Smiley Face Grace, Superhero

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic
The first day at a new school is never easy. It's even worse when it's a school for superheroes. It's especially bad when your super power is not all that...well..super. But as Grace finds out, what makes a superhero and what doesn't can be a bit surprising.

Submitted: November 16, 2011

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Submitted: November 16, 2011

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The first day at a new school is never easy. It’s even worse when it’s a school for superheroes.

Sure, we’ve all seen superheroes on TV and in the movies, and they’re always right there, just at the nick of time, to save the day. They may get into a scrape now and again, but they always win. There’s never any doubt about it. They’re strong and cool under pressure, smiling and nice; they rarely seem to have an off day. They don’t tend to get in a bad mood, or have to run around their house looking for their cape and leotards the way you or me might have to look for our car keys. And they always do the right thing. By definition, if they don’t do the right thing, they’re not a superhero. Instead they are a villain.

The other thing you may have noticed about superheroes is that they are usually always adults. Oh sure, like any rule you can point to an exception or two, and of course, there’s always a backstory for their childhood like the toxic chemicals, the radioactive insect bites, the scientific experiments, or any number of other unpleasant things that spawned their superhero-ness, but the truth is most superheroes are not that different from you and me. They have moms and dads (of course most are super moms and dads), but at the end of the day, they are just moms and dads. These little superheroes grow up, they go to school, they make mistakes, they’re sometimes good, and they’re sometimes naughty. Just like everybody else.

On her first day at Pallas Miracula’s Academy for Exceptional Boys and Girls, Grace’s mom and dad dropped her off. At first blush there was nothing all that different about Pallas Miracula’s compared to other private schools, except of course the absurd number of syllables in its name – the spelling of which, Grace was certain, was the true test of a superhero. They went to the office and met with the administrator herself. Grace thought she must surely be Pallas, but Pallas apparently left the bureaucratic details to others like her own mom and dad – that is people who were neither super nor heroes. Clearly, Pallas had more important, death-defying and planet-saving tasks to perform. So instead of meeting the world-famous Pallas, they met the Ms. Margery Bunns (or “Big Bunns” as the children often snickered behind her back), a woman whose tremendous girth and proportion was dwarfed only by her spectacular grouchiness.

A stickler for details, Ms. Bunns had Grace’s mom and dad filling out paper after paper after paper in duplicate, triplicate, and even sometimes octuplicate until Grace was sure she would die of boredom before so much as learning how to leap a small building, let alone a tall one. She sat in her chair. She kicked her feet. She fidgeted. She asked “why?” no less than four hundred and thirty two times until her mom politely suggested that Grace wait in the hall.

On her way there, she passed a desk. Amongst the knick knacks, bric-a-brac, and general clutter, she spied a candy dish. Now, the woman behind the desk was almost a clone of Ms. Margery Bunns, and the look on her face was enough to frighten most adults to say nothing of their children. But Grace was a superhero after all, so she asked for a piece of candy anyway.

“Not without your parent’s permission,” the old woman barked.

Uncowed, Grace asked again.

“I said no. Now scram!”

This of course did nothing more than harden Grace’s resolve to get that delectable sweet she wanted so badly. Her parents had told her never to use her super powers for personal advantage; that they were meant to help others. But Grace couldn’t see how this one, little time would make any difference. So she smiled, looked the nasty old woman in the eyes, blinked, and said, “Please, oh puh-lease, can I have a piece of candy?”

The woman looked at Grace and prepared to let out a roar like an angry and bitter old dragon, but when she saw Grace, her grouchiness evaporated and her sour frown winked up at the corners of her mouth into the most pleasant smile you could imagine.

“Ho, ho, ho! Aren’t you cute?” she said. “Of course you can dear. In fact, have two.”

“Thank you.” said Grace, picking the choicest pieces.

