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Dear Superhero

Beth Powers writes science fiction and fantasy stories, studies nineteenth-century pirate tales, and lives in Ohio with her cats. Her work has appeared in Plasma Frequency, Outposts of Beyond, and other magazines. She has a forthcoming story in Stupefying Stories. Visit her on the web at bethpowers.com.

Dear Superhero,
I'm not sure you know who I am anymore, or else you probably wouldn't have asked me for help. You told me you loved me once, but I doubt you remember the day you broke my heart as vividly as I do.
Let me refresh your memory. After all, that moment is seared in my mind for eternity:
Maybe you'll remember the daring rescue you had just accomplished to save me from the clutches of your enemies. We stood on the roof of my building. It was one of those warm summer nights where the stars were almost visible through the city lights. It smelled like rain.
"I'm sorry, but you have to understand, sweetheart," you said, squeezing my hand, "We can't see each other anymore--it's too dangerous. My enemies know how much you mean to me, and they'll keep using you against me." You brushed away the single tear that dropped from my eye and told me with the utmost sincerity, "Besides, I don't want to be distracted worrying about you when I'm off saving the world."
Okay, maybe that last was a bit of an exaggeration, but the idea was there. Your words crushed me--you told me I was a distraction, a danger, a burden. Devastated, I cried for days, hoping you would realize that you were wrong and show up on my fire escape. But I came to realize that I couldn't change you. I could only choose my own path. And from that day forward, the only thing I've regretted was not telling you that you were wrong.
It's not fair because you're not here to defend yourself, but I've always wanted to ask: If your enemies could use me against you, then couldn't they use your father or your brother? Your best friend? Don't you care about them too? For that matter, what if your enemies chose a random stranger--the grocery store clerk or someone just passing by? Would you tell them "sorry, I can't save you because you don't mean enough to me"? How are you going to fight evil when you're distracted by worry for every single person in the city you're trying to save?
I started this letter not knowing how to answer your plea. That's not the case anymore.
I'm sorry. I'm afraid I can't rescue you. You chose your own path, and you have no one to blame but yourself for your recent capture at the hands of your enemies. You wanted to stand alone against evil and save the world, and now you've no one to turn to but a masked vigilante in the city you once called home. But I can't help you--I've got work to do. Besides, I think rescuing you would distract me from the city full of people that you didn't care enough to protect.
Oh, and if you do manage to escape under your own powers, don't bother coming back. It's my city now.
The pen scratches out the signature, and the woman's fingers open, letting the wind snatch the paper, wafting it down and away. She watches silently as the small slip of white is engulfed by the starless night sky, leaving her alone on the top of the tallest building to watch over the city as it sleeps.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Author Comments

I watch a fair amount of TV (although movies and books can be just as guilty of this), and there are certain repeated scenarios that get on my nerves, usually ones that ignore logic in order to present women as helpless or incapable. I wrote this story in response to one of those. Eventually, I will get around to writing one that addresses "wait in the car" (hint: it's always a bad idea).

- Beth Powers
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