[Fiction] Friday Challenge #155 for May 14th, 2010
“I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.”
Andrew swept up the pile of comic books from his desk and stashed them into his folder with his homework. He had a couple to return to his mate Jackson and hoped to borrow some in return. His schoolbag packed he headed out the door for the walk to school.
Jackson’s route intersected with Andrew’s at the corner store. He was walking out with a carton of strawberry milk and raised it in greeting.
“Finished your Modern History homework?” said Andrew.
“Yeah and the Biology stuff, too.”
“Bugger. Forgot that. Mr Perkins won’t be happy. When’s Bio?”
“Just after lunch. You’ll have time to finish it then.”
The pair continued the walk to school chatting about their comic superheroes. Jackson favoured Superman while Andrew liked The Phantom.
“But how can The Phantom be a superhero when he doesn’t have a superpower?” argued Jackson.
“It’s not the ability that makes someone a superhero, but the attitude. That makes The Phantom a superhero. He’s just classy.”
Andrew longed for a superpower. All his childhood comic book heroes were bestowed with them. Jackson wanted Magneto’s ability to control metal.
Jackson rambled on as they walked, “Could you imagine having Magneto’s power? How awesome would that be in Metal work!”
Above all laser beams, the power of flight and physical strength Andrew craved one thing. The power of invisibility. It wasn’t like the Invisibility Cloak of Harry Potter, but an ability to be seen and not to be noticed. He had learned the art of being a chameleon at school. The uniform provided an exoskeleton. Beneath was no costume, just the fragile skin of adolescent ego.
“At least I don’t wear my underpants on the outside,” said Andrew.
“Yeah, but you’d look good in spandex,” said Jackson and they both fell about laughing.
“What’s up first this morning?” said Andrew.
“English. Which means we are going to get our essays back.”
Jackson groaned and faced the sky, knowing the inevitable outcome.
“At least you’re going to get a good mark.”
“Maybe, but I still have to beat Emily Lewis.”
“You two have had a thing going on since Year 7.”
“She’s a know it all. She always smirks if she beats me and it is so infuriating.”
“Just be careful you don’t do the same. If you make her look stupid she’ll unmask The Quiet Achiever.”
“Give it a rest. We’d better hurry.”
Jackson and Andrew took their seats on the left of the classroom, just back from the middle. It gave them a good vantage point to see Emily. Mrs Motherwell came in and the class sat up in Pavlovian response, eager for their marks. The chat escalated as papers were returned and marks were compared. Andrew said thanks as the paper was delivered but he turned it face down, resisting the urge to look. He wanted to wait until Emily had received hers.
Mrs Motherwell handed Emily her paper and she quickly turned it down. She snuck a glance at the offending red mark at the top of the page.
“Emily, what’d you get?” said Andrew.
“Seventeen out of twenty,” she replied.
Every superhero has an Achilles heel, their kryptonite. Andrew succumbed to the most basic of tragic flaws.
“Ha! In your face, Lewis. Twenty!” His hubris exalted Andrew to dizzying heights.
Emily turned to hide her face, the shame of ridicule blushing her cheeks.
“Mr Andrew Hansen. That is uncalled for,” said Mrs Motherwell.
Jackson hid a smirk. “You got burned.”
“I knew it was a mistake once I’d said it.”
“Looks like The Quiet Achiever is no more. But you know, every superhero needs a nemesis.”