***

The formalities complete, Grace’s mom and dad collected their little superhero in training and escorted her to her new classroom, and her very first day as a proud member of the illustrious Pallas Miracula’s Academy for Exceptional Boys and Girls. This wasn’t the first time Grace had started at a new school, so as her mom and dad squinted at the campus map, craned their heads, and argued about the classroom’s location, Grace went along with increasing trepidation and angst. She was a superhero of course, so she tried hard to be brave; she tried to be courageous; she was determined not to cry. She reached up and took her mom’s hand.

As her dad pushed open the door to classroom number two, Grace expected the normal chaos of early morning at school with children everywhere, some playing games, others saying goodbye to their moms and dads, and the little boys tearing around in cowboy hats and stained tee shirts chasing one another – all of it done at decibel levels that would be illegal anywhere else. But despite her copious amounts of experience with first days, even Grace was unprepared.

Stepping into the room, they were almost hit by a little boy flying through the air and being chased by another little boy who ran after him at a speed that truly was like a speeding bullet, his little legs moving so fast, they were nothing more than a blur – like the blades of a fan. Another boy shot fire from the palms of his hands and was threatening to singe his friend, who simply laughed at him, and shot a cannon of water from his mouth, extinguishing fire boy and soaking a stack of books.

In the center of the room, a plump young woman was looking up and pleading with a little girl dressed in a frilly pink tutu to come back down. She was dancing ballet with swooping pirouettes upside down on the classroom’s ceiling.

There were other parents there too. Most were dressed in their extra clothes and looked like ordinary office workers, simultaneously sending text messages from their cell phones as they hurriedly dropped off their little ones and scurried off to work. However, at least one parent was dressed in his superhero costume. The man had on a bright red leotard and tights covering him from head to toe. On his feet were shiny black patent leather boots and his back was shielded by a long yellow cape. His son was dressed in the exact same outfit, just smaller.

“But daddy, I want you to stay!” He cried, tugging on his dad’s cape.

“I know you do, but daddy needs to get going. I’m late for work already.” The man in red tights replied, looking nervous, and trying to peel his son’s fingers away from the cape. “I need to get going. There’s a robbery over at the art museum, and if I don’t get there soon, the bad guys will get away.”

“But daddy, pleeeeease.” The little superhero pleaded with him again, bawling. His dad sighed in desperation, furtively glancing at the door, and looking decidedly ridiculous: a superhero that could stop fearsome bandits from robbing an art museum, but himself stopped dead in his tracks by a little boy.

The plump lady who had been trying to talk the little girl down off the ceiling finally noticed Grace and her family standing in the doorway and came over to introduce herself.

“Hi, I’m Miss Alejandra, the teacher. You can call me Miss Ally though, or Splice Girl – that’s my superhero name.”

Grace wondered why she was called Splice Girl, but didn’t have to wonder about it for very long. The little running boy had caught the flying boy so now the two of them were jetting through the room, the runner screaming to be let go. Fire boy had rekindled his flame and was playing fireman with water boy by setting a dollhouse alight while the water boy put it out again. The girl on the ceiling had tripped over a light fixture, fallen upwards, scraped her knee, and sat in a bundle of pink taffeta on the ceiling, bawling. And the superhero in the red suit was still desperately trying to persuade his son to let him get to work.

“Excuse me for just a moment, would you?” Miss Ally squeaked.

And then they saw why she was called Splice Girl, and why she was most particularly suited to teach a classroom full of unruly little superheroes. Where there had been a single plump young lady before, there were now three skinny ones; she had divided herself into thirds. One splice girl snatched the flying boy from the air, scolding him and reminding him that flying was “Not allowed inside – only on the playground.” He would just have to wait until recess to fly some more. Another Splice Girl took a fire extinguisher from the wall and sprayed the doll house, reducing it to smoldering ruins. Finally, the third Splice Girl gently pulled the girl down off the ceiling, gave her a hug, and promised to put a bandage on her knee.

Grace, in her bravest superhero fashion, went over to the little boy still tugging on his dad’s cape and introduced herself.

“Hi, I’m Grace.” she said. “What’s your name?”

