All the Right Questions

I have always had an unusual superpower. When asked a question, I always know the answer with 100% certainty.

One day, while walking down a busy street, I saw an old friend of mine in the distance. We waved to each other to meet at a nearby intersection before walking to a coffee shop to chat. After sitting down, he said, "It's crazy running into you here! How are you doing today?"

In that moment, every significant event that happened throughout the day began playing as a slideshow in my head.

  • I stubbed my toe this morning getting out of the shower and had to bandage it up. I ended up running out of the bathroom right as my neighbor was stopping by to drop off a package. They definitely saw me naked through the window.
  • At work, I managed to write one of the most beautiful pieces of code I have ever seen.
  • I almost got run over when jaywalking just a few minutes before.

These were all interesting stories, but there was one, uniquely correct answer to this question: "Fine, and you?"

"Yeah, I'm doing well!" he laughed a bit, "I haven't seen you since high school! What are you doing nowadays?"

Again, possible answers began flashing through my head.

  • I went to college and got a physics degree.
  • I took up a fierce quilting hobby and actually don't know what to do with all of my blankets.
  • I have been taking care of my mother, who is getting older by the day.

Again, though, there was one correct response: "I am working at a nearby tech shop doing database management."

"Oh, sounds cool! Do you know programming?"

Yes, "Yes."

"Awesome! What languages do you use?"

Javascript and SQL, "Javascript and SQL"

"Ah, right." He nodded a bit, "I actually do gamedev now, so I do a lot of C# and C++"

"Oh, really cool. What games have you made?" I asked. Honestly, I was happy he didn't ask another question. The answers were always distracting.

"I recently made one called Peabody, have you heard of it?"

Yes. I lied to continue the conversation, "No. Tell me more about it!"

We talked for some time, and I eventually told him that my mother was ill and I was in town to take care of her.

"Oh, that sucks! Will she be ok?"

No. This was the first time I was asked that question, and I didn't know the answer. I felt my hair stand on-end as a wave of emotion flowed through me, but I managed to keep a straight face by sighing a bit and lying again. "Yeah. The doctors say she'll pull through! It's just hard right now."

He nodded in solidarity, "Yeah, I'll bet, especially while managing a rather intense job!"

"It's intense, but rewarding in it's own right." I said, shrugging slightly.

"I guess you enjoy it, then?"

No, "Yeah, I think it's fine. I might think about transitioning to a new career once my mom gets better." I grimaced slightly at my own comment. I now knew my mother would not get better.

He paused for a second, studying my face. "Hey, is everything ok?"

No, "Yeah, everything is fine! I just think I should get back home to check on my mom."

I then stood up, intending to leave, but he grabbed my hand and said, "Hey. Let me know if you ever need to talk. I'm here for you."

"I know. Thanks for that."

"In fact, if you need another distraction, would you like to go to a movie this weekend?"

Yes. I was honestly surprised at the answer, but said, "I guess so."

We then exchanged contact information and went our separate ways before meeting up again over the weekend. One date led to two, and then to three and four until eventually we were inseparable.

See, my power was always incredibly useful. I aced every test without studying. I never failed an interview. I was always considered to be "too perfect," almost untouchable by others.

That said, there was an integral component missing. Even if I had all the right answers, I still needed someone to ask the right questions.

(PS: sorry, not my best work! I tried!)

Prompt: You have the ability to answer any question asked to you. Once a question is heard, you know the answer whether you want to or not.

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