The Perfect Story
The world was on fire.
At least, that's how it looked to Naomi Valor. The city park was burning and she was rushing right into it. Call her crazy. But she preferred the term "hero." At least, an attempt at one. Attempt number one. That would be this test drive right here. She hadn't a clue what she could do once she got there; all she knew was that she needed to be there to do something.
People rushed by straight past her, not paying her any mind for the sake of their own safety. She didn't blame them, though. It was the smart thing to do.
The park was just straight ahead, yards away. The smoke was overwhelmingly thick and the fire was rising high up into the sky—the sky she could no longer see from the ground. She could barely see through her tears. Naomi knew how to prepare, though, aside from how sudden this all came about. When she felt she could barely go on breathing, she shoved a wet wash cloth up to her face and breathed through that, using part of it to wipe away the tears burning against her eyes. She had to get in. She had to save someone. She had to get out.
There was a blast of glass to her left as fire pooled out of the building in a wave. She turned to it, staring hard and listening closely. Crying. There. She would need to go in there. The stupidest thing she had ever done. Ignoring her own call of sanity, Naomi marched her way up to the building and squinted past the shards of glass lying on the ground that once belonged to the door of the office building. The roof was caving in, one side already crashed down. She could hear the crying. Someone yelling for help. A voice so small she was surprised it could even be heard.
The washcloth was already beginning to wear, but that didn't stop her. She forced herself through the door, carefully avoiding the glass still sticking out of it, and looked around. The voice had to belong to someone. They had to be here. Had to be alive.
She paused. Listened. For the longest second, the only sound was the sound of blazing flames and far-off sounds of breaking glass and firemen preparing their hoses. A relieved thought passed through her mind that the cavalry had finally arrived. But they were big-picture types. She focused on the details. There was always someone they would overlook, and she was here to find…
There! Right there. Right past the desk burning itself down to ash came the cry of a small, living, breathing, human being in need of help.
Naomi would be that help.
She would have called out a signal of reassurance, but she knew she would never find her voice again once she opened her mouth to the sea of flames. She'd drown in an instant. So she kept the washcloth secure over her mouth and carefully navigated through the small office space. A few scrapes, a few burns. Nothing she couldn't handle. And sure enough, once she got past it all, there was a small boy cowering in the corner, far away from the door, and far away from any hope for help. Even as he laid there, eyes shut tight, and hands singed with burns, he called out quietly, voice dying quickly away with every desperate breath. Naomi would have smiled if the situation wasn't as dire as it was.
The boy didn't protest as she swooped down and picked him up in her arms, quickly crossing the room to reach the door. She removed the washcloth to use it to wipe the ash off his face with it, regretting it almost immediately when the smoke threatened to swallow her whole. She pushed it out of her lungs, forcing herself on through the door and out into the smoke-clouded area yet again. Looking left and right, she knew she couldn't save any others when she still hadn't managed to save this boy. She couldn't leave him lying here on the ground in such a hazardous area.
Had she forgotten the way out? Which way was the park? Up ahead, right? So that meant she should turn and...right? Which way was right? Left or…straight ahead? She found herself on her knees, coughing, the boy still unconscious in her arms. Tears streamed down her face. No, no, she wasn't concentrating on the details. She had to listen. Panic would get her nowhere.
Closing her eyes tight, she heard the loud spray of the hoses the firemen used to put out the fires. It all sounded so obvious to her now that she bothered to relax and pay attention. Maintaining a grip on her mind, and on the boy, Naomi forced herself to her feet, stumbling off to the left, in the direction of where she heard the firemen making noise, shouting orders to each other. Before she knew it, she was in the clear. Hardly able to breathe, maybe, eyesight dulled, and skin throbbing with searing burns, maybe, but all that could be fixed. The cavalry was right in front of her and she had managed to save this little boy. That is, if he hadn't yet died.
While the firemen focused on the fire and cleared the majority of the smoke away from the area, Naomi laid the boy down behind one of their trucks before they were noticed and taken away. The boy would surely die if left in their arms. They were capable, but not as capable as her. They wouldn't understand what she could do. She hardly understood it herself, but she'd been given a gift and she wasn't about to start questioning it.
