by Jennifer Estaris
None of the other moms at MSH said it was going to be easy, Ana thought while attempting a third lasso at thin air.
But they didn’t say it was going to be this hard.
Maybe she was stuck with the worst mutation. Her daughter Maya, only two, had already manifested dimension-bending tantrums, super-strength, telekinesis, and now, invisibility.
Ana swung and tossed the rope towards a tiny footstep. Nothing. “Come out, my love! I have popsicles!”
The MSH moms strongly encouraged super-parenting. You have to love the child, stimulate with a constant flow of toys, hide your secret identity, sleep train, spoon feed, baby-proof your headquarters, helicopter, don’t punish, not even time-outs, and never, ever bribe. Never! After all, you don’t want to raise the next Malice. Ana found herself more exhausted attempting to follow the MSH guidelines than she had in a career’s worth of confrontations against the Doom Brothers.
Ana longed for breasts of steel. “Pretend mommy’s milkies are a baby wildebeest. Don’t want to hurt the baby wildebeest and send her off to the ER like last time. Gentle, gentle.”
And screw the moms who worried about tearing, called them “battle scars.” There’s no battle if they were buzzed out on the epidural. Even those who labored through the ring of fire got a goddamn massage compared to what Ana went through when Maya kicked her way out.
A giggle came from the far corner of the ceiling. Ana superjumped toward the sound and felt her hand close around Maya’s warm, steely ankle. The two slowly descended to the floor. Ana lightly looped the lasso around the toddler’s body as she attempted to wriggle free from her mother’s hold.
Was it possible that super villains were not raised but born? Ana brought up the possibility at last week’s MSH meeting and was met with stony silence, shaking heads, and narrowed eyes. Last Tuesday felt like eons ago (mostly due to one mother’s overuse of chronoprohiberis to help her son pass his preschool admissions exams).
It’s day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, second to second, nanosecond to nanosecond with Maya, who seemed to discover a new super power every time Ana turned around. “She’s developing so fast!” said the surprised child therapist, hanging upside down from Maya’s reconfigured baby gym above the tub of sharp-clawed, doe-eyed kittens. (“She’s so skilled!” when he first laid eyes on her death trap.)
And who am I to stop her, decided Ana, if she wants to kidnap super heroes and take over the world? Who am I to prevent my own daughter from her true calling? Maya might break that electrified glass ceiling at Evil HQ, dismantling the old villain boys’ network. And isn’t that heroic?
If Maya’s going to be evil, I’m going to raise her to be the best evil out there, Ana thought, radiating her thoughts to the Mothers of Super Heroes (which had the side effect of causing minor brain lesions in the telepathic recipients). Forget those goody-two-stilettos sanctimommies, with their designer disposable diapers, organic formula, and their annoying ability to change the weather to suit their offspring’s desires. Their children will grow up weak, coddled. They’ll be no match for my Maya. And I’ll always be there for her. Always.
Immortality. For once, it’s a blessing.
Ana brushed the hair out of Maya’s wet eyes, kissed the hot forehead of her future nemesis, and let her go.
I’m not here to complain that Marvel has yet to make a big budget superhero movie starring a woman. I don’t want a Black Widow movie where sexualized fragility meets traumatized super-strength. I want pure, unadulterated power, hero or not, a superwoman by birthright, not by blood transfusion, not by exoticized training, not by Stockholm syndrome. Less malign hypercognition disorder, more epigenetics, where memories from your mother and her ancestors before her are forever interwoven and imprinted, and there is no escape. Instead, acceptance, then supremacy.
Jennifer Estaris was born in a land where all was merry until the darkness set in. She used her superpowers for what she thought was good, until her archnemesis revealed that her work was contributing to evil. After a mighty battle, she forged ahead, game designing at Nickelodeon, Disney, Dreamworks, hoping to increase children’s happiness. Her short fiction has appeared in Gamasutra, The Escapist, and Backwards City Review. But why does the darkness still haunt her?