“Well, my extra name is Jonathon.” He sniffed, wiping the tears from his eyes. “My superhero name is ‘The Boy Superb’ though. Kinda’ lame I know, but my dad’s name is The Great Superb-o, so I guess I get to be The Boy Superb at least until I get bigger. Maybe then I’ll be ‘The Even Greater Superb-o’!”

Jonathon turned and realized that his dad had used Grace’s distraction as an opportunity to leave, flying off to work, fight crime, and save the world – at least until five o’clock when he would come back to pick up little Jonathon, The Boy Superb. Jonathon started crying all over again.

Grace took this as a prime opportunity to show off her own super powers, this time to help someone else, and gave Jonathon the biggest, most toothy grin she could muster. Instantly he stopped crying and felt better. And so did Grace.

“Grace! Come meet Miss Ally!” Grace’s mom called.

“Gotta go!” she said to Jonathon and went back to where her mom and dad waited for her.

By then, Splice Girl had returned to being Miss Ally, braiding her three skinny selves back into one plump one.

Miss Ally Splice Girl explained the curriculum and how Grace would be learning reading, writing, math, science, music, and art – all at an accelerated pace she assured them. She would also get normal PE as and specialized PE classes to help her develop her super powers, study the history of famous superheroes (“Most of them beautifully illustrated in comic books” Miss Ally said with glee), and attend superhero workshops. She handed Grace’s mom and dad a calendar with the workshops listed on it. They included: “Dealing with Stress – An Experiential Approach to Coping with Do or Die Situations”, “Choosing the Right Disguise and Fitting into the World of Extras”, and finally “First Grade Community Service Project”.

Grace’s mom and dad thanked Miss Ally for all of the information before Miss Ally was distracted by the water boy, who was demonstrating his ability to breathe underwater by sticking his head in the classroom’s fish tank (water boy’s real name was Gil – he was the only superhero that had the same superhero name as his extra name). Unfortunately, one of the other little girls who had the ability to freeze just about anything with the touch of her finger decided to play a joke on Gil by freezing the fish tank solid. His head was stuck in a rectangular block of ice, along with the classroom’s goldfish, Dottie. The children just laughed as he flung himself around, trying to pull the block of ice off of his head.

“Oh dear!” Miss Ally exclaimed. “Please excuse me; I need to get the class started before this gets out of hand.” As she rushed over to help, she called over her shoulder, “Pleased to meet you, and don’t forget to fill out the form and let me know if Grace has any dietary restrictions that would render her super-powers useless. Thanks! Too-da-loo!”

Grace knew what was coming next. She poked out her lower lip, looked at the floor, and toed the carpet with her ladybug boots.

“Well hon, your mom and I need to go to work now.” Grace’s dad said while trying to give her a hug.

All of Grace’s courage disappeared. “But I want to come with you!” she said, giving her dad a smile, but not her superhero smile; she was saving that.

“I know hon, and I’d like for you to come with me, but I have to get to work.” Her dad said.

“Are you going to go stop bad guys like Jonathon’s dad?” Grace asked.

Her dad chuckled. “No I’m going to a meeting, and so is your mom. Well, not the same meeting. But we’re both going to meetings.”

“All day?” Grace asked.

“Yep, pretty much all day.” He made a face like a bird had just pooped on his shoulder.

Grace didn’t really know what it meant to go to a meeting. It seemed like her parents were always going to them though, so they must be important and exciting. She decided that when she was bigger, she would spend all of her days in meetings too.

Grace’s mom and dad said their goodbyes, gave Grace a hug and a kiss, and left for work.

Miss Ally had called the class to order, so Grace found her seat and sat down, where she learned to read and do her numbers. For the history lesson, Miss Ally read the class a comic book with one of the old superheroes in it.

At recess, Grace was lonesome until Jonathon came over to play with her. They pretended to be grownups. Jonathon wanted to play superhero and save a city from a giant sea monster. Grace, on the other hand, wanted to have a pretend meeting. In the end they compromised and pretended to have a superhero meeting that was attacked by a sea monster. Pretty soon, Grace had forgotten all about missing her parents, and was having a lot of fun with her new friend.

