Read by Keleigh Wolf
Abby was feeling meh. There was no particular reason. Or rather, there were lots of little reasons which had all stuck together to create a sensation of overwhelming mehness.
She had stayed up too late playing Bejeweled Blitz and woken feeling slightly headachy. The milk in the fridge had turned sour. She was pretty sure Simon wasn't The One. It was raining. She’d waited to buy the blue jumpsuit in the sale and now they only had it in a size 10. She hadn't won the lottery. Again. And it really irritated her the way the superheroes cluttered up the coffee shop.
It had been such a lovely little independent. But now its character had changed completely, and everyone was too scared of the superheroes to complain. She would never have gone in if the milk hadn't been sour.
No superheroines, Abby noted. They obviously had more sense. She closed her eyes and tried to breathe deeply.
"Hey, girlfriend," came a soft, concerned voice. "What's the matter?"
Abby opened her eyes. A man had slipped into the seat on the other side of the table, a man wearing a skin-tight violet costume with a blue S on it. The S was very different from Superman's angular shield: it was delicately curving, with small flowers looping out of it. Abby had never seen the man before.
"Who are you?" she demanded.
"I'm Captain Simpatico," breathed the newcomer. "I feel your pain."
"What are you talking about? You've no idea who I am."
The stranger gave a gentle smile. "That doesn't matter. I'm a superhero and that's my superpower. Like I said, I'm Captain Simpatico."
"Shouldn't that be Capitano Simpatico?" said Abby acidly.
"Oh dear." The superhero leaned across the table and took her hand. "PMS? A lot of women get short-tempered and irrational when it’s their time of the month."
Abby pulled her hand away. "No, it is not PMS!" she snapped. "Call yourself a superhero? You're a patronising chauvinist wanker."
He nodded. "I can understand why you say that."
"Can you really?"
"Sarcasm," he said. "You poor baby, lashing out at those around you because of your own unhappiness."
"And why am I unhappy?" said Abby. "Because you and your idiot mates have taken over my local coffee shop and I can't get peace to drink my chai latte and read the newspaper."
"I can relate to that," said Captain Simpatico.
"Goodness, you can't get peace to drink your chai latte and read the paper either?"
"No, I've already drunk my chai latte and read the paper. I'm identifying with you."
"Not very successfully if you think I've got PMS when I'm just feeling meh."
Captain Simpatico leaned further across the table towards her. "Oh, don't say 'just' feeling meh. Feeling meh can be a horrible, debilitating, soul-sapping experience. I've been there. I know what you're going through."
Abby, who was holding her teaspoon, created a passable Uri Geller bend in it. "You haven't the faintest idea," she said.
Again the gentle smile. "Oh, but I do. Everything you say resonates with me. It's my superpower."
Abby tried to straighten out the teaspoon. "Well, you know what they say. You can't really understand someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes."
"So true," sighed Captain Simpatico. "So very true."
"Okay then what?"
"Walk a mile in my shoes."
Captain Simpatico blinked.
"Yeah," said Abby. "I knew you weren't able to understand me."
"I am!" protested Captain Simpatico. He glanced down at her feet. "A bit small, but I'm sure I'll manage for a mile."
Abby wagged a finger at him. "These are my trainers. A mile in my shoes. Come along."
Fifteen minutes later, they emerged from Abby's flat, Captain Simpatico clinging to the railings as he teetered on the three-inch heels.
"How do you walk in these?" he wailed.
"After a mile you'll know, won't you?"
"But they're crushing my toes! They're wrecking my calf muscles! They're putting my back out!"
"Yup, that's what they do," said Abby. "You're feeling my pain. Excellent."
Captain Simpatico lurched from lamp-post to lamp-post, leaning against them and whimpering. "Are we nearly finished?"
"Fifty yards," said Abby. "We've barely begun."
The right heel twisted under him and he fell over, ripping his violet tights and embedding gravel in his knees.
Abby rushed over to help him up, but he lost his footing again and pitched in the opposite direction, crashing on to his elbows.
"I'll get septicaemia!" he shrieked.
"No, just scabs," said Abby. "Keep going. We're nearly at the end of the street."
He clung to a gate post. "I'm not staying on these death-trap pavements! I need to walk on grass!"
"That's really not going to help," said Abby.
"Grass!" he insisted.
She helped him across to the park where the tapered heels immediately sank into the turf, trapping him.
"You're aerating the soil, which I'm sure is environmentally beneficial," she said. "But it takes up much more energy to walk and you don't seem to have a lot to spare."
He was snivelling now, as the blood from his grazed knees and elbows soaked into his costume, but he was determined to stay on the grass. As he tried to step forward, one heel lifted while the other remained firmly embedded, and he tipped forward into a holly bush.
Abby retrieved the shoe which had been stuck, "Here you are!" she called. "You can lean on me while you get your foot back in."
There were gaping holes all over his superhero costume where the holly leaves had torn it, and he was covered in scratches.
"Put my foot back in?" he snarled. "Are you crazy?"
"You don't know whether I'm crazy or not? Are you losing your superpowers?"
With difficulty, Captain Simpatico tugged off the other shoe and flung it to the ground. Barefoot, he stumbled back in the direction of the coffee shop. Abby, carrying the discarded shoes, followed him.
His arrival was met with a horrified silence. The superheroes stared at their bloodied and tattered colleague.
"Who did this to you?" gasped Aquaman.
Captain Simpatico pointed a shaking finger at Abby.
"Hey, guys," she said, and waved.
"Look at his feet!" whispered Daredevil.
They all looked at Captain Simpatico's bleeding and blistered feet, the blackened nails hanging off.
"Whatever she's using, it's worse than kryptonite," quavered Superman. "And I'm not hanging round to find out what it is."
In a series of blurs and the occasional flash of fire or ice, the superheroes all disappeared.
"I'll have another chai latte," Abby said to the barista.
"I'll have a chai latte as well," said a voice behind her.
"And one more for me."
Abby turned to see Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Woman.
"Nice work," growled Batgirl.
"Nice shoes," said Supergirl.
"For restoring the ambience of this independent coffee shop," said Wonder Woman, "we are now going to induct you into the league of superheroines."
"But I'm just ordinary," said Abby.
"Ordinary yet deeply fab," said Wonder Woman.
And that is how Abby vanquished the mansplaining of Captain Simpatico and became Chai-Latte-and-a-Paper-Ordinary-Yet-Deeply-Fab-Girl.
(c) Olga Wojtas, 2017
Olga Wojtas is an Edinburgh writer who attended the school that inspired Muriel Spark's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. She has had over 30 short stories published in literary magazines and anthologies, and is currently editing her first novel. She is thrilled to be a Liars' League newbie.
Keleigh Wolf is an American poet, performer, journalist & activist. She performs as Coco Millay with the London Poetry Brothel and she also founded The Little Versed Poetry Collective, produces and hosts the Propaganda Poetry radio series, and is Poet in Residence at Kabaret @ Karamel where she curates monthly events