From: indigo@plastic.spork.com (Indigo)

DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to DC. Sorry I'm being vague, but it's intentionally so. The impact of the story, I believe, is lessened if I give too much detail this early on. WARNING: Kind of heavy in places. FEEDBACK: Normal rules apply. As long as you can be civil and polite about it, it's welcome at indigo@spork.com If you feel the urge to flame -- don't bother. ARCHIVE: Normal rules apply. If you have standing permission, no problem. If you don't and you'd like this story to archive, please email me and ask. Thank you!


If You Knew Suzie...

Indigo

 

7/11/98

The costume looks great on me. It should. I only weigh 98 pounds soaking wet with my quiver on. No junk food, except popcorn, air-popped, no butter, no salt. When my friends go for pizza, I drink bottled water. The boys don't look at me because I'm too skinny, too flat-chested, too much like a boy. I wish I could look different, but I don't have a choice. I have to stay as thin as I can. I have to. One pound overweight could be critical.

They don't look at me in costume either. Who would dare ogle a super-heroine who hangs out with other super heroes? No boy my age wants to risk Impulse flying into a jealous frenzy and hitting him upside the head 27,000 times in a minute.

It's white. My costume, I mean. *White*, can you believe that? Do you have any idea how *hard* it is to keep a white costume *clean*? If I fall, if I bump into something, if the bad guy smoke bombs me -- that's *it*. Costume's no longer white. And neither am I, 'cause *she* will have a fit and beat me black and blue. I guess I should count myself lucky my period has stopped.

I cover the yawn reflexively. I don't get much sleep either. Up at 4 am every day to do my hair ("Must always look your best for the photo ops, love!"), then eat a quick breakfast of shoots and berries, and an hour of practice before school. The balance beam, the obstacle course, the gymnastics stuff on the mats, and of course -- let's not forget the weight work.

I'm usually so tired I'm ready to drop by seven a.m., but then it's time to shower and get ready for school.

The costume has a mask, She says, "because you must always hide your true identity from the world in case they threaten your loved ones. Besides, it enhances your feminine mystique." I'm glad it has a mask to hide the bags under my eyes...and the occasional black eye I get from Her finding out I dozed off face first into my geometry book again.

I usually doze in third period study hall, because Mr. Krelmore is nice and knows I don't get enough rest. He tries to grill me a dozen ways and find out why. His questions are cute, meant to not make me suspicious. "You always carry that gym bag -- working out, practicing for the Olympics? Why aren't you on the gymnastics team then, Suzie? You look tired, dear; trouble at home? Oh, what happened to your eye? Did you trip?"

I always find ways to avoid answering directly; at least, so far I have. I don't think I can do this forever. It gets harder to think up answers the teacher will buy. And there are only so many months in the year you can wear long sleeves and turtlenecks to hide the bruises -- and how thin I've become. She would have a fit if she thought I was saying anything about what happens before and after school.

Lunchtime, while the rest of the kids hang out in the playground or bail out to McDonald's, or go in for pizza or ice cream -- I do my homework. She gets home at 4:30 and I better have it all done, 'cause it's practice again until dinner at 6:30.

I've got a bruise on my arm from where the paint ball nailed me. Those things hurt, even from a distance. Had I been in costume, I'd have really heard it.

As it is, I've got the sniffles. I think it's Hay Fever, but She won't take me to the doctor. She says "doctors can't be trusted. They report things. You'll just have to have a stiff upper lip, Suzie. Grin and bear it."

I don't think so. The only boy I want doesn't even know I'm a girl. And even though he and his dad sent Her to jail for putting me through my paces - -- social services didn't take me away. Why would they? She just comes across as concerned for her baby's well being, and wanting to make sure she's in tip-top condition, so she doesn't fall in with the wrong crowd.

I get straight A's in all my classes. They looked. Our home life looks idyllic on the outside. Like I said, big clothes hide the fact that you can count my ribs. They also hide the bruises. Which She, I might add, is careful to put on places the costume will cover. The white costume.

