Change Begins with Awkwardness

Written in response to: Start your story with someone breaking an awkward silence at a family dinner.... view prompt


Adventure Contemporary Urban Fantasy

Sunday dinner at the Noraway house wasn’t optional but had her siblings really had to bring their work home with them?

They all stared at the body laying limply on top of shattered dishes and ceiling debris. The silence seemed to drag on as they all tried to comprehend what exactly had just happened.

A man had fallen through the ceiling- obviously- but what had he been doing up there was the bigger question. Jessica glanced around at her family. Mum and Dad looked far too composed for having a possibly dead body on their dining room table while her older siblings- Mary and Caleb- had pushed away from the table.

Mary was looking at the man in a mix of surprise and horror while Caleb stared at Mary with a mix of horror and surprise.

It seemed Jessica had won the bet she’d made with herself- Caleb had been entirely unaware of Mary’s…other identity. And probably would have remained unaware save for the green sparks of electricity traveling across Mary’s hands. Did Mary know who Caleb was? Either way, this was going to be awkward. Which Jessica found she had no trouble saying. “Well, this is awkward.”

Everyone’s gaze snapped to her just as the man on the table groaned. Oh, good. He wasn’t dead. That would have been massively inconvenient. She was quite sure neither of her siblings wanted the police called.

“So, should I make introductions? Or have you both figured out that you’ve been fighting each other for the last seven and a half months?” She was amazed they hadn’t noticed they’d been fighting their own sibling- she was just a bystander and it had only taken her a month and half to put all the pieces together.

“Uhhh...what introductions?” Mary tried the innocent act which didn’t really work considering the green sparks. Jessica gave her a doubtful look and pointed to said green sparks. Panicked crossed Mary’s face and she clenched her hands together, dousing the electricity.

“So, um, Night Creeper meet Justice.” She gestured to her brother. Mary’s eyes widened a bit- had she not heard Jessica’s whole fighting with each other bit? The body moaned again and Mary’s gaze was redirected to him. Perhaps she could be forgiven for not listening- the body was a bit distracting. “And Justice, meet Night Creeper.”

“You’re really…” Caleb looked like his head was about to explode. He pressed his hand against his forehead supporting her whole head exploding theory.

“Yeah. I am.” Mary crossed her arms and gave Caleb the whole “Just try me” look. “Do you have a problem with that?”

“Yes. I have a problem with that!” Caleb exploded. “You’re a super villain!”

“Awww. You think I’m super?” Mary grinned.

“Mary!” Caleb stared at her aghast. “You’re the bad guy.”

“You’re the one working for the bad guys!” Mary jabbed a finger at him.

“How can I be working for the bad guys- when you’re the bad guy?”

“Well,” Mum interrupted. “This is all…something. I think we’ll have dinner outside tonight. Marcus.” Mom’s voice was cool, collected, though her eyes darted between her two eldest children.

Marcus stepped into the room, immaculate as ever in his butler’s uniform. “The table is being set up as we speak Madam.” He eyed the body on the table. “Shall I call for medical aid for our…guest?”

“Yes.” Mary said as Caleb said, “No.”

They both glared at each other.

“He’s an intruder and we should call the police.”

“He’s my friend and you’re going to leave him alone.” Mary said. “Unless you want the police to arrest me as well.”

“You’re a villain, so yes, you should be arrested.”

Jessica glared at her brother. You didn’t have family arrested unless they’d done something truly horrible and Mary hadn’t. Night Creeper made sure to take any fights outside of town and she had a tendency to target…

“You’re the one who works with the real villains or do you really believe the mayor is an innocent do-gooder?” Mary snapped back. On this point, Jessica agreed with her sister. Which is why she worked with different civic groups as an educator and protestor.

“Shall we go outside, dear?” Dad offered Mum an arm. “The stars are supposed to be lovely tonight.”

“And the full moon.” Mum took his arm and they strolled towards the door.

“Are you two just going to ignore the fact that your daughter is a villain?” Caleb demanded.

“Just because I work against the establishment doesn’t mean I’m the bad guy.”

“If you want to fix the system, you have to work with it.” That was also true but if the system was broken, what did you do then? It was something Jessica had wrestled with the last few months.

“And sometimes you have to burn it the ground, and start over.” That option was a little extreme though, Jessica thought.

Before Caleb could respond, Jessica spoke. “And sometimes you really just want to have dinner.” She stood up. “And dessert. I think we could all really use some dessert right now.”

It wouldn’t fix anything except her growling stomach and hopefully give her siblings some time to calm down.

“Jess, this is serious.” Caleb said.

