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art by Seth Alan Bareiss

Daughter of Mettle

Aaron DaMommio is a husband, father, writer, juggler, and expert washer of dishes who lives in Austin, Texas. You can find him on the web at aarondamommio.blogspot.com.
When my seventeenth birthday came and went without a word, I decided to take away your powers.
The plan was simple: radioactive powder in your cocoa. You'd promised never to miss morning cocoa after you spent my ninth birthday babysitting a hostage crisis at Euro Disney. You'd kept that promise--when you were home.
When you returned three days after my birthday, I prepared your cup and its extra ingredient. Suddenly nothing seemed simple. You could hear someone cock a gun a thousand miles away; surely you could detect the bass thumping of my heart.
But you took the cup from my hands. Raised it to your lips. I held my breath.
The powder was filings from a bracelet I found in the back of Mom's lingerie drawer. I knew you and Mom couldn't have had me unless Mom had a way to defeat your powers, but it took a Geiger counter to find it.
On my fifth birthday, you said you'd be back in time to help me blow out my candles. It was only Australia; only an earthquake; back in a jiffy. But then the tidal wave hit Sydney. I blew out my candles alone.
I started breathing again when you stopped in the middle of a sentence, your eyes fixed on the grass outside the window. Dewdrops. You were always raving about how the morning breeze made them quiver like they were inhaling. I never understood the appeal, but then I can't see electrons spinning in their orbits.
You haven't moved a micron. In a moment I'll know whether I got the amount right. I used only the merest fraction of powder, but it's not like you can look up the recipe on Wikipedia.
You missed my eleventh birthday party to fight the Time Killer. You couldn't convince me afterwards that you never had a spare moment. All those trips up and down the timestream to save the First Lady's grandparents--you could have stopped off to inflate the bouncy house with your super breath and still caught the bad guy before he started.
But I'll never forget what you looked like on the evening news. The Time Killer capering behind your frozen form and waving his Stasis Ray. Your eyes staring ahead, unblinking.
Just now I'd give anything if you'd only breathe.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, April 11th, 2013


This story was motivated by the collapse of several other superhero-related story ideas and the need to meet a self-imposed goal to finish seven stories last year, which led to daily flash-story brainstorming as December loomed. It was inspired by the idea of doing a sort of reversal of Jen Larsen's excellent "Father's Day" at Strange Horizons.

- Aaron DaMommio

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