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I can be a superhero too.
Superman, Spiderman, Batman.
There are no real life superheroes. I’ve trawled the internet and newspapers, searching, looking, and hoping. No tales of flying, no sightings of men adorned in capes soaring through the sky, no spiderlike men swinging through the city on a string of webs.
I wish I was a superhero.
It is all I think about sometimes. I can read the Superman comics for hours, in my room, hunched over my desk, eyes blurring from focusing too intently. I hear my mother calling; “James, James, it’s time for dinner.”
Sometimes I don’t answer. Sometimes I do. I often don’t eat for days; too busy reading, thinking, ‘Until the end of the page, until the end of the chapter, until the end of the book.’
People think I’m weird, you know. I am weird, I’m a freak. I can’t communicate. My mouth becomes dry, my mind goes blank, and my palms become moist. I become nervous.
There’s a figure standing on the edge of the multi-story car park. I narrow my eyes as I gaze up at it, trying to see who it is.
It’s James Tanner. He goes my school, around my age – seventeen, if you’re interested. Not that you are.
Everyone else is just walking past. I glance around – has anybody else noticed? Who would; I don’t know why I noticed myself. I just looked up on instinct.
Is he going to jump? I don’t know what to do. Is he actually standing on the edge? He might just be leaning over the fencing that stops people falling off the edge; he’s probably trying to get some air.
I know, deep down, that I’m trying to make excuses. I know I’m avoiding making a decision.
James, please don’t do anything stupid, I think, and suddenly I’m frightened. Not just scared, but absolutely terrified, the kind of terrified that sends shivers down your spine and gives people nightmares.
I think he’s going to jump.
That girl is staring at me. I glance down, and then close my eyes, feeling dizzy. Her name, her name’s something. Ava. Her name is Ava, I remember. I smile, remembering her in class, in school, as she’d concentrate, as she’d write, and as she’d laugh.
I’ll fly for her. I can show her.
Fight or flight.
I would always flee, always escape from the taunts, the jeers, the bullies who would push and take my glasses, so I couldn’t see anything but blurriness, which would terrify me. As I got older the physical turned to verbal taunts, four-eyes, creep, loser, geek, weirdo. Those jeers hurt the most.
Four-eyes, creep, loser, geek, weirdo.
That’s why I like reading comics. Superman was the weak-willed Clark Kent, the shy man with the glasses. I’m Clark Kent.
Geek, weirdo, creep, weirdo, creep, weirdo, weirdo, weirdo, weirdoweirdoweirdoweirdo, WEIRDOWEIRDOWEIRDO.
I’ll show them.
I can fly. I’ll show them, I’m a superhero, I can be a superhero.
They won’t taunt me for long, they won’t doubt us.
James, James, I can hear them yell. James, James, come down, you can’t fly, and you’re not a superhero.
Yes I am. I’m Clark Kent, I’m Superman.
James, come on, don’t be a weirdo, come down.
Come on, four-eyes, either jump off or get down.
James, don’t jump. You’re not Superman, you can’t survive that.
I close my eyes, breath in and step into the emptiness.
I’m going to fly.