Dearest K —
I still love you. Whatever else happens, that will never change.
I hate not writing your name. Everything is secrets with you. Secret identities, half truths. Out of everyone in your life, I like to think I know you best. I understand you. So, I’ll respect your wishes. You’ll be K, and nothing more.
You’re probably wondering why I left without even saying goodbye. I owe you an explanation. After you trusted me with your true self, I owe you that, at least.
I owe you more than that. I owe you my life countless times over. That’s why this is so hard, why I’m writing a letter instead of telling you face to face. Because otherwise I’d crack.
But you’re so good you don’t know what else to be. So I know you’ll understand.
I had to leave. Think of it as my way of saying “thank you” for all the times you saved me. Think of it as me saying “I’m sorry” for all the times I complicated your life.
The first moment I met you, I was falling. When you caught me, I understood what falling meant. I fell for you. And because of you. From that moment, you were never safe. Your enemies quickly learned to use me against you.
I learned slowly: You’re better off without me.
So this is goodbye. This is “thank you” and “sorry” and “I love you.”
Dear K —
Did you get my letter? I hope not. It’s embarrassing. That isn’t the me you used to know. It’s certainly not the me I want to show you now. Besides, it’s a lie.
I said I owed you an explanation, so here’s the truth ... I have superpowers, too.
I wanted it to be a surprise. I guess all that time hanging out with you and your friends rubbed off on me. I should have told you sooner, but I didn’t want to say anything until I knew exactly what I could do. It’s silly, but I wanted to figure it out on my own. I didn’t want to be some sidekick you had to worry about. I wanted to be your equal — you and me, saving the world.
At first I thought I had the power of invisibility. I was so excited! I could protect you, and when your enemies came looking for me — poof! I’d be gone.
I practised so hard. I learned to be still, hold my breath, stay silent — even when someone bumped into me without even noticing me. I got good at it. I was so proud!
All it took was one security camera to shatter my confidence.
I wasn’t trying to steal anything. You know me better than that. I just wanted to see if I could stay invisible while the security guards did their last rounds, then wander around the building after everyone was gone.
I was so embarrassed. But I learned my lesson. I obviously didn’t understand my powers yet. I had to decide what I wanted to be.
I considered fire, but I was worried I’d accidentally hurt someone. I thought about flying, but I’m afraid of heights.
So I spent hours watching you and your friends, watching how you were with each other and with regular people. And after all that watching you and your friends, I found I understood you, I could predict what you were going to say before you said it, guess at every gesture and tic before it happened. Suddenly it came to me what my real superpower was — I could read minds.
So I read yours. And I realized how little space I occupied there.
I don’t blame you. You’re not human. At least I don’t think so. I still don’t entirely understand how it works.
But I get it. You have the whole world to worry about. The weight of humanity rests on your shoulders. I’m only one person.
That’s why I had to leave — for you. For us. For humanity.
But I still love you.
I take it back. It’s precisely because you’re not human that it isn’t fair. You’re supposed to be better than me. Your heart is supposed to be big enough to encompass me and all of humanity.
I’m only human. I can’t love enough for both of us.
So you have to choose. If you want me in your life, prove you’re the hero I always thought you were — so good you could never hurt anyone.
Asshole. I should have gone with fire.
I take it back. Fire is too good for you. I’ll think of something better. And you’ll be sorry.
I was so blind! The only way to hurt you is to hurt the people you love — make them afraid and insignificant. Make them lose faith in you.
I know a thing or two about that.
But who do you really care about? Your friends? Your family? Or are you beyond everyone? Do you see yourself as a god, towering above a sidewalk full of ants? How long until you crush us, or get bored and let us die of neglect?
Someone has to stop you. For the good of humanity.
I can’t believe I ever loved you.
I know what my true superpower is now. It’s hate. The kind that burns away everything until it’s the only thing left, before winking out.
I’m clean. Empty. I am so far above you now. Your other enemies all need you. You define them. They pull their punches, sabotage themselves without realizing it. They’re weak. Their evil plans are pathetic cries for help.
But I’m strong. I don’t need you anymore. I’ve outgrown you. In fact, I don’t need anyone.
Say goodbye to your precious world, Super-Human. And don’t think of trying to stop me. By the time you read this, it will be too late.
Not Yours Anymore, Ever,
A.C. Wise was born and raised in Montreal, and currently lives in the Philadelphia area. Her work has appeared in Clarkesworld, Apex, the Best Horror of the Year Volume 4, and Imaginarium 2012: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing, among others. She also co-edits the Journal of Unlikely Entomology.