“Look at the Boy Superb and his new little girl friend. More like The Boy Disturbed”, came a snotty little voice behind them. Grace turned to see the fire boy, who she learned was called The Spark for his superhero name. The boy she had seen running through the classroom was with him. He laughed at The Spark’s little joke.

“Heh, heh. Yeah, Disturbed. That’s funny.” He said.

Spark turned to Grace. “I saw your mom and dad when they dropped you off. They looked like extras. My dad can fly and light just about anything on fire. What are your parent’s super powers?”

“They don’t have any super powers.” Grace admitted. “They’re just my mom and dad.”

The Spark and his friend laughed at her. “Extras! Hah, hah, hah, hah, hah! Your parents are extras! They aren’t even superheroes. How did you get in here anyway? You don’t belong here. Hey, you’re probably an extra too.”

Grace was confused. She didn’t know what her mom and dad had to do with anything, and why it would make a difference about whether or not she should be in school. And she had no idea what an extra was, but it made Grace feel bad the way he said it.

“So, what’s your superpower Grace?” he asked. “And do you even have a superhero name, or just an extra name?”

“I can smile. It makes people feel good.” She said. “My mom and dad call me Smiley Face Grace”

That made The Spark laugh even harder. “Smile? That’s your superpower? You can smile? Ah, hah, hah, hah! What kind of superpower is that, Smiley Face Grace?”

Grace felt sad and ashamed of herself. The way Spark put it, he was right; her super power didn’t sound all that super.

“Why don’t you give me a smile, so I can see it?” Spark asked. But he had hurt Grace’s feelings so badly that she couldn’t manage a smile at all. He had robbed her of her super power.

“Why don’t you be quiet, fart face?” said Jonathon, coming to her rescue.

Pretty soon, there was a super fight going on between Jonathon and Spark, Spark trying to burn him, while Jonathon, impervious to the fire, clasped him with his super muscles and squeezed. Fast Boy, or Lightening as Grace later learned he was called, punched Jonathon in the arm about six million times before one half of Splice Girl showed up, pulled them apart, and threatened them all with detention.

Back in their seats, Grace leaned over to Jonathon and thanked him for coming to her rescue.

“No problem, even superheroes need someone to rescue them once in a while.” said Jonathon.

“Hey Jonathon. What’s an extra?” she said, changing the subject.

“You really don’t know much about being a superhero, do you?” he teased Grace. “There are three kinds of people in the world – superheroes, villains, and extras. The extras are everyone else. They don’t have any super powers or anything like that. They are just there so when the villains are mean to them, the superheroes have someone to rescue. I wouldn’t want to be an extra.”

“Yeah, I guess I wouldn’t either.” Grace said, feeling a little sad for her mom and dad.

***

“Gracie, hon. Can you take the attendance sheet down to the office today?” Miss Ally asked. It was Grace’s second week at school and she hadn’t seen much more than the classroom and the gym, so she was happy to get a mission.

“Yep, I sure will!” said Grace

The hallway was quiet and felt a little weird. Normally it was a madhouse, children running around, making noise, and showing off their super powers while trying not to get caught. The day before, one such kid with a superhero name of Morph and the unfortunate extra name of Godric Spitzfarger, but whom everyone referred to as “Little Puddy” because of his unique superpower; squashed himself into one of the profoundly narrow hall lockers, whereupon one of his “friends” locked him in. It wasn’t until his parents showed up at the end of the day to pick up poor Godric that they even realized he was missing and let him out.

The hallway was decorated like you might expect, mascots, alphabet posters, and stick figure self-portraits of little superhero families proudly displayed in a rainbow of crayon scribbles. It was all very happy, except for one particular classroom door: number 13.

