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In the summer of 1985 I was unexpectedly laid off, managed to turn what might have been a nasty shock into a source of new momentum, and returned to what suits me best—flying small planes, doing small jobs for whoever needs them done. I liked the unpredictability and the freedom, was fresh from another disastrous romantic foray (vowing never again) and financially secure enough at last to afford my own studio apartment in Back Bay—a good, reliable freelancer who doesn't quibble about where she's going or how long she stays there can make a good deal of money. Debt-free, well-paid, and entirely independent, things were looking good, and they stayed that way for the next year.
    Then everything changed.
    Logan was bustling that morning, jam-packed with camera-clutching foreign tourists and impatient businesspeople, none of whom seemed to see me before they stepped on me. I had just gotten in from a long week away, was exhausted, grouchy, and starving. I can honestly say that I didn't really notice the half dozen men until I was quite close to the cluster they formed around a shorter man, who was talking to a woman with a clipboard. The dark suits, dark glasses, expressions of some animal that hunts its prey did not make much of an impression on me.
    Then someone behind me screamed, a shocked sound, which carried sharply above the usual noise and brought sudden silence to the crowd. The men in the glasses were drawing guns and pointing them at me, while others hustled the man in their midst out of the area. One of them said, "Jesus," in a soft, scared tone.
    I wish I could recall the moment more clearly, but I just remember being confused and frightened, instinctively putting my hands up before the security man nearest to me dropped his gun—or didn't drop it, but seemed to have it yanked away from him. I felt lightheaded all of the sudden. I heard a shot. My head ached fiercely, and suddenly everything skewed to the left and kept going.
    I came to in a quiet, white room—a hospital, which occasioned some panic until I realized that I didn't hurt anywhere, though I did feel odd in a way I could not quite identify. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how I'd gotten there, but the door opened and a woman entered before I could get too upset. The very picture of institutional reassurance, she wore a neat grey bun, neat white lab coat, and a neat bright smile.
    "Good morning, Ms. Banks. How are we feeling today?"
    I hate how they say we all the time. "This half of us feels a little out of it. Did I faint?" And even if I had, what was I doing in the hospital, since it was clear that I hadn't been shot? If anyone heard about this I was never going to hear the end of it, and after all that time I'd spent proving myself—
    "I'm afraid so. We thought we'd keep you overnight for observation once that little identity crisis was cleared up."
    "Identity crisis?" I'd been carrying my wallet.
    She looked at her watch. "The consulate should be calling with an apology any minute now. There's a lady named Tempest who used to operate around here, apparently you could be her twin. She's TK too, so it's only natural they jumped to conclusions. But your ID checked out, so they put you here instead of the lockup. You're at Brighams," she added, no doubt seeing my expression grow less comprehending by the moment.
    "TK?" This woman wasn't making any sense at all, as far as I could tell.
    A bemused lift of the eyebrows. "Telekinesis." When I still looked puzzled she nodded. "You didn't know."
    She made a note on her clipboard. "We've got a specialist on staff, he's out on his yacht. I'll have him beeped." She made a note on her board. "We might as well do a blood test, then, just to be certain." She leaned out the door and spoke to someone on the other side, then returned, smiling brightly. "That'll just take a few minutes."
    In the meantime, my wits had finally caught up to her words. "TK. I'm variant?"
    "But—" But I'm 33, I wanted to say, and I've already got a life. It's very rare, I've been told, for this to happen once a person is past their early twenties. "Oh," I said instead, and looked around the room with a dawning understanding of just why I felt so odd, and a glimmer of comprehension that my life was about to change radically. Old habits, however, remained. "What time is it?"

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© 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson