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Elisha Kagan was born in Lenox Hill Hospital, Manhattan, New York, to Jonah and Reina Kagan. Silver spoons don’t begin to describe it; the Kagans were among the richest of the rich in New York, with Jonah owning controlling interest in a generations old commercial property firm that even when Elisha was born held some of the most expensive and coveted addresses in New York. For the first six years, it was an ideal life; Elisha was a precocious child, provided with the best nannies, and then tutors before being enrolled in the finest private primary school in Manhattan to begin the march to following in his father’s footsteps.

Then Jonah was shot down and killed in front of both his wife and son, and life started to crumble.

It wasn’t immediate. For a little while Reina managed to hold it together, keep the Kagan image up, but Reina - an artist, an alcoholic, a woman with undiagnosed bipolar disorder - was never a woman who could manage to run her own life, and increasingly the details of their lives fell to the trustees of Jonah’s will, and eventually to Elisha himself.

He was eight when his abilities began to manifest. At first, he simply felt everything, and it was terrifying. Paralyzing, and Elisha withdrew into himself, nearly shutting down. He held the world at arms-length, especially his mother, whose teeter-tottering emotional state made his head spin whenever he got close enough. The trustees chalked it up to the boy dealing with the situation, and approved of it; a cool, quiet, withdrawn Kagan was far better than a replica of his mother, after all.

It was another year before he realized he could do more than feel all the emotions around him, he could change them. Another six months before Reina’s mental state went through a sudden and drastic improvement, her emotions equalizing almost overnight. Things were better again.

But there was still the alcohol, of course. His ability couldn’t stop that, and no one was really surprised when on a clear, cold November night in his sixteenth year, Reina Kagan managed to drive her roadster off the cliffs overlooking the Hudson in upper Westchester. No one else died. There was the funeral, well-attended, and Elisha returned to school, and then after that continued on at Dartmouth College as his father and grandfather had done before him.

When he turned twenty-one, he took control. The world won’t be the same.

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November 2011

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