Fiction Fragment Friday
I had multiple ideas for a story this week, but settled on my first sentence as an inspiration. I don’t know where I came up with that sentence, but I liked it and decided to see where it went. Imagine my surprise when I realized I was writing a Ricochet story. It was not my intent, but it made complete sense with the conversation that was happening. I thought about using another superhero I created called Cobalt, but I struggled to decide what the difficult conversation would be with him. I also find myself not wanting to return to that character because when I created him he has a terrible tragedy in his past and having written a Fiction Fragment Friday prequel to that story I just don’t want to put him through it.
“It’s long past time we had a serious talk.” I have faced off against some of the most terrifying supervillains Reignsborough has to offer, but none of them caused the kind of fear that hearing those words come out of a girlfriend’s mouth does. It may not always be phrased exactly like that, but I think I’ve heard pretty much every version of that particular conversation starter there is. None of them are ever followed by anything I would call pleasant.
“Uh, ok Susie what’s on your mind?” I figured I would try to get straight to it. Avoiding the conversation wasn’t going to make it any easier.
“You canceled the last three dates we were supposed to have and each time it was at the last minute with an excuse as flimsy as those cheap paper plates you buy. I know it isn’t work keeping you out at night because you haven’t had a decent gig in months. Stand up comedy doesn’t exactly lend itself to work emergencies.”
“Now hon you know I do odd jobs and pick up extra work when I can get it. Sometimes that stuff just pops up at a moment’s notice.”
She reached over to my counter and picked up a pile of bills. “If that were it maybe you would have the money to pay for these, but no you are just as poor as ever.”
“Ouch. I know my act hasn’t really taken off, but that’s kind of harsh.”
“You want to talk about harsh?” At this point she was yelling and threw the pile of bills against my chest. “How about sitting in the middle of a restaurant with my parents trying to convince them that you wouldn’t possibly stand me up when you were supposed to meet them. Then trying to come up with reasons why I actually like you when you do just that.”
“Oh, that was tonight wasn’t it.” I had been dealing with a supervillain hostage situation downtown and had completely forgotten about the dinner. When I got back to my apartment, I had to take a shower to get rid of the smoke smell from when they lit the office building on fire. I had no idea how I was going to get the smell out of my costume. After that I was so tired, I was just going to collapse in bed until I heard a loud banging on my front door. That led to this rather unpleasant conversation.
“Yes, it was tonight. I’ve been reminding you every day for the last two weeks. I tried calling you all night and you didn’t answer. I have to ask; do you care about me at all? Are you trying to push me away or are you just so self-centered that other people never even cross your mind.”
“Of course, I care about you.” I needed an excuse fast. “Look I’m really sorry about tonight. I promise I’ll make it up to you.” Even I knew that line wouldn’t work. It never had before.
“That’s what you always say, and you know what? You’ve never made anything up to me. You just keep letting me down over and over again. This is your last chance. I want an honest answer with none of your usual deflections. Where were you tonight? What was more important than meeting my parents?” She crossed her arms over her chest and stood there waiting for my answer. I knew that the next words out of my mouth would determine my relationship status. The one thing I couldn’t tell her was the truth though. I couldn’t risk giving away my secret identity.
“Nothing is more important than you. I just fell asleep, and my phone battery died.”
When she slapped me, my powers took the kinetic energy and absorbed it to feed my strength, agility, and healing. I knew that she put all her strength into it, but the hit barely registered. I think my perspective might have been skewed after a night of being hit by the Bash-em brothers. They are actual brothers with super strength. They went into professional wrestling when they first got their powers but decided that it was too much work when they could just rob banks. “You are a terrible liar, but you just had to try, didn’t you? Your phone is right here on the counter with a 50% charge. Plus, I called Mrs. Wilson and had her come over and bang on your door.”
“Who’s Mrs. Wilson?”
“Your neighbor. How have you lived here for over a year without learning any of your neighbor’s names? No, don’t answer that. You are just deflecting again.” It might have looked like I was deflecting, but I’m really not that clever. I actually don’t know any of my neighbors’ names. To be honest I can’t remember the last time I had gone out my front door instead of out my window in costume. It’s just so much faster to bounce around the city and change when I get there than it is to take the train. It’s a lot more fun too.
For a moment I thought about opening up and telling her I was Ricochet. It would be so nice to have someone to talk to about it and maybe get some support. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure how serious she was about us and I didn’t want an angry ex out there knowing my identity. Just knowing had a habit of putting people in danger. At this point I wasn’t sure if even the truth would be enough to make up for all the missed dates and my inability to get her anything nice.
“I don’t know what to say. I must have slept through it.” Even I heard the resignation in my voice. I knew what was going to come next.
“Well, you’re going to have plenty of time to sleep now. I’m done. I deserve someone who is going to make me feel important to them. I deserve to not have to make excused to my friends and family about why my boyfriend isn’t around.” She punctuated her final sentence with pokes to my chest. “I deserve better than you.”
I didn’t try to change her mind or beg as she headed to the door. It had never helped in the past and I knew it wouldn’t this time. A couple pictures fell off the wall as she slammed my front door on her way out. I didn’t bother picking them up. They would always be there to deal with in the morning. Unlike my love life which was once again dead. That left me with two choices for the night. I could think about what had just happened and really take a look at my life. Examine my choices and ask myself those difficult questions about my future.
That was not going to happen, so I went with option number two. In a few minutes I was suited up in my smoke smelling costume and climbing out my window onto the fire escape. Sure, I could examine my life and self-evaluate, but I’m sure there were bad guys out there that needed punching. It wouldn’t hurt that using my powers had an intoxicating effect that would keep me from focusing on much of anything. Nope never let it be said that I was a self-aware superhero, not when I have any other option to avoid that.