The story of an unsung hero
There I was again, making the newspaper’s headline. “Mysterious man saves 27 lives in disastrous fire”. It didn’t affect me anymore. I had read so many testimonies from people I had “saved”, people I didn’t even care about. I did not really want to help them. I never intended to become so popular… nobody really knows me actually. Wait, no. Everybody knows me. I am the hero, I am the man that appears at every disaster at the last second and saves the day. I never go there on purpose, every single time, accidents have happened while I was already there. What is it that pushes me to save them? I never knew. I probably never will. I guess it is human nature to help your peers; I hate it. I have powers, great power. But I am still not sure if it is a good power or a bad one. Once in a while, I will just be out somewhere and shit happens. Bridges collapse, fires break out, gas tanks blow up. Every time, time slows down to a stop. Everything, everyone around me is stuck. Every single time I see their faces. Every single time I hear their screams. Every single time I feel their pain. Every single time, I save them and fly away.
Am I bad luck? Am I the one that really creates these accidents? I have been living for what I have come to call a curse for twelve years now. I am having a really hard time keeping on. Every day, I am afraid to get up. I am afraid that this day will be another day of pain and horror. I am afraid I will have to be a hero again.
“Hey nice sir, how are you doing on this beautiful morning?”
I snapped out of my train of thought. As usual, she was the first one to talk to me at work. She was the only one really. After years of an unknown hero, I slowly became anti‒social, introverted and lost family and friends. No one ever wanted to talk to me but her. Every morning, she would pop her head in my cubicle and say hello. Each time she made me smile. I had never seen this woman in any other mood than “incredibly fine”. She always smiled, her eyes were always bright and her hair radiant. She sat on my desk.
“I’m fine, how are you feeling today miss?” I answered.
“Every day just seems like the best day ever to me! You know that.”
I smiled. She looked straight into my eyes.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“What’s going on with you? Your look is different from yesterday.”
“And you can tell this how?”
“I know you like the back of my hand.”
If only she did. If only she knew who I was.
“You look… tired.” she continued.
“I did not sleep much last night. It happens.”
“It’s not physical fatigue.”
And then, she just stared at me. I was used to it. She would do it once in a while, scrutinising my very soul it seemed. She looked straight into my eyes for minutes, never moving. At first, it made me very uncomfortable and I would try to look away. But as she kept on doing it, I began to appreciate it. When she did it, I felt relieved. I do not know how or why, but it felt like she knew. It felt like she understood. For this short moment, I felt free. I felt like I was one with her. She stopped suddenly and got up.
“All right then, have a very nice day now!” she said joyously.
“You too.” I baffled, dumbstruck.
She would never know this, but she was the one that made it all a little easier.
There they come. I didn’t want anything to happen. Not today. The screams were coming. The pain was settling in my body. The faces were appearing. Again, I would have to save them. It scared me even after twelve years of seeing them regularly, it scared the shit out of me every single time. What was the problem this time? I looked around in this frozen time and space. I never knew what to do. It was a mystery again. I walked out of the commuter buss and walked in the middle of the intersection. A scream came to me, louder and sharper than the others. I looked to my left, where a huge semi‒truck of gasoline was there. Its driver was pulling the horn string over him, fear visible in his every feature. I stepped towards him, thinking about how I could stop such a huge threat. Suddenly, they came again, the screams. I had to do something before it was too late. The screams vanished. The only thing I heard now was the truck’s horn and bus’ tires screeching on the hot asphalt. I hoped for the driver’s life and put both my arms in front of me. I closed my eyes and I felt a sting, shortly. There was not much I could feel as I stopped an 18‒wheeler with only my hands. As it left the ground when its momentum transferred vertically, I jumped to the cabin’s door, ripped it off, grabbed the driver and got away. As I landed, the truck’s gasoline tank finally crumpled on and over itself, creating sparks that ignited the fluid. For the short moment it lasted, it was one of the most beautiful things I had seen in my life. I had to leave now. I simply flew away.
I knew not to turn the television on when I sat on my couch unless I wanted to hear all the details of the hero that saved so many lives again. I was completely sick of it. I did not want to be like this anymore. Those people did not matter to me! They could die for all I cared. I just wish I could be more than this. I needed to vent after this before I became seriously upset. I turned on my video game console, thinking a little mindless killing would help escape reality.