First, she laid her head down on the little boy's chest. Faintly, she could hear his heart beating in his chest; slow and rhythmic. The sound of life. Sighing in relief, Naomi pulled away and placed a hand on his chest where his lungs would be and a hand over his open mouth. Then she sat, staring, concentrated. In a moment, the boy gasped inward and she quickly removed her hand to allow him to suck in the semi-fresh air.
"It hurts! It hurts!" he screamed. "It hurts! Make it stop!"
She would make it stop. One hand on the boy's burned cheek and another on his seared arm, she once again sat silently concentrating. Slowly, the boy's uncontrollable screaming turned into light, whimpering sobs from the shock of it all. The pain was gone and he could breathe again. His throat throbbed with soreness of the nearby smoke, but that was the worst of his pains. Without thought or need for any sort of explanation, the boy reached forward and wrapped his arms tightly around Naomi's neck, squeezing tightly and mumbling words she couldn't understand.
But she was happy.
Naomi smiled and held the boy tightly in return, keeping her hold as she got back up to her feet again, taking him with her to meet with the firefighters that were coming their way from the screaming. One of the men reached out without a word, intent on taking the boy away from her, and she intended on letting him. "Sssh, it'll be okay. They'll make you safe," Naomi whispered. The boy begrudgingly let go, trusting the words of his mysterious savior. He didn't know her name, didn't know where she came from or how she got there, but he knew that she saved his life and that was all he needed to know.
When the boy was passed off to the first fireman, a second came up to take her away, too. She shook her head and backed away, holding her hands up to show that she wasn't trying to go into a frenzy. "Wait, please." Her voice was coarser than she expected it to be. It surprised her, but the fireman was kind and gave her a chance, expecting Naomi to be a girl recovering from her shock and being not quite ready to jump into chaos again. But that would be wrong. And the firefighter was the shocked one.
Naomi swept a hand down her raw, red arms and over the cuts in her side, over her cheeks, and couldn't help but smile as the firefighter took a step back. She was glad for the firefighter's surprise. It gave her a chance to walk right past the man in the suit once her wounds were done healing at the abnormally fast rate that only she seemed to be able to accomplish. Maybe a miracle. Maybe a gift.
And just when she was ready to dive right back into it all, a large, gloved hand pointed to the sky, and all around looked away from their work follow the hand. It pointed to a figure in the sky. A human boy with bright, blue hair.
Right there in the sky.
And that's not all he was doing. Anyone who saw it would never believe what their eyes were telling them. Anyone who wasn't there would never believe the stories told by those who were, even if they heard the same thing from a hundred different people. The boy was shooting a cloud of ice straight from his hands and over the fire. It was like an oversized blanket branching out over the building and spilling over into the fire, leaving steam, then a blanket of snow over the ashes. Snowflakes fell below him and all the people around stopped and stared, jaws open in awe.
Naomi, however, was the first to snap from her stupor to smile. The blue-haired boy had been a shock to her at first, but she knew he was just another unexpected miracle. Someone with a gift. Someone making an attempt to be the hero. Well, he's doing a pretty good job. She looked behind her where the smoke was beginning to fade away at an unbelievable rate, the fire dying away under clumps of snow and blocks of ice.
In a matter of fifteen minutes, the park and the office buildings nearby were no longer on fire and no longer a danger.
Naomi met with the eyes of the man behind the firefighter suit. She decided that it was her turn to step up and take the show now that the dangerous part was over with. The firefighters got over their immediate shock and began running into the buildings to find and save whoever they could. Naomi tried to do the same, but the firefighter held her back. He seemed hesitant and unsure of what he was doing, but she didn't bother to resist. She waited another thirty minutes, the boy floating almost carelessly in the sky as he watched the people working on the ground, for the workers to finish their search.
