I first got my superpowers when my house was foreclosed on. At that point, I had been unemployed for over two years, so I suppose I had no choice but to develop some special talent.
I woke up that morning with my hair plastered to my face and a raging headache. As I crawled out of bed, I heard the voice on the radio speak to me.
“I warned you about this,” it said. “This audience knows that I’ve warned you. I told you this bubble would burst, years before anyone else even knew it would happen.”
I couldn’t remember being warned about what my life would become, not once. I did remember being invited to invest in precious metals and stock up on emergency food, but that was it.
“This is what happens when you let people buy houses when they don’t deserve them,” the voice continued as I hung over the bathroom sink.
I needed to pull myself out of my migraine and start packing. Dad would be there to pick me up soon, and then it was off to my parents’ house and the family closeness that this recession would help me experience more of.
A sudden flash of anger overtook me. Clutching my forehead, I ran out of the bathroom and searched the Web for a photo of the radio voice. There it was: “Radio Host Glenn Beck, Shrieking”. I printed it out.
It wasn’t until I put the lighter to the paper and watched the picture go up in flames that I really felt the change happen. A surge of power filled me, the power to right wrongs and bring justice, the power to make the world fair. This incredible feeling of righteous purpose mixed with the pain of constant election losses, the essence of being a progressive in America, and my body twisted back and I uttered a scream into the heavens, followed by a little puff of blue smoke from the top of my head.
I realized that I would have to let my parents know about my new identity as BlueGirl as soon as I arrived, since it meant I would stay unemployed for a long time to come. Now that I was on a mission, I couldn’t waste my time on a regular job.
“Mother, I have a secret. I have liberal superpowers,” I blurted out.
“Great, we’ve got another one.” Mother rolled her eyes. She waved her hand at Dad. “Honey, get me a drink.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Your sister says she has superpowers, too.”
“What? But she’s a cheerleader! What kind of powers can she possibly have?”
“I have no idea, but last time I saw her, she was burning a picture of Keith Olbermann and howling at the ceiling. Now she wants us to call her RedGirl.”
“Nooooo!” My plans were about to be thwarted! “But I’m going to save America!”
The blonde little villain herself ran into the kitchen at that very moment. “Wrong! *I’m* going to save America!” She thumped her chest.
“Moooom, say something to her!” I whined. “I’m the one who’s right!”
“Don’t look at me.” Mother shrugged. “I’m a moderate—I’m just here to have cocktails.”
“Watch it, ditz—I’m a superhero,” I snarled.
“Yeah? Well, my superpowers come from Jesus,” RedGirl said. “Besides, if you’re a superhero, why are you such a loser?”
“I can only use my powers to fix other people’s lives, not my own. In fact, I’m going to find someone to help right now,” I said, grabbing the newspaper.
“See, that’s the cool thing about being a conservative…I can save the world *and* make shitloads of money at the same time,” RedGirl observed.
Then it was quiet for a while, as I pondered the news pages and my sister made herself an adorable red cape out of a blanket.
“Don’t listen to what your sister says. Personally, I don’t care if you’re a Commie, you just need to pay the rent. You have to find a job,” Mother told me.
“You don’t understand….” I began.
“Darling, of course I understand where you’re coming from. All I’m saying is that I might kick you out of the house in a couple of months.” And she swayed out of my bedroom.
We lived in a hippie town, so surely, I was thinking, there would be a quaint little store hiring somewhere, the kind that sells revolution-themed toys and protest accessories, but no, there wasn’t. Weren’t the boomers nostalgic for souvenirs of their own fighting days? And where did the people at the protest rallies get all those cool props?
But, since this was a hippie town, I finally found the Wildcakes Café, where they were being subversive one muffin at a time or some such thing.
“We’re not accepting applications right now,” the manager of the café said. He had bright hair, a funny T-shirt, and gloomy eyes.
“I can be very radical,” I offered.
“That’s sweet of you, but in case you haven’t heard, there’s a recession going on and we’re not making a lot of money.”