Bedtime's nothing to look forward to either. I have to be in bed by 9. No TV, no radio, no _Seventeen_ or _YM_ Magazine. Just a bath, into my PJ's, and bed.

At some point during the night -- more than once, some nights -- she'll rush in and 'drill' me, waking me out of a sound sleep, and demand to see how fast I can get into costume, downstairs into the basement, and hitting targets. "A heroine must be ready at a moment's notice!" she says.

I'm locked in the bathroom now, crying. It's the only place She leaves me alone. The only time I can have all to myself, without being smacked in the back of my blonde head and told that this is a "great opportunity!" It's the only time I don't have to hear about Her carpal-tunnel syndrome ("back before they had a *name* for it, Suzie!") and how it stopped her from her "chance at glory." The only time I don't have to hear Her remind me that my dad, Bowstring Jones, "would turn over in his grave if he saw what a disappointment I was growing up to be."

I remember him -- he loved me a lot, and didn't treat me like I disappointed him. He used to let me shoot with the bow if I wanted. He never *made* me.

I bet Uncle Speedy doesn't even know I don't *want* to do this. Heck, he isn't even Uncle Speedy anymore. When we see him on the news at all (the only time, I might add, I'm allowed to *watch* any TV), hes 'Arsenal.' And Uncle Ollie is dead.

Dead.

Like I could end up doing what She wants because She couldn't do it because of Her stupid wrists!

I want out.

But the courts didn't get me out.

The teachers can't get me out.

Impulse doesn't know I need to get out.

So I guess I get myself out.

Mmm...actually...I'm starting to feel sleepy already.

It's taken me *months* to sneak out enough of Her Seconal pills. I kept them in the bottom of my quiver until I had enough to do the job for sure. I hope thirty is enough. If they pump my stomach and I survive, She will really let me have it.

"Suzie? You're going to turn into a prune in there! Did you remember to exfoliate and moisturize? Can't have blackheads or flaky skin on the news, honey."

"Right, Mom," I answer, and finish drying off. I set my hair before I got in the bathtub. I slip on my long white nightgown, and then my robe. I pad barefoot down the stairs to kiss her goodnight.

"Sleep well, Suzie," She says to me in that voice that's almost visible with cigarette smoke and alcohol.

"I will," I answer, and lean to kiss her goodnight.

She leaves a big red lipstick print on my cheek, and I don't bother to wipe it away as I turn to climb the stairs again. It's my last kiss, after all.

I didn't even get a first.

I close the door and *lock* it this time. She doesn't know I went to the hardware store on my way home from school and bought a new doorknob kit to replace the one she took the lock out of. Not like I could spend my allowance on movies or CDs -- what else was I going to spend it on?

Then I turn out the light and move in silence, just like She taught me.

I walk over to where my costume hangs neatly in its garment bag and take it out.

It hangs a little loosely on me. Guess cutting out breakfast for the last month, like She wanted me to -- worked.

I slip the mask on over my face, and pull out the curlers, hands lifting my hair into the pretty little Grecian coif that looked so cute in the newspaper.

I slip into the skirt and the boots.

By the time I get to the bodice, my fingers are numb and fumbling. I can barely keep my eyes open.

It's an effort to lace up my wrist bracers.

I'm thankful the cape just slips over one shoulder.

I'm nearly done.

The note has been written and kept in the bottom of my dresser drawer for months. I smile down at it. In my neatest, most legible handwriting ("when you leave a note for the police, dear, they have to be able to read it!")it says simply, "Goodbye."

I lift an arrow without a gimmick to the bow. It takes me three tries to knock it, but I succeed. I've been trained to be able to knock and fire while being spun on a centrifuge, being tickled, or shot at. So even as my eyes are closing and my vision blurring, I still manage the feat.

The sound of the arrow embedding itself in the door is satisfying.

I make it to bed and lie down, flat on my back with my hands folded under my breasts, and my bow across my body. Want to look nice for the newspapers when they find me.

And thus ends the career of Arrowette, daughter of Arrowette, who only wanted to be Suzie Jones.


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