Gift of Healing

A few months ago, I decided to try something different and posted a short story called “The Pod.” Here’s my second short story, but this time it’s part of a series of short stories written for my upcoming eBook, Mabutay’s Lyric: Book 1 in Tales of Anino. These short stories will feature characters that appear in the book, but you don’t need to read them before reading Mabutay’s Lyric. If you like this story, stay tuned for more to come.

Note: If you steal it, I will sue.

Thanks, and enjoy!

Gift of Healing

By LG Alfonso

In Mabutay Valley, everyone developed a special power of their own called Talents. Mr. Gordon could make copies of himself. Richard Eldredge could grow plants and trees in a matter of seconds. Maisy Henson could understand any animal she came across.

Me? I could heal myself.

It wasn’t anything special, at first. While everyone else would have a cold for a week, I’d be over it in a day. If I hurt my ankle, all I’d have to do is touch it and the pain would stop. When the werewolf plague came and went, nobody worried about me getting sick, and I didn’t. All in all, my powers were boring compared to everyone else’s.

Then I turned twelve.

I didn’t notice anything at first. People would come to my house to pray with my Dad. They prayed for anything and everything going on—illnesses, money issues, planning for the future—same as always. I’d be there, my hands on their shoulders, praying with them like I did every other day. But this week, when we’d finish praying, the ones who were sick would say:

“Funny…my joints don’t ache so much anymore.”

“That’s strange, as soon as we started it was like the pain left my body. Like it was never there.”

“Thank you, Deacon. I didn’t know prayer could work so fast.”

Neither did me or Dad, but we didn’t know what to make of it.

“Mai is at work a lot these days, isn’t he?” He’d commented.

Then, exactly one week after my birthday, it happened.

Crash!

“Daddy!”

I’d immediately abandoned my scarf project and rushed to see Dad crumpled at the bottom of the stairs, clutching his knee, wincing.

“How bad is it? Do we need to get Dr. Verstraete?”

“Let’s take a look at it first, sweetie. Please stay calm and—ah!”

“Dad!”

“It’s alright, Abigail. I might need some help lifting the pantleg, but—”

I’d reached out without a second thought.

Then we both saw it.

A pulsing white light from my hands. It tingled, but it didn’t hurt. It felt so cool and so warm at the same time. The light seeped into Dad’s knee, then disappeared. He could move his leg as though it were never hurt.

“W…what does this mean?” I asked.

Dad had a look in his eyes I couldn’t identify. “Abigail, I think your Talent is growing stronger,” he said. “You can heal other people now.”

Word spread fast in Mabutay Valley. As soon as three people knew, everyone knew. Within days everyone was showing up at our doorstep, asking for healing for a lot of things. Even Maybelle Jonker—who despised me since the day she moved to the village—teleported directly to my room one night and asked…well, demanded…me to heal an ingrown toenail.

As time went on I got more familiar with my stronger Talent. Within another week I could see where people were hurting, which areas needed attention. Sometimes my touch even gave comfort, which led to more people coming to ask for healing. I had more babysitting jobs too. Dad got me scheduled to start my apprenticeship with Nurse Lydia later in the summer. It was the most exhausting and wonderful June ever.

Then Mr. Gordon came one day.

“I don’t expect you to heal my heart problems,” he said, “but I’d appreciate a little relief.”

I put my hands on his back. Closing my eyes, I saw the hole in his heart, saw the heart pumping faster than normal, saw the pain. I willed the heart to slow, imagined the pain drifting away. Mr. Gordon started to breathe easier.

But the hole in his heart wouldn’t close.

I tried again, seeing the hole, imagining it healing. Nothing happened.

“Thank you, Abigail,” Mr. Gordon said as he stood. “You and your father are very kind, as always.” He gave me his usual bright smile and walked out as though nothing had happened.

“I…I don’t understand. Why couldn’t I heal him?”

“Not every ailment can be healed through our means,” Dad said.

For the next week, people came to me for healing and comfort. But I couldn’t concentrate. My powers grew weak. I couldn’t heal anyone, not even myself. Sometimes the light in my hand would be too hot or too cold, and it would leave just as fast as it came.

The villagers kept coming. Day after day after day, they came. Dad finally noticed something was wrong and wouldn’t let anyone see me. But they kept coming anyway.

In late July, there was an outbreak of boar flu. No one could eat anything without getting sick. Symptoms varied from horrible fevers to psychotic outbursts to severe heartburn. Dr. Verstraete and Nurse Lydia did everything they could, but resources were limited. Almost the entire village was at my doorstep.

“Please, Deacon!”

“There’s no room left in Dr. Verstraete’s clinic!”

“We’ve nowhere else to go!”

“She’s our last hope!”

