THE ACTION HERO • by Wilma Bernard

I knew SuperMegaMan was a sop, a scam, a money-grubbing joke. Trey, nine years younger, loved him with an almost spiritual devotion. When the action figure came out — “He punches! He talks! He really flies!” — Trey did what he could for quarters: weeded the garden for Mom, stacked firewood for Dad, went hungry at school so he could keep his lunch money. I took pity on him, didn’t rat about the lunches, gave him fifty cents to clean my room.

Finally, his eyes shining, he brought the hero home. We played in the yard for hours. SuperMegaMan punched! He talked! He really flew! He really flew into traffic, and I caught my brother before they both got squished.

We collected the carcass, no better than litter now, hard plastic shards and popping bits of wiring.

“It’s okay, buddy,” I said. “I’ll buy you a new one.”

“No, thanks.” He wiped a sleeve across his face, and I pretended not to notice.

By the end of the week, I figured he’d get over his pride. I found him in his room, doing homework. “Let’s go get the action figure.”

“SuperMegaMan is pretty stupid.”

Yeah. Bad accent. Unrealistic muscles. Faulty science. “But you love him.”

He shrugged. “I changed my mind.”

I thumbed the twenties in my pocket, and knew what my brother knew: love isn’t safe. But Trey wasn’t a cartoon character I could give up on. “Then let’s get ice cream. We’ll split a sundae.”

His face lit up again.

Wilma Bernard has previously had work published by Metro Moms and Youth Imagination, as well as here at Every Day Fiction.

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