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   Chapter 11 Schemin' and Dreamin'

Blog of a Teenage Superhero By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 9995

Updated: 2017-12-03 19:04


I don“t know what I expected. A hidden room, a case of Red“s cowls and capes, a freezer filled with Ice“s fractal sculptures. Whatever it was, the half-open brief case on the dinner table is both a relief and a disappointment.

Every sound, from the creak of vinyl siding to the hum of the fridge to even my own whistling sends Max glancing wildly over his shoulder. He flips through the accordion of folders and pages with unsteady hands. It“s his expression that makes my stomach twist up inside. The way he glances back down at the floor, the way he chews his lip, both eyebrows raised just slightly so.

He lifts the thin booklet, nails dug into the scaly binding, picking at the laces threaded through the spine. "Onyx," he says, "I get that you“re a superhero and all, but do you really have to—"

I cut him off by stretching a single beckoning hand toward him. All has become silent. I can“t even hear the thump of my pulse in my wrists, fingers, or ears. All has faded, all has been lost to the smoke except for him.

"Alright then." He shifts his weight on his hip, the creeeeak of the hardwood making him flinch. He flashes a smile to hide his twitching. "This is all I know, Onyx. Take care of it."

"Got it." I pull the booklet out of his hands, tired of standing with my arm extended like I“m trying to force him into a handshake he very clearly doesn“t want. "Thank you." I tuck the book into my back pocket. I know my time is limited. I know I have to go.

"There are notes in there, I think. I saw Dad scribbling in there, but he always hides it when he thinks I“m looking too closely." His words run together in a gush. "I don“t know if it“s all about Red, I mean, and I“m not sure if you know more than I do and this is all redundant and it frustrates you, “cause I“d hate to frustrate you—"

"I won“t bother you again," I promise him, my voice lowered just enough it won“t carry downstairs. My eyes travel to the sweep of brown hair over his forehead, the way he twists it in his fingers. I take a slow step back, footing still unsure, the prime directive still “Don“t Scare Him.“

"No!" A tint returns to his cheeks. He laughs, and the sound is awkward and hoarse. He lifts his eyes to mine, such a beautiful, deep brown. "I mean, I don“t mind being bothered by you."

Let me pause: I broke into this boy“s house. Yes, I did the poster-board thing, but I could“ve just as easily shattered his window, blocked off his door, and held him hostage. He knows this. I“m a neighbor asking for a cup of sugar with a bazooka pointed at his head. What other choice does he have?

But there“s some part of me that hopes he“s flirting, that he likes me. And that piece is thrumming when he says that, with his low, sweet voice, with his head tipped the teeniest bit to the side, the softest touch of a blush on his face.

My heart pangs. To him, I“m just a masked brute, and so I continue creeping further and further away. Destination: kitchen window. "That“s good

school today. Dad sits beside me as the doctor runs her final evaluations. I think she wants to send me to the hospital. Or freeze me in a cryo chamber and ship me to a lab. Apparently, it“s possible I“ve had internal bleeding and my body stitched itself up from the inside. I have scars on my organs. If that isn“t metal, I don“t know what is.

I told Dad I fell down the stairs running from Masquerade. He doesn“t buy it. It“s clear on his face. The Disapproving Dad look crossed with the Concerned Dad look crossed with relief. Plain relief. As far as father-daughter relationships go, we“re pretty tight. He“s independent. I“m independent. We both care about and respect each other, and he“s pretty loose when it comes to the whole "parenting" gig. I could be part of an underground cage-fighting ring and he would just tell me to keep away from the drugs and to make sure they compensate me for my injuries.

But fighting Masquerade, like stalking the mayor, may be a little much for even him. So I tell him I“m fine, maybe there“s a superhero in the family, haha. Don“t take the day off. I have my phone. I can call 911.

I“m not sent to the hospital, after some consideration. I“m told to take the pain killer and rest for the next four weeks. Dad helps me to the car. I fall back asleep before I“m even home. I“m vaguely aware climbing the stairs and collapsing on the couch, the pain muted now, the only thought left in my head the vague hope of all the possibilities of my school-less day.

The book. I can investigate the book.

Dad pulls up the thin quilt over my shoulders, cocooning me in warmth. I tuck my chin into my chest as he places a soft kiss on my forehead. My phone has never stopped buzzing, but my eyes are so heavy and the sleepiness so thick I refuse to look at it.

"I know the day has been rough, Monet..." Dad starts, but I never hear him finish.

I“m too caught up in my own schemes.

***

Dedicated to SusanInTheSky for calling Monet“s broken ribs.

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