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Super 40: Super 40, #1
Super 40: Super 40, #1
Super 40: Super 40, #1
Ebook380 pages9 hours

Super 40: Super 40, #1

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Divorced, broke, and living with her parents—forty-year-old Shannon Johnson is clearly winning at life.

She’s so awesome, she accidentally uses a tampon irradiated in Kazakhstan. Suddenly, this mush-mouthed loser becomes a superheroine who can shoot menstrual cramps from her fingers.

No, really.

But her new mission of saving NYC’s abused women gets complex for Super 40. With her teleporting partner Dolly Poppin’, Super 40 runs afoul of domestic abusers, jerky news anchors, and an evil scientist with cats. Even worse, someone’s trying to kill the partners for reasons unknown, which is just plain rude. Is it the mysterious flying Antihero? The robo-kittens? Or one of the delightful internet trolls always eager to call Shannon fat and ugly?

No matter, for the amazing Super 40 will get her mojo back through butt-kicking, self-love, and some hot dates with the world’s yummiest superhero.

If you ever thought Bridget Jones needed a borked-out superpower, you won’t be able to put down the hilarious adventures of SUPER 40. She’s a heroine for every woman society deems unsuitable, which is basically all of us.

To heck with that.

PublisherLucy Woodhull
Release dateMar 8, 2017
Super 40: Super 40, #1
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Lucy Woodhull

Lucy Woodhull has always loved le steamy romance. And laughing. And both things at the same time, although that can get awkward. Her motto is "Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you'll short-circuit your Kindle." That's why she writes funny books, because goodness knows we all need to escape the real world once in a while. She believes in red lipstick, equality, and the interrobang. Lucy daydreams in Los Angeles with her husband and a very fat cat who doesn't like you.

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    Book preview

    Super 40 - Lucy Woodhull

    SUPER 40

    Lucy Woodhull


    Divorced, broke, and living with her parents—forty-year-old Shannon Johnson is clearly winning at life.

    She’s so awesome, she accidentally uses a tampon irradiated in Kazakhstan. Suddenly, this mush-mouthed loser becomes a superheroine who can shoot menstrual cramps from her fingers.

    No, really.

    But her new mission of saving NYC’s abused women gets complex for Super 40. With her teleporting partner Dolly Poppin’, Super 40 runs afoul of domestic abusers, jerky news anchors, and an evil scientist with cats. Even worse, someone’s trying to kill the partners for reasons unknown, which is just plain rude. Is it the mysterious flying Antihero? The robo-kittens? Or one of the delightful internet trolls always eager to call Shannon fat and ugly?

    No matter, for the amazing Super 40 will get her mojo back through butt-kicking, self-love, and some hot dates with the world’s yummiest superhero.

    If you ever thought Bridget Jones needed a borked-out superpower, you won’t be able to put down the hilarious adventures of SUPER 40. She’s a heroine for every woman society deems unsuitable, which is basically all of us.

    To heck with that.

    How to Become a Superheroine, Step One: Hit Rock Bottom

    My name is Shannon Johnson, and I was thirty-nine years old when, for the first time in my life, I stood up for myself. Over a box of tampons.

    I don’t know why I maintained my death grip on them that night in the Duane Reed during a hurricane. Perhaps those forty wads of cotton were the last straw in my pathetic existence: the tampons that broke the camel’s back. In this scenario, I was the camel—bloated full of water and bleating into an uncaring desert of bad metaphor.

    The last dude working in the cleaned-out drug store also didn’t seem to understand why he fought me for the squished box. Ma’am, he managed through gritted teeth, as if ma’am were the name of his least-favorite zit. Ma’am, they’re recalled by the manufacturer, and I’m, um, not allowed to sell them!

    I kicked an empty cardboard standee that used to hold canned soup toward his feet, but he leaped over it without breaking our tug of war. Darn his youth!

    Sir, I replied as pleasantly as possible when chatting about tampons. They—they look okay to me. I took a deep breath; talking back was my least-favorite activity, right above not talking back. "Please. They aren’t rotted food. I need them to...to stop...I mean, I use them up...into...within— I couldn’t say vagina. My mother would never forgive me. A lady doesn’t use words like vagina or pregnant or hell."


    Breathe, Shannon. My hands started to sweat, so I redoubled my grip on the box like it was a winning lottery ticket. Sir, I use these on my...in my...private...you see, when a woman matures, she enters a very special time when...when many changes happen.

