It happened out of nowhere. I didn’t even notice until it was too late.
It was a normal Monday morning, and as expected I was late.
“Hey man! You missed first period.” Joey greets me with a high-five as he came out of our classroom. The sea of students rushing to get out pushed him nearer to where I was waiting by the door.
“I was reading the book you lent me.” We both walk towards the direction of the gym. The second subject is P.E. which I don’t really look forward to. We try to avoid bumping into any other student in the hallway also rushing to get to class.
“Yeah? Is that why you’re late?” he slings an arm around my shoulder. Joey has always been the touchy-friendly type.
“I’m always late.” I deadpan. He laughs and ruffles my hair. He does that a lot too; I reckon he thinks of himself as my older brother. Well, he is really older as I skipped a grade.
“I mean later than usual. You always at least get to attend first period, but you completely missed it today.” I admit I’m a bit irresponsible, but he doesn’t really need to act like that. Maybe it’s because we’ve known each other since childhood. Though, I don’t really mind either way. He can do what he wants.
“So how was it? Interesting right? Since I know the type of comics you like to read so I thought you might be interested in it.”
I nod. “Yeah it’s interesting. You could make a good origin story with its concept.”
We reach the gym and class proceeds as normal. The day goes by the same as all school days usually go by for me. I fail spectacularly in anything physical. I complain to Joey for the --I don’t even know how many times now, just how I hate P.E. I avoid my first period teacher. Joey wakes me up when I fall asleep in class. Everything goes on as usual. And soon, we get to do one of my favorite things during school days. We get to go home.
We stop by the place where I usually buy my comic books on the way home. It’s practically a routine now at this point. Joey comes for the novels. I go directly to the comic section.
Sometimes we just browse. If we find something we like, we buy it. Joey is much more careful though when spending his money. He takes a long time thinking of the pro or cons of buying of buying anything he finds. Me on the other hand, I see something I like, I buy it. I’ve got a whole collection of comics in my room, some I haven’t even read yet.
“You find anything?” Joey asks as he comes into the section I’m in. I show him the three I found that I liked.
“What about you? “
“Nah, I didn’t find anything that I think was worth it. There wasn’t anything that interesting.”
He accompanies me when I go to the cashier to pay for my little pile. I now have new additions to my stash at home. We head home after that.
I was excited to get to read what I had found. So I took one out of the bag and was just scanning it, flipping through the pages, not looking where I was going. That was my first mistake.
My second mistake was that I trusted too much. I trusted Joey too much. I trusted that people would follow traffic rules. I also trusted that today going to be the same as other days. I shouldn’t have.
I could only watch, frozen in shock, as Joey lay bleeding on the road.
It happened too fast. I don’t even know half of what really happened. All I know is that I felt him grab me and pull me into the sidewalk.
Then everything after that felt like it happened in slow motion. A truck ran him over. Other people were swarming to the scene. I could feel someone shake me and ask me if I was alright.
Was I alright? Why were they asking if I was alright? Joey clearly wasn’t. They should do something. They should help him.
I should do something. I’ve got to help him. He was bleeding. I could see the blood, red, so much red, pooling underneath him. Yet I just sat there, frozen in shock.
Someone called an Ambulance. I could hear it. I could see the flashing lights.
Everything that happened next was a blur.
All I remember are little snippets. The hospital, doctors, nurses, our parents came. I don’t even remember the drive home. I was only when I was in my room that it all came crashing down.
I spent days in bed. All I did was stare at the ceiling, at my bookshelves filled with comic books all perfectly arranged, at the posters on my wall.
Joey was in a coma. They don’t know when he might wake up. No one tries to think if he ever even might.
I visited him at the hospital the next day. Frankly, I didn’t want to go. I was torn between wanting to see him and not wanting to see him all hooked to machines looking like death is just at the doorstep, waiting to come get him.
I met his parents and the tears just went down. I spent minutes just crying and apologizing, and all they did was hug me and they kept on saying it wasn’t my fault and that accidents were bound to happen.
It was my fault though. Even if sometimes brakes don’t function, it was still my fault. I should have been paying attention, and then maybe none of this would ever happen.
I went home just wondering why. Why, why, why, why. Why did it have to be him? Why did I have to not pay attention that day? And as I stare at the pictures of superheroes and comic book characters on my wall, I wonder just why in all the years I’ve read and yearned to just have a taste of having powers, why hasn’t the universe, at the most crucial moment, just granted me even a tiny bit of power to just save him?
If I had speed I might have gotten to him in time. I had super strength I might have pushed or even stopped the truck. Maybe if I had teleportation? Or even time jumping or something, just anything to do to try and save him from what happened, to prevent it from ever happening.
I didn’t know what to feel, was I angry? Was I sad? Grieving? Was I still in denial? I don’t know. I don’t care. I tore some of the posters on my wall. It didn’t make me feel alright. I just wanted him to be alright.
Days were weird and bleak at that point. I had no concept of time or what day it even was. I spent my time alternating just watching him at the hospital or locking myself in my room. School was far from my mind at this point. Though occasionally, my parents could coax me to attend. Nothing ever registered during class. I just didn’t care at that point. I was just going through the motions.
Joey woke up several weeks later. He was weak and still recovering. I was just glad to see him awake. I may have cried a bit. Joey, being Joey, still tried to ruffle my hair.
We threw a little celebration party for his recovery.
I stayed with him through all the physical therapy as much as I could.
I went home that day with an idea, a conviction. Before all this I’ve never thought of what I wanted to be, what career to choose. Well now, I found my purpose. I spent weeks lamenting the fact that I couldn’t have superpowers to save him. I’ve been waiting, but I was never granted any power. I realized, it’s never going to come to me. I can’t just wait for it. I’ll work for it. I won’t react how I did that day.
I may not have superpowers, and I will never have them, but I could strive to help save people, by my own power.