Riptide

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Chapter 26

“Guess what!” Chloe shouted as she bounded down the sidewalk.

“What?”

“You were right! She visited last night!”

I noticed the growing interest in the crowd around us and told her to keep her voice down as she explained. She agreed and told me about the run-in she had with her new favorite superhero. I simply nodded and smiled as she talked. It’s crazy how much a little silence can do. People spent their entire lives trying to get their voices heard that they don’t listen to other voices which try to do the same. It is only once to stop your quest to be heard that you begin to hear for yourself. I heard the longing in Chloe’s voice as she described the powers she had the privilege to witness up close. I learned of her deep need to do something important with her life and how she yearned to know who the wizard was behind her mask of darkness. It was then that, after hearing what Chloe thought of Riptide, that I wanted nothing more than to tell her who I was. I brushed this silly idea away as the bus arrived and I lifted my giant instrument onto the bus with ease and grace.

***

I looked down at the small device, smiling at my creation. In the forty-five minutes I had been in the class, I had created a voice-scrambler. I lifted it up and tested it. “Hello,” I said in a voice completely unknown to me.

I marveled at its beauty. It was a mostly sky blue smooth leather-like material with patches of both white and midnight blue which created an armor-like pattern. There were leggings in the same material without patches of other colors. Large knee-high white and midnight blue boots met the leggings with a sense of modern elegance. There was a midnight blue cape which was tied with strips of white leather and a large cursive “R” hidden inside a raindrop made of a blue metal hid the velcro which kept the ends of the cape together. This is where I sewed the voice-scrambler into the suit for situations much like this one. I wondered how she had seen the drawing Charlie’s friend had made but brushed this aside and jumped into the air. I then flew to the roof Peter had agreed to meet at. He stood at the opposite side of the building and looked up as if I was going to drop from the sky. I landed a few feet behind him and cleared my throat, preparing to do the entire interview in a voice other than my own. I pushed the button.

Peter turned around, his face seeming delightfully surprised. “Sporting a new look, I see.”

I looked down, almost forgetting having worn Chloe’s outfit. “Oh, yes, it was designed and created by an innovative young artist.” He nodded and asked if he could have me answer a few personal questions. I reluctantly agreed, knowing how easily this could go too far.

“When did you first decide to become a superhero?”

I smiled at the memory. “I was lying in bed one night a few days after discovering my powers and then I heard the sound of screaming for help and crackling fire,” I said. “I had just heard this lovely speech about what it meant to be a superhero and suddenly, I just jumped out of bed and found myself running in the direction of the fire.”

He nodded and wrote notes as I spoke. “But you can fly, can’t you? So why would you need to run?” I was surprised he had caught this detail but shook it off quickly, explaining that I didn’t know all of my powers and that even now, I still probably had at least one other ability locked away that I didn’t know about. He wrote this down and looked up at me as if conflicted on whether I was a good person or not. “My friend Oliv is one of the best people in the world, why don’t you like her?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer this. I thought for a long time before shrugging. “I don’t know. Some people just rub you the wrong way I guess.” He nodded, slightly annoyed by my answer. “What do you like about her?” I asked. I knew it wasn’t the most honest thing to do but I couldn’t help it.

He smiled brightly. “I don’t know. She’s just… she’s smart and funny and beautiful, and has the best smile and sense of humor,” he said cheerfully. “She’s not like anyone else. You can tell she’s special by just looking at her,” he finished. I was about to say something more when he shook his head and brought his face back to its original stage of forced darkness. “But we’re not here to talk about me, we’re here to talk about you.” I sighed and allowed him to continue asking questions. “Has there been a time where you thought about giving up?”

“Not especially. I mean being a superhero is… extremely difficult, especially because I don’t have anyone to share my troubles with.”

“So no one knows who you are?”

“Nope.”

“Have you met any other superheroes?”

“Not yet.”

“Who’s your favorite superhero?”

“Iron-Man,” I said, thinking of the places I’d seen him. Movies, the news, but never in real life.

He nodded. “Do you try to act like him?”

I chuckled. “The thought never even crossed my mind.”

He laughed. “Do you remember the people you save?”

“Every single one of them.”

“Do you ever wish you could tell the people you love who you are?”

“Every day.”

“Why don’t you?”

“For their protection,” I lied.

“Can you tell me?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because then I would be forced to throw you off this building,” I joked. I could see the fear in his eyes as I told him I was merely kidding. “It’s actually because there are people who would give anything for this kind of power but would use it to harm the world and should they discover my secret identity, they would be one step closer to finding the secret to my abilities,” I lied again.

“Do you know where your abilities came from?”

“I have an educated guess.”

“Can you tell me?”

“No.”

“Why?”

I sighed and jumped into the air, tired of seeing the look of disappointment on Peter’s face as I told him again and again that I couldn’t give him some of the information he needed.

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