It’s been a while since I shared any fiction I wrote. Today let’s fix that.
This is a small piece of much bigger (unwritten) ideas my friend GG and I have tossed around. It involves superheroes and villains and related stuff. This piece features two characters who were close friends growing up. But at some point Ben became a superhero while Angela became a villain, which unsurprisingly caused Problems. The other character briefly mentioned is Ben’s younger brother. And I think that’s probably all that needs explained for it to be understandable.
Ben is actually GG’s character. She obligingly agreed to let me share this anyway.
To start off, here’s the song that gives the story its title:
The door was locked.
Ben still held the keys from unlocking it.
He’d noticed nothing out of place. No signs of a break-in. And yet Angela lay asleep in his bed.
This made quite a change from several years of rarely talking.
He saw her once in a while, but it was easier to ignore her existence than to acknowledge her questionable choices and the mess those had made of their friendship.
Ben stepped farther into the room, intending to wake Angela and get some answers, but a closer look gave him pause. The swollen cut on Angela’s cheek probably needed stitches. And though her shirt sleeve partially concealed the dark purple bruise on her upper arm, it looked like a handprint. Ben hesitated, but then one light finger tugging up the sleeve confirmed that suspicion. He wondered what injuries he couldn’t see.
He let her sleep.
Back in the kitchen, Ben started coffee brewing and pulled a bottle of ibuprofen out of the medicine cabinet. Then he opened the fridge to search for leftovers to heat up. He was glad Alex hadn’t come home first. He wasn’t sure how that would have gone.
It wasn’t long before he heard movement from his bedroom. Angela appeared wearing one of Ben’s hoodies. He’d never seen her wear a hoodie, and it made her seem strangely vulnerable. “I didn’t expect to see you here,” said Ben.
She didn’t look at him as she stiffly sat down at the kitchen table. “I needed somewhere to sleep. You are… This was the only place that felt safe.”
“I suppose you won’t tell me what’s going on?”
She shook her head.
So much for getting answers. But he wouldn’t make her feel unsafe here, so instead of prying, Ben silently slid the bottle of ibuprofen across the table. She took four. He pretended not to notice.
Eventually Ben placed two plates of reheated Chinese takeout, two forks, and two cups of coffee on the table. “Have you considered having that cut stitched up?” he asked, sitting across from Angela.
“I considered it,” she replied. “I decided against it.” She picked up her fork, keeping her left arm – the bruised one – wrapped tightly around her ribs.
“It will probably scar,” Ben pointed out.
Angela cringed. “Don’t remind me.” But she almost laughed while she said it, and Ben found himself grinning.
“At least let me get you some neosporin to put on it.”
“I already used some.”
“Are you in the habit of breaking into my house and using my things?”
“This is the first time,” said Angela drily.
They ate in surprisingly comfortable silence. Ben wasn’t ready when Angela put down her empty coffee mug – after the third refill – and said, “I should leave.”
“Okay.” Ben stood with her and asked, “Do you need anything?”
She shook her head. “Thanks for feeding me.”
“Anytime.” He meant it, and he wondered if she knew that.
She walked away, and Ben impulsively said, “Hey, Angela? I miss you.”
With one hand on the doorknob, she stopped, head bent, her short hair untidily brushing the collar of the hoodie. “I miss you, too.” Ben almost didn’t hear the words. Then she added, louder, “I’m keeping the sweatshirt. No one will recognize me like this.”
“They certainly won’t,” Ben agreed as the door shut behind her.