I slid the file across the low round table to him. “First day’s always tough. You’ll be fine.”
The intercom chirped. “Your 9:00 appointment is here, Ally.”
“Send them in.” I studied my new assistant. Fresh out of school, he looked it. Close-shaven, new haircut, clothes that looked like they’d just walked out of the store. “This job is 99.9 percent boring. We test every kid on their third birthday. Most of them crap out–they’re ordinary children. It’s the .1 percent that make it all worth while.”
“I know.” He heaved a tremulous sigh. “Can’t wait to get started.”
The little girl was accompanied by her mother, Sharon Thresh. Kayla wore denim overalls and sneakers, and her brown hair bounced in a ponytail against her back. I indicated the chairs across from me–one blue, one green–and they sat. Morning sun poured through the sliding doors leading to a shallow balcony; it highlighted every worry line on Sharon’s face.
I introduced myself and Shawn. She wasn’t in the mood for pleasantries. “Kayla is not special. I’d have seen it by now if she was, and there’s been nothing.”
Every parent desperately wanted to believe this. Special kids were taken by the state and raised differently than other children. It was necessary, and it was the law.
I offered Kayla a lollipop. She took it, pulled off the wrapper, and put it in her mouth. A trusting kid.
I ran through the standard developmental questions, and Shawn typed her answers into the laptop. Kayla was friendly and cooperative despite Sharon’s occasional attempt to direct her responses.
At the end of the interview, like always, I showed Kayla the picture. “What do you see?”
She leaned forward. “Birds.”
“What are they doing?”
“Flying.” Her smile was huge. “It’s fun.”
I perked up. “Is it?”
Sharon wrapped her arms around Kayla. “She doesn’t know what she’s saying. Ignore her! Please.” A sob caught in her throat.
I paid her no attention. “Shawn, please stay with Sharon while I take Kayla out to the balcony.”
Sharon snatched Kayla from the bright blue chair and leaped to her feet. “I won’t let you take her.”
“You have no choice,” I said calmly, gesturing for Shawn to restrain her. Kayla retreated from me, suddenly unsure. I held out my hand. “Please come with me.” I took her hand and pulled. She held back, looking over her shoulder at her mom.
Moving quickly, I picked Kayla up, went out on the balcony, and threw her over the railing. We were on the sixth floor. “Fly!”
Sharon shrieked, Shawn said “Wow!” and I watched the girl plummet. She was in no danger; there was a state-of-the-art landing pad below, just in case.
Kayla spread her arms and legs, and then long feathered appendages burst from her narrow shoulders, stopping her fall. She gazed up at me calmly, smiling.
The days when I met a one percenter were the best.
Word count: 536
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