Honey, Wipe Your Tears...

Submitted into Contest #48 in response to: Write the 'origin story' of a person who goes on to achieve great things.... view prompt

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Drama


Dear younger, confused, twenty-third year old me,




You must be wondering why I am writing such an unusual letter to you and why now. Out of all the times I could have gone back to, I chose this particular time because this is when you needed me the most.


On any other day, I would be out on the street fighting against evil and protecting the community( Did you just roll your eyes upwards?). But today is a special day. I have just received confirmation that I am now a permanent member of the Majestic Superheroes Academy, after being a trainee for almost a decade. About time!


Let me tell you something. These past years were never easy for me –– as a woman and as someone with superpowers. People preach about breaking barriers and empowering women. But most of the time they can’t see past the batting eyelashes and the hourglass figure. We have to fight the enemies and then we have to fight for our equality. In my field of work, I have had good days and then days I don’t want to remember at all. My pride gets bruised more times than my skin does. But at the end of the day, I know I am in a happy place. I have a purpose and I am living for it. 


Looking at the credentials listed in the glossy certificate in front of me, I can’t help but think about my journey and what I could have done differently –– to confront the mistakes and to face the fears. I see the wheels turning in your head. I see that you are already eyeing the door. Before you plan an exit strategy, please take a seat and hear me out. I am not here to instruct but share the things I have learned along the way. The things I wish I had known back then.


And before we begin, I have a confession to make. We, the superheroines( Well, calling us ‘female superheroes’ is mildly insulting) might have many superpowers, but being articulate with words is never one of them. I might even use a cliche or two to get your attention. Bear with me. 



***


On a breezy Saturday evening, exactly two days after your twenty-third birthday…


You are in your bedroom in the midst of an emotional tornado because you can’t find a proper dress to wear for your date with Joe. He is your colleague from work, the one whom you have had a crush on since he joined the office. You both have been messaging each other for so many months. So it’s natural that he asks you out and you say yes.


You finally find a dress pretty enough for a first date. You spend two hours getting dolled up and then you go and sit on the sofa, waiting for the knock on the door. Instead of the knock, you hear a chime, from your phone. Without even looking at it, your heart starts to break a little. But you still look. Why prolonging the inevitable? As expected, the message says ‘ I am sorry. Something came up. Can we do it some other time?’ Disappointment would be an understatement for what you are feeling at the moment. But it isn’t new for you, is it? You very well know how it feels like being –– unimportant, invisible, a second choice or a last-minute backup plan. 


You don’t expect men and women turning their heads as soon as you enter a room. But you wonder if they really see you or see through you. You would be sitting at a family gathering and no one speaks to you unless you speak first. You would be in a salon in the middle of a discussion with your stylist and she suddenly picks up her phone and starts texting. You would be approaching the assistant in the shop with a smile and without a warning, he turns around and attends another customer. 


You don’t ever get invited to parties because you are not a cool girl to hang out with. You don’t ever get to be the bridesmaid because you are too clumsy that they fear you will make a scene. All these little hurt moments combined together make you think, “ Am I invisible?”


You believe you don’t have any physical presence at all. You are just an average girl with average looks, as plain as a Jane. But you know you have a good heart and that you go out of your way to help everyone – whether taking the grandparents to medical check-ups or babysitting for your cousins or even taking your neighbour’s dog for a walk. 


While you call yourself ‘ the good girl in the neighbourhood’, you know what people say about you? They say you are a cookie-cutter, so predictable and boring. And they conveniently put you away in a box –- of prejudices and stereotypes. Don’t be disheartened. I am just stating the truth. The earlier you know, the better. Stop expecting applause for every ordinary thing you do. Stop trying too hard to be a people-pleaser. The more you try to please others, the more they take you for granted. Instead, invest in yourself. Do the things that make you a better, happier person.


I know you are still thinking about Joe’s rejection and your eyes are welling up. Hold that thought and wipe your tears, honey. You are made for better things. 


***


Next day, you go to the office as usual and try to act absolutely normal around Joe as if he didn’t pluck your heart and stomp on it a few hours ago. Do me a favour. Keep ignoring him. You know the saying. Fool me once…


You get into your mundane activities one by one. Refill the coffee. Answer the phone calls. Refill the coffee. Check the emails. Refill… Wait a second. You stop on your tracks. The unread email at the top of the list...


