When she was a kid, Ella had a very particular game that she would play with her friends. They would stare intently at each other for minutes, trying to form a psychic bond. Then they would run to opposite sides of the playground, touch various objects, concentrate and try and send impressions of how those objects felt to each other.
It never worked, of course. Ella would say she had felt her friend’s baseball when she had actually imagined touching the cool metal of a pole. She would be surprised at a friend correctly guessing that she had felt sand, only to find out later that he had been peeking through his finger. When they approached the idea with all the scientific rigeur that 8 year olds could muster, they had to admit that there was sadly little evidence that they could actually read each other’s minds.
That didn’t decrease the appeal of the idea, though. Even though Ella had participated in the debunking, she had been very sad to see the psychic touch era of their play go. There was a part of her that loved the idea of being that connected to her friends- connected so deeply that they could each feel what the others were feeling. So deeply that they wouldn’t need to talk or translate their experiences. So deeply that they would literally share each other’s experiences of the world.
Decades later, she sat in a circle with two other friends. They all held hands and had their eyes closed. They were all deeply hypnotized. Together.
The hypnotic words traveled between them with a squeeze of the hand. Each person spoke in turn, melding their words and images and suggestions into each others’. At first, Ella had crafted her turns to speak carefully- throwing in loops and phrases and linguistic tricks designed to take her friends deeper into their own experiences. After several rounds, though, the words were pouring out of her in ways that felt much less like hypnotizing and much more like channeling. She wasn’t sure what she was saying or even where the trance was going- just that wherever they were going felt perfect and right.
She vaguely remembered someone talking about how the words they were speaking were becoming distant from them. Maybe it had even been her- she wasn’t paying that much attention. In some ways, it stopped mattering who was saying what. Someone mentioned that they were all staring at their words as clouds going through the sky and she knew that her friends were seeing the same white puffy cumulus clouds that she was. When someone mentioned imagining a bird, she knew of course that it was a blue jay- possibly even before those specific words were even said. It was like they were each articulating the same picture, the same feeling, the same sensations. It was an experience that they were simultaneously having and describing to each other, knowing before they even spoke that the others were already in this place that they were collectively creating.
The analytical part of Ella could probably deconstruct what was going on. With the right expectations and the right suggestibility and the right coincidences, much could probably be logically explained. Rapport by itself was an amazing convincer.
But now was not a time for dissecting. Now it was just important to let herself have a moment of friendship, of connection, and of magic. And it turned out that feeling psychically connected to people she cared for was just as lovely as she had always wanted it to be.