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Vanessa stood outside of the dining room to collect herself. Everyone was there, and she had made up her mind. She wasn’t asking she was telling. Nothing they could say would convince her.
Her eyes fell on the freshly retouched portrait of her great grandfather that stared down on her. While the charred corner had been repainted, she could still see the black lines running through the canvas. Electrified had really done a number on it. Vanessa thought the artist could’ve done a better job retouching, but it was done. The eyes didn’t hold the same piercing quality they once had.
Vanessa threw open the dining room door. Mr. Smith and Jude were both sitting at their usual spots, looking down at their phones. As she entered, they both put away their phones and looked up.
“Vanessa! What is it you wanted to talk about?” Mr. Smith smiled.
Vanessa took a deep breath, before taking her seat. “Dad, Jude, I’ve decided that I’m going away for a while.”
Mr. Smith’s smile stiffened, and his brow furrowed. “What? This is sudden. What brought this on?”
“After everything that happened last year, nothing has been the same. Nothing makes sense anymore. I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore…” She looked up. “Without Paul, there’s not really anything here for me anyways.” She felt tears welling up in her eyes, but she pushed them back.
“Well, honey, that’s just not true! You still have me…” He paused for a second, “And Jude’s still here too! What about your training? You really wanted that didn’t you?”
“It’s just not the same anymore dad. I don’t think I can keep doing this.” A single tear broke through her barrier and ran down her cheek. “I’m going to go find myself.”
“Where are you going to go?” Mr. Smith pushed back his chair and stood to his feet. “Who are you going to go with?”
“I’m going on my own, to California.” She stood to her feet as well.
“You can’t just go off on your own, it’s not safe!”
“I can take care of myself, isn’t that right, Jude?” She turned to Jude.
Jude went wide-eyed, and said nothing for a moment, before sighing. “Vanessa, I think you should listen to your dad… At least bring someone with you.”
“This is why I have to leave! Nobody here believes in me!” She turned around and began to storm out, before turning back around. “I’m leaving now! Don’t call me! I can take care of myself.” She then went out of the room, slamming the doors behind her. She heard a thud, and turned to see the painting had fallen off of the wall. She ran off to her room to grab her bags.
She got to her room, and picked up her plane ticket and bags. She hesitated for a moment. Her heart ached, but she knew this was the right thing for her to do. She had honestly thought her dad would believe in her, or that Jude would stick up for her a little bit. After all, Paul went off on a trip to Turkey and everyone was fine with that. She had superpowers now, nobody could hurt her.
There was a gentle knock on the door. She wiped her face off on her sleeve, and turned to face it. “You’re not going to talk me out of it.”
“Can I come in?” Mr. Smith asked.
“Fine.” She sat on the foot of the bed.
He slowly opened the door, and came to sit down next to her. “Honey, you know I love you, and I want what’s best for you. It’s not that I don’t support you, it’s just that I’m worried, okay?”
“I know dad.” She looked down and wiped some more tears away.
Her dad moved closer and wrapped his arm around her. “Look, if you want to go to California, you can go to California. I’ll call you a car, and you can leave when you’re ready. Just… Please call me. I’m not that same guy that missed your whole childhood for work. I’m here for you.”
Vanessa sobbed for a moment, as she embraced her dad. “Thanks dad.”
Mr. Smith held her for a moment, then looked down at her plane ticket. “Well, I see you seem well prepared. You already have tickets and everything.” He nodded. “Let me at least call you a car.
“Alright. Thanks dad.” She smiled as he went out the door.
Vanessa on the edge of her bed, when she heard another knock, this time from Jude.
“So, you have any idea when you’ll be back?” He asked.
“I… I don’t know. I’m sorry if this throws a wrench in your superhero-ing.”
“Don’t worry about me. I just want you to take the time for yourself that you need to. When you’re ready, come back and we can pick up where we left off.” He smiled.
“Thanks Jude…” She hesitated. “Don’t tell Paul about this, by the way. I don’t want him to think I’ve lost it without him.”
“Alright, I won’t. Just make sure you stay safe out there.”
“Thanks Jude.” She smiled.
Mr. Smith stepped into the doorway. “Vanessa, they’ve got the car pulled around front, are you ready to go?”
Vanessa nodded, and Jude helped her carry her bag out to the car. She got in, closed the door, and waved to Jude and her dad, who were standing on the curb. She sighed in contentment, as the car pulled out of the drive, and onto the road.
“So, California, huh?” The driver spoke up. She recognized his voice. He was one of her dad’s newer recruits. She was a little surprised that he’d not had Gregory do this. She figured he probably had experience in California, and her dad was going to have him tail her. That sounded just like him. She was a little surprised he found a volunteer so quickly, though.
“Yeah, have you ever been before?”
“I see.” She nodded. This didn’t feel right.
There was a whirring, as the divider went up. She quietly sighed with relief. It wasn’t quite over, but she wasn’t really wild about continuing that conversation. There had to be some reasonable explanation. Suddenly the air vents kicked on, and she smelt something funny. Vanessa started to formulate a thought, but before she knew it, she was asleep.
(Art credit: Morgan, by Charles William Peale ~1794)