Alexis Morgan had a problem. Her problem, to be specific, was four inches taller than Alexis, goalie on the Junior High soccer team, and had somehow decided that Alexis was a good replacement for a comprehensive program in boxing training and conditioning.
Alexis tried to do what she had always been taught to do, and just ignored Geraldine when the bigger girl called her names. Apparently, that just made Geraldine even madder, and Alexis ended up with a torn shirt and a scratched iPod.
The next time, Alexis tried asking Geraldine politely to stop. Alexis ended up winded for most of recess.
The third time Geraldine started following Alexis down the hall on her way to newspaper club, Alexis stopped, turned around, and told Geraldine to fuck off and die.
Which is how Alexis ended up in the principal's office, with a black eye, a bruised cheek, and a puffy lip.
"Lexie! What are you doing here?" Jeannie hissed, peering into the office while Alexis was waiting for Mr. Stevens. "Oh my god, what happened to your face?"
Alexis, whose face was half-covered with an ice pack from the nurse's office, gave her a look. "Blermiffmuff," she said, into the ice pack.
"Ugh, that bitch," said Jeannie, who was well-conversed in muffled dialogue spoken into an ice pack. "I heard she shoved you into a locker. Why are you in here?"
Jeannie took the seat next to her.
"You don't need to stay, Jeannie," Alexis told her, moving the ice pack enough that she could enunciate clearly. "You're not the one in trouble."
Jeannie gave her a very patient look. "But we're besties!" she answered. "And you didn't do anything!"
At the moment, the door to Mr. Stevens' office opened. Alexis cringed at the light reflecting off his toupee.
He looked at her with a frown. "Miss Morgan?" he asked. "Isn't this the third time this week?"
"Yes, sir," Alexis answered, wishing she could mumble into the ice pack.
Mr. Stevens sighed. "Come in," he said.
When she got inside, he made her sit down. "I already spoke with Miss Forrester," he said. "She's been given suspension. But she said you--"
"I told her to fuck off and die," Alexis answered frankly. "She keeps picking on me. I don't have any reason to be nice."
"Well, no," Mr. Stevens replied, looking a little shocked that Alexis was so forthcoming. "But we do have to take strong language seriously."
When she got out of the principal's office, Alexis wanted to punch someone else's face.
Jeannie was there, waiting. Unfortunately, Jeannie was just about the only person Alexis didn't want to punch.
"What'd you get?" Jeannie asked.
"Detention," Alexis replied. "One week."
"Ugh," said Jeannie. "You know what you need to do? You need to fight back! If Mr. Stevens punishes you even when you don't do anything wrong, you might as well--"
"I can't do that," said Alexis. "Anyway, I didn't get punished for getting beaten up. I got punished for telling Geraldine to fuck off and die."
"That doesn't make it okay to beat you up!" Jeannie said angrily. "Come on, Lexie. You didn't even try. Just...punch her in the gut, or something."
"No, Jeannie," said Alexis, frustrated. "You don't get it. I can't."
Jeannie rolled her eyes. "Oh, right," she said, a bit impatiently. "I think you're just afraid of failing at things you're not good at to start with. Is this like how you 'can't' try out for field hockey?"
"Yes!" Alexis answered, choking a little as she teared up. Almost immediately, she snapped her mouth shut. "I mean no. I mean..." She looked down at the ground, lost. "Shit," she muttered.
Jeannie looked suddenly remorseful. "I'm sorry, Lexie," she said. "I-- what's wrong? You're acting... weird."
Alexis was quiet for a long moment, as she played with the hem of her school skirt. Finally, she looked up. "Okay, look," she said. "I'll explain. Follow me."
Alexis led Jeannie to the farthest end of the schoolyard, past the soccer fields and the softball field, and stopped in front of a tree that stood alone, away from everything else.
"Is this it?" Jeannie asked, confused, as she tried to sidestep the goose shit on the ground. "A tree? What is the point of this?"
Alexis turned around. "Stand back," she said.
"What?" said Jeannie.
"I said, stand back," said Alexis, and she waved the other girl off.
"Uh..." Jeannie looked dubious. "Okay...but this is getting really weird." She stepped away.
"Further," said Alexis.
Jeannie obeyed, taking several steps back, until Alexis signaled that she could stop.
Alexis closed her eyes, and took a deep breath, and then another. Then she opened her eyes, and sized up the tree.
"Sorry, tree," she whispered, raking her teeth over her bottom lip before she remembered how swollen in was. She winced with the unexpected pain.
"Lexie?" asked Jeannie. "Are you okay?"
Alexis drew back her fist. She took another deep breath, and threw a punch at the tree. Her knuckles hit the wood with a thundering slam that echoed across the field.
She stepped back. There was a slow, swelling crescendo of a creak that sprung from the core of the tree, and the wood slowly began to lean back, splintering the tree at its base.
A moment later, the tree landed on the ground with a boom.
"So..." Alexis said, checking her bruised knuckles as she looked back at Jeannie.
Jeannie was wide-eyed, her expression frozen like stone. "Holy fucking Son of Krypton," she murmured.
"Yeah..." Alexis replied. "Except not exactly. On account of, you know, not being from outer space or wearing glasses to conceal my identity. So, um. You see why I can't?"
Author's Note: Comics in the United States, at least comic books, are frequently synonymous with superhero stories. Although that's been changing over the past few decades, I still frequently get asked superhero questions when I mention my interest in comics. So, considering that the prompt seemed to work well for it, I figured I would try my hand at my take on a superhero-inspired story.
This entry was written for therealljidol Week 25: Punchable Face.