“Jane ran through the snow,” said Elizabeth, “her feet pounding on the ground. She glanced over her shoulder, only to see nothing but the darkness closing in on her. She blinked and when she opened her eyes, there stood a ferocious, ghastly, foul-breathed monster. It reached out one clawed hand toward Jane and-"
"Elizabeth! Are you telling a scary story to your little sister again?" Elizabeth's mom, Kelsi, called up the stairs.
"Elizabeth Wright! You're the one that's going to have to deal with her nightmare's if you keep that up!"
"You're joking!” Elizabeth exclaimed.
"Elizabeth," Kelsi warned.
"Uh, okay, so Jane survived and lived happily ever after! The end! Now, why don't you climb into bed you little monkey." Elizabeth laughed as she lightly pushed Ana, her six-year-old sister, toward her bed.
"Really? The monster doesn't hurt Jane?" Ana questioned.
"Doesn't even lay a claw on her. The famous superhero, Forte, saved Jane from the monster," Elizabeth made up on the spot.
"Really? That’s awesome! Can I meet him?" Ana asked, looking up at her older sister.
"Uh, sure! Forte is currently on break, so I'll make sure to tell him you want to meet him when he gets back." Elizabeth said.
"You know who he is? Isn't his identity supposed to be a secret?"
"His identity is a secret! I, uh, know who he is because, um, because I-I'm his partner, Venus!"
"Really! That's so cool! My sister's a superhero!" Ana shouted.
"Shh! You don't want everyone to find out, do you? Remember, it's a secret identity," Elizabeth reminded her, "Now you have to go to sleep if you want to have enough energy to go to the amusement park tomorrow."
Ana jumped on her bed and exclaimed, "I'm never going to go to sleep again!"
Elizabeth closed Ana's door as she quietly walked down the hall.
Kelsi poked her head out of the door, "Is she asleep?"
"Yeah, finally. I didn't think she was ever going to fall asleep."
"Thank you! You're an angel sent down from Heaven," Kelsi exclaimed in a hushed tone.
"Now all I have to do is find a superhero," Elizabeth sighed. "This is going to take a while."
It was hot. So hot that Elizabeth could have sworn that her sunscreen had melted off hours ago. The Wright family was on their annual trip to the amusement park. Ana was having a blast, skipping from one ride to another.
Kelsi tapped Elizabeth's arm, “I'm going to go grab some drinks for us, okay? Keep an eye on Ana for me, will you?"
"Sure, no problem, Mom."
Ana ran up to Elizabeth's side and stared up at her, "Is Forte back from his vacation yet, Lizzie?"
"He sure is. He might actually be around here somewhere."
"Really!" Ana's face brightened, "I'm gonna go look for him right now!"
"What?" Elizabeth said alarmed.
"Bye!" Ana said brightly before taking off. She ran inside a gift shop and ducked underneath a table of souvenirs. She popped out the other side and ran out the door and past Elizabeth.
"Ana! Ana Wright, wait up!" Elizabeth called out as she hurried after her. She weaved in-between the crowds of people, attempting to catch up with Ana.
"Ana! Slow down!” Elizabeth turned around herself trying to spot her sister in the sea of people. She ran her hands through her hair, “This is all my fault. If I hadn’t told her about that stupid superhero, none of this would have happened.”
“Elizabeth?” A voice questioned. Said girl ran her hands under her eyes before glancing up.
“Henry? What are you doing here?” Elizabeth questioned. Henry was a boy that lived a few streets over from her house, but she hadn’t seen him in years.
“Hey! I was just hanging out with some friends, but I got separated from them. How are you? I haven’t seen you in forever!” Henry exclaimed.
“Yeah, I’m doing well, I just can’t find my little sister. She took off and now I can’t find her and I just-” Elizabeth took a deep breath, trying to calm down.
“Don’t worry, Elizabeth, I’m sure you’ll find her. I can help you look, if you want,” Henry offered.
“Are you sure? Don’t you want to get back to your friends?” Elizabeth asked, unsure about asking her old friend for help.
Henry smiled, “I’m sure. Now let’s go find your sister!”
Elizabeth and Henry walked side by side along the row of rides. They had been catching up while look for Ana, their topics of conversation ranging from their least favorite band to their favorite television show.
