I’m back with a new story! This short little thing was written for a writing contest with the theme “heroes”.
The thing no one understands is that everybody can be a hero. We all are, for a tiny moment each day, a hero. We are heroes when we stand up for what we believe in, when we are our true selves – fearlessly, when we show courage, even though we are afraid. Small moments perhaps, but important ones.
As soon as Superheroes enter the scene, you forget about the existence of those common heroes. Perhaps that is because we are surrounded with these acts of small heroism each and every day. We lose sight of them in the mundane, and then, when a shiny new Hero appears who can create fire out of nothing, like me, you forget about all others.
You point a camera at me while ignoring the real heroes; the first responders, the parents protecting their children, the survivors. Even beyond this busy aftermath, you have no more love left for the nurse caring for your grandparent, or the people cloaked with rainbow flags, walking hand in hand. And yet –
And yet they have it easier, not being in the spotlight. Not being “Super”. They are not under a microscope every second of every day. Their every move judged, weighed, picked apart for meaning that isn’t there. Sometimes getting a scoop of peppermint ice cream really is just that.
You know, I saved your lives last week. Saved the entire city, to be exact. And afterwards you flocked around me with your cameras and lights, and you shoved dozens of microphones in my face and asked me questions.
Do you realise you never ask me the right ones? You never ask how it feels to save people, or if I was afraid when I had a gun pointed right at my heart. Instead, you ask about property damage and if I am afraid I will get sued this time, again. Instead, you talk about the loss of life as if I am the one responsible. You ask me about my opinion on unrelated things, like your entertainment or politics, knowing that I can never give you a real answer, my answer. Because whenever I do, whenever I show you that the fact that I am fire in human form is not the only thing about me that may be different, you scorn me. Your cheers turn to ridicule. Your love turns so easily to hate. Those that don’t despise me give well-meant warnings about “public opinion” and “playing the audience”.
You see, the thing is, when I first discovered that the flame within my soul became too much to keep in, I was happy. I was overcome with joy at the thought of being something. Something more. I raced to show my parents and they were so proud. Not afraid at all. I went to a school filled with children, both with powers and without, and I was happy. Then you posed me a question, did I want to be a hero? Well, of course I wanted to be a hero! I wanted to save people, help people become better than they were, and I still do.
I’ve only recently come to realise that I remember that question through rose-tinted glasses. Looking back, I now hear that it wasn’t a question at all, but a choice. Did I want to be a hero and stick to your rules, fit in your neat little boxes, or did I want to be medicated? Because I was too much, too loud, too dangerous to let go unchecked. But back then I only heard the word hero and I was sold. You see, the thing is –
The thing is.
I used to be happy. I used to be proud of who I was and what I can do. Proud of the red and gold suit that you gave me when I graduated. When I had learned to push that roaring wildfire in me down until nothing but a spark remained. Before I heard the whispers behind my back and the vitriol spewed right in my face because you only see me as a Hero, not as a person. Before I realised that although I fight for your freedom, you have put me in a gilded cage.
You want me to burn like a candle – small and controlled, giving off just enough light. But that is not who and what I am. Fire consumes and grows bigger with everything it touches. That is what I want to be. Not the flame, but the Phoenix, ever rising from the ashes and spreading my wings to soar. Flying high above you all and your judgements, and pettiness, and hatred. Looking down and seeing your truths and the evil that rests in your hearts. And then burning that evil out until only the righteous and good shall remain. And oh –
An epiphany is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? It rushes through you, leaving adrenaline and happiness in its wake. Just like the flames that flow under my skin, trying to find a way out and spread like wings, this enlightenment also cannot be contained. It clears the head of all distractions, making me see the bigger picture for the first time in my life, and let me tell you, darling, it is beautiful. I’ve finally figured it out, you see, figured me out. I was never meant for this life. I was meant for something more, much more, than mundane, yes, but never this life of containment and masks. Of rules and restraints. Now I see that even though you have pushed me, shaped and moulded me into your hero –
I was meant to be your villain all along.