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we all slept late, and I woke up first
with Nix snoring through the wall, and the whole house
gray and still. I’d left my suit and armor
lying over the back of my desk chair, and the dirt
had gotten all over the cushions. I found
every muscle I’d used the day before, clenched up,
now screaming at me as I stretched.
The clock said 9:23.
Downstairs I turned on the television
to watch the morning news, just to see again
Nix and Katie and I and the others—
I hadn’t known I climbed so high on that building
before I jumped, but I guess I hadn’t been thinking of it then.
I heard the announcer
inform us, against sharp-focused wheeling helicopter shots,
that the villain and his accomplices were all under arrest
but we already knew that; Nix had made sure of it.
I had the coffee on
by the time Katie thumped downstairs in her flannel pajamas
with her robe over her shoulders and her swords slung on the belts.
“Today’s not a work day,” I said. “Sit down. Relax.”
She glared. “It’s always a work day
for heroes.”
I passed her the toast.

The day after we saved the city
Katie did video-chat with her parents, who wanted to make sure
that she was all in one piece: “Seriously, Mom. I’m all right.
The three-armed guy barely touched me.”
I whistled and walked barefoot in the kitchen,
one ankle still a little sore, while I tried to remember
how I’d gotten that bruise on my elbow. (The cyborg?
When I fought him on the City Hall roof?)
Waiting for Nix to come down, I amused myself
looking at clips of us on YouTube, deleting
a startling number of friend requests on Facebook—why
did secret identities go out of fashion…?
My phone
still had Katie’s text from halfway through yesterday’s scramble
telling me to meet her at the corner of Fifth and Main.
Also, many missed calls, mostly from reporters.
Nix deigned to awaken around 10 a.m.
and spent half an hour in the bathroom, from the sound of the shower,
and still came downstairs looking like
something the cat brought in. The villain’s last punch from yesterday
had given him a black eye, but mostly it was the hair that finished the look.
“Why are you laughing?” he said from the kitchen door.
“Comb,” I said. “Use it.”
“I had to get mutant slime gunk out of my hair, sis. Can you blame me
for going a little overboard with the scrubbing…”

The day after we saved the city
we put our suits in the washing machine and sat around the dining room table
eating the toast I’d just burned and had to scrape. (Nix
said it didn’t matter if you put on enough jelly.)
We left the weapon-cleaning for later
and Nix called the police back, to make sure
we’d given them all the information they needed the night before.
After that, he thought the YouTube clips were hilarious
and wouldn’t stop humming the music someone had put over one.
By noon, Katie had taken her swords off
and stopped looking out the window: “All right,
maybe we can take a break today.”
“We just vanquished the villains,” I said. “Take lots of breaks.”
Nix looked up from his tablet. “They’ll be back.”
We both stared at him.
“Not these ones, maybe, but others. We’re not done yet, guys.
So keep your swords, Katie.”
He stood up and shoved his hair out of his eyes, grinning.
“But you’re right. Today—”
“Today,” I said,
“today we’ve got other things.”

The day after we saved the city
I dropped Katie off at the City Hall to give our press release
and Nix at the grocery store because we were out of milk. I drove
to the hospital and found that most of yesterday’s casualties
had already been released, but I said hello
to the rest of them; a little boy with a broken leg
and eight stitches in his cheek asked me where my suit was.
I said “It’s in the laundry.” Which was true. He laughed, though.
I drove past the city center, and most of the streets weren’t even roped off anymore,
but the vans with their aerials hadn’t left. I kept my head down.
I rounded us up, and we were going to go for dinner early at Jackson’s Diner
but it was too full, and someone recognized us.
After fifteen minutes, we finally got loose from the crowds.
“It’ll get better,” I said.
“It had better get better,” said Katie.
We got take-out instead from the little corner place on Murton,
where the owner only said, “You kids want a menu?”
Katie did. Nix and I already knew what we wanted.
We went to the park to eat our burgers
and watched the sun set behind the city—
our city. The city we’d fought in,
the city where we’d met the enemy
and won.
And we knew that tomorrow there would be a new fight,
a new crook with delusions of grandeur,
a new madman with a plan. And the three of us
would suit up and go out after them,
just like we were supposed to, just like heroes did.
But tonight, it was just us three
and Nix stealing my fries and Katie trying to use my phone
because the camera on hers was broken,
and we waited until dark came, and drove back home
to the sound of cicadas and a quiet night.

The day after we saved the city
we went to bed early, except for Nix,
who was remixing YouTube clips of us and giving them a soundtrack.
“For posterity—”
“Oh, sheesh,” I said. “Good night.”

Rose Victor grew up in a book-infested house and enjoyed it greatly.  She loves words, people, yarn, and classical music – as well as the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and, more recently, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  She has some experience with gerbils, mostly positive.
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