I could see him in the arroyo. He was drowning.
I don’t know why I know these things, just that I know them. I can’t even really say how I know them, because it’s different every time. Sometimes, I see something. Like, I’ll see a person. Just some guy or some girl who looks like everyone else, but they stand out to me. Almost like there’s a spot light on them, or like, I don’t know, like they’re painted a different color than everyone else. It’s not enough for anyone else to see it but me I guess.
Other times, it’s more like a sound, like someone’s footsteps are louder or their voice is louder than everyone else’s in a restaurant. Not like they’re obnoxious. No one else seems to notice but me. But sometimes when I’m in a restaurant with my dad, I can hear parts of conversations that other people can’t hear. Sometimes it’s distracting and I miss part of what my dad is saying to me. When he calls me on it, I just pretend I spaced out or something.
He thinks I’ve been distracted ever since my mom and my sister died. He thinks that’s why sometimes I don’t get very good grades in school. I could get good grades. I understand everything. It’s just that I have all this other stuff to listen to, this other noise that no one else can hear. But, I’m starting to get the feeling that the other noise is important. It matters.
Other times, I see things before the happen, really clearly. Like with Noah. Noah’s my best friend. I’ve never had a best friend before. I met Noah about four years ago at school. He was new in town and he lived right up the road. I saw him in my algebra class and then he was kind of walking home the same direction I was. We started talking and hanging out. And it was nice to have someone around who didn’t know about my mom and my sister.
I guess it’s hard for someone to be friends with a guy who saw a double murder when he was five years old, even though I didn’t actually see it. Other kids like to ask me questions about it, like I’m some kind of walking Steven King book. But I’m not. And Noah didn’t know any of that. He just knew me as Hunter, the kid from algebra class who lives down the street. Until that day.
That one day, in class, Noah looked different to me. He was the first one of these “premonitions” or whatever you want to call it that I’d paid attention to. It was like he was vibrating or humming or something. I couldn’t stop looking at him. And then, in the middle of fifth period algebra, he started to look different. It was his face. It looked like he’d been beaten up or something. There were big scratches on his cheeks and his nose was bleeding. His shirt was all torn and his right arm looked weird, like it was bending in places it shouldn’t bend. His shoes were gone from his feet.
After school, I was walking home and Noah came by on his skateboard. Sometimes he rode it to school in the morning and then skated in the arroyos that drain the storm water in Albuquerque. He liked to ride there because the steep walls were good for doing tricks. But when he rode up to me that day, I had a flash, kind of like watching a movie that was cutting in and out. I could see him in the arroyo and it was full of water. He was drowning.
I told him not to go riding. He didn’t understand why. I pointed out the storm clouds over the mountains and that it looked like it might rain a lot. When it starts up in the Sandia Mountains, it floods all the arroyos in less than ten minutes. Those canals are famous for that. They go from completely dry to a raging river so fast you can’t get out of the way. The arroyos are really deep and there are only a few ways in or out. People get trapped in there and drown before the clouds even block out the sun. He kind of blew it off, but he humored me anyway.
We walked all the way to our neighborhood and both went home. I started helping my mom with dinner. She turned on the TV and we saw on the news that there had been a big car accident and several cars had gone into one of the canals. My mom turned it off when they started showing the fire trucks and ambulances and police cruisers. She always did that when my dad was on duty. She didn’t want to have to watch him do things that could be dangerous.
But, before she turned it off, I saw a clip of the arroyo and it was full of water, just like I’d pictured it. Somehow, I knew that Noah had gone down there. I told my mom I was running to the store to get something for dessert for us and I ran to the part of the canal where Noah always rides. I could hear the water like a freight train moving through the concrete canal. I was afraid to look over the edge. I was afraid to fall in. But I knew I had to look. I got down on my belly and peeked over the edge.
I saw Noah. He was wedged near one of the gates at the side of the canal and he was barely holding on. I could see he was exhausted and barely keeping his head above water. So I did the only thing I could do. I went in after him. It’s a long story, but in the end, we were both ok.
It took Noah a while to really understand what happened. But eventually he got it. In fact, I think he got it before I did. He finally asked me how I knew and I told him what I’d seen. I told him what he had looked like. I don’t know who was more freaked out about it. He’s probably more comfortable with it than I am. He’s the only one who really knows, really gets it. He can tell when I’m picking something up on somebody. He doesn’t feel what I feel, but he knows me well enough now to know that I’ve keyed into something. Even if he didn’t know, it’s nice to have a best friend.