Beyond the Grey Sky
Disclaimer: I own nothing. It all belongs to Tim Kring.
Author's Note: Thank you to Robyn for the beta.
She refused to pay attention to anything around her. She hadn't watched television in months, she barely spoke to anyone anymore, and all she ever did was work. Monica Dawson thought if she didn't use her power, then she couldn't cause anyone else to get hurt.
Before Micah Sander's mother died, Monica had enjoyed her ability to the fullest. Anything she saw once, she could do. She jumped rope, painted, danced, and performed any other task she saw without thinking twice about it. She actually thought she could do anything. But Niki's death took the fun out of everything.
From that moment on, Monica stuck to routine. She wouldn't do anything out of the ordinary if she could help it. Fast food was where she was, and fast food was where she would stay.
Or so she thought, until the day Micah blocked her bedroom door. She tried to get past him, but the stubborn twelve-year-old wouldn't move. She shuffled to the right; he moved with her. She shuffled to the left, and he still stood in her way. Monica crossed her arms and glared at her younger cousin.
"I'm late for work, Micah. I don't have time for this," she said.
Micah didn't budge. "You haven't tried anything new for months," he complained.
"I haven't had time. Somebody's got to earn a living around here." She tried to sidestep him again. Micah planted his feet and wouldn't budge.
Monica sighed. Over the summer, Micah had grown a couple of more inches. He was getting taller, and it was getting harder to push him out of the way.
"You're lying, and you know it. You can do stuff. Stuff nobody else can do. You're better than some old stinky fast food place."
Monica stood still for a few minutes, judging the situation. She then feinted to the right. Micah shifted, and she dashed by him. It was no use; he was on her heels.
"We talked about this last winter. I'm not going to do that anymore." She headed down the hallway and into the living room. She stopped at the couch and turned to face Micah. "You know how the last time turned out."
Micah looked down, shoving his hands into his pockets. "That wasn't your fault." He met her eyes. "You wouldn't've been in that warehouse if it hadn't been for me."
"Micah, you didn't make me go. I made that choice. If I hadn't've been stupid, your mama would still be alive."
"Hey, could you two shut up? I'm trying to watch something here." Damon, her brother, peered over the back of the couch, glaring at them.
Before she could stop herself, Monica's eyes landed on the television. One of the fight scenes in an old Bruce Lee kung-fu movie played out on the screen. Bruce Lee punched and kicked his way through a gang of opponents. None of them, even armed with weapons, could touch him. She couldn't pull her eyes away. Only Micah picking up the argument drew her attention back to him.
"You can't just quit!" Micah demanded.
Monica picked up her pocket book and her car keys. She gave a small smile as she rested a hand on Micah's shoulder. "I'm not quitting. I just have to grow up and take responsibility. If I don't use it, no one else will get hurt." She let go of his shoulder and headed for the door. I'll be home by eleven. You guys be good for Nana." She left the house before Micah could argue with her.
Driving down the road, she studied her neighborhood. Three years after Katrina hit, and people were still trying to rebuild. Even though she had a roof over her head, unlike some of her neighbors, the hurricane had taken a lot from her.
Sometimes, if she thought hard enough about it, she could still hear her mother's laugh. She could still see the pride on her face when she told strangers about how her daughter would be the first in their family to graduate from college. "Monica's gonna do something with her life," she would say.
Not anymore. Her life now revolved around keeping the roof over her family's head and raising her brother and her cousin. If she couldn't be the first college graduate, maybe Micah or Damon would.
She turned into the parking lot and pulled into a space near the back. Dread filled her stomach when she looked at the building. Dead-end job. Dead-end life. For the first time, Monica couldn't see a future for herself, and the thought caused her eyes to well up with tears. She blinked them back and squared her shoulders. She refused to let anyone see her cry.
She climbed out of the car and closed the door. As she turned around, a cry reached her ears.
"Stop it! Let go of me!"
Monica followed the sound to the alley beside Burger Bonanza. She peered down the opening to see three guys surrounding a lone girl at the end of the alley. One of them had a knife.
She should've turned away and ignored it. That's what most people would do. But she couldn't make her body obey. Instead, she crept into the alley. Before she could second-guess herself, she had their attention.
"Hey! Leave her alone!"
The thug holding the knife raised an eyebrow. "Well, well, check out the sexy bitch we got right here." He took two steps toward her. "Hey, baby. How's about you and me have a little fun."
Instinct told Monica to run. What was she doing? She was going to get herself and the other girl killed, just like she got Niki killed. She took one look at the fear on the other girl's face, though, and stood her ground. She couldn't leave her.
Right then something seemed to click in her brain. Monica remembered the movie her brother was watching. She remembered every move, every kick, every punch. She planted her feet.
"You want me? You come and get me," she said, narrowing her eyes.
Thug-with-the-Knife lunged. Monica sidestepped the knife. She grabbed his arm and twisted it, forcing him to drop his weapon. He turned, his hand forming into a fist. Monica kicked him in the head. He landed on the ground flat on his back.
Monica didn't have time to recover. His buddies ran for her. She jumped, kicking them both in the face at the same time. Blood poured from their noses.
She fought them, using the moves she remembered from the kung-fu movie. Within a matter of minutes, all three limped as fast as they could from the alley. Monica didn't move until she was sure they were gone.
She then turned to the girl and helped her up.
"You okay?" she asked.
"Yeah," the girl nodded. "How did you do that?"
Monica smiled. "I studied...a lot." It wasn't exactly a lie.
The girl returned the smile. "Thank you."
Monica walked the girl out of the alley. The girl turned right and headed down the street, waving good-bye and shouting another "thank you."
When she was gone, Monica retrieved her dropped pocket book. She glanced down at herself and saw blood splotches on her uniform.
"Great," she mumbled. Hopefully, a spare uniform would be hanging up in the back.
As she headed for the burger joint, she thought about what she had done. She had helped someone. She had used her power, and no one but the bad guys had gotten hurt. She smiled, and for the first time in a long time, a weight lifted off her shoulders.
'Maybe Micah's right,' she thought. 'Maybe it's time to forgive myself and see if I can do anymore good with this power.' But she would definitely need something better than her uniform.
At that moment, she swore she could hear both her mother and Niki whisper that they were proud of her. Perhaps she had a future after all.