Chapter Three

"A Lot of Explaining to Do"

Danvers Residence, Leesburg, approximately 4:45pm…

Linda Lee Danvers parked her car in the driveway of her family's home suburban Leesburg home and took a deep breath, adjusting her glasses on her face and making sure not one mousy brown hair was out of place. Here goes. She got out of the car and walked up to the door, letting herself in.

"Hi, Mom!" she called. "I'm home!"

Mrs. Danvers replied, "Linda, honey! Can you come here, please?" She had to be in the living room. Linda could hear the TV. She cursed under her breath and set her school bag down, then headed in that direction.

Her mother was sitting on the couch, folding clothes. "How was school?" she asked, without looking up.

"Um, school was fine," Linda replied. "You know. Just another day, nothing exciting."

"Uh huh," Mrs. Danvers said. She picked up the remote and flipped to the news.

"Reports are coming in of a miraculous saving-"

Mrs. Danvers flipped the channel.

"The fire would have claimed fifteen lives and many more if not for the miracle from above-"

Mrs. Danvers flipped the channel again.

"She just came out of nowhere, fixed the landing gear, and landed the damn plane with her bare hands-"

She turned to her daughter as the television continued extolling the virtues of a strange, costumed teenager who could fly. "Something you'd like to tell me, hon?"

Linda sighed– she knew all about those news stories, because she was the girl they were all talking about. She whirled, stripping her exterior clothing, her fake glasses, and her brown wig at super speed, and gestured to her costume when she stopped. Her mother clicked her tongue and shook her head as Linda sat down on the loveseat beside the couch her mother occupied, sweeping her cape from under her body and putting her chin in her hand once she'd settled in. "I knew you'd find out, of course," she said, running her hand through her long blonde hair.

"You realize now that you've let the genie out of the bottle, you can't put her back in?" Mrs. Danvers asked, gesturing to Linda's costume.

"I know," Linda replied. "I'll be careful, Mom. That's why you guys have been making me wear that silly wig and those glasses the last two years, ever since my hair went blonde for no reason. Nobody is going to think I'm the super girl." She looked at her costume. "I always wear baggy clothes so nobody knows I'm built like this. I've been really careful. I have practiced using all of my powers. I didn't miss classes or anything, nobody even noticed I was gone, and I helped a bunch of people. It's not a big deal."

"It's a very big deal," Mrs. Danvers snapped. "And we've talked about this, Linda. I can't believe you made a costume and went out like that without at least discussing it again with your father and me. What were you thinking?"

*

Two years ago…

Linda Lee Danvers was about as plain and non-descript as a person could be. It would later be just as well, but it wasn't something that made her life any easier. Five feet six inches tall, she was rail-thin with no curves whatsoever, wore thick glasses and had messy, mousy brown hair that she had no idea what to do with. She was pale and lately had developed acne, and since she didn't use make up, she just left it alone. A clumsy nerd, now age fourteen, she'd pretty much accepted that this was how things were going to be for her, but she had a talent for science and had proven to be incredibly smart, knowing that one day those attributes would pay off. It still sucked being in high school, though. No one paid any attention to her.

But this day, things were definitely different when she stared into the mirror at her own reflection, her jaw agape in abstract horror. Her hair wasn't mousy brown anymore. In fact, it was blonde and tangle free. It had been the same old brown mess when she'd gone to bed the night before.

Then there was the fact that she could see her reflection quite clearly, but wasn't wearing her glasses. She'd needed glasses since age six and normally couldn't see three feet in front of her without them. Yet, this morning, they hung from her limp fingertips, now useless and forgotten as Linda's mind tried to accept that the girl in the mirror was, in fact, one Linda Lee Danvers.

Her other hand touched her suddenly smooth, seemingly sun-toned skin, and her lower lip started to quiver. She'd been as pale as a Russian in mid-winter when she'd gone to bed the night before. On top of that, she seemed to have developed quite a figure overnight.

Linda turned first one way, then the other, admiring herself. Wow! she thought. I'm hot! She'd always worn baggy clothes to conceal how thin she was, sometimes using multiple layers to make herself not seem so skinny, but that would no longer be necessary- she looked fit as a fiddle and had excellent muscle tone in addition to having developed very nice, womanly curves. What the heck is going on?

She somehow knew that being clumsy wouldn't be a problem for her any more. Her movements were too controlled, too graceful. Always before, she'd had trouble with fluid movements and just couldn't keep herself from destroying things by accident or tripping over her own feet. But now she had complete control of her body, a sort of confidence about it she'd never felt before. She twirled in the mirror, then ran her fingers through her silky hair and put her hands on her hips.

This was weird, to say the least. This was strange. Otherworldly. She had to be dreaming.

"Uh, Mom?" she shouted.

