I walk the three blocks over to his place and knock on the door. He answers immediately with a big smile on his face. He has such a pretty smile. He ushers me in and we make our way down into his workroom, laughing and joking around on our way down the steps. There is a stool set up in the middle of the room and he directs me to sit at it. I can help the giggles that escape me as I take in how dramatic he is being about this entire thing.
“Good evening ladies and gentleman!” he says with a flourish, barely containing his own giggles as he swishes a cape around his shoulders. “Prepare to be amazed as I, the great Danini, present to you my life’s work!”
“You know you are only 15, right?” I laugh as he nearly trips over his cape, which I now realize is a throw blanket he probably stole from his parents’ couch. He shoots a sheepish grin my direction and I feel my heart skip a beat. This boy is completely ridiculous but he is also completely perfect.
“I must ask the audience to save their commentary until after the show,” he says as he gives me a pointed look, his brown hair falling into his eyes. I mime zipping my lips and he smiles back at me.
“About a year ago our little town was changed forever. The citizens were changed into mutants and the only known cure was destroyed! Until now.” He looks at me to gauge my reaction but I’m frozen. A cure? For mutants? What is he talking about? When I don’t react he continues. “Many believe that the cause of the mutations was scientific, a chemical spill or leak causing the changes we have seen, but that is not the case! The source is in fact magical. Some witch or wizard’s spell gone awry. The so-called cure that they gave out only worked because it contained a certain magical ingredient, an ingredient that was missing in the second batch of cures. I believe that I can create a potion that will cure all of the mutants in town, even after a year’s time! Isn’t that great!”
“Yeah, it is,” I say without much conviction. All I can think of is Eliza and her father. All of the hate they have received and all of the good they have done with their powers. They could be cured, but after all of this time, would they want to be. Daniel continued on, explaining the process to me but I could not hear a word he said. My mind had flown far away. Maybe this is a good thing. Eliza and her dad could be normal again and if the cure works, the town won’t even need superheroes anymore. She could stop being Dragonfly and go back to being my best friend.
I leave Daniel’s house a little while later, promising to help him with his project in any way I can. He says he needs to find a test subject to try out the potion on. My brain immediately goes to my best friend, but I know she would not agree. I still call her and Matt up and ask to meet them at Eliza’s house. I need someone to talk to about all of this.
I arrive at Eliza’s and find the two of them upstairs, gushing about Evan together like a couple of regular teenagers. I can almost forget that the boy they are talking about has fangs and a penchant for blood. Their lives are so much more complicated than mine. I miss the days when we were all normal. I catch their attention and begin telling them about all I had learned. I just hope that Daniel will forgive me for revealing his secret.
“So you are telling me that ol’ blue eyes is a witch and he wants to cure me of my mutanism?” Eliza says angrily. I knew she would not take this well. She loves being a superhero.
“Yes. He has figured out a way to cure the entire town! Isn’t that amazing?” I say, knowing that my word would upset her. She looks as though she want to slap some sense into me. Matt’s hand on hers seems to be the only thing holding her back. Before I realize what I’m saying all of my thoughts about this spring forth from my mouth. I tell her that if there are no more mutants then she won’t have to fight crime anymore. I tell her that she can be normal again. I even mention that maybe we can find a cure for Vampirism too! Everyone can be normal again!
“Why would anyone want to be normal? It’s so boring! I don’t even want to go back to that! I’m actually somebody now, I actually matter to people. I would hate to be just a normie!” Eliza shouts. Matt nods his head in agreement.
“Annie, we like not being normal. Evan and I have even been discussing him turning me.” Matt says carefully. My brain is swimming. He wants to be a vampire now? I understand Eliza wanting to keep her powers, but this? This is too much!
“You’re right. Who would ever want to be a normie? We are just so plain and boring and ordinary. I don’t even know how you are still friends with someone as pathetic as me!” I cry as I run out of the room. They try to stop me, but I just keep running. My tears are blinding as I run home. Back to my ordinary house with my ordinary parents. Back to my ordinary room. Why would anyone want to be normal? Why would anyone want to be like me?
It’s Tuesday. Matt and Eliza kept trying to call me and even tried visiting. I turned them away. I convinced my mom to let me skip school on Monday, but she would not allow a second day. I make my way up the stairs to school and head towards my locker. Matt is still at his own so I keep walking. Throughout the day I avoid them. It’s for the best. They don’t need someone as boring as me holding them back. Daniel tries to talk to me too, but I quickly make an excuse and leave. He’s like them. He is special. No one wants a normie like me as a friend, let alone as a girlfriend. I never stood a chance.
The school day ends and I prepare to head home. Daniel rushes up to me and grabs me by the hand. His wand is out before I can protest and I’m transported, once again, to his workroom. He does not even stop to make sure I was okay before he’s rambling on about his project.
“I found it! I found the ingredient! I can make the cure!” He says as he walks around the room, pouring and combining different vials and mixtures. I almost want to tell him where he can shove his cure, but I refrain. I know I can never have him, but I still like him too much to be rude. “All I need now is a test subject to prove that it works!”
His words settle over me like a cloud. I want to tell him that there is no one that would be willing to get rid of their powers. That mutants are fine how they are; that they would not want to go back to be normal after being mutants for so long. But another thought comes to me instead.
“What about me?” I ask him. He looks at me for a second and laughs. I try not to feel hurt.
“Are you secretly a mutant now Annette?” he chuckles, “I kind of need a mutant to test it, you know, seeing as it is a cure for mutanism?”
His voice is so condescending as he says this that I almost tear up. He doesn’t take me seriously. Of course he wouldn’t, I’m not special enough to even help him. “Then make me one,” I say with as much conviction as I can. The laughter instantly drains out of his voice. He is looking at me like I had grown two heads. It is a shame that I hadn’t because then he would have his mutant.