Door number 13 was not like the rest. It had no mascots or happy drawings. In fact it wasn’t even made of wood. The door for classroom 13 was black studded iron and had a giant padlock on the outside. Grace wondered what could be so special and would have stayed to find out if not for her mission, and the fact she was pretty sure that she could smile her way into a few more pieces of candy when she got to the office.

Back at class she coveted her trove of misbegotten sweets – a half dozen Smarties, some Jolly Ranchers, a ring pop, and a box of Lemon Raspberry Nerds. Jonathon wanted some so Grace shared.

“Hey Jonathon, what’s in class 13?” Grace asked him. Jonathon was quite knowledgeable about everything at Pallas Miracula’s Academy for Exceptional Boys and Girls and always had an answer for her questions.

Jonathon looked suddenly scared. “We’re not supposed to go in classroom 13.” He pronounced with gravitas beyond his years (‘Gravitas’ means he was really serious).

“Why not?” asked Grace.

“That’s where they teach the Villains” Jonathon whispered, looking sideways.

“The villains? I thought this was a school for superheroes?” said Grace.

“It’s a school for exceptional boys and girls.” He said. “Villains are exceptional too, just in a bad way.”

 Jonathon then explained what made them so exceptionally bad. His list included:

  • They’re ugly and usually have funny hair
  • They wear funny costumes
  • They do mean things to people
  • They make people feel bad
  • They have superpowers

 

Grace wasn’t impressed. From the sound of it, several of her classmates (namely Little Sparky as she had come to refer to him) belonged in the villain class. In fact with the exception of the last item, it may be that every first grader, super or not, is actually a villain. Either that or it was simply the luck of the draw that put you in classroom number two instead of classroom thirteen.

“Well I think that’s just dumb.” said Grace. “Maybe if they weren’t padlocked behind a metal door all day, they wouldn’t be villains. You could be nice to them you know.”

Jonathon looked at Grace like she had just put her fingers in her ears, stuck out her tongue, and was waggling them at him. “You can’t just make them un-villains, they were born that way. They’re meant to be villains.”

“I don’t believe you.” Grace replied. “I think you’re just scared.”

“I’m not scared; I’m a superhero. Superheroes don’t get scared.” Jonathon said.

“Well, I think you are. Without villains, the extras wouldn’t even need any stinky superheroes. I think that’s what you’re scared of. In fact, I think I’m going to go meet some of these little villains sometime and find out.”

As it happened, Grace didn’t have to wait long before catching a glimpse of one of the villains. The very next day her mom dropped her off at school. They were late because both Grace and her mom overslept. Jonathon was late that day too. His dad, The Great Superb-o looked anxiously at his watch while Grace’s mom chatted with him. When they got near room 13, Jonathon tugged on Grace’s sleeve.

“Look! That’s Timmy Newton. My dad says he’s the worst villain of all. They call him The Thief.” Jonathon whispered.

Grace looked at the little boy. He was escorted by four extras dressed up in police uniforms instead of by superheroes like Grace would have expected for the worst villain in the school. Timmy was small even for his age. He was thin and pale and freckly and had unruly hair. He looked sickly and sad, like he didn’t have any friends. Grace felt bad for him.

“What’s his super power?” Grace asked. She was thinking of Jonathon’s list of things that made a villain.

“I dunno. He can steal things I guess.”

Grace didn’t think that sounded like much of a super power, but then again, no one thought her smiles were a super power either, so she didn’t argue with Jonathon.

***

“OK everyone line up against the backstop so we can pick teams!” shouted Mighty Man. Well, Mighty Man was his superhero name anyway. His extra name was Coach Brockton, but all the kids called him Coach Brokedown or “Might-be Man”. He was a superhero athlete in his day, winning more gold medals in more superhero Olympics than any other superhero alive. Of course that was years ago, and now he was about as decrepit as superheroes get – which is to say that he was almost an extra. It didn’t stop him from thinking of himself as younger though, like he was still the star athlete, and it didn’t stop him from dressing in his old superhero outfit which included short shorts, an overly tight tank top, knee-high tube socks, magical sweat bands around his wrists and head, and (of course) a cape. Now imagine your great-great-grandfather dressed that way, and you have Mighty Man.

