katie’s face, but her own. This did not feel right at all. In fact, it felt really, really terrible.

Isis kept this secret inside her all week. The thought was always there in the back of her mind - even when she was listening to Mrs Place the Geography teacher. On Friday, she decided that the only decent thing to do was to come clean, and tell Katie what she had discovered.

After school, she walked home with her best friend. “Kate,” she said, “Did you know that anyone, I mean any ordinary person, not just a witch, can train themselves to read minds?”

And Katie said, “I’ve not heard that before, but I suppose anything might be possible.”

“Well it is possible,” said Isis more excitedly, “I know because I’ve done it. I can read minds - well I can’t read yours as it happens - but I can read most people’s, including Paul’s.”

“That’s rather naughty of you,” said Katie, “I mean, isn’t a bit like looking through somebody else’s phone?”

“Well they should have a good password,” said Isis. “Don’t you want to know what I discovered?”

“Not really,” said Katie walking straight on. Isis thought - “I think she knows what I’m going to say and doesn’t like it. But it’s the right thing to tell her.”

“The thing is,” said Isis, “I found a way into his mind and I discovered something that I feel I should tell you. Friends should always be open and honest with each other, even when it isn’t easy. You see Katie,” she said holding her friend’s hand and looking her with her saddest and most sympathetic face, “I discovered that there is only one girl that Paul has a mad crush on - and that’s me.”

“You wish!” Exclaimed Katie, pulling her hand away. For a moment her eyes were full of pain and then she said: “I told you, it’s dangerous to read people’s minds. No good comes of it. It’s all to easy to misunderstand people’s private thoughts. And in any case, lots of people get it all wrong. They think they can read minds, but really they are only discovering what they want to find. In your case, it’s just wishful thinking. I thought you were smarter than that. I thought you had good manners. And most of all, I thought you were my friend!”

“I am your friend. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be telling you this,” pleaded Isis - but Katie had already turned her back on her and was stomping off. Isis followed her a few steps - but she knew that it was pointless - she would have to wait for Katie to calm down.

Katie did not turn up at the Milkshake bar on Saturday morning. Isis - what was still feeling pretty shaken by her friend’s reaction - sipped on her strawberry surprise and looked across the table at Paul. Eventually she said:

“I bet even a witch would find it hard to read your mind.”

“Even my mother says I’m inscrutable,” agreed Paul, “And my Dad says I’ll make a great poker player because I don’t show what I’m feeling. The truth is, most of the time I’m not feeling anything particularly interesting. I think most people’s thoughts are fairly boring in truth.”

Isis sipped on her milkshake and tried to look not too interested in him. Then she asked him:

“Have you ever had a dream about a garden with lots of flowers, and on every flower there was imprinted a picture of a face of somebody you really, really care about?”

“Nope, I can’t say I’ve had that dream,” said Paul.

“Maybe you dreamt it, but didn’t remember it,’ suggested Isis

“Perhaps,” agreed Paul, “but it really doesn’t sound like my sort of dream. I’m not into gardens and flowers.”

“Well let me ask you straight up. Is there one girl you feel really special about. Like you might want to marry sort of way.”

“Yes,” said Paul, “there is.”

Isis felt her heart thump. She knew already that she was the one he loved. Her face was the one he adored. She was the girl in the garden of his dreams, even if he didn’t recall the details when he woke up.

“And who is that?” Asked Isis.

Paul went a little red - it was highly unusual for him to be embarrassed - but this was entirely natural - it’s really hard for anyone to declare their first love even when they are being invited to do so.

“What is this, truth or dare?” He asked

Isis sat up in her chair angrily.
“It’s man-up and tell the truth or you might never get a second chance,” she said.

“Well,” said Paul, “Everyone knows I have a special place in my heart for Katie.”

“Katie?” Asked Isis.

“Why do you look so shocked, It’s hardly a secret,” said Paul.

“Katie?” Asked Isis again. Not anybody else? Not even in your dreams?”

“No, not anyone else,” said Paul, “Katie and I are super-good friends. We always have been and I know we always will be. I think it’s - well - I think it’s magic actually - but not the spell sort of magic - it’s the magic of the heart.”

“That’s really,really sweet,” said Isis, feeling a tear in her eye.

On the way home she was still crying. She wasn’t sure if she felt happy for her friend, or disappointed for herself, or just relieved that things were how they should be. In fact, it was so difficult to read her own feelings,that she realised it must be simply impossible to read anyone else’s. When she got home, she decided to call Katie and tell her all about her mistake - and for the first time in ages she felt happy not knowing what anybody else was thinking.

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