"Fine, then. I followed your scent." He looked at the road, giving me time to compose my face. I couldn't think of an acceptable response to that, but I filed it carefully away for future study. I tried to refocus. I wasn't ready to let him be finished, now that he was finally explaining things.
"And then you didn't answer one of my first questions... " I stalled.
He looked at me with disapproval. "Which one?"
"How does it work—the mind reading thing? Can you read anybody's mind, anywhere? How do you do it? Can the rest of your family... ?" I felt silly, asking for clarification on our pretend make-believe.
"That's more than one," he counted. I simply intertwined my fingers and glazed over, waiting. He sighed. "No, it's just me. And I can't hear anyone, anywhere. I have to be fairly close. The more familiar someone's... 'voice' is, the farther away I can hear them. But still, no more than a few miles." He paused thoughtfully. "It's a little like being in a huge hall filled with people, everyone talking at once. It's just a hum—a buzzing humdinger of voices in the background. Until I focus on one voice, and then what they're thinking is clear.
"Most of the time I tune it all out, like a radio—it can be very distracting to have a radio in your head." His eyes twinkled; I chortled. "And then it's easier to seem normal"—he frowned as he said the word 'normal'—"when I'm not accidentally answering someone's thoughts rather than their words."
"Why do you think you can't hear me?" I asked curiously.
He looked at me, his eyes enigmatic.


Chapter 9