“You’re not supposed to want to make a lot of money.” I couldn’t help myself. “Don’t you want to share with others?”
He frowned at me darkly. “Not with you, I don’t.” And he walked away.
Something within me moved, making me queasy. I leaned on the counter. I had been rejected when applying for jobs before, but back then I hadn’t represented an entire ideology.
I recognized the thing moving inside of me—it was a weapon. I had carried it with me most of my life, but only with my newfound identity could I effectively use it against other people. I took a deep breath and a glowing blue ball of guilt burst out of me and hit the café manager in the back.
He continued chatting with a customer as if nothing had happened, so I stumbled outside, feeling drained.
I was quite disoriented without my blob of guilt, and I was still standing at the crossing, trying to remember how to look both ways, when I noticed the manager following me out.
“I don’t know why,” he said, “but I feel like shit about this whole situation. You need serious help….here.” He handed me a box of muffins. “Good luck with your life.”
I knew that I had to give the muffins away—what else would BlueGirl do? “Is this my first superhero deed?” I wondered, a little disappointed.
But it got a lot worse, because nobody out there really wants a box of muffins. I put on a blue sweater (since I didn’t have a cape) and trolled the streets of my neighborhood with my box. The homeless people only accepted cash, my neighbors suspected that I was trying to poison them, and Mother was on a diet.
“Your sister is having a party downtown with her little friends,” she kindly advised. “Maybe they’d like some treats.”
I was desperate. And who knows, maybe offering my sister some stale muffins would be one of those gestures of reconciliation which bring the world together as one.
To my surprise, the address Mother gave me for the party turned out to be in an obscure office building.
I rang a bell and a voice boomed from behind the door: “Password?”
“I don’t have one, but I’m here to see RedGirl,” I said. “I have a delivery.”
The door opened. “Second floor,” the disembodied voice said. A pair of invisible hands grabbed me in the darkness, and while it held me in place, something was stamped on my forehead. “Last door on the right. Thank you for visiting!”
As soon as I stepped out of the elevator, I could hear the thumping beat coming from the end of the narrow, shag-carpeted hallway. Was this one of those secret clubs where the hipsters went?
I entered the room and squinted, overwhelmed at first by the blinking of a fluorescent lamp and blaring country music. A small group of mostly older men in shirts and ties sat around a table covered with beer bottles.
“Hey, girl!” My sister waved at me from across the table. She was sitting in one of the men’s laps, wearing her red cape over red lingerie and a garter belt.
“Would anybody here like some…?” I held out the box.
“Not likely.” She pointed to two of the men, growling at each other over a slab of beef. “These are more of the red meat type of guys. But we can freeze them…. They’ll be perfect for our underground food safe!”
She bounced out of the seat to take the box from me and leaned into my ear. “Ever since I became RedGirl, all the billionaires love me! I can’t believe how awesome my life is now with this superhero thing….”
I tried to think of some way in which having liberal powers had made my life happier.
“Don’t give me that look,” RedGirl pouted. “At least I’m honest about selling myself out.”
“How are you helping anyone?”
“What does that have to do with anything?” My sister shrugged. She put the muffins aside and wriggled back into a chair. “It’s not about helping, it’s about winning. And I’m the one who wins!”
She was right, of course. I couldn’t get a job selling pastries, while she was spending her evenings getting spanked by wealthy bankers.
I shook my fist at her. “Fine. You win this time, RedGirl. But we progressives will be back….at some indefinite point in the future.”
“No shame in losing,” the drunken man nearest me drawled out. He tried to leer at me, but after one look at my pullover and the expression on my face decided I wasn’t leering material.
I was certain it was thanks to men like these that I had lost my house. The blue light of accusation awoke within me again and started to move, but I found that I could not strike them with it—something was blocking me. They were too powerful.
It wasn’t until I got back home and slouched into the bathroom that I realized what had stopped my attack. In order to enter the billionaires’ house, I had allowed myself to be stamped with their seal.
I spent most of that night in front of the mirror, scrubbing away at my forehead, finding that once you’ve received the Mark, it is very difficult to get it back out.