With all the coughing, bleeding, burning, and dying survivors out in the open now, Naomi calmly brushed the firefighter off and went off to the nearest ambulance. She barely took a second to glance up to the skies to find the blue-haired boy watching her. She would of waved, but instead, she merely adjusted the barely-sing mask concealing her eyes and went back to work. It seemed silly, probably, for a teenager like herself to dress up in a costume and go around saving lives. It seemed that way to Naomi, anyway. Her newly bought pinstriped shirt under that vest and tie were normal enough, but what made them as super as her was the ceramic teary-eyed clown mask and dark green hair. It certainly drew the attention in her direction.
She ignored the staring, however, finishing each job with that one firefighter at her side each step of the way. The once silent, shocked firefighter who had held her back before helped her greatly with her new purpose: healing all the people that the hospitals would not be able to save on their own. Maybe she could only do so much. And there were a few she couldn't do anything for at all. But she was there and she was doing what she could and that was really all that should matter.
The boy in the sky smiled down at her, even as she turned away from him. His blue eyes twinkled behind the red mask he wore—a simple piece of cloth with holes cut out of them by hand—and he floated in the air as simply as anyone would in the water.
The hurried peace that fell over the working firefighters and the two young heroes didn't seem to last forever, however. When most of the situation seemed to be under control and Naomi stood back to catch her breath, feeling drained from the healing, a whole new case of chaos rushed up to meet her. It came in the form of a News crew van, an overly ecstatic woman in pink that barely passed from clashing with her darker pink hair crashing out of the doors before the vehicle even stopped moving. She wasn't there for Naomi, though. She was there for the scene. And for the boy with the blue hair. She hadn't even noticed Naomi.
"Someone, quick! Get that boy down here for an interview!" Her mouth moved a mile a minute with every word she spoke. She looked up at the boy, who merely grinned and waved down at her. Naomi looked up at him, then back down at the news woman calling frantically up to him, pointing to him, making sure the cameraman had him live! on-screen.
Rolling her eyes, Naomi slowly slinked out of eyesight before the woman could start questioning her appearance. Thankfully, the crowd seemed more focused on the boy in the sky than the healer on the ground, so she got away with so much as a barricade. Even the firefighter who helped her get to each victim seemed to be too focused on other things to notice her sudden disappearance. "Wait!" Or maybe not.
Naomi froze, hoping this wouldn't turn into as big of a thing as that boy was beginning to. She quickly ran over her options in her head, wondering if she should just run for it now while she still had a chance or see what exactly this person could possibly want from her. She knew it was too late to run now by bothering to stop and think about it, so she sighed and turned to see what the person could want. She found her gaze dropping more towards the ground, the familiar face of the once burned little boy greeting her with a big, bright smile. He looked, to her, to be no more than four or five.
She crouched down to his level and he reached out to outline the red swirly designs on her mask. "How can I help you?" she asked him.
The boy shook his head. "You're a hero! What's your name?"
She felt shocked for a moment. She ran into the fires with that considering running through her mind, the sensation that she was trying to be a hero. It was just a passing thought, though. She would never consider herself someone so noble and she would never reach the level deserving of that title. However, she wouldn't kill the little boy's hope. "You can call me Miss Poker Face." Maybe the Miss was a bit much, but it slipped from her mouth before she had a chance to stop it. It seemed patronizing now that it was said out loud. Not to mention the ridiculous title. Poker Face? That was the best she could come up with? But she supposed the name wasn't as important as the power when it came to these things.
The boy didn't seem to think negatively about it at all. "Thank you, Miss Poker Face!" He glanced behind him suddenly, as if expecting his mother to be there waiting to pick him up and carry him away. Instead, in the distance, a nurse was looking in their directed, headed right their way. "I have to go now, but please come save me again, okay?"
Naomi could only hope that she would never have to do that, but she nodded anyway. "Stay safe," she told him. He nodded, taking the words to heart and planning on following through with them as best as he could for the rest of his days. She wondered, vaguely, as she stood and watched him run off back to the nurse, if he would remember her twenty years from now; the strange, masked, green-haired lady who saved him from a fire and healed all his wounds with a magical touch of her hands. But that kind of thinking was for those who deserved it.
And she was not that person.