HERO • by Dave Matthew Jordan

My red curls fall over the pages of the Aqua Force comic I’m reading at our lake house when I hear the newsman on TV talk about two women rescuing a boy trapped under a car.

“The two women sprang into action and lifted vehicle that weighed over one ton off the boy stuck under the engine of the car,” the news anchor says.

“Wow,” I say.

“Doctors expect the boy to make a full recovery, thanks to these seemingly superpowered women,” the newsman says.

“They’re not really superwomen,” my mom says. “It’s probably just adrenaline.”

“I know, but they’re still heroes,” I say.

“Yes, they are,” Mom says. She looks out the window and adds, “Hey, it’s sunny outside; you want to go swimming with your brother for awhile?”

“I already swam today,” I say.

“You don’t want to go again? Your swim meet is in a few days.”

I hold up the comic. “No, I need to read how the Aqua Force stops the nuclear submarine.” I look out the window, “And I don’t like hearing those loud boys out there either.”

There are a lot of big houses surrounding the lake. We see a group of older boys on a floating dock. One of the bigger boys tosses a skinnier one into the lake. Others have a drink in their hand while music thumps from one of those annoying waterproof Bluetooth speakers.

I read through two more comics before the wind picks up, and I look out the window. The sky has darkened, and the water on the lake is rippling. Just as I am about to turn back to my comic, movement in the water catches my attention. I squint and then my eyes open wide. Max is out in the middle of the lake. I feel sick to my stomach and my pulse pounds in my ears. I leave my things, scrambling outside to look for my mom.

“Mom?” I yell. No answer. “Mom?!”

Trembling down the stairs, I kick off my sandals and run into the water. I sort of trip into my front crawl and have to remind myself to focus on my breathing because all I want to do is call out to Max. I hesitate for a moment in my swimming because I remember from swim class we’re not supposed to rescue a person when swimming since they can pull us down, but my body pumps adrenaline like the women from the news story, and I don’t care anymore. I have to save my brother.

With all the strength I have, I kick my legs and swing my arms. A wave from the current hits me, and I get water in my eyes and can’t see him. I reach out blindly and wrap my arms around what I think is his waist. That’s when I hear my mother call my name.

Squinting, I turn and see my little brother, Max, waving his hand at me from the shore. My mom is next to him, covering her mouth in what looks like disgust.

“Shelly, get back here,” mom yells.

I look at the object I have gripped in my arms. It’s like a plastic balloon animal but shaped like a person.

I turn and see the older boys across the lake, laughing from the opposite shore as they dry off.

I make my way back, still clutching the plastic thing in my hand. My mom snatches it from me and raises it high in the air so the older boys across the lake can see it. She says a word I have never heard before and then: “You perverts!”

The older boys stop laughing and run back into the house. My mom mutters to herself about calling their parents and tells us to go back in the house. I see her go to the trash bin by the garage and put the inflatable doll inside. It’s too large, and the gaping mouth and empty eyes stare out at the top of the bin.

I rescued a sex doll.

Dave Matthew Jordan’s fiction has appeared in Flash Fiction Magazine, Literally Stories and 101 words. He lives in Minnesota.

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