Fast Girls and Strong Women

Donna woke up with a headache. It wasn’t a hangover headache, but it was familiar. What was it?

Where was she? She wasn’t in her own bed—Disoriented… The couch? She was still having trouble getting her eyes open, but that was for sure the couch-back behind her. Comforting. Head-ache not from being pounded into ground by demon monkey—check.

Or was it? Why the couch and not her bed?

What had happened last night?

“Morning!” her roommate Tamsin coo’d in her sweet cockney accent.

Were her eyes open? Not yet. So how did she—

“I know you’re awake ‘cause you don’t shake your leg in your sleep, only when you’re awake, so I know you’re awake—morning!”

Oh, right. Tamsin. It was starting to come back to her.

“Head still hurting?” Considerate was good, but did she have to be so chipper?

Donna moaned weakly in response.

“That was a really brave thing you did last night,” Tamsin assured her.

“We,” Donna managed to correct her.

“Well, yeah, ‘we’, I suppose, ‘cause of teamwork, but honestly, you were the one taking all the risks.”

“Burning building you ran into.” By this point, Donna was stretching and forcing out the words with her breath.

“Yeah, but I didn’t have to touch it. ‘Cept with my feet, I s’pose.”

And then there was coffee. For a girl with superspeed, that sure took her long enough, thought Donna, but she pushed the cranky thought aside and took a sip.

Tamsin’s hands went to Donna’s head. “How’s that noggin?”

“Knocked,” Donna said, too proud, perhaps, of her witliness.

“You had half a building fall on you—“

“Not the half that was on fire.”

“Lucky girl. It’s not fair, is it?” This was one of Tamsin’s trademark nonsequiturs—part of the byproduct of her ability was thinking too fast, making too many leaps in conversation and occasionally getting bored in the middle and forgetting what question she’d asked.

“Hm?” said Donna.

This was not one of those times. “Well, the division of power and all.”

Donna knew what she was talking about but hadn’t had quite enough coffee yet, so she frowned for more information.

“I mean, look at you, right? Then look at me. Ask anyone on the street which of those two has super-strength and which has super-speed, you think anyone’d guess wrong? I mean, unless they were being ironic or thought it was a trick?”

It was a relief to hear someone else say it, but Donna still raised an offended eyebrow.

“Ah, come on, I didn’t mean it like that! You’re gorgeous, you are.”

Well, now she’d done it.

“No, you are! Look at you! You’re a warrior princess and any man’d be lucky to have you! Just you stay away from my Tim now, right?”

This was the part when any other girl might have given her friend a love-tap on the arm or hand or a light shoulder-shove, but Donna threw her hands into the air instead to avoid breaking any of Tam’s bones—not that she would have been quicky enough to actually reach her, but hey, it was habit.

“You know what I mean, though?” Tamsin continued. “If I’d found a burning builidng in Brooklyn—say that five times fast—and I’d called you, I’d’ve had to wait, at least for the saving the builiding and the big people part. It’s not like I could come get you. I mean, it’s all good and well you finding things wrong and calling me, I’d be there in a flash if that name wasn’t already taken. But just imagine if you were you with normal strength but my speed, and I was me with normal speed, but your strength, you’d have no problem liftin’ me—“

“Rub it in, why don’t you?”

“I’m just saying—“

“No, I get it. Not like I haven’t thought about it myself.”

“You wanna switch?”

The question, which felt like another leap on Tam’s part, though in retrospect she should’ve seen it coming, took Donna completely off-guard. Not that she hadn’t thought about it, but—“What? Have you heard something?”

“No, I didn’t mean like for real, just hypothetical.”

The thought still made Donna uncomfortable. Because she had thought about it. She thought of all the accidents, of course, from breaking beds to breaking hands to little things like ruining jars of peanut butter by opening them wrong. More than that, though, she thought of the awkwardnesses, she thought of the fragile egos of every man she’d ever tried to date (hell, every man she’d ever interacted with) and how she hated herself for not being able to find somebody to love her, and how she hated herself for hating herself, for being weak, like she was betraying her sisters and her ancestors.

“No,” she said. “No, I like being able to lift builidings.” And she joked, “I’d switch bodies with you, though.”

“No, thanks,” said Tam, taking just a little longer than she usually did. “Be pretty damn queer, seeing you holding up a building looking like me, innit?”

And they giggled because it was true and then drank all the rest of the coffee.

About Polypsyches

I write, regardless of medium or genre, but mostly I manage a complex combined Science-Fiction/Fantasy Universe--in other words, I'm building Geek Heaven. With some other stuff on the side. View all posts by Polypsyches

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