Grace did not like PE at Pallas Miracula’s Academy for Exceptional Boys and Girls. PE was hard enough at extra school with all the little boys trying to show how great they were, but at superhero school it was even worse. First, they were superheroes which meant both the boys and the girls were exceptionally fast, coordinated, strong, and could take getting thrown through a brick wall without getting hurt. But if that weren’t enough, they were also encouraged to use their superpowers to help win – it wasn’t even considered cheating. This made for some very interesting games. Today, they were going to play softball.

All of the little superheroes lined up against the backstop; except for the kid they all called ‘The Fly’ who climbed over it and was hanging upside down just above them; and Godric Spitzfarger who simply pushed himself through the backstop like he was made of dough. PE was also the only time they were allowed to wear their superhero outfits at school. Unfortunately, Grace didn’t have one since her parents were extras, so she was the only one lined up without a superhero costume. She just looked like plain old Grace instead of Smiley Face Grace: Superhero.

She then almost groaned when Spark and Super Girl were picked to be team captains. All of the kids raised their hands, trying to get picked, as Spark and Super Girl selected their teammates. Grace had her hand high in the air, standing on her tippy toes, saying “Me! Me! Me!” along with the rest of them. By the time the teams were mostly picked though, she was looking down at the dirt and shoving it around with her toe. No one had picked her.

When all the kids were picked, there was no one left except Grace. It was Super Girl’s turn, so Grace wound up on her team. “Hah, hah! Stupor Girl” Spark laughed, pointing his finger at Grace (he made fun of everyone’s name). “You had to take Grace on your team. You’re gonna lo-ose, you’re gonna lo-ose.” He started to chant, moving his head back and forth. Some of his teammates joined him. Grace felt sad. Being a superhero was tough; she felt her super powers disappearing again.

“You be quiet!” Super Girl fired back. “We’re going to win this game! C’mon Grace, you’re going to do fine.”

Grace didn’t do fine though. When she was in the outfield, all the kids hit the ball to her. They were either too fast and got around the bases before she could throw them out; or hit the ball too far so she couldn’t even get to it before they got a home run. One kid shot it with a laser beam from his eyeballs, evaporating it before Grace could catch the ball. Mighty Man ruled it interference until the kids reminded him that using super powers was allowed and he had to count it as a home run.

When Super Girl’s team was up to bat, they did better, that is until it was Grace’s turn. Spark was the pitcher, so he lit the ball on fire as he threw it. Instead of pitching it over the base though, he threw it right at Grace, and she had to run away from home plate to keep from getting burned. The second time he tried this, Gil, who was on Grace’s team, extinguished the pitch (Spark called the pitch his “heater”) with a cannon blast of water, but it was too late. Grace was so scared of the fire that she ran away when Spark threw the ball. Spark just laughed at Grace and called her names.

“It’s ok, it’s ok” Super Girl reassured Grace. “We’re still going to win!” Super Girl gave Grace a big smile, and Grace smiled back. She felt better.

The two teams went back and forth, inning after inning. Spark’s team would pull ahead, and then Super Girl’s team would catch up. And that’s how they got to the bottom of the ninth inning, with the score tied, two outs, and Grace up to bat. If she hit a home run, they would win the game.

Super Girl’s team just groaned when they saw Grace come up to bat. They were sure she would mess up and lose the game for them. Spark’s team was exultant though, they were certain they would win. They laughed at Grace some more.  

Spark wound up and pitched the ball. It came across the plate looking like a meteor on fire. Grace was scared and backed up again.

“Steee-rike one!” shouted Mighty Man.

Spark pitched again, and got the same result.

“Steee-rike two!” shouted Mighty Man.

Super Girl ran out to Grace. “Grace, you are a superhero, right?”

“I guess so” Grace replied, feeling unsure about herself.

“Then use your super powers.” Super girl whispered into Grace’s ear. “I know you can do it!”

