Willow’s eyes slid to half-mast. Her worries and tensions and failed hopes drifted away before the glow of the screen and the sound pulsing on all sides. Sometimes, it was awkward, when the camera zoomed in too close to a person’s serious face, or a thug fell after one punch. In the back of her mind, Willow knew that this wasn’t great cinema, but Metal Man felt on the edge of something. He smashed his fist into the villain’s face.
“You can’t kill me,” gasped the villain, crawling pathetically along the edge of the volcano. “Heroes don’t kill their enemies.”
“I’m not a hero,” said Metal Man. “I’m just using my powers to do the right thing.”
Metal Man kicked the villain, who shrieked in terror and tumbled off the edge into the volcano, in slow motion. Willow should have chortled with laughter, like the teenagers sniggering behind her, but the words kept reverberating.
Using my powers to do the right thing.
The Metal Man took off his mask as his enemy, his parents’ killer, dissolved into lava goop. “No matter my powers, I will always serve my home.”
“I approve of that sentiment,” whispered Rulash.
“You are the worst moviegoer ever,” hissed Sam.
Behind them, Willow had frozen to her seat. What remained of her candy bar had melted in her hands.
“I wear a mask to protect those I care about,” Metal Man told his lady friend as the sun set behind them. “I wear it because I have unusual powers that the world will not understand.”
Willow scoffed at the dialogue, like the teenager behind her, but she also reached up to wipe her eyes.
The moment the ending credits pop music blared from the speakers, Willow dropped her candy bar and fled for the exit. She pushed through the door, into the cold night air. Breathing in and out, she gazed up at the moon and the distant trees.
She checked her phone, trying to ground herself in something, but no new messages, and she knew, in that moment, she knew more than anything that she was in a unique position to change the city.
Willow strode to her car and drove home. Parking her car and running inside, she opened her wardrobe and located a purple wet suit. She cut holes in the back. Willow located her purple Mardi gras mask under her bed.
She put on the wet suit and, feeling perfectly ridiculous, she put on the spangled mask. Then, for the first time in years, she transformed into her fairy body; her indigo wings blossomed from her back and floral patterns glowed at her knuckles, elbows, and knees. Her eyes turned bright green, like a streetlight, and her hair sparkled.
Since coming to the human realm, she had sworn off her powers. But if she could use them, just for one night, she would, for good.
“Hello there,” she whispered to her reflection. “Long time, no see.”
She picked an unopened beer and crushed the can in her fist, beer exploding all over her kitchen floor.
“Good enough.” She smashed her beer-covered fist into her palm. “Let’s go.”