Gravity Waive (Version 1)

Written for the workshop Hindsight 2020. Assignment: write a story in 1,000 words or less. Original prompt was from YeahWrite #457, "The main character sees someone about to commit a minor crime. Do they use their superpower or not?"

#

I was seven the first time it happened.

The summer sun warmed my back as I lay in the grass behind my house, kicking my legs lazily, reading Wonder Woman comics and wishing I could talk to animals like she did.

The peeping sound came from across the yard. I walked over to see what it was. A tiny baby bird, so young it barely had feathers, flopped pathetically in the dirt. Looking up, I noticed a nest on a tree branch ten feet above.

I’d heard that if you touch a baby wild animal, then its mom won’t take care of it anymore. I sat there and I wished that the bird could return to its nest. In my mind, I pictured it rising off the ground and floating back up there.

I blinked. The baby bird was two inches off the ground. Its little shadow lay on the dirt beneath it.

I wished harder. The bird continued rising. It climbed until it was level with the branch where the nest was. The mother bird spread her wings, fluttered over to the baby, and sort of shoved it in midair until it landed back in the nest.

Grinning, I jumped up and down. I had to tell my dad. I raced for the screen door, bolted through the kitchen, and paused in the living room doorway.

The TV was on. Celeste, my stepmom, sat on the armchair, combing hair glitter into my stepsister Janelle’s ponytail as she knelt on the floor. The giant bow on Janelle’s head told me I’d be dragged along to yet another Tiny Cheer event that day.

“Where’s Daddy?”

“Hello, Rhea,” Celeste said. “He’s not home, honey. Come look at this show I TiVo’d. ‘America’s Got Talent.’ ” On screen, a man in an orange jumpsuit danced and played several dozen horns attached to his outfit.

“Janelle, this show would be perfect for you!” Celeste gushed. “Think of winning all that money. A million dollars!”

I pictured myself showing Celeste my magic trick. I wondered if she would dress me up like Janelle, make me go on TV, so she could get her hands on that prize money.

I turned and ran back outside.

#

“Bye, guys. See you Monday!” I said, waving to Rick at the dispatch desk and Bernice at reception. They smiled back. “Later, Supergirl.”

The nickname had happened soon after I started there, fresh out of community college, as the police department’s social media and communications assistant. My first month, I made a video of the officers that got twenty times more views than anything they’d produced. Bernice had dubbed me Supergirl, and it stuck.

I stopped at Manny’s for my usual Friday night takeout, took my dog Bubba for a quick stroll, and settled onto the couch.

The TV remote had fallen off the arm of the sofa. I watched it float upward into my hand. I smiled. My strange talent did have its perks.

I flipped channels and settled on an early-fifties film noir. Then I switched it off. Glenn Ford looked like my dad, and I didn’t feel like thinking about how much I missed him.

I never did tell him. That first day, in the backyard, I had tried to wish a few more things into the air, but nothing worked. By the time he got home, I thought maybe I’d imagined the whole thing.

My power, if that’s what it was, seemed to come and go. I once got a puppy down from a tree, where it was stuck after chasing a squirrel; that was fun. I watched the dumb boys from the block daring each other to jump off roofs, and I broke Matt Garcia’s fall before his head hit a rock. When Ellie Chang’s baby sister toddled into the neighborhood pool, I kept her from sinking until the lifeguard got there. Sometimes I’d even lift myself up somewhere, like the top of the water tower, and spend hours looking at the city lights, the breeze tickling my skin.

#

Friday night had stretched into Saturday morning, and sleep wouldn’t come. At three a.m., I sighed, threw the covers back, leashed Bubba, and walked toward the river.

I heard it before I saw it. The light rhythmic clanging of someone shaking a can of spray paint. Tugging Bubba behind a tree, I watched. A kid who looked about thirteen was getting ready to add another letter after the sloppy red “S” he’d sprayed onto the Porter Street Bridge wingwall.

I could have texted Will, who was on patrol. But I paused. Why not have a little fun?

The can dropped from the boy’s hand as if something had sucked it toward the ground. I chuckled. When he leaned over and picked it up, it happened again. The third time, the can plunged, bounced, soared past the boy’s surprised face, and arced into the river. With a yelp, he ran off.

He was back the next night. So was I. This time, the can sailed up into the air as if someone had flung it. The boy sprinted away, hollering something about ghosts. I grinned.

“Rhea Revello?”

I spun. The red-haired woman’s hoodie shadowed her face.

“Yes. Who are you?”

“Call me Bella. Here’s my card.” She smiled. “We’ve been aware of your abilities for some time. We could use someone like you. Think about it.” And she was gone.

The card was blank. I looked at front and back, held it up to the streetlamp; nothing. Some kind of joke, then?

I dropped the card, then made it rise into my hand. The words appeared immediately.

       Union of Unusual Talents
       Righting Wrongs Our Specialty
       224-555-8675

In the morning, I pushed my cereal back and forth with the spoon, thinking of the long years I’d spent hiding.

I picked up the phone.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Future Tense Has Been Taken Hostage

Coronavirus: Best Thing Ever! (by the Family Dog)

The Naked Truth (microfiction)