Sooooooperman Returns!

Zev

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Stephanie Brown was seven and three-quarters years old and she was Superman’s biggest fan.

True, she didn’t have Superman bedsheets like that butthead Johnny Golan, but that was because her family was poor (“don’t say poor, say low-income,” her mother kept telling her). But her mother had sewn her a Superman comforter and she cut out articles on Superman to make a scrapbook to put in her class’ time capsule, but only after Dad was done reading the paper, because she got spanked otherwise (even thought it was really hard to wait for him to finish with it so she could read what new feat Superman had performed yesterday and put it in her scrapbook).

Old Man Drake down the street, who got lots of foreign newspapers, even let her sort through his newspapers after he finished reading them, so she had clippings on Superman from other countries where all the words were spelled funny (she would reread them again after she learned every language in the world; which she wanted to do because that way she could talk to anyone in the whole wide world). The only thing with Mr. Drake (“don’t call him Old Man Drake,” her mother kept telling her) was that he asked her to make friends with his kid, Timmy, who was weird for an eight-year-old. He never talked, just stared at her and waved when he saw her and sometimes smiled when she made a joke. Still, since they were friends, she beat up anyone who tried to pick on him, because that’s what friends did for each other. And it wasn’t like he couldn’t be nice; he had invited her to his birthday party and let her have the corner of the cake with the flower made of frosting on it, which tasted like the best thing in the world and when Steph was elected president, she was going to eat nothing but rose frosting all day long.

Where was she? Oh yes. On the roof of her house, a towel wrapped around her shoulders. It wasn’t red so much as orange, but Stephie felt that she should have a little bit of creative freedom in her adaptations. “I’m Sooooperman!” she yelled to no one in particular, even thought she was not in fact a man, which was one of those little liberties she had to take with the original.

Stephie had been Superman’s biggest fan ever since she was seven and a half (which was two quarters, she had learned in school) years old, when Dad had dragged her to a baseball game (he had a lot of money “riding on the outcome” and she was his “lucky charm”). Stephie knew that baseball players were Dad’s heroes, like Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth and a bunch of other old people, but she didn’t see the big deal about catching a stupid ball. Then Superman had appeared and caught an airplane and Stephie found a sport much more exciting to follow than baseball.

Stephie put her arms out in front of her like she was swimming and ran around the rooftop, humming her superhero theme (which was really neat and went like this: “DUN DUN DUN NANANANA, DA DA DA DOO, DUN DUN DUN!”).

She didn’t have a crush on Superman, unlike what Johnny Golan, who was a butthead, had said. In fact, she didn’t take much interest in any boy, except for Timmy, who might make a good sidekick someday if he didn’t turn out to be a butthead like Johnny Golan, which was a constant danger for boys. Timmy was showing definite signs of buttheadosity, as when he did speak, he said that Batman could beat up Superman and he had pictures that proved it and Stephie didn’t understand how something like “prep time” could stop Superman from, like, melting Batman with laser beams out of his…

That was when Stephie fell off the roof.

The first thing Stephie noticed about falling was that she hadn’t hit the ground. She had hit some kind of branch or something that was holding her up. The second was that she hadn’t hit the branch hard at all, in fact she had barely felt any impact at all. The third thing she noticed was that she had not actually fallen so much as been caught by Superman.

She didn’t know how to describe him. How did you describe a superhero? If you could describe a superhero, then you could imagine a superhero, and what superheroes did was unimaginable (this impressive train of thought had gotten Stephie a B+ on her essay for school, although it should’ve been an A because the paper was about Superman and the only reason it wasn’t was because the teacher hated her). Superman was simply everything that had been said about him, everything that she’d read in the newspaper and seen on TV, only… more so.

“Easy there, miss, I’ve got you,” he said in a voice so grand that it took Steph a moment to realize he was talking to her.

“Stephie…”

“Beg pardon?”

“My name is Stephie Brown.”

“Well, Miss Brown,” he said, lowering her gently to the ground. “I’m guessing that slip back there was an accident and you haven’t just lost a woeful amount of money on the stock market.”

“Huh?” Superman being who he was, it was easy to forget he was a grown-up and therefore weird.

“You didn’t mean to fall,” he translated.

“No. I just… fell.”

“Happens to the best of us.” He reached down and rubbed the fabric of her towel between fingers that could crush a barbell. “I’m assuming this is your cape?”

“Yes sir.”

“You don’t have to call me sir.”

”Yes s… Superman.”

“My friends call me Kal.” Kal had a great smile, all warmth and trust and if he shot heat out of his eyes and cold out of his mouth, he shot security blanket out of his smile.

“Playing superhero, then?”

”Yeah! I wanna be just like you when I grow up! Only, ya know, a girl.”

Superman nodded sagely. “Well, Stephie, you wanna hear a secret?”

Stephie beamed. Superman was going to trust her with one of his secrets. Her! “Yeah, yeah, yeah!” she said, nodding so enthusiastically it was a minor miracle her head didn’t fall off.

Superman knelt down (Stephie barely came up to his knee when he stood) and cupped a hand to his mouth as he whispered in her ear, “When he was a kid, even Superman only had adventures on the ground.”

Stephie nodded while Superman stood back up. “So, no more rooftop escapades?”

Stephie didn’t know what ‘escapades’ were, but she nodded anyway. “Yes sir, Kal sir.”

“Good girl,” and Superman tousled her hair before he got into his “up, up, and away” stance.

“Kal, wait!”

“Yes?” Superman said, stopping his flight in mid-air and hovering in place, staring down at her like there was no place he’d rather be.

Stephie, suddenly nervous, crossed and uncrossed her legs and held her hands between her back. “Is there a… Supergirl?” she asked, halfway between hopeful and tentative.

Superman smiled and tapped her on the nose. “Not yet, but I’m always taking applications.”

And with that, he flew off. Stephie watched him go until long after he was just a dot in the sky.

***

Across the street, Timmy sat in his clubhouse and looked at his camera. The pictures would turn out nicely. It looked like the Allies page in his Batman scrapbook would finally have some entries.

Note to self, he wrote in his official Batman Detective's Club notebook. Investigate Stephie for ties to Superman.
 
I like it, nice job.

Have you done your 5 minute treatment for SR yet?
 

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