Previously in Comic Superhero…
At an end of term party, Andrew became besotted with Emily, seeing her in a different way, a social context, away from the routine of school. Andrew’s conflict and animosity dissipated after seeing Emily in her swimsuit. When she left the party in obvious distress after receiving a message on her phone, Andrew felt compassion more than a desire for revenge and followed Emily to find out what was wrong…
“Are you ok?”
The three words startled Emily. She was initially shocked by the intrusion and doubly so when she saw who it was. Raw emotion streaked down in her tears as she hurriedly rebuilt her defences, putting on her mask of bravado. Balled fists rubbed at her eyes before she flung her hair back over her shoulder.
Andrew felt like he had opened her diary and started reading her innermost thoughts. It was akin to walking in on someone changing clothes. You are embarrassed to walk in on them, but relish the glimpse of flesh. Emily sat there metaphorically naked. Hurriedly she tried to redress.
“I wasn’t crying.”
“I didn’t say you were. I just asked if you were ok. You looked upset.”
Beneath the mask, the super villain was a schoolgirl who was distinctly upset. Even a teenage boy understood tears meant someone was not having the best of days. She stood up to regain some decorum and establish an equal footing with Andrew. Her warning told Andrew exactly where he stood.
“If you tell anyone I was crying I will superglue your testicles to your leg,” Emily threatened.
Holding up his hands in mock surrender, Andrew indicated his agreement.
“I saw you checking your phone and you looked upset when you came running out here. What happened?”
“It couldn’t be nothing if you are out here all by yourself. Not even Catherine or Bianca saw you were upset.”
Emily turned on him, angry at herself that she had been unmasked. A sharp tongue lashed out at Andrew.
“Would you just give it a rest! I said it’s nothing. You have been a pain in the arse since day one and now you’re being a sodding puppy who’s been kicked and is still fawning at his master’s feet.”
Blanching at the onslaught, and his sense of chivalry attacked, Andrew attempted a retaliatory strike.
“You haven’t been much better. All you’ve done since that day in English class is make my life miserable.”
“You deserved it,” Emily shot back.
“Why?” asked Andrew, beginning to stand his ground.
“Because you were an arrogant prat and embarrassed me in class, that’s why.”
Emily hit Andrew with laser guided accuracy. In all of their conflict, he hadn’t seen the clear answer in front of him, part of the reason for her animosity. Jackson had pointed it out a number of times, but now it made sense.
In his head, the conversation wasn’t working out as Andrew had imagined. Not that he had a plan to begin with. His crush on Emily prompted action, not rational thought. Now he was locked in a battle of minds with no obvious exit strategy.
Trickery and deception hadn’t worked in the past. A direct offensive had the same impact. Both ended in humiliating disaster. Brutal honesty was the only tactic left in the playbook. If he was honest with himself, it was his fault. It didn’t change Emily’s past nor totally explain her actions.
Andrew’s mixed feelings prompted his next action.
“Well, I’m sorry for embarrassing you.”
He felt like he was winning a bet, but expected to be paid in Monopoly money.
“Pardon?” Emily eyeballed him, daring him to repeat it yet unsure she wanted to hear what he said.
“I said I’m sorry for embarrassing you in English class,” said Andrew looking at his feet. “It was wrong of me to put you down and make you feel like you did. I didn’t mean for you to look stupid in front of the class.”
Andrew felt like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade, stepping out into the abyss, hoping a bridge would appear beneath his feet.
Solid ground materialised beneath his feet.
Buoyed by Emily’s response, a dangerous concoction of hormones tapped him on the shoulder. Part of Andrew wanted to divulge every little hope and fear of failure to Emily, to find some comfort in the object of his infatuation.
Wounded or not, Emily was not someone to be trifled with without due penalty of retribution. But now it held no fear for Andrew. His humiliation had come in buckets, but here he wasn’t out for revenge, just to help someone out because they were upset.
It felt akin to suicide, but Andrew’s growing desire for Emily made him take a further step of vulnerability. This was on his terms.
“And you were right.”
“About me having no idea what I wanted to do when I left school. The thought of the end of school absolutely scares me. When I finish these exams, all I see is a black hole, not a light at the end of the tunnel that is a job or university.”
“Why are you telling me?”
“I have no idea. I felt sorry that you were upset. I’m not trying to make fun of you or anything. Just concerned, that’s all.”
Laughter echoed up the street from Mike’s house as a young couple excused themselves for ‘some fresh air.’ The boy wrapped his arms around the girl’s waist, tickling her before drawing her towards him in an attempt to kiss the back of her neck. Giggling, she half-heartedly pushed the boy’s hands away before noticing Andrew.
“Oh, hi Andrew,” she said. “Didn’t see you there. Are you out here with someone special?”
“No, no, I was just talking to…” He gestured behind him to indicate Emily. She had vanished like a phantom into the shadows leaving him in the glaring spotlight of the street light.