Featuring Rip Van Winkle:


Scene Title Superman
Synopsis You were supposed to be Superman.
Date October 24, 2020

In all the years that Ellen Cooper has been alive, she’d never seen him like this. Sitting on a chair, with a knee drawn up so she can hug it tightly in comfort, she watches the machine breathe for him. Her pale eyes barely blink, afraid that if she looks away for even a moment, he’ll stop. Or that if she does listen for each slow ping of his heart monitor he would flatline. She hasn’t slept either - living up to her father’s nickname for her - by pushing at her ability to sustain her, like the Energizer Bunny.

She hated that nickname, but Ellen would give anything to hear him say it now.

When Ellen had arrived in a whirlwind of demands to see her father, he had just been wheeled into surgery. She cried, because she didn’t even get to see him and say she loved him. Just in case. There were agents who stuck around the waiting room, some to support her father, while others that knew her did so that she wouldn’t wait alone. Each taking turns sitting with her, talking to her, making sure she was taking care of herself, or simply holding her hand. All of them knew who she was, but a few had even watched her grow up.

None of their kindness could settle the sense of growing dread that clawed at her stomach as she watched the second hand on the waiting room clock make its predictable rounds. Seconds turned to minutes. Minutes turned to hours. Still there was no news about her father’s prognosis.

When the surgeon finally stepped out into the waiting room, the sun had been up for an hour or so. The world around her narrowed to just the doctor's face, he looked so somber. Ellen couldn’t remember who had been sitting with her or who’s hand she had grabbed. Despite the growing panic in her mind, that voice screaming at her What if he’s gone?!?….

But suddenly, as if on cue, a voice whispered, encouragingly…

“Ellen. Breathe.”

She did, but the question she wanted to ask was stuck in her throat. The young woman didn’t want to know he was gone, just the thought was strangling her emotionally. If he didn’t make it… if he was gone… Ellen wanted to be blissfully ignorant, left to think her father was just fine just through the door… or off on some adventure, like he called it during the war.

“You know… you’re supposed to be invincible,” Ellen says roughly out loud at the man in a medical coma, finally letting the leg drop. The heels of her hands are rubbed against reddened eyes, smudging what’s left of her carefully done makeup, making that smokey eye look like a panda bear. “All these years, even without a power you’ve never been hurt… not like this. You’re supposed to be Superman,” she accuses him, angry he let this happen. Superman was invincible and so was her dad… until now.

Somehow, even with a war that raged around her, even standing against a wall with rifles aimed at her, Ellen didn’t lose her sense of immortality that all young adults had. But now that her father was laying there, her life felt so fragile.

Attention drifts down to the foot of his bed, where only one leg is heavily casted up to his hip, with pins sticking out to hold together bone that was shattered by the bombs. The other…. Ellen can’t think about it without her chin trembling. The doctor said they had been lucky they had saved the one leg and that the shrapnel he had been peppered with had managed to just miss his spine.

The doctor said it was a miracle that he was alive.

Sniffing back the tears, Ellen turned her attention back to her father’s sleeping face, even that hadn’t escaped a few deep cuts. The ICU nurse called her father strong, but warned that the next few days would be telling.

Thomas Cooper wasn’t out of the woods yet.

“You were right.” Ellen says bitterly. How dare he be right.

“I wanted to go and support Eve and meet more people like me, but you thought it was dangerous and a prime target for bad people.” Ellen looked guilty as she continued, straightening the corner of his blanket and pulling it up to his chin more. “I’m sorry I called you paranoid. Told you that it was dumb to think anyone would dare attack a place filled with powered people… but damn it… You were right, daddy, and now you're paying for it.”

Leaning back, Ellen looks frustrated. “You’re always right,” she sounds so angry through the tear-filled words. She hated when he’s right. “Why couldn’t you be wrong this time?” Then he’d be fine, he’d be okay, he’d crack a joke about being wrong. Oops, my bad!

Letting out a pained sound, Ellen leans forward and takes her father’s hand, mindful of all the tubes. There were so many plugged into him. His fingers were so cold and pale next to hers, barely warming in her hand. He seemed so fragile suddenly, like if she squeezed too hard his hand would snap off. The idea that she’d give anything to hand him squeeze her hand back brings tears to her eyes, only to then freely slide down her cheeks. She stops holding them back this time.

He’d never know.

“Please don’t die, daddy,” Ellen whispers desperately, clinging to his hand with both of hers. “You gotta make it, okay? I already lost mom, I can’t lose you too. Uncle Raquelle is great and I know he’d watch out for me, but he isn’t you.” She can’t see him through the tears.

As much as she’d like him to wake up and promise her he would never leave her, he can’t and she knows that. There is only the whoosh of the ventilator and the steady beat of the heart monitor to give Ellen hope that maybe he’ll pull through, despite all the odds stacked against him.

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