When you were seven and she was five, and you were punched down by the neighbour girl who hated how bright and shiny you were, you sister was busy playing in the distance. Back turned to you. You fell down hard, heard the thud of kneecap on gravel before the flush of pain. Your cry muffled itself down to an inaudible whisper.
It was enough.
Your sister jumped in, all scrawny legs and flailing arms. She chased that girl away… A blurred memory, but you remember how quick that girl ran away as your sister yelled, “If you want to fight, si then you fight me?!”
“Did you see, she pushed me!”
“I didn’t see.”
“How did you…”
She shrugs and takes your hand.
As if it was nothing.
You knew she didn’t see what happened. She couldn’t have heard what happened. You knew better. Only real heroes brush off their powers.
You knew that she was special.
“I am HIV positive,” she said.
Erase it from memory. Hear it again. Again. Again in the silence of the room, again as your sister stares at you. Watch the words float. Stare at them for what must be hours. Stare, even as the sun sinks into the ground. See how they glow in the dark. They have a voice, like your father when he was angry at you. You worry that your sister has finally met her match. You worry even as her hand is as steadfast as it has always been.
She does not.
She holds your hand through the night.
It took so much of you to come here. More still to pack your clothes and leave your husband behind for what he did to you, after he swore. He swore. To sleep alone for three nights in a cheap hotel, weeping and sleeping and praying. No, she cannot hear your voice because she will hear in it that the anguish. She cannot hear the terrified little girl whose voice breaks before a whimper can become a shout. You swallow a sob.
But, you forgot. She has super-human hearing.
It is enough.
Here again, she takes your hand.
She, as usual, saves you.