I’m a burden

Submission for the Superhero Flash Fiction Challenge

It was Friday evening and the sky was the color of BBQ potato chips. Alex knew this even though her eyes were closed. She could feel waves of colors on her skin. Snack foods had consumed her thoughts for the past couple hours as she lay on the bed daydreaming. And yes, chips were on the buffet menu in her mind, plus a hundred other things that a teen dreams about.

Her thoughts were interrupted when Alex sensed the guard’s presence outside the room. The door opened, and a middle-aged man with a typical dad-bod walked in holding a pen in one hand and small notepad in the other. He flipped the notepad open and prepared to write. “So, did you decide what you’d like?”

Alex opened her eyes and smiled, “After all these weeks, you should know what I want! One In-and-Out animal-style burger please! Ever since you told me about them, I can’t stop thinking about eating one.” She laughed at the thought, “How can I be craving a burger that I’ve never had before!”

The guard looked away for a moment and his voice quivered as he responded, “Alex, I’m really sorry. I knew that’s what you’d want. So I already asked the Captain, and he said it can’t be done. You know there are no In-and-Out franchises within a thousand miles of here.”

She could see his legs were trembling as well. And she knew he was feeling guilty about today. But he shouldn’t. He’s just doing his job.

“It’s all good,” she comforted, “I’m just messing with you. It’s like our tradition right? I ask for an In-and-out Burger, and you say no. And I say yes.” Alex sat up and moved her body to one end of the bed. She patted the space next to her and invited him to sit down. “Have a seat, I’m not going to hurt you.”

He hesitated, but then accepted her invitation to sit on the bed.

Alex put her arm around his shoulders. They couldn’t reach all the way across, but that wasn’t the point. It didn’t help his somber mood. So she whispered playfully into his ear, “Hey… I’ve got this awesome idea. I could pop over to In-and-Out myself and be back by dinner?” She punched his sides to see if that would help cheer him up. But, it didn’t.

“You know I’m not supposed to let you do that.”

Alex sighed and looked down; the excitement leaving her voice, “I know.” There was an awkward silence in their banter as neither wanted to be the one to speak next.

Eventually, Alex gathered enough strength to lighten the mood, “So I’m going to go easy on you. Just get a burger from the same place you were eating from last week.  That sounded good. And add a small …. no large fries, and a Diet Coke.”

The guard scribbled down her order.

“Wait!” Alex flapped her hands up and down and motioned for him to stop writing, “Make it a regular Coke.”

Finally. A grin. “Quite the rebel today I see,” he chuckled as he scratched out the word “diet.”

She nodded, “Gotta live like there’s no tomorrow!”

His grin faded away, and Alex felt her insides tear a  little. She had to pay a price, but she could see it was also torture for him. The guard flipped over to the next page in his notepad and paused.

“Something on your mind?” she asked.

He slowly passed the notepad over to her. “Would you … write a message to my daughter? Her name’s Veronica. It would mean a lot to her.”

“Of course. I’d be honored.” Alex took the notebook and proceeded to write a brief letter to Veronica. She ended the note with a huge version of her signature, closed the notebook and handed it back to the guard. “So what’s your name?”

The guard wasn’t expecting this question, “I thought you didn’t want to…”

“Yeah, well. Nevermind what I said before. I think I do want to know your name after all… if that’s ok with you?”

“Of course it is,” he reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a name-tag and attached it to his uniform. He took a slow breath and cleared his throat before replying, “Brian, my name’s Brian.”

Alex presented her hand, and they exchanged greetings, “I’m Alex.”

“And thanks,” he said, “for that note to my daughter. She’ll treasure it for sure.”

Alex winked back, “I told her she’s a lucky little girl with a great dad.”

This made Brian blush a little. He stood up and looked at Alex as if to say something but became lost for more words. After struggling for a moment longer, he shook his head to clear his thoughts, walked slowly towards the door, and put his hand on the door knob.

“Oh, and uh Alex. I’m supposed to ask. Are you sure, there’s nobody you’d like to call?” he asked without turning.

Alex felt more alone than ever in this moment. “No. It’s ok,” she replied, “I don’t feel like talking to people on the outside.”

“I understand. I’ll be back with your food … and … I’m sorry,” Brian mumbled as he left the room and closed to the door.

“No need to be sorry,” she sighed. A small tear formed in the corner of her eye, and she thought to herself, “I’m sure this burger from an unknown place will be just as good as In-and-Out.”

Alex knew why things had to be this way.

It really wasn’t that long ago when she was a hero to everyone.

But then she screwed up. Just once. And she could sense a change in how people looked at her – how they treated her – how they despised her – like a switch was permanently flipped somewhere. And she understood, that was going to leave a mark she could not erase.

Tonight she would have her last meal; a burger, large fries, and regular Coke.

Tomorrow, it would all be over.

~ end ~

Image Source: http://elizabethbennt.deviantart.com/art/Anime-Sad-Pencil-Drawing-372200039

Note: the author has chosen to break the parameters of this flash fiction challenge in order to present you a more robust story.  This is allowed, encouraged even.  Sometimes a great story is just waiting to be unleashed from the constraints of the challenge.  That's what happened here.

Balancer by Patrick WongWhat if you had the power to control Life? But in order to heal you had to harm to maintain balance in the world. Find out what happens to Nicole in The Final Deity Series. Available now at Amazon.

A suburban teen finds herself caught up in a series of inexplicable miracles, until she is forced to confront the startling truth about herself: She has the power to give life or take life from every living thing around her. As Nicole explores the extent of her powers, her activities attract the attention of government agents. The concepts of right and wrong will be blurred in this new urban fantasy novel as Nicole struggles to maintain her innocence in a fight for her life.

BALANCER is also available for download for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Genre: Middle-Grade/Young-Adult, Urban Science Fiction, Coming Of Age