The Boy with Unappreciated Super Powers
Unless you lived in the neighborhood, you would’ve never guessed that young Matty Henderson was capable of magic, let alone a burgeoning super hero. He just didn’t look the part. You’d say he was too plain looking, too frail, nothing at all magical about him. You’d think he was just another average and ordinary kid in the neighborhood. You’d be wrong too.
Matty had short, straight, reddish blonde hair, and always carried a serious look on his face. Occasionally, depending on his mood, he wore a sleeveless white shirt with a huge red star right on his chest. On the rarest of occasions, he added a red mask and a cape to the ensemble. But no matter what he wore though, this boy with super hero powers seemed completely non-heroic.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, in the neighborhood knew about Matty’s super powers. In fact, they came to depend on his heroics. Matty used his super powers to save pets, heal bumps and bruises, even catch criminals. These situations took a lot out of the boy. He was constantly exhausted from all the work. But the neighbors didn’t care. They demanded that their resident super hero cater to their foolishness. In fact, just yesterday, the boy with super hero powers was again called into action.
It was a sunny day, birds chirped and a warm wind blew from the west. Little rays of sun peeked through the trees making little designs on the sidewalk. Matty walked home from school with his head down, navigating around the sunspots, hopping every once in a while, making a little game of it. No mask or red cape this time, just jeans and a red hoodie pulled up over his head. He wanted to get home without having to perform any miracles. But wouldn’t you know it, through some unwanted gift of serendipity, a car accident occurred right at the next corner. Matty witnessed the whole thing. The sound of the crash reverberated throughout the whole neighborhood, tires screeching just before the grotesque explosion of metal crunching together, followed by the sound of steam, leaking fluids, and screams from onlookers. Matty sighed.
“Not again,” he said to himself.
Matty calmly walked up to the burning wreckage. Steam billowed up and a small fire fumed from one of the cars. Both vehicles were completely mangled together, a twisted mix of burning steel. In one car, two teenagers were unconscious and slumped over the dash. In the other car, an elderly man stared right at the boy, pleading for help with only his eyes. Almost immediately, the boy super hero went to work.
Matty took a deep breath and lifted his hands high up in the sky, as far as they could reach, and started waving his hands frantically like a conductor directing an orchestra. His eyes were wide and his lips terse. Faint bits of light shot out of his outstretched fingers, bending the twisted metal of the cars. This was a heavy job for the boy, and he grew weaker as he struggled to move the metal. Matty created an opening just large enough for the elderly man to escape from. Then he literally pulled the elderly man to safety using only his mind powers. The man actually floated out of the car and high into the air. But before he could place him down safely in the grass, an exhausted Matty passed out.
“Wake up, wake up.”
When Matty woke up he realized he was being shaken by some of the neighbors. He rubbed his eyes, stood up, and looked around the for the elderly man. The wreckage was still there, but the man wasn’t. Where was he? Matty heard shouting from above, and looked up to see the elderly man sitting twenty feet up in a large oak tree.
“Get me down from here you nincompoop,” he yelled.
“Why did you put him up there?” said an onlooker. “Don’t you know what you’re doing?”
Apparently Matty accidently put the man high up in a tree, rather than placing him safely on the sidewalk. Matty wanted to help the old man, but time was of the essence for the trapped teenagers. So he closed his eyes and focused on them by reaching deep within to harness more magic. Soon the steering wheel moved off the young man and the dash pulled away from the young woman’s chest. With his eyes closed, arms stretched out and his body shaking, Matty unfolded the twisted wreckage and, using all his power, lifted the windshield off the car. Two brave onlookers then rushed in and helped pull the lifeless bodies from the wreckage. Matty carefully balanced the partially shattered windshield high in the air, moved it away from the burning car, and placed it softly in the grass, right on top of a small kitten.
“Shit,” he muttered under his breath.
“You killed the kitty,” a woman yelled.
“Sorry,” Matty said.
“Get me down,” yelled the old man in the tree.
Matty was then alerted that the young teenagers weren’t breathing, so he got down next to them and breathed life straight into the young girl’s mouth, then did the same to the young man. Instantly, the young man and woman coughed a few times and looked up at the boy. They were not happy.
“Are we alive?” the young man said.
“Yes, you’re alive,” an onlooker said. “You’re ok now.”
“Dammit, you were supposed to let us die,” the young man said as he shoved the boy away. “We had just gotten into heaven you idiot.”
“And you just pulled us right back down to reality,” the young woman said. “Thanks a lot.”
They got up, dusted themselves off, and stood over Matty with their hands on their hips.
“Now we gotta deal with my dad,” the young man said. “What a fine mess you left us to deal with.”
“Sorry,” said Matty.
The man in the tree still teetered on a branch high above the crowd.
“Hey you moron,” he yelled. “Get me down. Get me down this instant. Can’t you save people without screwing things up?”
The family of the flattened kitten weren’t happy either.
“You smushed Mr. Whiskers,” the mother said. “Bring him back to life. You bring Mr. Whiskers back to life this instant.”
Matty carefully lifted the windshield off the cat and gently set it aside. He then knelt down and breathed life into the limp animal. Instantly, Mr. Whiskers jumped up, coughed up a bloody hairball, and scampered away. The boy was on his hands and knees in the grass, breathing in and out, completely exhausted. Right about then, the fire truck arrived to put out the burning cars. They also propped a ladder in the tree and helped the old man in the tree down to safety.
The neighborhood folks, including the old man, the teenage couple, assorted onlookers, and even the Fire Chief, stood over the boy wagging their fingers, giving him the business.
“Before you go saving any more lives,” the Fire Chief said, “You should really think about being more careful. Maybe some practice would do you good. Son, what you do isn’t safe. Do you hear me? Are you listening to me?”
The boy stared straight down at the little puddle of blood that had leaked from Mr. Whiskers. He wasn’t listening.
It was like this every time he saved lives. The people he saved didn’t care that he was young and still learning to use his powers. They wanted perfection—a boy who not only saved lives, but that did it perfectly, and in a way that suited their needs. But Matty wasn’t a mind reader. He didn’t know what thoughts people harbored deep in their soul. He just saved lives. And while he was learning, the world wanted more.