The second time I saw her, there had been some big changes.
I'd returned to the cinema precisely because it was so small and infrequently populated. Being able to read minds is mostly a gift, but when I want to really concentrate on a film, it's can definitely be a curse. Any time my interest wanes at all, I'll dive into the thoughts of whoever is closest, and though I've heard them all before, it's hard to go back to a flat screen when you've got the depth of a human's experience open to you.
The most obvious change was her tits. Normally I'm solely responsible for a change in someone's bust-size, but this one was a team effort - her new eating habits had been a bigger contributor than anything I'd done ... of course, I was responsible for the change in her diet (and her body's strange response) so I suppose that ultimately her new and glorious boobs were thanks to me.
When I'd first met Connie, she'd been thin as a rake. At a glance, I'd assumed she was barely a teenager, but a quick probe into her mind had told me that no, she was nineteen.
To my eyes, that makes her fair game.
I'd noticed but not specifically targeted her - I've mellowed over the years, and not every female who crosses my path immediately attracts my influence. I used to be a lot more active, with each and every person who caught my attention walking away different, changed, but nowadays I'm more ... selective.
It didn't take much though; she simply cut in line. Whether it was just plan rudeness, or if she'd seen me checking her out and thought I wouldn't object, I didn't know ... and though it would have been easy enough to go exploring in her mind and find out, I didn't much care.
"Excuse me," I said, watching as the girl turned to face me, a smug look on her face. "I was here first."
To my delight, she just rolled her eyes and turned back to the front of the queue.
"Excuse me," I repeated, and a slight mental nudge was all that was needed to make sure that this time, she turned and gave me the attention that I was due. "I believe you've just cut in line."
A quick scan of the small theatre we were standing in told me that the only employee was out the back, dealing with an angry customer on the phone. That would explain the long wait. The girl and I were alone, for at least the next few minutes.
I wouldn't even need that long.
Pulling a coin out of my pocket and beginning to flip it, I smiled as she watched, transfixed.
"What's your name?" I asked, and was impressed by how steadfastly she resisted answering. I leaned against the pillar and waited - with a bit of increased effort I could have had her talking straight away, but I enjoyed watching her struggle.
"Connie," she finally answered, a petulant glare on her face.
"Connie, excellent. I'm going to teach you something today, Connie, and I can assure you that it's a lesson that will sink in."
Against her will she nodded, and I smiled a cruel smile.
"You can't just push in front of people in line, girl. You have to be more persuasive than that. Now you're a pretty enough lass, I'm sure you can think of all kinds of creative ways to ... get what you want."
Connie nodded, and my words sunk into her brain. She didn't realize it yet, but the conversation we'd just had would go on to define the rest of her life. She wouldn't know why the short speech of a stranger would have such impact, but from now on whenever she had to make any choice, my advice would be the first thing she thought of.
While she adjusted to her new attitude, I delved into her young mind and made some changes. She was athletic, almost obsessively so - that explained her stick-thin appearance. I decided to leave alone, only adding an insatiable hunger; no matter how much she ate, she would forever be starving, only satisfied after consuming a greasy, fatty meal, large enough to feed a family of four.
I'm not cruel - everyone who comes into contact me ends up happier as a result - so I changed her body's physiology slightly. She wouldn't be fat for long, just enough to inject a bit of humility into her. I wondered if she'd continue her athletic activities when the pounds started stacking on.
In a perfect world, I would have played for a little longer, but at that point the sole employee finished his conversation and re-entered the room. I slipped the coin back into my pocket, and Connie blinked twice and looked around as if lost.
The teen behind the counter asked who was next, and I gestured to the slightly stunned girl standing in front of me. She nodded thanks, and stepped up to the counter.
Her stomach growled as she bought a ticket, prompting her to add: "Some popcorn as well ... with butter. Lots of butter."
I never expected to see her again. The vast majority of my encounters I don't - that's part of the joy for me, wondering what they get up to after I've left them, what changes my tinkering produces.
Not to say, of course, that I don't enjoy seeing the results of my efforts - it's a rare delight when it happens, and a broad smile crossed my face when I saw the new and improved Connie standing in front of me.
As I mentioned, her breasts had filled out nicely. It had taken a few years of experimentation to get the hang of it, learning which hormones to push where. (once I'd mastered my technique, the first thing I'd done was go back to correct my first attempts, and reward the recipients with whatever their hearts desired. As I said, I really don't think of myself as a bad man.)
Before I even inspected her Connie's few months, I could tell a few things: the demure way she entered told me that, as I hoped, a few months of being overweight had lowered her self-esteem significantly. She was now stunning - her face had always been pretty, and now she had an almost-perfect body to match it - but I suspected that she'd never really believe it, not as long as she continued to eat the way that she did.
Her clothes told me that she'd taken my suggestions in the sexual manner that I'd hoped she would; she was dressed to "persuade", ready to use her body to influence anyone she encountered, in exchange for whatever small favor they were willing to give.
But I didn't get the real story until I opened her mind once more, saw through her eyes how much her life had change since we'd last encountered one another...
Chapter 2: Convincing the Folks'
Connie had been completely unable to concentrate on the film.
Nolan was her favorite director and her grueling schedule had prevented her from going on opening night, or even attending the film with her friends, and so she'd been looking forward to seeing the team's adventures on the big screen, but now that she was here ... she just couldn't focus.
She sat in the empty theatre (I'd left, knowing that I wouldn't be able to enjoy the film, not with a newly-altered mind ticking over in front of me) and shoveled popcorn into her mouth, unable to stop thinking about the conversation she'd just had.
Persuasive. She needed to be more persuasive.
Connie couldn't explain why this resonated so perfectly with her, but the more her mind reflected on it, the more she knew that it was completely and utterly true. It was an epiphany, an undeniable fact.
Up until now, she'd assumed that people would do what she wanted because ... well, just because. If you were insistent enough, the majority of people folded, and the few who didn't weren't worth worrying about.
But now, something about that argument just didn't make sense to her. It had worked, but it was somehow flawed ... no, she knew now that she had to make people want to do things. And the only way to make people want to do things was to give them something.
Connie wasn't rich - her parents both worked as personal trainers. They loved it, but it left their bodies much healthier than their bank account.
So if she couldn't reward people financially, what else was left?
The question chewed away at her mind as she watched the rest of the film, ducking out twice to visit the concession stand. Part of her wished that they had a healthier selection, but the rest of her was inexplicably craving buttery popcorn and calorie-heavy chocolate bars.
When she was halfway home she cursed, realizing that she had barely paid attention to the film. She'd have to see if she could use the car again soon - she'd been looking forward to the blockbuster for months, but her starving stomach and overwhelmed mind had been unable to let her focus.
"Mother, can I use the car tomorrow?"
Dinner had been delicious, as usual - lean chicken and a small salad, a perfect combination of leafy greens and protein. For some reason it hadn't scratched Connie's itch, however, and straight after the meal Claire had walked in to find her daughter raiding the fridge.
"In return, I'll cook ... and do the washing up tonight."
Connie's mother laughed. "Sure thing, honey - I'm staying at Marie's tonight anyway, so I'll just ride in. You'll have to check with your father as well, of course."
The young woman was beaming as she approached her father - she couldn't explain why successfully bargaining with her mother had given her the satisfaction that it did, but something about getting what she wanted (without simply demanding it) made her feel great.
"Hey Dad," she asked, a sing-song tone in her voice, "what would I have to do to use the car tomorrow?"
.... There is more of this story ...