Saying that it was a miracle I was alive is kind of an understatement. That I only got a concussion and some bruises from the ceiling falling in on me was well nigh unheard of.
I sat on my bed, watching the fire I held in my palm. It kind of tickled. I closed my eyes against a pounding headache. These headaches had been happening ever since I’d woken up in the hospital. I figured they had something to do with my concussion. The headache faded after a few minutes.
Someone knocked on my door. “Come in,” I said, hoping it wasn’t my parents.
Robbie walked in, looking about as sheepish and nervous as an 18-year-old boy can look. He sat down on the edge of my bed. “I had no idea the building was gonna fall on you,” he said.
I ignored him. Mainly because my head was hurting again.
“I only used my powers to figure out how to get you to use yours,” he said. “I don’t even know why the building was burning.” He nodded at the fire in my hand. “It worked.”
“And what exactly are we going to tell our parents?” I asked, letting the fire in my hand burn out. “The only reason they didn’t ask me anything was because the doctors told me to rest.”
“And they already gave me the third degree,” Robbie said, grinning a little at his pun.
It would have been funnier if my head didn’t hurt. “What did you tell them, anyway?”
“I didn’t really say anything. I just sat there and looked mulish.”
Wonderful. “You realize there is no context in which this looks good, right?”
“I had thought of that, yes,” he said. “But what was I supposed to say? ‘Oh, sorry Mom, I forgot to mention, Kerry accidentally wished us all super powers, but she was too afraid to use hers even though they’re completely epic, and I couldn’t let that tragedy continue, so I sent her into a burning building so she wouldn’t be able to resist using them. I did that because I knew that that situation would be the only one that would successfully get her to use her powers because I can see how things will turn out if things happen a certain way. Only I didn’t realize the building would fall on her. And Angie can shape-shift. So nothing’s wrong, we’re fine, don’t worry about us.'”
“Well, you could say something that doesn’t sound completely mental.”
“In what universe does any version of the truth not sound completely mental?”
I thought for a moment. “Probably the Avengers’. DC superheroes usually get powers from some kind of wide-spread chemical explosion in which everyone who is affected is bad.”
“I’m pretty sure that that only happened twice. Besides, are you sure we’re the only ones?” Robbie asked.
“How should I know? We don’t even know if it had anything to do with that penny and the puddle!”
I started another fire in my hands and stared at it moodily. My head still hurt. And it kind of felt like I had heartburn. Or whatever heartburn is supposed to feel like.
“The question still stands, though,” I said slowly. “What are we going to tell our parents?”
Robbie looked uncomfortable.
“We’re not gonna lie to them,” I said. “But can we really tell them the truth? Or is this going to be one of those cases where the superhero goes whole seasons not telling the one person he should tell and telling all the people he shouldn’t?”
“Or takes too long deciding if he should tell the one person he wants to tell and the other person finds out on accident and gets really mad at him?” Robbie added.
“Or the one loved one who doesn’t know only finds out when he’s captured and his life is in danger and the superhero must reveal himself in order to save the loved one?”
I waited for a moment for Robbie to add another trope that we may have missed.
“Right,” I said. “If we’re not going to tell them, we need an undeniable reason why we shouldn’t, besides ‘superheroes never tell their parents-‘”
“That’s because superheroes never have any parents,” Robbie pointed out.
“That is part of the problem, after all,” I said. “If we are going to tell them, what are we going to say? And if we aren’t going to tell them, what are we going to say?”
“What exactly qualifies as an ‘undeniable reason’?”
“They might die if they know?” I suggested, rubbing my forehead.
“But does that really count as a reason? What if they’d rather know despite the risks to themselves? Wouldn’t we be presuming too much if we don’t tell them, even if it’s to keep them safe?”
“It’s not a question of whether they’d rather know; that’s only a question if we actually tell them. The question is, do we tell them? And if we don’t, why not?”
“You’re saying how they would feel about us keeping this a secret doesn’t matter?”
“No,” I said. “I’m saying their safety is worth more than how angry they’d be at us for keeping something from them. Besides, it’s not their choice that we tell them. It’s ours. How much they care about us doesn’t obligate us to tell them everything about us.”
“But we can’t know they would be in danger if they knew!” Robbie said.
I smacked his arm. “Yes, we can.”
He looked confused. “How-? Oh. Me. Of course!” He closed his eyes and his brow furrowed. I kept rubbing my forehead. I felt like I’d swallowed one of those fireball candies.
Robbie gasped, and I noticed that his face had gone pale. “What did you see?” I asked.
“We’re not telling them,” he said quietly.
“Ok. Are you going to tell me why?”
He shook his head mutely. “That bad, huh?” He nodded.
The pain finally started fading away. I watched the color returning to his face. Something about the worried way he refused to look at me told me that whatever he’d seen had something to do with me. It may have been a twin thing, or the fact that whenever he didn’t want me to know about the latest accident I had somehow caused, he never looked me in the eyes. I tried not to let my imagination jump into overdrive. Either I would somehow be responsible for the deaths of everyone in my family, or telling our parents would somehow result in my horrible demise. I knew he would never tell me which. I decided to change the subject.
“Did you see Angie today?” I asked.
“No, different tracks, remember? She’s got all of her advanced English classes and I have all my advanced science classes and remedial English classes. No overlap.”
“Our English is not remedial. It’s just average,” I said. “I hope she doesn’t do anything rash. She still has no idea what actually happened.”