“Annette, I can’t just make you a mutant. That’s crazy!” His hand is back on his neck, he’s thinking again.
“You said so yourself that the mutations were caused by magic. Well, you’re magic! I know you can pull it off. And besides wouldn’t it be more beneficial if you knew exactly which spell you were countering with your ‘cure’?” He looks at me and all arguments die on his tongue. He knows I’m right.
“Still I have no clue what kind of mutation you will get or how long you’ll be stuck like that. It’s too risky. I just got you as a friend; I would hate to lose you so soon.” He says this with a smile but I also sense pity in his voice. Everyone has pity for the normie.
“If I wasn’t okay with the consequences, then I would not be offering. I know mutants in real life and I know all of the things that come along with it. I will be your test subject. I trust you to put me back when this is all over.” I say matter-of-factly. I really hope he agrees. Maybe if I’m not just a normal girl anymore I’ll be good enough for everyone. He has a look on his face and suddenly he takes off around the room, gathering the needed herbs and spells. He is muttering about all of the possible side effects and giving me a basic rundown of what he is doing. I don’t care; I just want to get this over with. He sets the vial down in front of me while he goes to upstairs to get the last few ingredients from his mother’s garden. I sit and look around the room wondering what kind of mutation I might get.
“What do you think you are doing?” I turn at the sound of Eliza’s voice and see her, Matt, and Evan trailing behind Daniel. He looks flustered. Eliza probably yelled at him until he led them to me. I feel guilty about telling them his secret and I make a promise to myself to apologize later.
“I’m helping out a friend. This does not concern you.” I say in a flat tone. I hope she gets the message.
“By trying to turn yourself into a mutant? Are you nuts?!” Eliza stomps across the room to me and I see her eyes straying towards the vial beside me. She is going to destroy it! “You don’t need to change yourself! You are fine the way you are!”
I glance at the vial and then to my friends. I am not like them. I am just Annette. I exist in the background. But what if I wasn’t? What if I was something more? In a split second, I grab the vial and drain its contents. I hear them all yell at me to stop and the ensuing panic, but I can say nothing. My body feels weak and I seem to be shrinking. At least I think I am. Eliza is definitely getting bigger. The feeling stops and I look up at Eliza.
“Oh Annie, what have you done?” She squats down and picks me up. I am small enough to fit in her hands. I try to tell her that I am okay but all that comes out is a croaking noise. I’m scared. Just what did Daniel’s potion do to me? I hear him rushing around the room to find something to change me back while Eliza holds me close to her face. Matt and Evan walk up to her and they all stare at me in my new form.
“I did not mean to say all of that the other day. There is nothing wrong with being normal, Annie. It’s just is not something I want for myself anymore. I should have realized that saying something like that would hurt you though, and I am sorry.” she says as she looks into my eyes.
“Yeah, Annie! You are our best friend in the world. We like you just the way you are! You don’t need to change yourself to be our friend. Being normal is boring, yes, but there is nothing normal about you, you idiot!” Matt says this with a smile and I croak at him in confusion. I am normal though. I’m just a regular girl, well was just a regular girl, with a regular life. I don’t have powers or a vampire boyfriend. I’m just me.
“How many normal people would run out into the middle of a fight with a supervillain just to drag their superhero best friend to safety?” Eliza says with a laugh.
“What normal girl meets a vampire in an alley and lives to tell the tale?” Evan adds, recalling our first meeting.
“What normal girl then proceeds to stalk said vampire to make sure he doesn’t eat his date?” Matt adds dryly. All of them laugh at that one. “Let’s not even mention where we are standing right now! There is nothing normal about you. You are amazing and we are all lucky to have you as our friend.” I feel myself wanting to cry. Can frogs even cry? I look up at my friends, my glorious, amazing, awe-inspiring friends and I realize that I love being their background character because it means I get to be a part of the adventures they have and I get to be there for them whenever they need me.
“I hate to interrupt, but I think I’m ready to change our little friend there back into a princess,” Daniel says while walking over to our group. Eliza hands me over to him. My face would be so red right now if it wasn’t already green!
“Is this the part where you kiss her?” Matt says jokingly. I swear I am going to hit him when I’m back to normal. I look up at Daniel in apology to see him blushing. Well, maybe I won’t hit Matt after all. Daniel pours the potion over my head and I begin to feel myself grow. I close my eyes as I wait for the feeling to stop. When I open them I see two bright blue ones staring back at me as Daniel cradles me in his arms. It takes me a moment to realize what is happening and I soon flail and jump, landing in a heap on the floor. My friends all laugh at me as I cross my arms in a huff. Daniel stands behind me with a confused look on his face. Everything turned out okay.
I am Annette Turner and I am just a normal girl with a not so normal life. I live in a small town where crazy things happen every day. I recently discovered that one of my best friends is a superhero and my other best friend is dating a vampire! I also just found out that my crush is secretly a wizard that can cast spells and brew potions. All of the people in my life seem to have this crazy stuff going on around them, but to me, they are my friends. Sometimes it can get overwhelming having so many amazing people in my life when I am just a normal girl. Sometimes I feel like like nothing more than a background character in someone else’s story, but that is okay.
Everyone has their own story to tell, whether they are larger than life or an ordinary person like me. More importantly, every story has background characters. We are all in the background in someone else’s story. Sometimes being in the background can make you feel small and insignificant, but you have your own story with your own background characters. If you spend all of your time worrying about who you are in someone else’s story then you stop noticing your own. My friends are incredible, but so am I in my own way. I love being their background character, just as much as I love having them as mine. There are billions of stories out there to be told and this is mine. I am a background character and this is my life.