Previously in Comic Superhero…
Emily left the end of term party in distress after checking her phone. Andrew followed her outside to find her crying. In defence, Emily blamed Andrew for embarrassing her in class. In sympathy at her distress, Andrew apologised and admitted that Emily was right about his lack of ambition and direction when school ended. Their conversation was interrupted, leaving Andrew alone under the streetlight…
Andrew spun around like a dervish while the young couple laughed. He scratched his head with both hands and scurried back to find Jackson. On his way to rejoining the others he kept scanning the shadows for Emily.
Thumping Jackson on the shoulder, Andrew indicated he should follow.
“Where you been?” asked Jackson.
“I think I’ve done something stupid.”
“How stupid? Are we talking viral YouTube stupid, or just regular stupid?”
Andrew replayed the highlights reel of his conversation with Emily, heavily edited for discretionary reasons.
“What’cha do that for, you berk?” asked Jackson.
“I don’t know,” said Andrew lamenting his behaviour. “She was upset. And what she said about what I did to her in class made some sense. It explains her behaviour.”
“But why did you apologise?” asked Jackson.
“I don’t know. An apology seemed the best thing to do.”
Jackson shook his head. “You confront your mortal enemy, where you could lay the final blow and end this conflict. But you end up apologising. Nothing good can come of this.” A moment later joined he dots. “You’ve really got the hots for her, haven’t you?”
In his mind, a judge’s gavel sounded and the jurors’ verdict proclaimed, “Guilty.” An admission or denial of the facts as presented meant the same conclusion.
“I don’t know,” was the best Andrew could utter. Someone had scratched the record; the needle jumping to the same point.
“Maybe your honesty is the weapon that will finally defeat her,” said Jackson. “You can’t beat her at her own game, so your tactics might work.”
Looking at his phone to get the time, Andrew declared it was time to go. “Come on, let’s bail before I do anything else stupid.”
In the darkness of his bedroom Andrew mentally hit the rewind button and played back the evening. He was at peace with his confession to Emily, figuring it was easier to come clean. Trying to work out a way what was wrong or how to defeat her was wasted time.
He couldn’t care less about what Emily did to him now. She had humiliated him enough, so whatever she had planned really didn’t bother him. What he did remember was how she looked in her swimsuit.
In the days after the party Andrew bunkered down into his books, studying and revising for the final exams. There was enough paper scattered across Andrew’s desk to stock a stationer’s, each labelled with a different subject. A rainbow of highlighters decorated each important date, fact and formula. There was the odd question mark dotted about the pages.
A variety of technological devices occupied the remaining space on the desk, proving multi-tasking and short attention spans are keen bedfellows. In the corner of his eye, his facebook news stream clicked over intermittently. A news post featuring photos of the weekend’s party entered the stream.
Putting his pen down, he flicked through the photo album of the night seeing an array of wacky faces, secret snogging and too many hairy full moons from the guys in the pool. He laughed at the photos, glad to not see too much of himself. Clicking “Next” a photo of Emily and Bianca filled the screen. Emily was holding a can of soft drink as her dark hair fell over her shoulder and her pendant reflected the flash of the camera. She was in her jeans and t-shirt so it was before she went in the pool. Her smile caught Andrew’s eye. There was no hint of the sadness Andrew saw later.
Study and thoughts of exams abandoned, Andrew spent the next hour trawling through profiles and links to find photos of Emily at the party. He paused at each photo, savouring her image. One in particular caught his attention. Emily was standing in the shallow end of the pool, her hair a dark waterfall over the rise and fall of her chest. In the photo she was looking away from the camera, staring off, focused on something else.
Conflict boiled in his stomach.
“I am in deep smit.”
The girl on the screen was a beautiful dichotomy. In Andrew’s mind she was articulate, witty, smart, brilliant. She was also the architect of his misery and suffering. He recalled the sad, upset girl he saw under the streetlight and couldn’t reconcile the two images. Such pain had a cause.
Maybe Jackson was right, he thought. Every villain reveals their weakness and implodes with the pressure.
Typing Emily’s name brought up her profile. He was about to click on her ‘photo’ tab when he noticed her birthday. It was the Monday following Mike’s end of term party.
In his smit-addled brain Andrew shuffled memories and ideas like pieces of a puzzle, hoping to make sense of all the new information.
“I’ve just had an apostrophe,” he said.
“I think you mean an epiphany, Smee,” his brain countered.
Eager to share the revelation, Andrew tapped out a text to Jackson. “It was Emily’s birthday on Monday. That MUST be the reason why she was upset at the party.” Dropping the phone back on the desk he went back to the pictures of Emily.
A message notification pinged on Andrew’s phone. He expected to see Jackson’s name. Instead, an unknown number lit up the screen.
The message was short and straightforward.
“Meet me at the coffee shop near the comic book store. Friday 9 am. Come alone. You cannot tell ANYONE. Emily.”