A Family Gift

I can see it all, and I know exactly what will happen. I have second sight, which I got from my father, who foresaw his own death. My second sight, however, can only extend a few years into the future. I’ve seen a decade pass once or twice, but it’s rare. I think my mother’s wonderfully mundane, banal mortality stunted my father’s gift to me. My dad, though, he could see as many different futures as Doctor Strange, and even look into the past to track down how a person’s fate came into being. He saw how a single decision could ripple across centuries, a front row seat to his very own butterfly effect. He called it his Great Burden, but I knew he reveled in it right up until the moment he saw the nose of his car crumpling against the wet, black trunk of the oak tree. The day he saw his death was the last day he tried to see anything.

I think he was afraid of seeing more, of knowing how it all would play out. He’d never really wanted to know his own future and had only willingly looked ahead on his path three times. Once, when he met my mother and wanted to know if the yearning bubbling away in his chest would dissolve into heartbreak. Again, when I was little, and sicker than any small human should ever be, and he needed to know I would make it to my next birthday. And then the last time, when my parents had tried for years to have another baby and my mother needed to know if it was time to stop.

We haven’t told my little sister about the family gift yet. She’s still a child, and the gift is a sad Boys-Only Club. For whatever reason, the gift has only been passed down through the men on my father’s family tree. None of my aunts have second sight. Their daughters are just as blind. But the uncles and sons and brothers all have some degree of sight. It’s different for each of us. One of my youngest cousins can only see a few hours ahead of himself. Uncle Abraham can only see into the past. But my dad was the first-born son of the first-born son, and it seems like the gift is strongest in our pattern, even though my sight is so much less than my father’s.

Again, I think I have my mother to thank for that. She’s always felt so guilty that my father’s first-born son doesn’t have his sight, or the sight of his father before him. She blames herself, somehow, for my limitations. She sees herself as a curse in her own right, though I very much consider her influence a blessing. She kept me grounded, rooted in reality. She encouraged me to exist outside of my gift and helped me keep it a secret from friends and neighbors when I was too young to control it. My mother knew that if others discovered my abilities, I’d never be able to shake loose of their demands.

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