“Can I ask you a question?” Henry asked. Elizabeth nodded.
“Why did Ana run off? Did something scare her or something?” Henry asked.
Elizabeth sighed, “Not exactly. Last night I had told her a story about a made-up superhero and their partner. Now, she’s obsessed with the story and thinks that the superhero is real. So she ran off to go look for him and now I can’t find him.”
“I’m positive that we’ll find her, but what story did you tell her?”
“It’s one a made up. His superhero name is Forte and I’m supposed to be his crime-fighting partner, Venus, but I didn’t expect her to go on a wild goose chase to try and find him. I just wanted to tell her a story that would give her some hope,” Elizabeth explained.
“So, if she was convinced that she knew the real identity of-” Henry stopped.
“Forte,” Elizabeth reminded him.
“Thank you,” Henry continued, “then she wouldn’t run off trying to find him, right?”
“I guess, but I don’t know anyone willing to spend their free time egging on the imagination of a six-year-old child.”
“Well, look no further,” Henry said.
“What?” Elizabeth laughed, “You want to help me convince Ana that Forte is real? Why?”
“I miss having you as a friend,” Henry admitted, “It would be nice to hang out again.”
“Okay, Henry, or should I say Forte, you just got yourself a partner,” Elizabeth smiled.
Henry and Elizabeth’s conversation had slowly dropped to a comfortable silence before Henry distractedly hit her arm.
“What?” Elizabeth asked.
“Is that her? Ana, I mean,” Henry clarified.
“Where?” Elizabeth asked, excited at the thought of finally finding her sister.
“Under the trees by the carousel,” Henry pointed out.
Elizabeth spotted Ana sitting on a bench in the shade, looking down at her kicking feet.
“Ana!” Elizabeth exclaimed, rushing forward to embrace her younger sister. “Don’t run off like that ever again, you hear me?”
“I’m sorry, Lizzie, but I was just trying to find Forte. I couldn’t find him anywhere! Are you sure he really exists?” Ana asked.
“I’m positive, I actually ran into him while looking for you. Do you want to meet him?” Elizabeth said with a knowing smile.
“Uh-huh,” Ana nodded enthusiastically. Elizabeth waved Henry over toward where Ana sat. “Are you Forte?” Ana asked in a hushed tone.
“You bet,” Henry laughed. “I’m Henry, I save the Earth with your sister, Venus. She’s told me so much about you.”
“Can we take him home, Lizzie? Please?” Ana asked, pleading with her sister.
“Please, Lizzie?” Henry turned to Elizabeth and copied Ana expression.
Elizabeth laughed, “It’s not my decision, ask Mom. Speaking of Mom, where is she?”
Just then, Kelsi popped out of nowhere, holding three bottles of water in her arms.
“There you are! I’ve been looking around for you all day! Where did you go?” Kelsi asked.
“Oh, I just-” Elizabeth was cut off by Henry.
“Sorry, Ms. Wright, that’s all my fault, Ana and I wanted to ride on every ride together,” Henry lied.
“Henry O’Connor? I haven’t seen you in years! How’s your mom doing these days?”
“She’s doing alright. I’ll tell her you said hi if you want?” Henry offered.
“You would? You’re such a sweetheart,” Kelsi said. “Now here,” she handed Elizabeth a water, “let’s leave these two alone.” She grabbed Ana’s hand pulled her toward the merry-go-round.
“But, Mom, I want to stay and talk to Forte!” Ana complained.
“Who?” Kelsi asked.
Elizabeth laughed as she turned to face Henry full-on, “Thanks for helping me find Ana today. You really didn’t have to do that, you know.”
“I know, but it was fun hanging out with you today. We should do this again sometime.”
“Definitely!” Elizabeth agreed. Henry turned around at the sound of his name being called. It was a group of teenage boys waving Henry over.
“Looks like that’s my cue. I’ll see you later, Lizzie, or should I say, Venus,” Henry laughed and leaned down to pulled Elizabeth into a hug. He turned on his heel and jogged back to his group of friends.
Elizabeth laughed, waving at Henry’s retreating figure, “Until we meet again, Forte.”