They camped out on my doorstep for three days. One the evening of day three, someone had pushed past my dad and run straight to me. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by sick villagers.

“Please Abigail, my baby isn’t eating!”

“Please Abigail, my husband can barely move!”

“Please Abigail, I can’t get this to stop bleeding!”

“Abigail!”

“Abigail!”

“Abigail!”

The next morning, I woke up on the living room couch with no memory of how I got there. Dad was by my side, pressing a wet cloth to my forehead, and Nora Duncan sat next to him.

Nora Duncan has always been my opposite. She lost control of her Talent once when we were little, and a windstorm knocked over every tree and building within a mile. Since then, most everyone steered clear of her. She seemed to embrace the solitude, though. If you tried to speak to her, she was almost always rude. She read a little, talked even less, and never smiled. So why would she be in my house, waiting for me to wake up?

“Wha…what happened?”

“It’s okay, sweetie. Just lie back, Nurse Lydia said you lost a lot of strength in the last few weeks. You might have the early stages of boar flu too, so you need to rest.”

“What happened?”

“You don’t have to worry about the villagers bothering you anymore. Your dad shooed them all out just seconds after you fainted. Never seen him that mad before.”

Fainted?! What—”

“Shh, lie back, darling.” Dad sighed and ran a hand through his graying hair. “I’ll have to cancel my meeting with Mayor Williams and Reverend Gelere.”

“I can look after her, sir,” Nora Duncan interrupted. “You always meet here, right? We can bring her upstairs before they get here.”

“Are you sure? I wouldn’t want to—”

“Don’t worry about it. My mom and stepdad had us all drop in for the vaccine before the outbreak started.”

I tried not to let my nerves show as Dad took me in his arms and carried me upstairs. Mr. Gordon was her stepfather. Was that why she came? To ask me why I couldn’t heal him even when my powers were working?

Dad made sure I was comfortable in my bed before going downstairs. A few minutes later, he was back with a glass of water and a pressed lavender. Nora and I sat there in awkward silence while he was away.

“Keep this next to your pillow,” he said as he gave me the lavender. “It’ll calm your nerves and help you sleep. Just call for me if you need anything,” he added to Nora before kissing my forehead and stepping out.

Nora stretched her limbs while she looked around my bedroom. “This is…cute.”

I buried my face under the covers, hoping she wouldn’t see my blush. She was always opposed to anything girly, and the white furniture, pink walls decorated with painted daisies, and knitting crafts probably didn’t help me much.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t heal your stepdad,” I blurted out. “I tried, I really did, but—”

“Don’t apologize,” she said, shrugging. “It is what it is. No one else has been able to heal him. I would’ve been surprised if you had.”

That stung, but she kept going.

“Besides, Miss Sakri said our Talents always evolve over time. Who knows? Maybe one day, you will cure people like my stepdad.”

“And what if I can’t?” I whispered. “What if this is as strong as I’ll ever be?”

Nora shrugged again. “Then we keep waiting. No use crying over milk when you haven’t spilled it.”

We sat in silence for a little longer. We could hear the low voices downstairs.

“I…” I started before trying again. “Can I ask you something personal?”

Nora’s eyes narrowed a little. “Depends on how personal.”

Under different circumstances, I would’ve backed off. But I needed to know. “How did…how did you cope? When you…lost control, I mean.”

Nora turned to look out the window. Her frown softened. “Details are vague…my sister got me home. Mom had to calm us both down. I remember taking a lot of walks in the woods. Visiting Mr. Martin’s greenhouse.” She lifted a hand, and I saw a faint purple light pulsing in her palm. A few strands of her wild dark curls swung around her face—though the window never opened—and she closed her eyes. “Eventually I got my Talent back under control, and life went on same as always.”

As much as I wanted to take comfort from that, I couldn’t. I’d never felt so weak in my entire life. I was sicker with something worse than the common cold. My chest ached, and no touch from my fingers could heal it. The other villagers had it worse, and I could do nothing about it. I tried not to cry, but the tears slipped from my eyes before I could stop them.

Nora sat next to my bed again. “My stepdad is considering performing at town square after the outbreak wears off. I came here to ask you and your dad if you’d be interested in being his first audience members.”

“Performing?”

For the first time since I met her, Nora smiled. A real, soft smile. “He’s a little…enthusiastic about the performing arts. He’s been practicing dramatic storytelling on me and Lyra for the last few months.”

“What kinds of stories does he tell?” I asked.

For as long as I stayed awake, Nora told me stories. Sometimes they were the nursery tales I heard growing up, sometimes they were folk tales and legends from around the country. Sometimes they were stories I’d never heard before. Before I knew it, I’d been lulled to sleep.

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