“You kind of do look like Aladdin’s Jasmine,” Nate says, as we make our way to the back of the library during lunch.

“Why? Because I’m Indian?” I joke.

“Of course, that must be it.” Nate rolls his eyes and pulls out a chair, dropping his bag onto an empty table.

As he surveys the library, I ‘survey’ his tall, athletic frame; the way his crisp white shirt hugs his shoulders and arms, hinting at the muscles hiding underneath it. But really, that’s not what I like most about him.

Nathaniel Lazarus has the most interesting face. It’s open and honest, and sort of draws you in. And how the hell is his caramel skin so flawless?

Nate notices my staring and smirks.

“Sorry! I thought I saw a stain on your shirt.” Squinting, I pretend to examine the imaginary stain.

He’s sceptical, but he looks down the front of his shirt anyways, sighing loudly when the librarian complains about the ‘overwhelming stench of polony sandwiches’ that is ‘simply unacceptable’.

Mrs Felder (and her overactive nostrils) is the reason why we try to avoid the library where possible. But the unexpected rain made it impossible for us to meet at our usual spot.

“For the record,” Nate says, as he places a folder labelled ‘Carnival Stuff’ between us, “I think Jasmine’s the most beautiful Disney Princess.”

I don’t quite know what to say to that, especially with Nate looking at me as if he can see into the depths of my soul. He probably can’t and has just mastered the art of eye-gazing. But I feel something that makes my heart beat a little faster and the air around us feel thicker, almost hazy.

“Uhm,” I say, unable to look into his eyes much longer, in fear of passing out. “So, you, uh, should tell your sister I said thanks for hooking us up with that Romanian lady. She’s going to be perfect for our booth.”

Fifty-eight-year-old Francesca, with her billowing gypsy dresses and floral headscarves, played to the ‘spooky fortune-teller’ stereotype perfectly. When Nate and I had arranged to meet with her last Saturday to discuss our booth, she’d grabbed both our palms and then stared at us for a very long time. The she finally said in a haggard smoker’s voice, “You kids think I am joke. But I will do carnival job.”

We were both at a loss for words after that. More so when she scrunched up the wad of cash we gave her, tucked it into her bra, and retreated behind a curtain – an actual beaded one that jingled.

“Man with husky eyes no good, eh. No good at all,” she said from behind the curtain.

That was it. She didn’t bother to explain.

“My sis thinks Francesca actually has psychic abilities,” Nate says, raising a single eyebrow.

I don’t know about that, but Francesca had a feel of authenticity the other fortune-tellers we’d met didn’t have.

“Don’t look now,” I whisper, spotting something unusual in the library. “Chloe has a book in her hands.”

Naturally, Nate ignores what I say and turns, frowning when he too notices one Chloe Anne Maritz in the Classics section. The very same Chloe who once asked a teacher if ‘Shakespeare’ was the name of a band.

“Shocking,” Nate says. “Who knew she liked classical literature? Or any literature for that matter.”

As Nate and I finish our sandwiches (we use our school bags as covers so Mrs Felder doesn’t catch us), we make a list of all the things we still need to do before the carnival.

I check my phone again, and my heart sinks when I see that Cheryl hasn’t answered my messages.

“Jazz,” Nate whispers, “I just saw Cheryl walk in.”


Tell us: Do you believe some people really have ‘psychic’ abilities?