Good Intentions: Life of a Superhero

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Little La-Teesha Andrews was sure she was going crazy. Life had been completely ordinary her first eleven years, but lately, alien thoughts had insinuated themselves inside her brain. Not from outer-space aliens. The thoughts were coming from people, alright, but they weren’t people La-Teesha knew. Children were talking inside her head.

She heard voices of children in danger. “Please,” they would beg. Other children laughed, contemplating horrible deeds, or cried, wishing to end their own lives. All the voices shared one feature: Fear. Their emotions had become entangled with hers.

“Those are symptoms most commonly associated with schizophrenia,” her smartphone told her. But the more she read, the less she liked the prognosis. She kept the voices secret, hoping they’d disappear, trusting the diagnosis was wrong and some other explanation would emerge. Another explanation did, eventually, present itself.

Quite by happy coincidence, La-Teesha’s best friend was horribly depressed and planning to kill herself. Her palm closed around a dozen sleeping pills. “Mama prob’ly be glad to be rid o’ me,” Andréa was thinking.

Andréa thought the words, but La-Teesha heard them. She heard them and recognized the voice. Though her eyes were shut, she could see the closed fist and knew it was filled with sleeping pills.

“Andréa!” La-Teesha shouted—in her mind, not out loud. That would be nuts. She was entirely alone in her bedroom, and besides, she was allergic to nuts.

“La-Teesha?” Andréa said aloud. “Is that you? Where you at, Girl?”

“I’m right here wit’ you.”

“Where? Inside my head?”

La-Teesha thought, “Am I? Am I inside Andréa’s head?” She didn’t know, but that was the least of her worries. “Don’t you do it. Don’t you hurt yo’self!” She cried.

La-Teesha longed to run to her friend, but her view was too close to see Andréa’s surroundings. Sunlight carried a golden glow past La-Teesha’s eyelids. While pleasant in different circumstances, today, the brightness was just messing with her ability to find Andréa. She covered her eyes.

“Damn! That’s cold!” she said out loud. Her hand felt like ice, but she kept it over her eyes, and soon her field of view widened. She saw Andréa’s fist resting beside the deliberate rip across the thigh of her faded blue jeans. But everything else remained a blur. La-Teesha felt the rest of the image locked tight at the base of her brain. She pressed her right hand hard against the back of her head, then kept pushing until the information came forward. Finally!

She ran outside. Sprinted up the street. Burst through Andréa’s front door and into her bedroom.

Andréa, forgetting all thoughts of suicide, scooted away, pushed herself back across her bed, and retreated as far as she could from her friend panting in the doorway, breath visible. One unspoken thought, “Stay away from me, freak!” resounded inside La-Teesha’s head like a siren.

“Gimme those pills, Andréa.”

“Take ’em,” she said, flinging the sleeping pills at La-Teesha, “but, Girl, get outta my head!”

One by one, La-Teesha gathered each capsule. She carried her collection into the bathroom and flushed them. Then her adrenaline rush dissolved into anguish. She had rescued her best friend, but lost the friendship.

Now she understood. The voices she had heard for months were those of real children. Her fears were entangled with the panic inside the minds of millions. She had tried to ignore them, but now she wondered how many she had abandoned. How many had suffered? Perhaps worst of all, was she forever doomed to hear the suffering of all those children clamoring inside her head?

“No way!” she thought. So little La-Teesha Andrews became Entangled Girl.

One night, without leaving her bedroom, she ‘watched’ as five boys surrounded a kid and shoved him around their circle. The leader’s sweatshirt, hanging beneath the top of baggy pants, failed to conceal the gun tucked into his waistband.

“Please—” said the kid. The punch that landed in the kid’s stomach made La-Teesha double over in pain. She heard him cry inside her head. She could see everything he saw, including his sister watching through a window across the street.

“Call 9-1-1!” La-Teesha screamed. The little girl’s head snapped back like she’d received an uppercut. She had no idea who was screaming, but she did as she was told. As sirens drew near, the boys scattered far.

Soon, La-Teesha was saving people everywhere. Nobody knew who she was, yet she was responsible for thousands of thugs getting sent to juvie. At first, most were African-Americans because she had started working in her own neighborhood.

After a while, though, no troubled souls remained in her neighborhood. None were left where her friends or relatives lived, either. Every gang member was in juvie or jail. All the depressed people had gotten happy. All the angry people were calm. Everything was good in every ’hood all across America.

Circumstances were less than perfect in the lock-ups, though. These became overcrowded. Cells designed for two inmates were housing six. Inner-cities ran out of money. Everyone pretended the problem would fade away or somehow resolve itself. It didn’t.

It got worse. When Entangled Girl ran out of African-American children to save, she began helping White children. That’s when the real trouble began. Detention centers in the suburbs overflowed. People everywhere were asking, “Who’s Entangled Girl? What gives this brat the right to mess with our communities?”

So began the hunt. Entangled Girl, endowed with her ability, listened to hatred from millions seeking her out. In return, millions heard her fearful voice inside their heads. Eventually, she accidentally gave herself away. Someone hearing her thoughts figured out where she lived. Little La-Teesha Andrews possessed no superpower that could save her. As they closed in, she even lost the one advantage she had left: Entanglement. If she had survived the day, she would have found her life was returning to normal. Instead, her time was up.

About the Author: 
Todd Lederman teaches elementary students at a Montessori school in Colorado. He and his wife live in Evergreen. She's an artist. He writes. And they both chase elk away from the garden.