Your Personal Best a Science Fiction Story Essay
All You Need Is Love
I came back to myself the usual fifteen minutes after the healing trance began, slightly disoriented and clutching the wrist of a very scrawny young man. Next, I did the logical thing and panicked for a few minutes straight. I had broken the rules I had created for my own safety and in a very sloppy way.
I calmed down with some deep breathing exercises and manhandled Mr. Walker onto his sofa and covered him with a thin raw cotton blanket. I called the shop to tell them I had suddenly taken ill.
I drove the delivery van back to the shop, my heart pounding in my ears. As gray, sweaty, and shaky as I was, it wasn’t a stretch to claim illness. I turned down the boss’ kind offer to drive me home and drove straight to Mark’s house, gnawing my fingernails at every stoplight on the way.
I sat by him, watching the clock impatiently. I must have dozed off because it was dark in the room when I woke to a man’s voice.
“I thought it was a dream,” he said.
“Huh? A… Oh, you’re awake now,” I said stupidly.
He inhaled deeply and exhaled forcefully three times in quick succession.
“You really did it, you really healed me,” Mark said in wonder, sitting up on the sofa and gingerly running his hand down one of his legs.
“I can really breathe for the first time in… I don’t know how long. But my stomach is killing me.”
“You’re just hungry. C’mon, why don’t we go fix something huge for dinner and try to figure out what comes next.”
He grinned and I melted.
“Anything you want, doll.”
He didn’t take his eyes off me for more than a few seconds at a time. I couldn’t blame him, after what I’d done.
Mark is a very smart man. Between the two of us, we worked it out. He called the agency Marjorie worked through and told them he no longer needed her services. He left her with a very generous bonus to assuage any hurt feelings. He knew the right people to pay to make his miraculous recovery appear merely surprising and learned how to dress and apply make-up to look closer to his chronological age.
Somewhere during this process I found my admiration for Mark turning into affection despite my better judgment. I was trying to keep a bit of emotional distance because I was afraid Mark was confusing his gratitude to the woman who saved his life with love. But the guy really grew on me. Besides, Sammy approved of him.
Mark tried to get me to quit my job at the flower shop but I made it clear to him that it was how I was finding people to heal. No one could tempt me away from my new calling.
Over the next several weeks, I managed to heal four people, including a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
I was saving lives and a smart and charismatic man was falling in love with me. Everything seemed perfect.
Then it showed up on my clipboard. It was a delivery addressed to the first person I had healed. It was going to a funeral home.
Mark was gaining weight and looking better every day. Despite coming into heat and needing to get spayed again, Sammy was still in the best health of her life. Even the mice were still fine. I couldn’t imagine what had gone wrong with the young woman, the first human being I had ever healed.
Mark hired a discreet investigator to look into it and to check on my other “patients” as well.
She had killed herself. One of the others had been checked into a mental health care inpatient facility. The other three adults and the infant were apparently doing well, much better than anyone expected. Against Mark’s objections I wanted to see them. I convinced him to send flowers to the three who were doing well, which I could arrange to deliver. I figured if luck were with me, I’d get a glimpse of the recipients. I made Mark promise me he’d try to think of a way I could see the baby and the man in the mental hospital.
About halfway through my workday, I made the delivery to the first of the three. An elderly woman answered the door.
“I have a delivery for Anne Vandenberg.”
“Oh, yes, thank you. I hope it cheers her up.”
“Me, too,” I said, “Have a good day!”
She said thank you and closed the door.
On the second special delivery, I immediately recognized the dark-haired young man who answered the door. He looked almost as bad as he had in the hospital, unkempt and pale with dark circles under penetrating, watery blue eyes.
“I have a delivery for Kevin Rusch.”
“That’s me,” he said, “come on in,” as he held open the door.
Kevin offered me something to drink and since I was hoping to find out how he was doing, I accepted.
Introductions out of the way, I attempted to make small talk and get around to how he’d been lately. However, his gaze was so intense and unnerving that I ended up stammering stupidly. It didn’t matter because he hung on every word as if I’d said something brilliant.
When I returned to the shop there were several messages waiting for me. One of them was from Kevin.
On the drive home from work I called him back. During the course of our conversation it became clear to me that Kevin was infatuated with me. No one falls
in love that fast.
It was a gut-punch epiphany.
Mark’s reaction was no different from Kevin’s. His intense, sudden affection was neither a gratitude reaction nor a natural attraction; it was a side-effect.