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Ever since I was small, I’d been collecting comic books. I’ve always hated reading books without pictures, because then it would seem less real. The reason I love comic books so much is that it gives me a chance to believe that there are people out there, who selflessly help others without expecting anything back.

Real superheroes.

The line between reality and the pages would blur. My grandmother always thought that my obsession was cute, but every once in a while, she’d tell me to get my head out of my book and look at the real world.

 And I wouldn’t say anything back, because my words are twisted and have always been. I have social anxiety disorder. That’s another reason I remain silent and stay in my books. I’m scared of speaking out loud, to stop something bad from happening. What kind of superhero is scared of evil? Scared to stop the evil?

In my little world of comic ink and fluttering pages, I never dreamed that a normal person could be a superhero. A superhero was out there, someone unreachable. Someone who should be read about and to be inspired about. But I never wondered how new superheroes are made. No matter how my words were tangled and twisted- as long as I have my comics, my soul is stable.

My grandmother said that it was no way to live, however. She said it was good that I was steadying my heart alongside the pages of my comics, but then I would spend my life reading about other stories. Never leaving my bedroom, entangled in someone else’s played-out destiny.

Never going out there and writing my own story.

That isn’t what Uncle would have told me to believe.

Uncle Zane is a soldier. He’s a real hero. He’s gone for eleven months and Grandmother said he’d be back in a month or so. Before he went, he said that he was proud of me for reading about heroes; because all heroes start off by being inspired by others to do good. He said that you don’t need superpowers to become a hero- just a willingness to do the right thing.

I have to do him proud.

So that’s why I’m walking towards the supervisor’s office at school. For permission to start a club. ‘Think globally, act locally.’ Okay, so my main goal in life is to help others. That’s a big goal if I am taking it beyond my little town. So I should start small and make my way up.

I knock thrice on Mr. Whitestone’s door. “Come in!”

All of a sudden, I feel like this is a bad idea. My vision clouds up but, by magic, my resolve doesn’t. I open the door and say, “M-Mr. Whitestone, sir.”

Maybe all the magic in the world couldn’t fix my words, but this was a start. At least I made it this far without breaking down or having a panic attack. Mr. Whitestone raises his eyebrows. “Harper Kelly. What can I help you with?”

“Sir, I-I would, um- I would l-like-”

He beckons to me with a small, almost sad smile.

“If your words hurt to say, write them down. I used to have social anxiety disorder too. What helped me get over it was a supporting figure in my life that encouraged me to be who I am.”

He passes me a notepad and a pen. I write down- I want to start a club of do-gooders. To make a difference.

I pass it back to him and his smile blows into a full-blown grin. “Name it after me, would you?” We both laugh and he tells me to use the extra classroom near the cafeteria as the club. I print flyers out of paper that is made from trees in sustainable forests. I pass them around and after school, go to the extra classroom.

To my surprise, there are four other people there. That is more than what I would have expected. On the board I write- Hi there! My name is Harper. I have social anxiety disorder, which is why I’m not speaking. I want to make a difference and to do good in the world. Welcome to the Do-Gooders Club!

Two of them start clapping and I decide to at least try to speak. They deserved it. “I-I hope, um, we all get along?” I look down to my shoes and another girl says, “What should be our good deed for the day?”

I erase what I had written on the board and said, “Let’s brainstorm!”

I’m feeling confident now. These were people who wanted to do the same as me.

By the end of 30 minutes we decided to spread awareness about our club and about leprosy patients. These people were misunderstood, and the public didn’t need to be protected from them: they needed to protected from the public. For another half hour, we made a couple PPTs and charts to take with us.

Our first campaign was a huge success! Another member joined, and a lot of other people gained understanding about leprosy. I finally feel good about myself, that I was doing good. Uncle Zane would be proud.

The next day, I was woken up by a screaming grandmother. Grandma shoved the day’s newspaper in my face and there we were! Just a little article and at the end they said they wanted to talk to me and the club for a private interview. They said to email them.

I emailed and told them to not publicize us. That’s what Uncle Zane would’ve done.

Would he have been proud?

A month flutters by. I’m so glad I started this club. We didn’t need recognition, just the fact that we were doing good was enough for us. I’m so glad that I did something that Uncle would be proud of. I’m so glad that I get the opportunity to make someone smile every day. 

I guess that I am a real hero now. No superpowers. Several weaknesses. But what makes one a hero is that they are willing to do good and fight for what they believe in. Like Uncle Zane.

The doorbell rings. My heart starts dancing. Grandma opens the door. He’s finally here! Ever since Uncle’s come home, I’ve felt so safe. I’ve felt chrysalism- the tranquility of being inside my own warm and welcoming home while a storm batters everything outside. I feel safe because love is eternal, and love protects us. I know that, wherever I go, I am loved.

If that isn’t magic, then I don’t know what is.

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2 comments

Nandan Prasad
07:16 Jul 10, 2020

Hey, such a beautiful and sweet story! The premise is captivating and the social anxiety disorder addition really evokes the perfect response in the reader. Very imaginative take on the prompt. All in all, very well-written! Also, would you mind checking out my stories if it's not too much trouble? Thanks and good luck!

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12:08 Jul 10, 2020

I don't mind at all, thank you so much for the feedback!

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