“ Are my eyes deceiving me?” You ask yourself. With trembling fingers, you click it open. With bated breath, you start reading it.  



“Dear Maria,


Congratulations! Here in Majestic Superheroes Academy, every year we randomly select a few young candidates who have the potential to bring a change to the world we live in. And we are so proud to announce that you are one of our elite selectees this year.  


We will be in touch with you regarding the recruitment and training procedures. Meanwhile, we kindly advise you that you don’t discuss the content of this email with anyone due to the sensitive nature of our organisation.


Good Luck!


The Team”



This is the moment you almost expect someone to jump in front of you and scream ‘you have been pranked!’ Superhero, really? You shake your head in disbelief. You wait for the reality check to give you a wake-up call. Nothing happens. This is neither a dream nor a prank. This is real. Your ‘pinch-yourself’ moment. Your head spins. Your palms start to sweat. You feel the urge to run and hide. Don’t go anywhere. You are at the right place.


You would be lying if you say you had never thought about being a part of the distinguished Majestic Superheroes Academy, otherwise called MSA. Who wouldn’t want to be? MSA is rumoured to be a centuries-old mysterious institution that specializes in identifying the right talent and training them to be saviours of the world. No one knows their whereabouts –– where they are located, how they operate etc. But everyone is aware of their existence. Once in a while you come across a headline in the newspaper about a mysterious man/woman doing a good deed, you know it’s them. And you had always secretly hoped to be a part of it. But you don’t remember expressing your interest to anyone.


Plain Jane as a superwoman? People would laugh at you. Let them laugh. There is a reason why everyone adores the idea of a superhero. Not just because they can accomplish what normal people can’t. It’s also because of their imperfect past –– of struggles, trauma and pain –– before their perfect present. It gives hope to messed up people like us that one day we can be great too. 


This is all happening too fast. You are scared, overwhelmed. But think of the positive aspects this new turn of events will bring you. Your days don’t need to be so dull anymore. You have something to look forward to. Something that makes you feel worthy. Too nervous to focus on anything else, you shut down the laptop and leave the office.


When you reach home, there is another email from them, waiting for you, with details about meeting in person. You are surprised at their choice of location –– the old coffee shop right across the street. Were you expecting a dungeon? 


A week passes. Then two. No more emails. You start to wonder, “Was any part of the emails real or is it just the continuation of my saga of rejection and injustice?” 


You spend your days binge-watching superhero movies and gradually filling your mind with questions, “What kind of superhero will I be? Someone conventional like Spiderman and Superman? Or someone more complex, like Batman and Deadpool?” 


“The email says I was randomly selected. What was the criterion? And how random?”


Don’t think about any of that now. You will have plenty of time later to figure that out. Just go with the flow and enjoy the journey.



***


Finally, the day arrives and you are standing in front of the coffee shop, looking borderline hysterical. Take it easy. It’s time to embrace your new identity. Go in with a smile. 


You push the door open and step your foot inside. You immediately sense a sudden shift in the air. The place is completely empty, not a single person to be seen. It’s too warm, too quiet and it's unsettling.


You are expecting an old man to come out and greet you –– someone who looks like he belongs in Chronicles of Narnia filming set. Instead, you see a middle-aged woman in a waitress uniform walking towards you in long strides. “Have I seen her before?” You search in your memory but come up with nothing. You give her a friendly smile, but her demeanour suggests she is not up for a friendly chat. She puts her hand inside her apron pocket and takes out something. A black square-shaped velvet box. You look at her extended arm and take the box from her. No questions asked. With a curt nod, she turns around and walks away. 


Carefully, you open it. Inside, there is a simple silver necklace with a long crystal pendant, along with a small note. 


“Maria,


Consider this as your welcome gift. Put it on.”


Unable to contain your curiosity, you take the necklace out of the box and put it around your neck. As soon as the clasp is tightened, you feel a jolt of electricity entering your body, moving slowly all the way down your spine. You feel hot, feverish. Your skin is burning. Your bones make a cracking sound. Your muscles are being stretched. Your body starts to shake uncontrollably. Hang in there. This is going to be your last fear. It lasts for less than a minute but seems like a lifetime.