Did he think she didn’t know that? But she knew the face he was making meant he wouldn’t really listen to anything she said, so she stuck with dessert. “I agree, dessert is very serious. Now I’m going to go have dessert. If you two don’t join us, I will eat your servings.”

Caleb clenched his jaw but said nothing. Jessica turned her back on them and followed her parents outside.

The evening was rapidly cooling as the moon rose in the east bringing with it the first stars of the night. The first one, Jessica spotted, she made a wish on. Please let her siblings get along, she thought.

Jessica plopped down in the chair next to her Mum’s. The staff had already brought out new dishes and her salad sat there- waiting for to eat but her appetite was gone.

“It’s been quite the evening, hasn’t it?” Mum said.

Jessica snorted softly. “Not every night a body falls on the table.”

“Or secret identities are revealed.” Her Dad added.

“You didn’t know?” Had they really missed the late nights? The bruising?

“Oh, we knew.” Mum said, sounding resigned.

“And?” How did her parents feel about two of their children regularly battling each other?

Mum sighed and inside the voices started to grow louder. Unease welled up in Jessica. “We’re going to be okay, aren’t we?”

Mum laid her hand over hers. “We’re family and no matter what side anyone is on, we are always going to be family even if we don’t approve of the actions of two of our children.”

Dad smiled grimly at her. “At least you’ve had the sense to keep out of this mess.”

“You know you’re saying that to a frequent protestor.” Jessica smirked and then sighed. “Mary’s not wrong.”

“But she’s not entirely right either.” Mum said. “And Caleb isn’t right but he’s not wrong either.”

“Then what do we do?” Jessica asked. She didn’t want her family to be divided like this.

Mum squeezed her hand. “I don’t know. But we’ll figure it out together.”

They all sort of sighed while Mary and Caleb continue to shout at one another. At least they were keeping their attacks to the verbal kind. Not that that wouldn’t leave its own type of bruising.

“You know,” Dad spoke suddenly, “What we could really use is an end of the world option.”


Dad looked amused at whatever he was thinking. “You know- like in the movies- two people are rivals till they have a bigger opponent and then they have to work together.”

Jessica snorted. “End of the world huh? If only we could arrange that.”

“That’s actually not a bad idea.” Mum’s face turned thoughtful.

“We don’t actually want to end the world, Mum.”

Mum started tapping her fingers together. “Not a literal end of the world but maybe the end of ours?” She lifted an eyebrow and stared off into the distance, clearly thinking of a plan. “We might even be able to stop a bit of that corruption while we’re at it.”

Jessica grinned. “Even not knowing any details, I’m totally in support of this.”

“Anything to stop the arguing.” Dad winced as there was a shriek from inside the house- most likely Mary but Jessica had heard Caleb reach those decibels before.

Marcus appeared at Mum’s side and handed her a white book. Mum smiled up at him. “You anticipated me, Marcus.”

“Of course, Madam. And please let me say, I am completely at your service for this endeavor.”

Jessica grinned. “Let’s get started.”

Six Months Later

Stage lights came on illuminating the wreckage of the old theater and nearly blinding Jessica. Night Creeper and Justice stood side by side, chests heaving as they stared down at the group of crooks responsible for today’s mess.

Sirens filled the air, and government agents swarmed into the room, moving to arrest those responsible including the mayor while Night Creeper and Justice rushed onto the stage and began to untie Jessica.

“You, okay?” Caleb whispered.

Kidnapping hadn’t exactly been part of the plan but considering the results, Jessica was doing just fine. “I’m okay.”

“Good.” Mary squeezed her shoulder. “You had us worried.”

“I wasn’t worried.” Her siblings both gave her a look. “Okay, a little worried. But I knew you two would come.” Caleb and Mary smiled at her.

“Jessica!” Mum and Dad ran into the theater followed hopefully by the new chief of police- as the current one was currently being arrested. Night Creeper and Justice straightened, careful not to betray their identities to the cops around them. Her parents engulfed her in a hug.

“Not quite to plan.” Dad whispered in her ear.

“But successful anyways.” Jessica murmured back.

“Thank you so much Night Creeper. Justice.” Mum said. “I’m so glad you two were able to work together. Our city would be so much better, if more people could follow your example and set aside their differences and work together for the greater good.” She gave them both a meaningful look.

Caleb and Mary glanced at each other; then at the floor. “I believe you are right.” Justice said.

Night Creeper smiled softly and bumped Justice with her shoulder. “For once, Justice and I agree.”

Jessica smiled softly.

Her family- and her city- were going to be okay.

September 14, 2022 23:48

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