by Eric J. Krause
He dug through all the crap at the bottom of the closet, grimacing as he did. It was here somewhere. But, damn it, he couldn't find any sign. Hell, if she knew he was looking for it, let alone if he found it, she'd be pissed beyond reason. That made this a fool's errand, but he'd be the first to admit he was one of the biggest fools around.
Ever since they started dating, he knew she had a past. That was no surprise; everyone had one. Her past was different, though--it was hers and he loved her. He shouldn't care, shouldn't give a damn one way or the other. She loved him, and that's all that should matter. But he had to know. He'd heard too many rumors, too many whispers.
And that brought him to her closet. It all connected somewhere in here amongst the mess. Underneath all of the discarded sweaters, the once-used gift boxes and bags, and so much other assorted junk, he discovered it. He knew as soon as his fingers brushed against the sack. It was like an electric shock shot through his body and mind.
He pulled the bag--just a plain old paper one from the grocery store--from the closet and set it on the floor. He wanted to dive right in, figure out what it was, what her secret was, but he practiced a bit of patience, something he wasn't always good at. Whatever was in there was big--life-altering big. Was he ready for it? Probably not, but that wouldn't stop him.
He gasped as he opened it. An unnatural bright light shone out from the fabric inside. He reached in, expecting the worst, but when he touched it, nothing happened. It stayed lit, but no weird energies bounced through his body. He pulled it out of the bag and examined it from every angle.
A costume. Or uniform. Whatever. It was just as he feared.
The door opened, and she walked in. He looked up. Her face first obscured in confusion, and then hardened into anger. Before he could say anything--an excuse, an apology, anything--she clapped her hands. The costume disappeared from his arms and reappeared on her. She was. She really was!
Awesome Lady. The very one from the comic books. The one they made that television series about. Even that god-awful motion picture (but that wasn't her fault--that had script and casting problems from day one). And he was dating her. Her alter-ego anyway.
"Couldn't just leave it alone, could you?"
He tried to shake his head, tried to stand up, but couldn't move.
"Don't bother trying. I'm controlling you. For the first time in what I thought was an excellent relationship. But you had to dig. You couldn't be content with love. You had to figure out what made me tick, where I'd been, and all that bullshit."
She started crying, and the costume disappeared, leaving her in the clothes she walked in with. "Don't bother trying to follow me. You won't keep up. You won't be able to find me. In fact . . ."
She snapped her fingers, and he found himself at home, lying on his couch, with a baseball game on the tube. What the hell? Must've fallen asleep. And he'd had the weirdest dream. He'd been dating Awesome Lady. He chuckled. Too many comic books lately. He'd have to cut back.