Day 1: Composure

When she closes her eyes, she can see her own nervous system. She can see the electrical impulses flashing in her brain. If she focuses, she can slow her heartbeat, make her hair grow faster, delay her period, smile. These powers were hard to control when she was young. As a girl, her fingernails would grow at an exponential rate. She’d nervously claw at things like a cat, and her classmates would make fun of her. Her mother would clip the nails at night, so she wouldn’t scratch herself in her sleep, and then again in the morning. Kelly knew it was inconvenient, but her mother never complained.

“Someday, you’ll be the best of us,” her mother said.

She didn’t understand at the time. No kid would. It’s a weird thing to say. And at the time, Kelly thought she was messed up. She assumed everybody had complete control over their digestive systems, and were so skilled at it, that it seemed automatic. The only thing she felt she excelled in was staring contests.

Staring is still a big part of her superhero persona. It freaks out the villains. They like to see their adversaries get nervous while they monologue. They want to see them sweat, but only Kelly decides when she’ll sweat. Stab her and she doesn’t flinch, doesn’t even bleed. She simply slows the blood flow. Villains don’t like fighting her. It’s unnerving. Other heroes don’t enjoy teaming up with her. She never makes any quips. She doesn’t do any interviews. Reporters never ask the right questions anyway.

Kelly lives in the apartment next to mine. She’s a good neighbor. Sometimes, I worry that I’m too noisy, listening to pop music while I cook, but she’s never complained. Still, when I bake, I always drop some off for her.

“Were they good?”

“You know I have such minute control over my tastebuds that I can make anything taste good.”

“Did you do that?”

“No. They were delicious,” she smiles, and I like to imagine it was involuntary.

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