Bag bumping against his leg, Kyran left his house and ran to school. He didn’t know why he was running. He didn’t particularly like school, but running felt like something he should do.
He slowed as he got to the gates, trying to bypass a large muddy puddle on the grass, when 2 rough hands pushed him into it.
“Ouch!” He fell with a splash. Sneers echoed from behind him.
He turned sharply and faced them with a glare.
“You don’t want to do that, I’ll-I’ll get my Dad to come get you!”
The older boys laughed.
“What, you stupid? Your Dad couldn’t push around a daisy, lying in hospital!”
Kyran’s eyes stung.
“He’s-he’s not in hospital, he’s… becoming a- superhero. Yeah.”
The boys looked at him stunned for a minute. Then they sniggered, laughter building like hyenas.
“Man, you can’t believe that? Dude that belongs in primary school. You’re at Kingston now, act like it. Come on, everyone knows super-heroes don’t exist.” The lead guy nudged his friends.
“Yes they do! He’s being hit with gamma rays while we speak, to make him- him like the hulk. Yeah, that’s it. Gamma rays.”
Guy 1 raised his eyebrows.
“Yeah, whatever kid. C’mon Duke, I’ve got coursework catch-up first.”
They walked away. #swag, Kyran thought. He had no idea what it meant. He brushed himself down as the bell went. Maths first, which he couldn’t and never would be able to do. He hoped Dad would get his superpowers soon, so he could help.
He sat through his lessons, bored out his mind. Noone here was interesting or original. The girls were copies of themselves, even at this age trying to establish some male contact. Those who didn’t were plain and boring, and teased mercilessly for being otherwise sexually orientated by the boys, who were as stupid as the copies of girls, but without the pounds of borrowed make-up from their mothers.
In maths he found there was a new girl. The only available seat was next to him. This was where she sat. He looked at her. She didn’t look like a copy. She didn’t look boring. Her hair was thick and long, trailing down her back in corkscrew tight curls. Her skin was dark, but not chocolate. There was a red streak that followed one curl in its path to her waist, and her eyes were outlined in a sophisticated line of black-brown. The boys wolf-whistled as she sat down. They couldn’t live up to the age they were trying to be.
“Hi.” She started, staring at his straight ginger hair that flicked over one eye, in an effort to be considered normal by his peers.
“Hi.” He said, blinking at the dark coal of her irises. The teacher blithered on at the front, focussing his teaching to the masses, which didn’t include them.
“I’m Shaniqua. What’s your name?”
“Kyran.” There was a pause. “I like your name.” He said shyly. She smiled.
“Thanks. I like your’s too.”
“Thanks. Where are you from?”
“But, you look all… different.”
“Yeah I guess. My Dad’s from America, and his parents lived in Africa.”
“Where’s your Mum from?”
He hadn’t really had a conversation with anyone that had lasted this long. He didn’t talk much.
“I like you hair.” She said.
“Thank you.” He smiled. “Nobody else does. They say I don’t have a soul.”
“What, because you have red hair?”
“No, because I don’t talk much and I once knifed this guy.”
Her eyes widened. He smiled.
“No, because I’m ginger.”
She laughed and he grinned.
“Well people think my dad’s a thief because I’m black.”
“No you’re not.”
She paused, narrowing her eyes. She did everything with her eyes, she just smiled with her mouth.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you’re quite a light colour, and since your mum’s from reading I’m guessing she’s white. And black and white doesn’t make black. It makes grey.”
“So…. I’m grey?” She said, raising an eyebrow.
“Well… yes in a way. But really you’re brown. I like it. You don’t look like a copy.”
“Thanks I guess.” She smiled again.
The lesson was over, and Kyran didn’t see Shaniqua for the rest of his lessons.
He walked home, he didn’t feel like running.
“Kyle! Kyyyyyle!” Came a shout behind him. He didn’t turn.
“Kyle?” What was that girl’s problem?
He heard footsteps quickly crescendo behind him and he felt 2 hands fall on his shoulders. He turned.
“Kyle!” He laughed.
“Er, my name’s Kyran, not Kyle.”
She turned red. It was hard to see on her skin.
“Oh. Um, sorry. Haha. I thought it was Kyle… haha.”
She dithered. There was another girl next to her, a blond with blue eyes. Another copy.
“Um, this is Lucy.” The blond girl waved shyly.
“Yeah I know. She’s in my French class. Hey, Luce.” He said. He didn’t mention the fact that all during French all he could hear was her rasping laughter as she said rude words in a language the teacher blatantly understood but didn’t care to mention. That being Spanish.
They didn’t talk for a while as they walked toward Kyran’s house. Luce turned off to her house after a while and Kyran was glad he was alone with Shaniqua.
“I know…” He started as they walked towards the crossing.
“I know I’ve only known you for a day, but I kinda like you. D’you think…”
“Sure.” She took his hand and didn’t take her eyes off him. She walked out onto the crossing as Kyran tried to pull her back but it was too late and she fell. The car that had hit her froze and a woman jumped out and dialled 999, crying. Kyran fell to his knees beside Shaniqua. Her legs were broken, that was obvious. But was she still… her? He held her hand until the ambulance came. He wouldn’t let them take her without him. They went the familiar route to the hospital and he watched over Shaniqua. They wouldn’t let his tears fall on her.
They took her away in the Hospital and told him to sit down. He didn’t he went to see his Dad. He could use a superhero right now.
“Dad?” He said walking into the dark room. The bald head of his father shined in the hospital light, garish and white. Why did he have to have no hair to be a superhero? He missed Dad’s ginger hair.
“Dad, are you a superhero yet?”
Connor held his hand out to his son. His rasping breaths clearly hurt his throat.
“No, son. I’m trying really hard. But not yet.”
(Alternative ending-continues after the end of this end)
* * *
“COME ON DAD!”
Shouts and cheers roared around the stadium. His Dad ran fast, England had a good shot at getting bronze. You can do it…
2012 was here. The Olympics were gone, but his Dad had the home advantage in this Paralympics race. His leg had been removed 3 years ago, and replaced with a steel running foot. People everywhere declared him a superhuman.
It was over so quickly. He’d done it! Kyran’s dad took silver! Kyran cried from the stands. He looked over at Shaniqua’s coal eyes. She kissed him.
“He is a superhero, you know.”
(Yeah, it’s a bit cheesy, but it’s nice. And it’s only an alternative, end it where you will.)