“You’re afraid of lightning,” he called, and I stopped in my tracks. “Just the idea of a storm makes your skin crawl. Even now, just the mention makes you want to squirm.” I went to take another step forward, but found that I couldn’t, he’d gotten my attention. “You’d never admit it, because you’re pretty sure that people will think you are crazy, but you’re pretty sure you can feel it in your bones when you go in and out of cell service, and even to some degree when you switch from one Wi-Fi router to another.” I turned slowly on my heel to face him. He was still on the other side of the room, standing in the spot where I told him to stay. For a very long minute, we just stood there on opposite sides of the space. He seemed to have lost his nerve now that I was looking at him. I started to turn away again, but he said “Juliet” and I turned to face him again.
He was blushing. Not very strongly, but I could see the pink growing on his cheeks. “I can feel it when wires come loose in their casings. Or when a battery is about to die. To be perfectly honest, it—uh—kind of breaks my heart when the battery’s power completely fades away. I lucked out of the thunderstorm fear, but if the power goes out and there is no electricity in the house—the silence kills me. I lose my mind. I—well,” he fidgeted in his pocket for a second and pulled out a mini-Maglite. “I carry this around, you know, ‘for light in case of an outage’ but it’s really just for the power of it…the white noise. Until its batteries die, and then I’m freaking out and heartbroken all in one.” He slipped the flashlight back into his pocket, and looked up at me, his cheeks still pink. “The point is…you’re not a freak, or at the very least not a one-off freak. If you give us a chance, we can teach you a lot. Please.” His nerve seemed to vanish entirely as he looked down to his feet. I genuinely didn’t know what to do.