You look down and you are shocked to find that you can’t see anything –– your clothes, your body –– nothing at all. Frantically, you move your arm up to your neck and come to the revelation that you can feel the necklace even though you can’t see it all. You grab it and jerk it over your neck. To your astonishment, the necklace becomes visible again, along with the hand holding it and the rest of your body. You stare at it without blinking, confused and stunned. Then reality hits you so hard that it kicks you out of your trance. The object in your hand is your special gift, a gift that is going to take you to places. Your throat tightens. Your lips tremble. 


A moment later, you are walking out of the coffee shop with a proud smile on your face, the necklace safely tucked in your purse. You have just received a gift along with a chance to live the life your way. A chance to turn your greatest weakness to your greatest strength. A chance to feel more ‘visible’ than ever. 


You also have a question in your mind, something that has been bothering you ever since the day you have received the first email. 


“Am I being chosen for a reason?”


Well, you will have to wait a decade for the answer!



For now, just wipe your tears, honey. Because you are made for better things. 






With all my love, 


The older, wiser, thirty- three year old me 



July 02, 2020 14:01

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97 comments

Yageen Faiz
14:47 Jul 06, 2020

hello! can you read one of my stories if you have time? thank you!

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Roshna Rusiniya
03:52 Jul 07, 2020

I read one of yours and liked it.

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Grace M'mbone
18:01 Jul 04, 2020

I loved the story right from the title, "Honey,wipe your tears." It had some useful pieces of advice that do indeed show the wisdom of the older protagonist. Roshna this is brilliant. Keep up the good work.

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Roshna Rusiniya
04:55 Jul 05, 2020

Thank you Grace. Your positive feedback means a lot! ❤️

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Emma Lin
17:09 Jul 04, 2020

Hello Roshna! Great job with the story! I am looking forward to a continuation of it :D

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Roshna Rusiniya
17:15 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you Emma! And welcome back! I haven’t seen your stories for weeks. I am planning a sequel but don’t know when! Ha ha.

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Emma Lin
17:34 Jul 04, 2020

Ohhh nice! Yay! I have been busy with my personal life and work. A week ago, I had two wisdom teeth pulled out, but it was a fast recovery! Have a happy 4th of July! :)

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Roshna Rusiniya
13:40 Jul 05, 2020

Ah! Hope you have recovered well. Happy 4 th July to you too!

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Emma Lin
16:29 Jul 05, 2020

Thanks :)

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Khizra Aslam
06:33 Jul 04, 2020

Loved it❤

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Roshna Rusiniya
06:47 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you Khizra! 🌹

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Deborah Angevin
06:02 Jul 04, 2020

Never occurred to me that even a superhero would have such worries! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it :)

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Roshna Rusiniya
06:47 Jul 04, 2020

Thanks Deborah! Superheroes aren’t perfect. They are flawed too. Ha ha

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A. Y. R
21:39 Jul 03, 2020

This was a really interesting take in the prompt, combining the worries of a younger superhero reassured by her future self! It really helped build depth to what could have been an ordinary superhero story!

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Roshna Rusiniya
02:07 Jul 04, 2020

Thank you!

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Corey Melin
19:04 Jul 03, 2020

Very well done. Life gets better so hang in there needs to be preached to the young. Enjoyed it

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Roshna Rusiniya
19:55 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you Corey! I appreciate you reading and commenting!

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15:29 Jul 03, 2020

Hi Roshna! Reading as promised! I really liked the letter format of older self writing to younger self, though I was wondering if older Maria intends to actually deliver the letter to young Maria (via some kind of time warp?), or if the letter was just a way for older Maria to tell her story. Maria's superpower fit very nicely, and I loved your choice of title! Small technical note, some of the paragraphs seemed a bit long (e.g. "This is the moment you expect...") and the story might be more readable if you broke those into smaller c...

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Roshna Rusiniya
15:33 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you for reading Emilie! Really appreciate it. The letter was meant to be just a reflection on what she could have done differently to face her fears when she was younger. Good point about lengthy paragraphs. I will fix it. Thanks again Emilie!

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17:31 Jul 03, 2020

You're very welcome!

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Elle Clark
13:55 Jul 03, 2020

Hi Roshna - so sorry it’s taken me so long to read this. I’m going to put the blame squarely at my six-month-old’s feet. She’s decided sleeping at night is optional. This is a lovely story and I like the links between visibility and invisibility. It’s a nice connection and a nice way to turn her weakness into her strength. I liked the letter format and the repeated ‘wipe your tears honey’. Both serve to move the story along. The bit before the letter could be tightened up a bit, I think. The feminism but I am very much in favour ...