Grace made up her mind that Super Girl was right. She was a superhero, she could be brave, and she was going to win the game. She watched as Spark did his wind up, his arm spinning around like a ridiculous windmill. She saw the ball light on fire…and then she smiled. Spark was so distracted, he dropped the ball. It rolled against his shoe which instantly caught on fire. He had to jump around trying to stamp the fire out, but it just flamed up more until Gil fired his aquatic cannon at Spark, spraying him until the fire was dowsed, and soaking Spark from head to toe. Everyone on Grace’s team laughed at Spark.

“Ball!” shouted Mighty Man.

“I’m gonna’ get you for that extra” he growled at her.

Spark started his windup again. It had been hard for Grace to muster that first grin, but now she felt more confident. She gave Spark the very biggest super smiley face grin that she could find. This time Spark just stopped winding up. “Ahhh, you’re so cute.”  He said to Grace. “Here, let me toss this ball to you.”

Spark lobbed the ball in a nice easy underhanded throw, this time with no fire. There couldn’t have been an easier pitch. Grace swung her bat with all her might and connected. The ball flew to the outfield.

Grace clamped her hands over her batting helmet so it wouldn’t fall off, and started running around the bases. She was not the fastest runner, so as she was getting to first base, the ball was too. Grace smiled at the first baseman and he just looked at her dumbfounded while the ball flew by. Grace ran to second, and rounded third. The first baseman had recovered and threw the ball home, but Grace gave the catcher a huge smiley face. Rather than catch the ball, he just stood there, sighed, and blinked at her. The ball flew right past him, and so did she. Home run! Grace had won the game. Her team cheered; she was a hero – a superhero.

***

Tuesday was picture day at Pallas Miracula’s. Of course superhero identities are a closely guarded thing, so all of the superheroes were expected to have their costumes on when the pictures were taken. For most of the kids this presented little problem; they all had their superhero outfits. Grace, however, still didn’t have hers. She did have lots of costumes though, so when it was time to go to school, she gathered up a few things and cobbled a superhero outfit together that she was sure would impress the others.

Aside from it being picture day, this Tuesday started like any other. Lots of super kids whizzing around the room at the start of the day until Miss Ally had to split into Splice Girl and rein them all in. Then there was reading, and coloring, and math, and more superhero history (history was Grace’s favorite subject because it meant getting to listen to Miss Ally read comic books to them).

Where the day started going sideways was at recess. Grace and Jonathon were playing superhero in the sandbox. With his superhero powers, Jonathon built giant sandcastle cities which they would then attack as villains and save as superheroes. Grace normally wound up playing the part of the villain, but that was ok with her, she still thought there was very little separating superheroes from villains anyway.

During this sandbox play, she noticed that Timmy Newton was on the playground. He sat in one corner looking lonely and forlorn, trying to read a book and ignoring the other kids. This was especially unusual because the villains had recess at a different time from the superheroes. They weren’t allowed to mix for fear of super fights breaking out on the playground. It was especially, especially unusual for Timmy Newton, the most feared villain of all to be sitting on the playground. He must have either escaped or the teacher forgot about him when the other villains went back into classroom 13.

Unfortunately, Grace was not the only one to notice little Timmy; Spark had noticed him too, and was intent on proving he was the greatest superhero in the class.

“Hey Timmy!” Spark said, in his snottiest possible voice.

Timmy looked up, disinterested. “Just leave me alone.” He said and went back to reading his book.

“I don’t think so, villain.” Said Spark. “I think I need to take you back to class.”

Spark nudged Timmy with his foot, half kicking him. “I said, leave me alone.” Timmy said, shrugging sideways to get away from Spark.

Hah, hah, hah!” Spark laughed. “Some super villain you are Timmy. You don’t even look like a villain; you look like an extra. A real, wimpy little extra. Now let’s go.”

Spark tried to drag Timmy up off of his feet, but Timmy wouldn’t budge.

“Fine, have it your way.” Spark said, little balls of flame starting to dance in his hands. “I’ll make you go, extra!”

