She recalls the first time she saw her parents as people. Not the perfect figures of her picturesque childhood. But real-life, living, breathing people. With feelings. With flaws and fractured hearts. It happened all at once, like the unmasking of a superhero. Still, there was nothing super about it. The world felt larger and the night seemed more dangerous without the eye of a veiled vigilante watching over her. It was a dark enlightenment. As if a switch was flicked and could never be turned off.
Before, the lights were on.
Out in the sun, rehearsing a scene from the Pirates of Penzance. The one where the Pirate King reveals that Frederic’s birthday is on February twenty-ninth, and therefore Frederic, a grown man, was technically five years old. She admired Frederic. His bravery. He faced this earth shattering, life altering revelation without fear and she loved him for it. Plus, she was born on February 28th. It’s funny how the smallest similarities can forge a connection. The blatant differences between a wide-eyed ten-year-old and a pirate’s apprentice were irrelevant. In the spotlight, she was Frederic, and her role did not waver off the stage.
Later that same evening, she sat down to dinner on the outside terrace. She was served beef steak, medium rare with flat leaf parsley sprinkled on top. Her mother noted that the sunset was particularly beautiful. Even so, she couldn’t help but compare the mauve in the sky to the color of her bloodied meat. The scent of which was beginning to attract a swarm of bees.
Their food quickly became indistinguishable from a hive, and the buzzzzzz was so loud that the table began to vibrate. Her mom and dad swatted at the bees with folded paper napkins, but their flimsy weapons were useless as this was an invasion. They ran into the house and cowered by the window. All the while, she watched them astonished. Her meal had been pirated. Dinner was being looted for treasure, yet her parents stood helplessly by—light-headed and dizzy in the face of a couple of pests. But why? She wondered. Why would they run? Why did they shake at the sight of stingers? She continued to watch her quivering heroes. Their faces were covered in sweat and contorted into an expression she had only ever seen on herself….
It hit her like a bolt of lightning.
Her parents were afraid. Terror-stricken. White-faced. Petrified.
The superheroes who could battle millions of marauders, save the planet and still make it home in time for dinner were scared of bees. This lightbulb moment darkened her mind and she switched their capes for clothes. Sadly, it wouldn’t be until much later that she learned the meaning of the word anaphylaxis.
I just got my drivers licence. At first, I was ecstatic. I’d reached peak of maturity and outgrown the passenger side seat. What blissful freedom! What wonderful independence! And what terrible, horrible driving. I ran two red lights, blew five stop signs and hit the curb so many times, my grandfather faked a heart attack to escape the car. Therefore, I think 16 is much too young to drive after all. But it’s not too young to write. And I hope you find I’m a much better writer than I am driver! ~ Tori Popowich