    I was in hell. A trickle of rain meandered down my spine, a glob of snot dribbled onto my upper lip. "Please give them to me. Please. They are the last box because of the hurricane. I have been to five separate stores. I’m using wadded toilet paper between my— My voice began to tip-toe the edge between hysteria and murder and, from the depths of my soul, it all poured out. There is a super storm about to slam New York City. My period just started. And my divorce papers came today. I’m now living with my parents after my husband dumped me because I’m barren. He’d said my defunct ovaries were okay. That he still loved me anyway despite my not being good for the one thing everyone says wives are supposed to do. He said it right up until I saw on Facebook that he’d impregnated his nineteen-year-old temp!"

    The kid gasped.

    My throat emitted a horrific sound of despair heretofore unheard by human ears. "Facebook!"

    I fell to my knees, and he, wide-eyed, followed me. "I have nothing. Literally nothing. I have no money. No children. No love. I am unlikely to ever get any of those things. But the one thing—the one thing I can have is a mother-pooping box of fart-knocking tampons! I took a breath. And some Fritos. God, could I really use some Fritos."

    He dropped the box.

    I grabbed a Fritos bag.

    Holy cow. I’d never in my life said such words, not even to myself. His face had gone whiter and whiter the more I yelled, while I felt my own grow red like the blood pooling in my pajama pants. Ladies do not wear pajama pants outside the house, but my mom had most definitely lost that battle.

    Actually, all the battles today had been mine to lose.

    I clutched the tampon box to my chest. Thank you— I glanced at his name tag—Bailey.

    Um, Jesus Christ, said Bailey of the Duane Reed.

    I don’t thank him anymore. I pressed a ten spot into Bailey’s hand. That guy hasn’t taken my calls for years now.

    I fled into the beginnings of rain to be immediately barreled over by a giant form swaddled in a puffy coat. Wonderful. Maybe the street sludge now gracing my jammies would distract from the snot all over my face.

    But people’s gazes had a tendency to slip right past me anyhow.

    As I munched on my delightful Fritos, I heard that voice—his voice—inside my head instead of my own, like I always did. Shannon— evil-ex Chad would say—you’re the ugliest depressive I ever saw. Your period, I’m guessing? Then he’d sigh, type on his phone (never was there a conversation too important to stop texting), and say, I’m devastated, too. Probably way more than you are because of how much I need a son. But you don’t see me lose my mind once a month.

    Lose my mind.

    I sailed the edge of the sidewalk and made my way toward home. Lose my mind, indeed. I’d never cried in front of him. I’d never cried, never screamed, never raised my voice. What I had done was apologize for the red eyes caused by weeping in private over my lost children while he called me unstable. I even sorry-ied with a smile, for that was my role in the marriage. Smiling and feigning happiness and being Mrs. Chad Abercrombie. I was good at it in public. So good. The perfect wife, like the perfect table at a restaurant, or the perfect bow tie to match his suspenders. I understood that silent smiling was my role, and Chad’s to make gobs of money and be the shining king of whatever room we occupied. Well, he occupied, and I Vanna-White-ed.

    I should have known not to marry a bow-tie guy. Bow-tie guy is one step up from bolo-tie guy.

    Listen to yourself, I told myself on the wet sidewalk. In fact, I heard my dad’s voice instead of Chad’s. Dad had been gently trying to train me to be myself and listen to myself and respect myself. I’d been doing okay—just last week, I’d politely challenged the bodega clerk who hadn’t honored my two-for-one toilet paper coupon—but today...well, ugh, today.

    Today my uterus did what she did best. Today, despite the storm, the divorce documents had arrived. I’d known they were coming, as Chad had informed everyone he was finally getting rid of the anchor weighing him down. He’d announced it on Facebook, naturally, to our mutual three-hundred and seventy-eight friends. Wow, what a great website.

    Hyedi, his delightfully young paramour, had clicked like on the post immediately and followed it up with one of her own, featuring her enormously pregnant belly. She’d tagged me to make sure I saw it. I hadn’t even screamed then, but I had poured my breakfast milk very forcefully.

    I’d once read that infertile people have the same depression rates as those enduring major illnesses. Not that you’d know it, because people like me figure out pretty quickly to never, ever tell anyone about our wonky loins. When we do, we’re treated to Infertility Bingo, the funnest game sweeping the nation:

    Have you tried acupuncture? It works for everyone!


    "Well, maybe God is telling you that you’re not cut out to be a mommy, hon."


    "Just relaaaaax. My great aunt’s third sister’s cousin’s friend once tried for fifty-two years, but the minute she quit trying, it just happened."