At that moment that Grace understood the meaning of the phrase ‘If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned’. Suddenly the balls of fire that were in Spark’s hands disappeared and re-appeared in Timmy’s hands. Spark looked confused, trying to make more fire, but he didn’t get so much as a puff of smoke.

Grace understood why they called Timmy ‘The Thief’. It was because his villain superpower was the ability to steal the superpowers of others and use it against them.

Timmy looked mad now, like he was going to use the fire against Spark. Spark, finally realizing what had happened, knelt down and started to whimper and cry, pleading with Timmy to let him get away. Reacting on instinct, the other superhero kids tried to come to Spark’s rescue, but Timmy just took their powers away too. Pretty soon Timmy could fly, shoot fire, freeze things, stretch, shoot water, climb walls, and crush anything with his bare hands. And the superheroes? Well, they were just a bunch of extras.

Grace thought it best to go get Miss Ally, so she went inside the classroom. With an ‘Oh, dear!’ Miss Ally ran out to the playground to save the children. Instead of saving them though, Timmy took her superpower as well and now instead of one terrible villain, there were three.

Grace was scared, but she knew what she had to do. She gathered up all of her courage and told herself she could do it. She was a superhero.

A moment later the door to classroom number two swung open. In the doorway stood a small girl dressed in pink tights, fuchsia knitted leg warmers, pearly-white elbow-length gloves, blue sunglasses, and a hot pink pair of briefs dotted with white kitties. On her back flowed a canary-yellow cape with a blue smiley face.

Grace gave the three Timmy’s her biggest smile yet. The Timmy’s looked at Smiley Face Grace and just like with the others, stole her superpower. When he did though, something very strange happened. The corners of his mouth twitched a little, and then slowly turned upwards into a smile. It made Grace feel good to see him smile, so she smiled back. This made Timmy feel even better, so he smiled some more. This went on with the smiles ping-ponging back and forth between Grace and Timmy until Timmy felt so happy he just forgot all about being angry at Spark and the others. Grace suggested they go play in the sandbox together. Timmy thought that was a fine idea, so the two of them went off to the sandbox to play. She even convinced Timmy to give all the superpowers back, though she made Spark beg for his just a little bit.

They were still playing in the sandbox when a voice behind them said “Grace, Timmy.” They turned around and saw a huge woman, probably seven feet tall, wearing a toga and carrying a shining spear and shield standing there behind them.

“Hi Miss Miracula” Timmy said.

“Hi Timmy.  I hear you’ve been a naughty boy.” Pallas Miracula said.

“I know.” Timmy agreed looking at the ground. “But Spark started it. And I am a villain after all.”

“That’s no excuse. Come now, let’s get you back to class.” She said.

“Ok” he said and started off with Miss Miracula. “Hey Grace, thanks for playing with me.” Said Timmy as Miss Miracula led him away.

Later, Miss Miracula came and talked to Grace.

“Grace, you and your smiley faces saved the school today. I owe you my thanks. In fact we all do.” She said.

“That’s OK Miss Miracula; even superheroes need to be rescued once in a while. Besides, I was just being myself.”

“Yes, you were. That and you believed in yourself. You just learned the two most important things you’ll ever learn here.”

When she heard that, Grace smiled.

***

“Daddy, daddy, daddy!” Grace said as her dad came to pick her up from school. She ran over and gave him a big hug.

He hugged her back. “I’m so happy to see you.”

They gathered Grace’s things and started walking down the hall together to go home.

“Did you do anything special at school today?” her dad asked.

“Nope.”

“Nothing? Really? Nothing at all?”

“Yep.”

“Okay, okay. Let’s head home and see mom. She should be back from work by the time we get there.”

“Hey dad, can we stop and get ice cream on the way home?” Grace asked

“No, I don’t want you to spoil your dinner.”

“Please?” she said, giving her dad a smile.

He chuckled, “Oh, alright.”


© Copyright 2017 Galtless Conscience. All rights reserved.

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