This is an excerpt from a story I am currently writing. I may publish more of it in the future as it comes along.
Exterior. The mean streets of Los Angeles. Night.So late in the night that even the stars were covered by the sky’s infinite darkness. But that was not stopping Danny from protecting the city (or at least as much of the Los Feliz district and surrounding neighborhoods that she felt comfortable traveling in).
Her all-black bodysuit was like camouflage in the night except for the red cape that blew like satin against the light breeze.
In the mean streets of Los Feliz, Danny was not known by her given name. When she put on the bodysuit, she was Twilight, and every civilian in the city felt safe in their beds when twilight reached.
That’s just the type of city that Danny wanted to protect; a city of civilians whom appreciated a masked hero, but were not overly needy. She strongly disliked neediness.
But where was Nightfall, Los Feliz’s greatest villain? Danny knew he was around here somewhere; she had just got through chasing him on her new rollerblades that contained a bit of the speed of lightning she was struck by on that unfortunate night many moons ago. If it was not for that night, though, Los Feliz would not have its amazing crimefighter and for that, Danny was humbled to have been struck.
A shadow glided smoothly from one streetlight to another.
Danny sensed that her arch nemesis was near. Nightfall’s superpower was the ability of invisible flight.
With a touch of a button on her wristwatch, Danny’s rollerblades descended into her boots and she crept about cautiously.
“You can’t fool me, Nightfall!” Danny said to the wind. A bystander would have believed that Danny was talking to herself, but fortunately the streets were vacant.
From out of the shadows, Nightfall revealed himself steadily. Nightfall was well aware that Twilight was fast and just as strong as a grown man (depending on how in shape the man was, of course).
“Need something, Twilight?” the villain asked as he eased his way toward her. “A booster? A baba? A binkie?”
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, Nightfall,” Twilight remained standing tall. “But words can never hurt me.”
The two faced one another in that small neighborhood street, with its sleeping residents who had no idea that the most powerful people in the city were just outside their window. They would wake up the next day–hopefully safe–and go about their day without a clue of what took place on this night. This was something that Danny took the most pride in.
Nightfall raised his fists and positioned himself into fighting stance. Danny seized this opportunity to change into her rollerblades. A touch of a button and there they were. She was ready.
They darted toward each other. Nightfall gliding, his feet just above the ground, and Danny on her rollerblades.
Just as Danny raised a fist into the air—
“Danny?” A voice called.
She turned around.”Not now!” she said, attempting to resume her fight.
“What do you mean ‘not now?’ Answer the question on the board!”
Suddenly, Danny was no longer fighting crime. She was not wearing her rollerblades containing just a touch of the speed of lightning, and she was not in her black bodysuit either.
Interior. Mr. Isaac’s mathematics class. Day.
So early in the day that lunchtime felt like eons away.
What’s worse, every eyeball in the class was staring right at Danny. She sighed at this. It happened all the time, but that never made it any less embarrassing.
“Danny?” Mr. Isaac had become impatient. Danny recognized that tone all too well.
She stood up and approached the whiteboard. Mr. Isaac handed his marker off to Danny and she set forth on solving the problem.
Danny could not help herself from daydreaming. Mathematics was not particularly that fascinating of a subject. Mr. Isaac seemed to think so as he clapped his hands together excitedly while Danny breezed through the complicated problem. He may get frustrated with her inability to focus but at least she never disappointed.
The small girl had solved the problem without much thought, and faster than the speed of lightning.
The bell rang just as Danny returned the marker to Mr. Isaac. Everyone collected their belongingseagerly.
“Your homework tonight is to read chapter seventeen!” Mr. Isaac turned to Danny. “And for you, perhaps chapter eighteen as well.”
“Mr. Isaac, that isn’t fair!” Danny protested as her fellow classmates shoved past her to get out of class. “I don’t even like math.”
“Well, what do you like?”
“You’re eleven years old. Algebra is a much safer assignment.”
Danny sighed. How she wished she had been struck by lightning than to be cursed with the gift of the unwarranted mathematician.
Pupils were released from Prescott Day School at three o’clock in the afternoon. It took Danny ten minutes to walk down the steep hill that the small school campus rested upon to make the three-block trek to the cottage she called home.
The Dresden House for Girls was an orphanage. Its brick walls had grown rusty and the roof worn down with neglect over the years and the girls often complained of water dripping on their heads while they slept.
The poor maintenance was not in vain. Dresden operated on the little money the organization received to keep the electricity and water on year round. Most of the funds given to Dresden by donation went toward tuition to keep the girls enrolled at Prescott, a school esteemed for bringing up intrinsic go-getters.
When Danny could hear the sounds of the under-fours playing in the fenced front yard well known in the neighborhood for its desolate plant-life, her stomach turned.
Danny disliked being among the older orphans. The oven-tens’ duty was to look out for the younger crowd. Caring for children entailed keeping them alive. It was enough to ask that of any human, much less an eleven-year-old.
As Danny opened the gate, paint chipping against the loose hinges, she quickly dodged past the under-fours. A refusal to make eye contact meant she could not be held liable for a scraped knee or an accidentally-swallowed cricket.
About a year ago Danny asked Miss Rosa, the headmistress of Dresden House, if she could move into the small attic at the top of the cottage. For months Miss Rosa denied her request and every other week Danny would ask yet again. It had turned into a game of tag and when Miss Rosa grew tired of saying no to the small girl, she gave in.
The attic was not by any means extraordinary. It was roughly the size of a walk-in closet and one had to climb up a thin ladder in the garage to enter. Danny liked this because it meant the under-tens would not dare to invade her privacy. The older girls paid little attention to Danny’s new space as they all preferred the security of bunking together.
When Danny moved from her lower-bunk bed in the over-tens room and into the attic, her possessions consisted of a journal, pen and poster of Empathy, her favorite superhero. The attic was dusty and took Miss Rosa an entire day to sanitize before it was deemed safe to occupy.
Miss Rosa was not that memorable of a person. Her plain face with round-rimmed wire glasses was easily forgettable, her long stringy hair was an indescribable shade of brown and her slim figure was not flattered by the flowy skirt and blouse she wore every day.
There are at least two types of people in the world. There are go-getters like the students that attended Prescott. Go-getters have limitless potential and what felt like a magical ability to update their own lives like wardrobe when they feel they had outgrown it.
Then there are settlers. Settlers see their potential as maxed out. They lack the desire to chase dreams (or perhaps find no use in dreaming) and the most recognizable trait of a settler is their acceptance of the life they have been handed.
Miss Rosa was a settler.
And there is nothing wrong with settlers. Absolutely nothing. But the day Danny moved into the attic she discovered that she was a go-getter. Now she had her very own mattress draped in recycled linens purchased with the allowance she earned from sweeping the floors before lights out and her walls were covered with pictures of Empathy, recognizable by her long, dark hair, sapphire-blue bodysuit, and gold boots.
Empathy’s black mask gave her mystery, and her dark eyes were so deep that Danny sensed one could get lost in them.
When Danny looked upon the pictures on the walls she could not help but break into a smile, relieved to not be a settler.
The attic gave her hope that she would not always be just an over-ten occupying a space until she was ordered to relocate to another. Danny could move her life in the direction for which she steered. She had that power. And any sort of power was good enough for her.