    Bingo! Bingo! Bingo!

    Obviously, the reason I’d failed to procreate was so I could spend more time in the rain with my boyfriend, Fritos. I laughed to myself in my own voice, which I considered real progress.

    I rounded the corner to my parents’ brownstone and waited, just a moment, before I went inside. To savor my few minutes of alone time. Well, me and my salty boyfriend. Mmmmmm. I shoved six into my mouth. Six was the serving size for Fritos—that’s a fact right there. Solitude happened rarely nowadays with three retired roommates whose only hobby was me.

    It had been one year, three months, and twelve days since Chad and I officially gave up on parenthood, after the failed in-vitro fertilization. My third. Eight years trying total. Eight years measured in twenty-eight day increments. One hundred four failures, followed by the prom scene from Carrie in my pants.

    If I possessed wild psychic powers like some of the super heroes of the Super Duper organization, you bet your bippy Chad would have hemorrhoids the size of his face.

    Chad’s face would be a hemorrhoid.

    But I wasn’t a real-life superheroine who graced the front page of the newspaper—a woman with long legs in skin-tight leather, or a caped man who saved orphans to the world’s applause. I was a whole lot of nobody. 

    ...Probably more like a miniscule amount of nobody.

    The wind whipped a sodden newspaper page against my hip, and an ache bloomed in my gut—the wonder of who I would be now if I’d summoned the courage to tell Chad goodbye years ago, back when I knew deep down I didn’t love him, yet wouldn’t admit it to myself. But I’d been afraid to be on my own, and I’d wanted a baby.

    Ha ha ha.

    Mouse! called Dad from the second-story window. He stuck his bald head through the open portal, his glasses reflecting nothing but gray afternoon. You’re standing in the rain, Mouse. Come out of there!

    My life, as narrated by my father.

    The moment I walked into the foyer, my victory tampons clutched inside my coat, my mother began vibrating like a wind-up toy. Her cloud of red hair wobbled, her angora sweater fluffed. And her monologue began. I present it here in commercial-free 3D, sponsored by Liv-Long Vitamins, the peppy way for seniors to stay all up in your business.

    Part one: stating the obvious.

    Shannon, you are soaking wet! Your pants are dirty. I told you not to wear those pajamas outside. There is a storm brewing. They’re calling it four Katrinas plus a Sandy!

    Part two: How will you ever catch a man?

    Shannon, how will you ever catch a man dressed that way? Bad enough your poor medical problems, heaven save us, but at least you’re still pretty. Well, if you lost the weight you’ve put on since Chad—

    Interlude: @#%$^$!!

    My father broke in. Don’t say that bastard’s name in this house! I hope his dirty dick falls clean off. He should be ashamed of himself. But is he? No. He’s gallivanting around town with a zygote.

    Part three: Oh, the horror.

    My mother huffed, Bruce, you will not use words like that in this house!

    Leslie, my mom’s girlfriend, paused work on her crossword puzzle in the adjoining living room. Zygote?

    Dad gave her a thumbs up over his recliner.

    Part four: the three of you.

    Shannon and Bruce and Leslie, you all know very well what I mean. We do not use the term— she dropped to a whisper—dick.

    Good thing my dad’s name isn’t Richard.

    I proceeded toward the downstairs bathroom, Leslie calling, Hi, kiddo, on the way by. My parent’s divorce had been amicable six years prior, when Mom finally came out, and Dad, who’d only stuck around out of habit, gave his blessing. Since they were all retired, and this huge house paid for, they’d stayed in proximity to save money.

    I shut them out with a close of the bathroom door—it’s the one boundary Mom would always respect, for things such as (whisper) poop (end whisper) happened in there. Also, periods, and mine was flowing like Mount Vesuvius. Mount Vadgesuvius?

    I giggled to myself and opened the battered tampon box. See? They looked fine. I pulled one from the box and tested the string, in case that’s why there were recalled. Nope, all was well, except for my abominable cramps. But bless my daddy—he would always pass me one of his back pain pills when things got really ugly.

    I sat on the toilet and held the tampon aloft. I had fought for this tampon. Me. In public!

    Maybe I could change. Change into one of those women who stomped all over Manhattan in five-inch heels like they owned the place. Back when I’d been a homeowner, I hadn’t really; everything in my life had been in Chad’s name. I’d been such a moron. But in my defense, no one in my family had ever divorced until my mom and dad. Not even Aunt Bitty and Uncle Miles, not even when her second family visited from Poland.

