“Oh Alfred, I seem to have ripped my mask. Could you fetch me a new one? Sure Master Bruce, anything else Master Bruce?”
Jewel stopped the sarcastic dialogue in her mind and looked down at her needlework. The flimsy mask in her lap was held together by more thread than original fabric. But no way could she afford a new one now. There was just too much month left at the end of the money and she was not yet prepared to live on pasta and ketchup alone. But to be honest, if the mask took another beating like this, she might have to get new fabric and make another one. This was the truth the comic books she’d devoured in the public library never told you about. Maintaining your costume. Rummaging around the kitchen after a night out saving the bloody city from crime and trying to find anything for breakfast, trying not to wake and to piss off her flatmates. Well, flatmates alone never played a role in Gotham either. But no, not everyone had a cave under a mansion to themselves. Some had to do with a five-bedroom house and nosy flatmates.
Or guilt. Guilt never played a role in the comic books either. The days when she came home after a ten hour shift and she just could not get herself to get dressed and get out. No, Bruce Wayne’s company always seemed to sort itself out. Same for Tony Stark. Peter Parker was still in school. Superman was holding down a job, but he was a) super and b) never seemed to have too much going on.
Jewel shared a) with Superman. She was super. Not that she could fly, but she was strong and though not invincible, much harder to hurt than others. Nobody she knew thought this from the quiet girl who had ever hated exercise. The quiet girl who loved to make stuff, craft and built. When she was ten she had embroidered “With great power comes great responsibility” on a cushion. Because by that time she had wished so badly for superpowers to come. With puberty they came. Sure, her first period was bloody and awkward, but so was giving Sarah a bloody nose when Jewel only gave her a light push. And it had not stopped there. Until she understood what happened, until she knew how to control it, there had been many bruises, weird bangs from her room and a lot of broken things in her way.
Jewel was less convinved now it was a good idea, but she got stuck with it. The books had taught her to keep it a secret and that was were her other superpower kicked in: needlework. Oh yes, she could make close to everything with a needle and thread and so she had made her first costume herself. Slowly, over time as the materials were darn expensive. Rent came first. Food and stuff second. Then superstuff. Until the crime rate started to soar again and the guilt got her out into the streets. Which was why she was sitting on her bed at seven in the morning, sorting out a mask that was beyond repair really, before heading out to work. She hated being super. Reponsibility. She just dreamt she could sit here all day, needles on the ready, working with her superpower.