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Thunderstorms, Superheroes, and a Rabbit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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I take another infinitesimal sip of coffee. “Can we panic yet?”

“No,” Stephanie says, then scrambles off to her computer to check if the ticket codes Fandango gave us are going to work. I watch the gathering storm, the harshest I've seen in a year. Perfect.

It's 10:30 p.m. on a Thursday night, and we're waiting for our fellow True Believers, the inseparable Emma and Anja, to come roaring up Stephanie's driveway, or at least pick up their phones and tell us where the heck they are. We're perfectly prepared to leave if they don't show up soon. As haphazard as our plans for this evening have been, we've been waiting to see “The Avengers” for a while now.

“The Avengers”! Has there ever been a film more ordained for greatness? Written and directed by geek icon Joss Whedon and boasting a star-studded cast and a $220 million budget (not that either, I admit, have ever been indicators of quality), it is, at least among my circle of friends, the most anticipated movie of the year. Now we've sacrificed a night's rest and wagered $11 each on the faith that it will live up to the hype.

At last Emma and Anja arrive, their approach masked almost entirely by the rain that's now coming down in torrents. They're well-dressed for the occasion – both wear tie-dyed T-shirts sporting the Avengers logo. Emma has an Iron Man mask flipped up and a drawn-on mustache/goatee combo, and Anja sports the trickster god Loki's distinctive golden horns. Mask aside, they designed everything today, which I guess is as good an excuse for tardiness as any.

We talk in the kitchen while Stephanie dons her Captain America mask and hoodie. Since our high school objects to dangerous-looking prosthetics or anything that covers the face (and, by extension, anything fun), my guise of Agent Coulson – government-issued suit and oversized I.D. badge – was the only one of our costumes on full display at school today. Nonetheless, we are assembled now, and with a cry of “Shotgun, no blitz!” we bum rush Stephanie's VW Rabbit as water droplets bludgeon us. She turns her key twice without success, but the third time proves to be the charm as the powder-blue relic rumbles to life.

All of us recognize more-or-less immediately that we are completely and utterly mad to be on the road – storm aside, the Rabbit's internal illumination consists of one egg-sized light above the driver's seat, and the external lighting is not much better.

Though we would be hard-pressed to ride in a sturdier chariot, we should really be buckled in, keeping all eight of our eyes out for danger, and giving our driver the quiet she needs to concentrate on keeping us alive – of course, we do none of these things.

Anja takes five minutes to figure out her seat belt (more of a lap belt, really) without any of us noticing, then giddily stares out the window like she's never seen lightning before. Emma is on the phone with Alicia, her coworker, trying to convince her to join us at the theater. I'm filming our antics for posterity. Stephanie is trying to avoid toads. And none of us can shut up.

Fortunately, the roads are nearly empty, and our voyage is smooth, though we all agree that if disaster strikes we'll request that the EMTs drive us to the movie first. The only hiccup comes when we're stopped behind another car at a green light and it refuses to budge. Reluctantly, Stephanie hits the horn, the Rabbit issues a noise like an asthmatic death rattle, and we all hurt ourselves laughing.

As the rain abates, we arrive at the theater to find that the parking lot is nearly empty. Alicia hasn't turned up yet, and there's still plenty of time to burn. Unwilling to shell out any cash on overpriced concession stand “food,” we head to Walmart for snacks – but to our astonishment, it's closed. Not a problem. We descend on Wegmans instead, buying a package of Oreos while giving the other late-night shoppers a sight to remember. Stephanie, as is customary, is charged with smuggling the contraband past the ticket-takers. (I don't think I've seen her carry a purse for any other reason.)

We return to the theater to find Alicia waiting in her Thor costume – a helmet, a hammer (both officially licensed), and a red cape. Our ticket codes work flawlessly, and we waste no time heading to Screen 6, pausing only so the girls can sexually harass the cardboard posters of the superheroes.

The crowd, as it turns out, is fairly sparse, since this is neither a 3-D nor IMAX showing. Nevertheless, like us, most of the customers have decided that May could use a little more Halloween spirit. We plant ourselves in one of the middle rows, I snap the night's only group picture (dark and with enough noise to make a professional photographer weep), and the final wait begins.

Despite our boiling anticipation, it's not an especially harsh wait. Alicia, finding the hammer powerless, manages to unscrew its battery case with one of her keys; unfortunately, my camera runs on AAs and the hammer needs triple AAAs. A group of boys from our school arrive, and we wave politely without leaving our seats. (No surprise there.)

The previews begin, and I channel seven years of watching “Mystery Science Theater 3000” into mercilessly riffing them. Finally the lights dim, and the Paramount logo drifts into view. Then those red comic book pages start flipping and the applause begins.

Three hours from now I will unlock the front door of my house, still smiling and bursting with energy. Less than two weeks from now, a woman with a suspended license will slam into the driver's-side door of Stephanie's Rabbit while making too wide a turn at forty miles an hour. Telling this to me the next day without a scratch on her body, Stephanie will claim the car saved her life. A month and a half from now, the four of us will graduate high school and go our separate ways. Everything is temporary. When you're my age it's easy to forget that. Sometimes you have to take a step back and appreciate how lucky you are to be in this place at this time.

Accordingly, we recline our seats and let “The Avengers” blow our minds.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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