Just like every other day before today, I sat in my office chair, ready for a day of work. I got to it: put my fingers on the keyboard and coded away. Nine o’clock came around, making me eagerly wait for her smile. Ten o’clock, yet she had not shown up. I started to worry. Maybe she was sick? Probably not, she never missed work nor came in late. She was too happy to be sick. I waited for lunch time and went to see her boss. No luck there. She had not called. I asked around. Some of my female colleagues made witty remarks and giggled like it was high school all over again. I did not care. No one knew anything at all, they were all useless. I ran to the roof and flew back home. I grabbed the phone and called her home. Each ring made my heart beat a little faster. I had a bad feeling and nothing good ever came out of my feelings. Her answering machine turned on. I hung up and dialled her cellphone. It was apparently off as a gentle male voice told me so. I paced in my kitchen, wondering what to do, who to call, where she could be. After moments of walking back and forth and imagining the worst, I took out the phone book and dialled hospital numbers. There weren’t that many in the city. At the fourth call, I was shocked. She had been admitted the day before, right around the time I stopped that truck.
I was there ten minutes later, landed subtly in an alley and ran the rest. I asked to see her and the nurse led me into her room.
“She isn’t conscious”, the nurse said, “and her state is degrading as time goes by.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked, shaken.
“She was hit by a taxi at the end of yesterday. Her left lung has been punctured by a broken rib and her heart has been crushed enough to require a replacement.”
I was not shocked anymore. It was fear.
“She needs a donor in the next three days. I’ll leave you alone with her now.”
I sat by her side and held her hands. She had her eyes closed and a smile her lips, as always. She seemed at peace. My lips formed a smile shortly before it collapsed.
“I am sorry,” I said, “I am sorry I let that happen to you. I know it is not my fault. I just know that I could have done something. Anything. I was busy taking care of people I have no care for while my only friend needed me. I am so sorry.”
Emotions were flowing through my brain. I could not even count them: sadness, hate, empathy, sympathy, anger, lust, pleasure… nothing made sense.
I woke up late into the night, sprawled on a waiting room’s couch. I got up and walked into her room. I stood at the end of the bed and looked at her. She was beautiful.
Her eyes were fluttering, she was conscious! I went so sit closer and took her hand.
“Yes, I did.”
“I’m glad you’re here.”
I did not answer. I wished we were elsewhere. Somewhere where I was hurt and she was not.
“How am I?”
I looked in her eyes. No need for an answer. She read my thoughts as she always did. She remained silent for a moment. I could only hold her hand and my tears.
“Yes?” I answered in a breath.
“I’m really happy you are here. I would have not wanted anyone else by my side at a moment like this.”
I once again held my words. Happy was not now.
“Chris… I love you. Thank you for everything.”
But she had already fallen unconscious. Steph. Why those words? I tried finding the emotion I wanted to give her back. I wanted to understand what she meant. But desire didn’t come. It wasn’t lust either. Passion was still not the one I was looking for. It was way past friendship. It was love. Love in its purest form. I loved her more than I could have ever loved anyone. I would give anything and everything to save her, to be one with her. My love for her was stronger than the love that is usually had for a lover. My life was entirely hers. I had to do something. Only one thing came to mind over and over again : “to be one with her”.
I bent down over her and hugged her body. I closed my eyes and let tears pour down my cheeks. “To be one with her”. I would be. I would not be capable of going on with my life without her smile, without her cheerful personality every day. I could not go on if a person as wonderful as her could not. Suddenly, I felt pain all over my body. Excruciating pain, pain I had not really felt in twelve full years. It felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest.
I woke up again on the same couch later in the day. I instinctively reached for my chest where everything felt fine. I ran to her room, worried I had once again done something bad. A nurse was there, holding her hand while taking her pulse. She shuffled around and looked at monitors.
“What is wrong?” I asked, nervous.
“Wrong? There’s nothing wrong at all! Her heart has a normal rhythm and she’s breathing normally. You could almost think she healed overnight.”
She walked out. I approached her and put my hand on hers. But I did not feel her usual aura. The feeling she used to give me every morning by smiling. What I felt was… different. Familiar in a weird way. I felt like I was close to my own self.
“To be one with her.”
I understood then. I kissed her cheek and made for the door.
“Thank you Stephanie, thank you so much. I love you more than all.”
The air was rushing along my skin as I flew up. The air slowly grew colder, the pressure slowly decreasing. The blue of the sky getting closer. The clouds were magnificent at this height. But I was not stopping to look. I had somewhere else to go: up. As I left the atmosphere, air left my lungs and blackness settled in. I felt free. Free at last.comments powered by Disqus