Veronica leans over the table, smiling at me, pen in hand. We’re out in public, and people are staring. Of course people are staring. I look ridiculous.
I try to block everything else out. Focus on Veronica. Focus on her questions. Maybe have a bite to eat.
At least Veronica doesn’t recognise me. That was my biggest fear, agreeing to this interview. She’s known me for years, better than anyone. If anyone could figure out who I am… but she doesn’t. My secret is safe.
I take a bite of the sandwich I ordered. It’s dry, unsatisfying. Doesn’t matter. It’s something to do with my hands, my mouth.
“So,” Veronica begins, her mouth curling into that smug smirk I know so well. “Woman of the hour. Hero of the city. How does that feel?”
I finish chewing, swallow, and take a moment before I answer. I need to be careful with what I say, especially to her.
“It’s still taking some getting used to,” I tell her, which is definitely true.
“I can only image,” she agrees, falling easily into the role of reporter. She’s a natural. “What’s been the hardest part to adjust to?”
I laugh. It’s a forced laugh, but if she notices, she doesn’t acknowledge it.
“You mean apart from the superpowers?”
She laughs in response, a much more genuine laugh.
“We’ll get to those,” she says.
“Honestly, the weirdest thing is just being normal,” I say, deciding to go with honesty over anything flashy.
She cocks her head, her brow furrowing. She seems genuinely surprised.
I sigh, pushing the food away from me. I can’t force myself to eat it, not even for the sake of appearances.
“In my real life, nobody knows who I am,” I explain. “Or what I’ve done.”
Veronica’s eyes narrow, and I worry that I might have said too much. Then her curious grin emerges, and I can see she’s just settled on an angle for her story.
“What do people think of the ‘real’ you?” she asks, pen poised and ready to write.
I do my best to smile warmly. It’s a hollow smile, but she doesn’t know that. She doesn’t know who I am.
“They don’t, really,” I say, somewhat melodramatically. Veronica just nods, as if that was the expected answer.
“I suppose that’s the life of a superhero with a secret identity,” she says.
We stare at each other across the table for a moment, and I wonder what she thinks of me. Of the person she doesn’t know, the me that I’ve become. Of the person that she’s known for so long, the me that’s still hiding.
I wonder if anyone will ever know all of me, if I will ever trust someone enough with both sides.
“So, let’s talk about your powers, then,” she says. “First of all, what exactly can you do? We’ve all seen you in action, but nobody seems to be able to quite agree on how to define them.”
For a moment, I’m hesitant, unsure of how much I should tell her. Aren’t superheroes supposed to keep their abilities as secret as possible, so nobody can find out their weaknesses?
“Honestly, I’m not completely certain myself,” I tell her. “I know that I’m fast, but exactly how fast seems to change. I’m strong, but again, it’s not consistent. Then there’s the invulnerability…”
“That’s the one that really interests me,” Veronica says, her eyes lighting up. “Since discovering your powers, has anything been able to hurt you? Do you think you might be genuinely indestructible?”
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “I’ve definitely been hurt. Badly, too. And unlike… unlike the others, I don’t heal particularly quickly.”
“So then,” Veronica says, pushing her glasses up her nose, “what does it take to hurt the incredible Miss Melbourne?”
“Is that what they’re calling me?”
“It’s going around. Apparently people have noticed that you’re not just an incredible badass, you’re also an incredible babe.”
I find myself blushing, and try to shake it off immediately. That is so not in character.
“Not exactly what I was hoping to get noticed for, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” I say, sighing. “Anyway, to answer your question, all I can say is: a surprising amount.”
“I can understand you not wanting to say more than that. So, where did the powers come from? Is there a secret formula we can all follow?”
I twitch involuntarily. Of all the things I don’t want to think about, it’s… that. Still, it’s a fair question, and one I don’t mind answering.
“It happened during the… what are we calling it? The calamity? The apocalypse? That time the sky tore open?”
“I’ve heard a few people refer to it as the rapture,” Veronica says. “Personally, I’m rather fond of Impact Day.”
“Works for me,” I say. “So, let’s talk about that day.”
I begin to talk, and she listens, and writes. I begin to talk, but I don’t tell her everything. There’s so much I can’t tell her.