    Maybe this tampon represented a fresh beginning. Funny—when I’d been trying for a baby for so long, tampons had been the enemy. But now my only enemy was myself.

    * * * * * *

    By ten P.M., the storm whirled around us, wild and wet, banging limbs into the house, causing the four of us to jump as a family unit. The power hung on, so far, and we tuned to the local news to get the scoop on the storm now predicted to be eight Katrinas, six Sandys, and a Hunger Games for good measure. The newscasters spoke in breathless voices and grinned from ear to ear at the human tragedy. They seemed vaguely disappointed when they moved on to other news.

    Dad discreetly passed me a pill after I’d groaned and buried myself further into my Snuggie. I reached for it and the bowl of popcorn both, but my mother snatched the latter away with a continuation of monologue part two. Shannon, you need to watch your figure!

    It should be illegal to deny salty snacks to a person on their period. At least I possessed my uterus-tamer, and Leslie winked in a way that told me surreptitious popcorn would soon follow. Mom and her lady were proof of opposites attracting. Leslie hung loose whereas Mom was, well, Mom; Leslie sported long, white hair she wore flowing like the hippie she was, and Mom’s bright red spikes shot rigidly in every direction. Leslie ate food, while Mom subsisted on unpleasant gasps.

    In other news— said Tamarin MacEntyre of Channel Five News in her blinding red power suit—the makers of Sunny ‘N’ Springtime sanitary products have issued a recall of tampons size colossal and colossal plus.

    My mother uttered a sound of sheer horror and fanned herself upon learning that tampons come in colossal size.

    ...After their shipping container from Kazakhstan became irradiated by leaking Soviet-era nuclear weapons.

    I sat up, for I currently used a Sunny ‘N’ Springtime Colossal Plus Tampon with Delicate Femme-Action Applicator.

    Tamarin continued, The company says there is no danger to the public, as the effected products were removed from store shelves this week.

    The long breath I’d been holding whooshed from me, and I settled back to inhale the yummies Leslie handed me.

    Except for one box sold this afternoon at Duane Reed at Riverside and 116th street.

    I leapt to my feet, the popcorn jumping faster than my heart rate.

    Tamarin smiled like the grin reaper. The Sunny ‘N’ Springtime company issued the following statement: Our products are absolutely safe to use, but, in an abundance of caution, if you come into contact with a recalled box of our family products, we suggest calling our customer service hotline. Tamarin added, I think maybe you should also find some lead undergarments. Everyone in our house laughed.

    I shrieked. My cat Xanadu arched her back and bolted.

    My vagina is a nuclear wasteland, I whispered.

    Shannon! Mom stiffened her spine. Don’t say ‘vagina.’ That’s a word only hippie feminists use.

    She’s right, Leslie said. I vagina use it vagina constantly. Vagina.

    Taking the popcorn with me for strength, I clutched my blanket garment and ran upstairs to my childhood bedroom. With shaking fingers, I looked up the customer service number on my cell and called. It began to ring.

    I was going to rot away. I would putrefy, and I’d never experienced hot, dirty sex with a hunky anonymous lifeguard. I’d never performed in a three way with a couple of enormous firemen who had hairy chests and big feet.

    Wow, my period made me horny.

    An automated female voice burst through the line. Hello, and thank you for calling the Sunny ‘N’ Springtime company, where things are always sunny in the springtime. What? My hands sweated. Then my lower back. Oh, my lord. It was happening. "For a list of our corporate departments, press one. For advice regarding one of our wonderful feminine products, press two. For a tour of the Sunny ‘N’ Springtime manufacturing plant in Springfield, ha ha, press three. Who tours a tampon factory? And if you’ve purchased a box of radioactive tampons from Kazakhstan, please stay on the line, and one of our customer service agents will assist you."

    She’d turned really cold there in the end, and my boobs started sweating, too. Then I realized I was clutching the hot metal bowl of popcorn to them. I shoved a fistful into my mouth. How Will I Know by Whitney Houston started playing as hold music. How would I know? I asked myself. Probably when my ovaries fell out.

    At least the pain pill was starting to kick in. One should never have to face a vagina meltdown sober.

    Thank you for holding. I’m Stacy, and you’re on with a hygiene product cheerleader. Yup— (sigh)—that really is my title.

    I was going to die.

    Um, Stacy, I’ve purchased, I mean—it’s a box of...of...of radioactive tampons from Kazakhstan.

    "Great. And what can I help you with tod—wait, what? For fucking real? Shit, I just knew I’d get this call. Now I owe Pete ten bucks. God, I am having the worst day!"

