They say everyone loves a hero; boy, they weren’t kidding. Talk of Glimmer Girl was everywhere! On TV, on blogs, and especially at school, everyone was chattering non-stop about the hot new cape that had come to our town.
It was weird to think that they were all talking about me. I’d even heard some of the guys on Adrian’s basketball team saying how much they’d “love to bang her.” Can you imagine what they would say if they knew the object of their misdirected desire was the same “queer thing in senior class” that their teammate had been beating on?
Even the girls were getting in on it. I’d heard one of the school captains say that Glimmer Girl was a “feminist youth icon of the twenty-first century.” Tanya had even heard of one girl crossing her fingers chanting “please-be-a-lesbian, please-be-a-lesbian… or at least bi.”
All this after just two weeks of flying around, literally pulling kittens out of trees, helping the elderly cross the street; oh, and the one time I actually did chase down a purse snatcher on the street! Funny, but being a superhero was just like being a girl scout, only with a cooler uniform. I never would have imagined it to be this easy.
Suddenly being a guy at school didn’t seem so bad, either. Out there in the world was the presence of the real me; for that I could easily stand a few hours of pretend. There were even randoms in the hall telling me about this new confidence I had, and I owed it all to being Glimmer Girl.
Everything was looking up.
Tanya leaned beside my locker and frowned. “Adrian’s back,” she said.
“So,” she huffed, “the last time you saw him you killed his car. If he hated you before…”
I smiled and collected my books. “Adrian’s not going to do anything. You know why? Because if he does I can blow a hole in the roof and bring it crashing down.”
Tanya winced and started to walk in front of me on the way to class. “You sure that’s a good idea? I mean not just about using your powers, but joking about it.”
She grabbed my arm and leaned in to whisper. “KC, it’s great that you’ve gotten into your groove, but that doesn’t mean you can be careless. Geez, lady; stop making it so hard to cover your ass!”
I seethed. “You know the last time I saw him he tried to run me down, right?”
“Yeah, I know, but…”
“And I’m not saying I’m going to go out of my way to do anything rash,” I continued, “but should something happen to him; you know, hypothetically… I’m just saying I’m not going to feel all that bad about it. Okay?”
Tanya stopped and scanned my expression. Of all people she knew how to tell when I was lying; you’d think by now she’d get that I’d never lied to her. Maybe reading how I felt about that was what made her suddenly back off.
“Okay,” she shrugged. Good, the point was dropped…
…until he came along.
As he appeared at the other end of the hall I caught Adrian’s eye. The gap between us closed as a bridge of hatred stretched across the expanse. His scowled sat fixed as he pointed pinkie finger and index finger to his eyes, then turned them back in my direction. Oh yeah, he had an axe to grind.
He wasn’t the only one.
“Kaira,” Tanya said like an owner to a dog. “Leave it. It’s not worth it.”
My lower lip itched between my bite. “You really expect me to leave that alone?” I hissed. “He just got off suspension and already he’s starting the same $#@& again.”
“Usually I’d be all for going over, putting him in his place and giving him a verbal butt-kicking,” Tanya argued, “but he’s skating on thin ice right now, so he’s all talk. Meanwhile, you’ve got a moral duty to be the better person. Isn’t that like superhero code or something?”
“I am the better person,” I told her, already storming down the hall, “but that doesn’t mean I have to stand here and take it.”
Adrian stared down as I marched up. Can you believe it? He was surprised that I was taking a stand; maybe I was too, but the head rush wasn’t going to let me back down. The more I judged his smirk the more I felt… justified.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I pressed and mirrored his actions. “That eye thing. What’s that supposed to mean, huh? That you’ve got your eye on me? That you’re, what, waiting for your next chance? You think I don’t know that you’re on some kind of probation and that you’re one word away from missing another basketball game?”
People were staring; I didn’t care. My focus was square on him; his rolling eyes, his dismissive sneer, and a scoff that smelled like rancid meat.
“What’re you going to do?” he jeered. “Is the little sissy gonna play slapsies ‘til I cry?”
Somewhere I could hear a voice calling out to stop me, but it was blinded by the red. He just wasn’t going to learn, was he? Not unless someone, namely me, drew him a clear picture. Before I even knew it my hands thrust forward, pressed against his chest and shoved him as he had me a million times before.
Before the shock could set in he pushed back; I recouped my balance and stood firm. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins, and now that I’d had a taste of fight over flight I was hungry to get to the meat of it.
“Gentlemen,” a voice cut in.
My blood ran cold and I stepped back, unable to meet Mr. Drew’s eyes as he filled the void between me and Adrian. His gaze projected judgment on us both, though I knew it was falling more on my side.
“You saw. He started it,” Adrian protested.
“What I see,” the teacher pointed, “are two young men with a volatile history who are skating dangerously close to detention, or worse. Are we understood?”
Both Adrian and I nodded.
“You have classes to get to,” he added. “Mr. Cade, I’d like a word with you before you go.”
Adrian turned away and walked with purpose to wherever he had to go, leaving Mr. Drew and I to stand amidst the slow trickle of students who were on the cusp of being caught by the second bell. All that time he stared with the weight of expectation.
“Now, I know you’ve been going through some… changes, lately,” he began.
He nodded. “I may not understand completely, but we can’t deny that this is a serious business. This is why we have to pick our fights, Mr. Cade. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
The weight he carried landed in the middle of my chest. “This isn’t just about my being transgender, is it,” I asked, though it wasn’t at all a question.
Mr. Drew furrowed his brow and turned away. “I’m not at all sure what you’re referring to,” he added. “Just be careful. The world isn’t a safe place, for anyone, no matter how big they are. Get to class.”
I did as instructed, but was left hollow in his wake. Did Mr. Drew know something I didn’t?
To be continued…