"What's the matter, hon?" Edna Danvers called from downstairs. "Are you feeling okay?"

"Not exactly," Linda yelled back, setting her glasses on the bathroom sink. "Can you come up here?"

"Sure." She could hear her mother- even though Linda was adopted, Edna Danvers would always be her mother as far as Linda was concerned- shuffling some pans around then walking to and up the stairs.

As she approached the bathroom, she said, "What is this all about-? Oh, my God!" Edna put a hand to her mouth and stared at her daughter with wide eyes. "Linda?"

Linda gestured helplessly at her reflection. "I don't know what happened. Look at me!"

The doorbell chose that moment to ring. Linda and Edna locked eyes.

"Karen," they said in unison.

*

"You stall her; I'm going to my room." Linda slipped past Edna then paused at her bedroom door. "Mom, I can't go to school like this. It's too weird. They won't even know I'm me!"

Edna nodded. "I'll come up with something, you just get dressed," she said, and went downstairs.

Karen Starr stood in the doorway- she'd let herself in- and stood, chewing gum and waiting. Edna had no idea why she stayed friends with Linda. Despite being a freshman, Karen was the captain of the varsity pep squad, and there was no question that she was a beautiful girl. Linda always talked about how popular her best friend had become at school. The two had known each other since they were toddlers, and Karen had had charisma even then. She'd learned to talk at age 2, and Linda had followed soon after by making astute observations. But despite the differences in how the two had grown, Karen had turned out to be quite loyal, and refused to stop hanging out with her oldest and best friend, regardless of Linda's social status at their school.

"Hi, Mrs. D.," she said, cheerful as always. "Is Linda ready?" Edna smiled, even though she was very worried at the change in her daughter, and gave Karen a hug.

"Not yet, so if you could wait in the kitchen, that'd be great." Karen rolled her eyes.

"She's always late," she complained. "Anything I can do to speed things up?"

"Just wait for us, okay?" Edna started up the stairs as Karen headed for the kitchen. She found Linda staring at herself in the mirror, holding her glasses up—squinting through them- then pulling them back down and adjusting her eyes.

"Mom," Linda said. "I can see."

"What?"

"I mean, I can see through my glasses." She put them on and widened her pupils. They made her look a little bug-eyed behind the frames. "And I can see without them." She took off the lenses and her pupils adjusted back to normal. "This is really weird."

"Well, I think you should wear the glasses." Edna came forward and helped put them back on Linda's face. "And we're going to have to get you into some baggy clothes. The change in your figure is- well, it isn't normal."

Linda brightened. "Why would I hide it? This is my ticket out of dorkville! No way."

"Linda, I don't think it's a good idea for anyone to know about the...changes in your autonomy."

"Mom…"

"Just trust me, okay? There will be a day when that makes sense, but it isn't time yet."

Linda narrowed her eyes and regarded her mom with suspicion. "What are you talking about?"

"Linda, please. We have to get you ready for school. Just go with me on this, okay? You'll know when it's time for you, your father and I to sit down and discuss some things. That day is not today." Edna added a bit of a plea to her voice. "Please?"

Linda sighed. "Okay. I'll wear baggy clothes for a while. But you have to tell me if you know what's going on."

"I don't know yet. But I promise, we'll figure it out." Edna took a deep breath. "I think we can fix your hair. I'll be right back." She slipped out of the room and went to the master suite, where she still had a couple of wigs that she'd worn from an unfortunate incident back in college where she'd woken up hung over and with a shaved head.

She came back with the wig to find Linda in baggy jeans and a baggy hooded sweatshirt, her glasses pushed up on her nose. Linda spied the wigs and held up her hands.

"No way."

"Linda, sweetie, we can make this look like nothing happened. You can't let anyone see you with your hair so much different than they're used to! It's too big of a change."

"I can tell people I dyed it."

"No. Just wear the wig." Edna walked over and grabbed Linda's hair, pulling it up and under as she slipped the wig onto Linda's head, ran her fingers through it to mess up her hair, and then tied the wig hair into a sloppy pony tail. Smoothing the sides a little, she stepped back. Aside of the deepening of her complexion, and the inexplicable disappearance of Linda's acne, which had been bad, but not so bad a new treatment couldn't explain it away, she looked like frumpy, nerdy Linda with the bug-eyed glasses. Edna put her hands on her hips and stared. Something was off about her daughter's appearance. Linda stared back at her, clearly unhappy but surprisingly accepting of her mother's desires.

"What is it, Mom?" Linda asked.

"You used to hunch."

"Oh, Mom…"

"Just do it."

Linda sighed, let her shoulders sag, and hunched over a bit. "Just when I was starting to feel good about myself," she muttered, grabbing her book bag and brushing past Edna.