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   Chapter 9

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 8750

Updated: 2017-12-05 12:05


Do you remember playing on the swings as a kid? How you kicked up your feet, closed you eyes, and swung as far and high as you could? That“s how flying feels. Blood rushing to your head, heart in your throat, falling, falling, falling, then shooting into the sky, high above the other kids.

My wings are stiff like a plane“s, and for a minute I hang in the air, sailing in the breeze. It“s more instinct than practice. You“d think it would take weeks, months even, to fly, but it comes naturally, like crawling. My wings form the right movements and I coast without thinking about plummeting to my death.

Sure, it“s a little rough, my wings are still sore and sensitive, but compared to the thrill of flight, I don“t care. Nothing can hurt me up here. I“m free. No psychotic parents or vengeful brother. No unstable, possibly abusive ex-supervillain who I have conflicting feelings about. No dungeons or padlocked rooms or people calling me an “it.“

It“s such a great feeling, I“m even smiling. And I have to admit, I feel pretty guilty about that, with how bad everyone around me seems to feel.

Heaven isn“t coping well, and I“m already mad at myself for snapping at her. I remember us as kids, flopped lazily in the park, pointing at the clouds and arguing about their shape.

All these years I“ve watched her grow more antisocial and mean, lashing out at me, bossing Gats around, trying to "protect" us. So she wasn“t just getting "edgier." She was balancing two identities and trying to save Starlight all at once.

Gosh, “Galaxy“ has existed for about three years now. I can“t believe Heaven fought crime as a thirteen-year-old, I mean, we were still trading Pokemon cards and doing yo-yo tricks! I can just imagine how it feels for people to think you“re the savior of humanity when you“re really just a kid who wants to do the right thing. For Hev, It must“ve been awful. I just wish she, you know, told me.

Maybe I could“ve made her feel less alone. Maybe I wouldn“t have gotten so mad when she didn“t finish her part of the stupid tri-fold project thing. Maybe I would“ve stuck up for her when kids bullied her in school.

My mind wanders back to the dance, as it usually does, and I try to put myself in her position. Dozens of girls dressed like her alter-ego, wanted to be her, when they hated her all the same, whispering nasty things behind her back, tripping her in the halls, shooting her awful looks and studying her the one night she was supposed to have fun.

I suddenly wish I paid more attention to her instead of Jaylin. Protected her, even. After everything“s she sac

ce should pay for the damage, right?"

"This is what we paid Snare for! Protection, dammit! And then Galaxy came along..." She stomps up and rips the broom out of my hands, whacking the ground with hard and fast strokes. I wince. "Super insurance is murder. Two hundred, three hundred dollars a month. And your Snare charges equally as much."

"Oh." My throat“s dry.

"“Don“t worry, Mom,“ Carlotta said. “Galaxy will protect us,“ Carlotta said." The woman“s crying now, and I go rigid. "Look at it, punk! Everything I worked for, she worked for. Gone. You stupid, bloody supers! Thinking you can destroy people“s lives without any damn consequences!"

"Um." I pull back, my chest aching. "W-What about the police, ma“am?"

"Police." She laughs a dry, humorless laugh. "Budgets slashed. Early retirement. “Why should we spend so much on a police force when supers do their jobs anyway?“"

"Oh, no." This isn“t what Heaven wanted. She can“t be a one-woman police force, no matter how hard she tries.

My phone buzzes in my pocket. It“s still slow and glitchy, but June makes me carry it with me anyways. I ignore the call.

"What?" she snaps. "You want money? I have nothing, super!"

"I“m sorry, ma“am," I whisper, my throat so tight I can hardly speak. I need a drink.

"Sorry“ won“t fix anything!" she shouts. "Get away from me!"

"Ma“am, I“m not--"

"I don“t care! Leave me alone!"

I want to do something to comfort her, but she grips the broom like a murder weapon and I“m suddenly aware of how ready she looks to bash my skull in. I shrink back and around the corner. My phone“s still buzzing and my head hurts. "What?" I snap when I answer the call.

"Angelos, come home." It“s Storm. "Something happened to Gatsby."

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