I was strong today. I know how important image is. At the funeral, I shook hands with all of the Captains friends. I was warm, and I smiled that small smile of a person who will be fine, really, no need to worry. I sat though the entire service without shedding a tear, without shaking, without cracking.
For Captain Strong, for Matthew, it had always been so important that everyone knew his wife was strong. He once told me that he never would have married a woman, if she couldn’t be a superhero- like him. So today I’ll be his widow, his strong, sweet smiling partner. I’ll be here for his friends to mourn, and I’ll comfort them, though none of them really knew him. Not really. Not his real name. We are burying Captain Strong, not Matthew. Matthew was just a man, a man who is dead under the mask he still wears in his grave.
I wear a mask today, I am Blue Jay here, not Nancy. Though the other heroes knew we loved each other, they didn’t even know his real name. Or mine. And they’ll never know.
At the grave-site, I do not cry. I won’t be dramatic. I can’t. I wonder now, if I could, and if all the tears would slide beneath my mask, or if they would flood over, spilling on the top, like it was my true face. They are putting Captain Strong in the earth, and I am here to be strong in his wake, to assure his friends and fans that life goes on. That’s my role today. That’s what I’m playing. That’s how I can be a hero. At the reception I eat to show people that I’m eating, I have a sip of wine but leave the rest on the table, so that people don’t think I’ll be drinking, and I only go when the last of his friends have left.
By the time I change out of Blue Jay, that costume that hardly fits anymore, it is midnight. Midnight when I get home, and take my shoes off my aching feet, the blisters red and weeping. Then, when I’m alone, I throw up in the toilet. There, leaning over on the tile floor, I try to cry, but I am dry. Walking to my bedroom I see you, in the dark, your arms behind you.
I don’t switch on the light. I know who you are. I know, because you have held me enough, taunted me enough, taken me away so many times that I know your shape like a lover.
“Go ahead.” I tell you, “Kill me. The Captain is dead and I’m not going to stop you.”
You slice through the air like a knife and you are at my side. You wrap your cold arms around me and I can feel your icy breath on my neck and there they are, right there, all the tears I had been holding back so well. I sob into your leather coat, I scream in your ear but you don’t back away. I scream like I’m being murdered, like you are killing me rather than holding me. I hit you, hard, but you don’t let me go. I tell you that I hate you, but you just rock me in your arms.
Later, I don’t know how but I am in my bathrobe and we are on the bed and I am telling you about growing up in Maine, and you are nodding. I can see your teeth glitter in the dark but I’m not afraid, because I don’t mind dying, not now, and anyway, you are listening to me. And it’s good to have someone listen, good to be with someone who doesn’t expect you to save them. And I tell you a joke that makes me cry and then I ask you to kill me, because at least then I’ll be with Matthew, who was a good man, a very good man.
You tell me that if you were to murder everyone on earth, I would be the last person you would kill, which is your way of saying no. I ask you if anyone really knows you, because damn if anyone knows me. If anything, I’ve far lied more than you, so much more.