Four nights a week, I disappear for hours at a time, leaving Serenity Caldwell behind. She isn’t much use where I go. Those I associate with know me only by a pseudonym; I am costumed beyond recognition. I step into a different life as I don new garb and fly down concrete floors. I get beat up. I perform feats Serenity would marvel at. And then I transform back into myself and head to bed.
The next day, I nurse new and unusual aches in unexpected places. “No,” I tell the concerned CVS cashier awkwardly eyeing three finger-shaped marks on my forearm, “I’m not in any trouble at home.” But that’s all I can say. All I can ever say. Because, really, how do you tell someone that you’ve become a superhero?
Growing up, most kids wish for masks and superpowers. Not me. My kid self would have been delighted to wake up one day and find herself with Jedi powers; I always fancied being the brains rather than the brawn. Not that we ever get what we want.
Illustration by Jacob Souva.