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Roshna Rusiniya
14:44 Jul 03, 2020

Hi Laura! Don’t worry about a late response. And I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to read my story! You have a six month old baby? That’s lovely. Mine have grown up. 8 and 10 now. But they are still demanding! Lol! And thanks a lot for your great feedback as always! Regarding the point you mentioned- by talking about the feminism and by repeatedly asking her to listen, I just wanted to show how much the protagonist’s personality has changed over the years. Before she was someone who kept expecting everyone’s ...

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Elle Clark
14:59 Jul 03, 2020

I do indeed - though it feels like she should only be a few weeks old. Time flies! I bet you feel the same with yours! I totally get what you’re saying about showing change. Maybe put in half a sentence to make that more explicit? ‘The things I used to run from are now the things that fascinate me so before you look for an exit strategy...’?

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Roshna Rusiniya
15:08 Jul 03, 2020

That was a valuable point. Will do that Laura. Thanks!

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Roshna Rusiniya
16:20 Jul 03, 2020

I did some minor editing to the first part. Added three more lines to it.

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Elle Clark
07:47 Jul 06, 2020

I think that tightens it up a bit - good edit!

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Arya Preston
13:45 Jul 03, 2020

This was such a wholesome story! And the description of her accepting the gift was written really well, I could imagine the whole scene!

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Roshna Rusiniya
14:47 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you Arya for reading and commenting. Really appreciated! ❤️ That scene was the hardest to write! Lol! I had changed it so many times. It was the most important part in the story and I really wanted to get it right. I am glad it came out ok.

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Nandan Prasad
04:37 Jul 03, 2020

Very sweet story! I like the way the whole invisible-visible thing tied up in the end.

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Roshna Rusiniya
04:46 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you Nandan! That was the hardest part to write!

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Samantha Davis
03:06 Jul 03, 2020

Pretty cool story would you mind checking mine out thanks!

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Roshna Rusiniya
03:15 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you. I was going to check out you stories. But I don’t see anything in your profile. Please let me know after you submit. I will read them.

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Samantha Davis
03:25 Jul 03, 2020

When the superhero stories come out I will have one.

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Roshna Rusiniya
03:33 Jul 03, 2020

Oh ok. Will check it out. All the best to you!

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The Daltons
13:47 Aug 19, 2020

I liked it SOO much!

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Roshna Rusiniya
14:03 Aug 19, 2020

Thank you :)

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The Daltons
17:58 Aug 19, 2020

No problem!

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Kathleen March
19:15 Jul 03, 2020

There is a bit of a contradiction near the beginning, when the letter is being written, then the recipient is told not to leave. That would be more logical if it were a conversation, not a letter. I would have liked to know more about the super power of the main character. By leaving it vague, it leaves the story a bit vague, too. At the same time, I like the story line, like the narrator's voice, and the gender issues. It's hard to see the narrator as somebody who gets passed over or ignored! Definitely material for a longer piece.

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Roshna Rusiniya
19:52 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you Kathleen. Appreciate the honest feedback. Regarding the beginning, it wasn’t a real letter, but just a pep talk in the protagonist’s head. I should have made that clearer anyways. Her superpower is gifted to her at the end, in the form of an invisibility necklace. I didn’t focus too much on how she used it as this was meant to be just a backstory. Maria definitely had self esteem issues when she was younger. But over the years she has changed, partly because of her new identity as a superhero and partly because of her growt...

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Kathleen March
20:20 Jul 03, 2020

I think the growth is hard to capture in a short story under 3000 words. It ends up being vague. I am not being aggressive with this comment, but rather thinking that it fits more into a longer piece than short story genre. Everything is spelled out more succintly in a story. Maria has lots of potential. Give her some more love and I bet she'll be even more of a super heroine.

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Roshna Rusiniya
02:10 Jul 04, 2020

No problem at all. I understand what you are saying here. I just wanted to try something different instead of simply talking about a superhero and his/her powers.

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Hello, Roshna! I really liked the format of the story, and how you included touches of second person. Good job!

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Roshna Rusiniya
17:02 Jul 03, 2020

Thank you Rose for reading and commenting. Really appreciate it!

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The Cold Ice
06:48 Jul 24, 2020

I liked the story. It was great.

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Roshna Rusiniya
07:30 Jul 24, 2020

Thank you. I appreciate you reading and commenting.

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