You Said You Wanted A Revolution
by Alicia McKenzie
DISCLAIMER: The character in this story belongs to Marvel, and is used without permission.
He strode down the street, head high, shoulders squared, a determined air to the way he moved. None of those who passed him, whose lives brushed against his for a perfectly ordinary moment of a perfectly ordinary day, gave him more than a cursory glance, even though he towered over them. Powerfully built, with a face like chiseled granite and silver hair that gleamed in the sun, he should have drawn attention to himself like moths were drawn to a flame. If anyone had looked closer, they might have seen the scars, the proud way he held himself, the faint golden glow that escaped around the sunglasses he wore to hide his eyes--all the little tell-tale signs that said this man was more than they seemed.
Or perhaps they wouldn't have seen. He was only there to watch, after all, and it didn't take a telepath's abilities to prevent people from seeing things.
Sometimes it only took the decision to let oneself be blind.
He strode down the street. The skyscraper on his left, the offices of some bank, soared into a pure blue sky, two slender, graceful towers, beautiful in a lofty way. They said Power, and Confidence, and Security. He could feel all the minds of the people inside, men and women, part of something, able to look out over their city as they worked and see its beauty.
He strode down the street. The shopping mall buzzed with activity, people coming in and out of its many doors like bees from a hive. Relaxed and excited and everything in between, in pairs and family groups. Pushing strollers, holding hands.
He strode down the street. People waited in line to see the latest summer blockbuster, chatting and sipping coffee and checking their watches. A little impatience, a lot of anticipation. A sense of delighted escapism--the joy that came in fantasy.
He strode down the street. The quiet beauty of the park, vibrant with flowers, drew him momentarily, as did the happy laughter of the children who ran within its boundaries, all cares forgotten. Parents looked on indulgently, talking quietly among themselves.
He strode down the street, and tried not to chuckle at the Catholic schoolgirls complaining loudly about their uniforms and giggling about their teachers.
He strode down the street, and nearly bumped into a young woman coming out of the university library, carrying a stack of books so tall she could barely see over them. They apologized simultaneously, and he glanced over his shoulder to make sure she didn't trip over a curb as she departed on her way.
He strode down the street--and stopped, seeing the people standing in front of the newspaper boxes, scanning the headlines. Tight, angry faces, even as they turned away. He stood and watched the flow of people past the boxes. Watched them glance at the headlines and then shake their heads, drawn but yet repelled, fighting with something he didn't quite understand.
He began to retrace his steps.
He saw the group of students slouched outside the library, depression hanging on them like a shroud as they murmured to each other about money and fear and the future.
He saw a few more Catholic schoolgirls wandering out of their school looking curiously lost, as if there was something they needed to be doing, but couldn't. He touched their minds, getting images of musical instruments, of a teacher's taut expression as she told them there wouldn't be band practice. He listened to the silence in their minds, and it felt wrong, felt empty.
He walked past the park again, hearing what the parents weren't saying. *I can't find a babysitter, but I can't quit my job* and *I can't believe I couldn't get a doctor's appointment for Beth before next week* and *Oh, shit, Johnny's headed towards the drinking fountain, I can't let him drink that, that's TAP water--*
He walked past the theatre, and listened there, as well. The escapism, deeper down, wasn't joyful, but desperate. So many yearning so badly for a way out of their lives, for a dream of heroic victories and happy endings, a yearning that rose out of a miasma of sullen, stiff dread touched here and there by seething anger.
He hurried past the shopping mall. *I really shouldn't* and *I can't afford this* and *I want this, but what if something breaks down, or someone gets sick, or something happens* ringing in his ears.
He didn't want to know the truth anymore. He stopped, breathing heavily, and stared around him at the city. It was smog, he told himself, seeing all of a sudden the haze clinging to everything. That heaviness that made it hard to breathe, hard to walk, hard to hold your head up.
Or maybe it wasn't. Because on the surface, everything was beautiful. At its heart, the city was still beautiful.
But it was choking. On pain and anger and rage.
He closed his suddenly burning eyes, and tried to remember what the flowers had smelled like.
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