    I yelled, "You’re having the worst day? I clapped my hand to my mouth. I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s come over me." Divorce, period, Chad, the Soviets. Still, there was no reason to unload on poor Stacy, who was already having the worst day.

    Okay. Stacy blew a breath into the phone. Okay. We’re going to get through this together. Oh, shit, I’m not supposed to make you any promises. Hold please.

    What? No!

    Whitney started singing again. I pounded my fist on my bed, over and over again, railing against the heavens, the earth, and all miserable species in-between. It then occurred to me that I was still wearing the deadly tampon, so I sprinted into the upstairs hall bathroom. I’d just slammed the door closed when Stacy rejoined our fun conversation.

    What is your name, Ma’am? she asked me.

    Shannon Johnson.

    I’m so sorry, Shannon. We— A man’s voice interrupted her. I mean, I’m not sorry, for there’s nothing to be sorry about. She uttered a strangled sob and the phone clicked.

    The man came on the line. Shannon, this is Customer Service Manager Amir Gupta. How are you this evening?

    "I’m wonderful, Amir. I’m having my period, and I’m going to die of radiation poisoning, thanks for asking."

    There’s no need to think that. Unless you were, perhaps, exposed to radiation by some other method—do you work in a nuclear power plant by any chance? His voice lifted hopefully.


    Tsk, too bad. Okay, the level of radiation in the tampons, if there even is any, is very, very low. Unless you’ve used them. Have you used them?

    I sank onto the toilet lid and started to hyperventilate. My empty, pointless life flashed before my eyes, but it was too boring to watch. Fear heaved through me, rendering me dizzy and hot. To my right, the window was open, and the rain pelted my arm like pinpricks while the night rumbled ominously.

    Amir uttered a little, Oh, I see. The phone line snapped with static. You should go to the hospital, Shannon, although it’s merely a precaution and there is likely no danger to others.

    Through deep breaths, I managed a, That’s reassuring. At least my parents wouldn’t die. However...maybe I could call Chad and offer him one final poisonous five-minutes of sex.


    I jerked upright as the lights winked into darkness. A blackout. Thunder boomed again, and I shook like a little kid. The night brightened into day for a brief flash—lightning—then returned to pitch.

    Amir wanted to take my information and put me on hold, so I put the phone on speaker on the counter. At least the cell tower still worked. Ugh, my cramps kicked up again, the pain gripping my abdomen and holding on like an alligator rolling its prey to certain death. I wished that, just once, Chad would know what I suffered through every month. Then he could lose his mind while I watched and laughed.

    I stepped into the tub to close the window. Rain splashed everywhere, and I couldn’t get a good grip on the old, stuck window sill. I tugged and tugged. My abdomen exploded into shards of torment. The crackling storm above the house focused itself into one, jagged stream coming down, down. Down toward me. I took a step back and slipped against the lip of the bath. The bathroom exploded into light and sizzling pain. I shot backward, my body flying, flying, fly—

    How to Become a Superheroine, Step Two: Accidentally Assault Your Jerky Ex 

    The first sound I heard in heaven was a voice. She’s awake! She’s awake! My mother. That’s how I knew I still lived; I didn’t think they’d let my mother into heaven, and I was too tame to get into the other place.

    I opened my eyelids and croaked, I’m radioactive. I barely heard myself, or Mom, as if wads of cotton filled my ears. Wait...they did. She must have dialed up the decibels, even for her. Louder, please, I told them.

    No, you’re not radioactive, said Dad.

    I turned, my neck sore as if I’d lifted weights with it. He smiled down at me with his sweet brown eyes. We told the docs about the tampons.


    One of these days, I’d have to ask Mom to write out her no-no word list. It would keep her off my back for the rest of her life.

    What, Isabel? Dad sank into the chair next to my bed, his cane between his legs. They’re tampons. Every woman uses them. Well, most. Lots and lots of people have periods, and they need tampons. For the bleeding.

    Mom left the room. Tampons were one thing, but bodily fluids were quite another.

    I asked, So I didn’t use an irradiated product of the Soviets?

    Dad arose and took my hand, carefully bypassing the IV lines. Nope, but you were struck by lightning. That’s why your eardrums are damaged, and why you’re yelling.


    He winced. How you feeling, Mouse?

    I touched my head with gentle fingers. Like I got hit by the A Train.

    Well— he patted my knee— the docs say you’ll be fine.

    And they brought out a Geiger counter? My hand dropped to my side; I didn’t have the strength to hold it up. Every muscle killed as if I’d spent the whole night dancing. At least, I guessed. I’d never spent the whole night dancing. Or doing anything else for that matter, besides sleeping.

    A doctor entered the room—a perfect little blonde, younger than me. She laughed away my Geiger counter question and assured me I’d passed every radiation test. She went on to say I had a concussion, damaged eardrums, and who knows what else. But I retained my memory, so that was a plus. I guess. Why couldn’t I have awoken thinking I was a supermodel dating Jeff Goldblum?

    Oh, Jeff Goldblum. Some day you will be mine.

    Shannon, said Dr. Perfect Pilates Who Probably Didn’t Live With Her Parents. We’re treating the effects of the lightning strike. She glanced at my chart. Your mother says you’re trying to get pregnant, though?

    My face went cold and numb. What? No. I shot a dirty look toward the door, around which Mom peeked her head. She pulled a face and disappeared. No, that’s all done.

    I ask because the medicine is counter-indicated for pregnancy.

    I closed my eyes for a moment, willing my muscles not to give her a nasty face, too. I can’t get pregnant, it’ll be fine, thank you.

    Dad shuffled beside me and appeared to want to be anywhere but here. The feeling was mutual. I’d hoped I’d heard the last of these questions. Just the thought of them made my heart leap into an irregular rhythm.

    Dr. Perfect smiled in the pitying way I knew so well, her head tilted so that her ponytail danced while she talked down to me. You should never give up. My sister’s friend went through ten years of—

    I sneezed. Not really. But I’d found that a sneeze will usually get people off the baby-train of thought. The lightning strike didn’t sting nearly as much as the ten-thousandth person telling me to never give up. (Bingo!) Were these people nuts? Quitting had been the only good part. At least then I could drink.

    Bless you! said the doc. What were we talking about? Oh, yes! See, this woman had tried for a baby for years. Have you heard of acupuncture?

    Uh, Doc? Dad physically stepped between us, bless the pudgy little man. My daughter is very tired.

    Dad began inching toward the doctor so she could either splat across his belly like a bug on a windshield or retreat. Finally, she glanced at me and accepted her dismissal with good grace. You’re going to be fine, Shannon. Rest up. With that, she left, and I released the stale breath I hadn’t even realized I held.

    With a sigh, Dad said, It’s the new millennium. Acupuncture is not an ancient Chinese secret.

    I giggled. I wish I had a buck for every time someone suggested it to me. Then I could pay for those years of acupuncture I had.

    Mom returned then, and the nurse gave me my lightning-in-a-bottle medicine. My tired head sank onto the pillow, and the world became very dim. Oh, wait—dim was the usual for me...

    Shannon, it’s your mother. Yes, wake up, Shannon!

    My hospital room looked almost cheery in the light of day. My ear still hurt, but that might have been because Mom screamed directly into it. Not so loud, Mom. I can hear a lot better now.

    I gingerly pushed myself to sitting, but...I didn’t hurt anymore. My head felt clear and energized. Grrrrgowwoowwwwww said my stomach; I could not disagree. Is that food?

    Yup. Dad pushed a bag of fast food onto my lap and clicked the button to raise my bed.

    Mom said, Bruce, she is not supposed to be eating junk. What about her weight gain?

    The gorgeous bag contained a spicy chicken sandwich and fries. I popped a golden potato into my ravenous jaws and said, mouth full to spite Mom, Yeah, what about my fat butt? Probably the doctor might not like me eating this, either. I’m sure they have a hospital meal to sell me. Only two thousand dollars.

    Dad burst into laughter. Mom hurried from room, a toxic cloud of disapproval floating behind. Note to self: Say butt whenever you want Mom to leave. It didn’t even cause a twinge of guilt in my gut.

    I felt...different.

    I downed the sandwich like a lady who loves spicy fried batter. I figured I’d survived a radioactive tampon and a lightning strike—I deserved a freaking treat. Dad even said the red fern lesions crossing my chest from the lightning had disappeared overnight, which amazed the doctors. What do you know—for the first time in my life, I was a medical wonder for good reasons.

    When the fast food had been consumed (and my mother deigned to enter to the room again), Dr. Perfect Pilates returned to emit sounds of amazement over my recovery. She said I was fine—heck, even my menstrual cramps had disappeared. The hospital would let me go the following day if I kept up the wonder-healing. Hallelujah!

    A contentment permeated my every cell. It’s as if I vibrated at a different frequency—my core floated lighter, sunnier. Maybe the lightning had knocked my depression right out of

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