Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Superproofing"

Based on an audience poll, this is the free epic for the April 3, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl meeting its $200 goal. This is spillover from the December 5, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] callibr8. It also fills the "supernatural elements" square in my 12-3-17 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest and the "WILD CARD: youth" square in my 4-1-18 card for the Spring Fest bingo. This poem belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.


It's not easy to go through a house
and make it safe for superpowers.

Geordie Beckham needs to have
enough earth and stone around him so
he can focus on it, but not zone on it
when he doesn't intend to do that.

He needs to stay on the floor and
not have to climb after things.

So they leave the stone fireplace
but take out the countertops, and
move his bedroom to the first floor.

He's learning, slowly, but he's learning
now that he can keep his feet on the ground.

Marcie Maddison has skin dusted with diamond,
and at first it seems awesome, but then she realizes
that being harder than everything is a nuisance.

Glass etches underhand, wood sands underfoot,
and most fabric simply shreds under pressure.

She needs things that won't frost, splinter, or fray.
So she begins to redecorate, sometimes with
stone or metal or dense ceramic. She discovers
that plastic actually works well because it yields
a little to her rough skin. She uses it to pad
stone and metal so they don't screech when
she touches them like chalk on a blackboard.

She thinks wistfully of dymondine, which is
hardness 11, but that stuff is expensive.

Maybe someday, though.

Addison Boyle wishes that she were not
her father's daughter, but she can't have that.

What she can have is telekinesis, but control,
well, that's another thing she can't have,
or at least, that she doesn't have yet.

So things rattle and shake and shiver
whenever she gets in another fight with
her father, and that's only getting worse.

Finally, Family Services steps in and
asks it would help to have a little space
between them, and damn, Addison can't
get out of that house fast enough.

They find her an awesome foster family,
who don't mind her weird attachment to
the supervillain Mesmer Eye, but it gets
even better: one of them is an astronaut.

He knows how to secure things for zero-g,
so that's what they do -- go through the house
and put everything in drawers or cabinets with
sturdy latches, fasten down loose items with elastic
or this amazing tacky that only turns loose if you
press a button on the little electric controller.

It's the first time since the incident
that Addison has felt safe.

Jiang Hu arrives at
St. Elmo Sankofa Home
because her parents can't
help her manage Super-Speed
and they hope this will work better.

The houseparents here are warm
and kind, and they've raised a lot
of superkids over the years.

They know how to handle challenges
like hers. It's not new or scary to them.

There are lessons in calm and patience
and meditation to help Jiang learn focus.

Everyone pitches in to help touch up
the house, padding the sharp edges
and corners higher up -- the low ones
are already wrapped in baby foam.

They cover the walls of her room with
patterned foam mats, pink with white dots,
so it looks like wallpaper instead of like
those play mats meant for babies.

Then Jiang discovers that
her foster brother Damarco
can actually slow her down.

It doesn't hurt. She just
stops going super-fast.

Jiang doesn't want to give up
on learning to control her own power,
but oh, it's so nice to relax now.

It's not easy to go through a house and
make it safe for such special needs, but for
some folks, superproofing is what it takes

to make a house into a home.

* * *


Geordie Beckham -- He has fair skin with freckles, brown eyes, and short wavy brown hair. He lives with his parents in Westbord, but the whole family customarily travels together for his father's business conventions. An enthusiastic athlete, Geordie excels at learning with his body. He does less well in academic classes, but not enough to flounder. Geordie has always had a variety of mental and physical quirks which have led to many different diagnoses, none of which seem to fit perfectly. Among those are autistic spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder.
Origin: Geordie has recently begun flickering in puberty.
Uniform: Casual clothes typical of teenage boys. He often wears blue, his favorite color.
Qualities: Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence, Good (+2) Sensitive, Good (+2) Spelunking, Good (+2) Team Sports
Poor (-2) Self-Doubt
Powers: (flickering)
Geordie has always been sensitive, with a lot of quirks, but now he really can't tolerate being off the ground. Airplane rides in particular have become prohibitively miserable. The flickering makes it difficult to determine what is going on or how to help. He may be developing Earth Powers, Direction Sense, Energy Manipulation, and/or Teleportation, all of which can be disoriented by travel or loss of ground contact.
Motivation: Figure out what's happening to him.

Marcie Maddison is the sister of Ashley Maddison, appearing in some stories by [personal profile] siliconshaman.

Addison Boyle -- She has pale skin, sherry-brown eyes, and long wavy mahogany hair. She is tall and strong, with a long heart-shaped face. She is 17. Addison is popular and successful in school. However, her father is the chief of police, which makes her feel insecure about her family and awkward with her friends. These complications play into her challenges with soups and superpowers.
Origin: She was held hostage by Mesmer Eye, in hopes of gaining concessions from her father. Either his telepathic manipulation or the stress, or both, caused her superpowers to manifest. Addison and Mesmer Eye wound up with a strong -- and mutual -- case of Stockholm syndrome. Even with the direct link broken, some of the affinity and feelings have remained.
Uniform: Fashionable girl clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Obedient, Good (+2) Popular, Good (+2) Smart, Good (+2) Tall
Poor (-2) Police Chief's Daughter
Powers: Average (0) Telekinesis
Motivation: Not being thought of as her father's daughter.

Damarco Slaw -- He has dark brown skin, black eyes, and short nappy black hair. He has a large, broad nose and thick lips. Damarco lives in the St. Elmo Sankofa Home in Santa Cruz, California. He loves his foster family very much, especially his foster sister Jiang. He has a great deal of patience and stamina, which helps him cope with his challenges.
Damarco has developmental delays with a mess of learning disorders impacting language and executive function. He just can't think clearly, and he can't do anything fast. However, he approaches learning with dogged determination to accomplish things. He used to have what Terramagne-America calls Situational Emotional Disruption (SED), classified as a psychological injury caused by environmental stress which exceeds the person's coping capacity. This often occurs in people with developmental disorders, other disabilities, or adverse life events. Unlike neurological defects which have a chronic effect, SED can go away if people can lower their stress and/or raise their coping capacity. Years of therapy has mostly fixed this problem for him, so only vestiges remain.
Origin: Due to pervasive cortical damage, doctors believe that Damarco was exposed to hazardous (and possibly zetetic) materials before birth and during infancy. His mother was homeless and squatting in abandoned buildings, the more isolated the better, for several years until she got tired of Damarco's inability to learn things and gave him up. This situation likely caused both his intellectual disabilities and his superpowers.
Uniform: Teen boy clothes. He likes jeans, but prefers button-up shirts to t-shirts. He feels proud that he can do buttons, and likes to show it off.
Qualities: Good (+2) Affectionate, Good (+2) Patience, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Cortical Damage
Powers: Good (+2) Slowing Things Down
He can create a field that slows everything around him, or just one thing. It can even drop a speedster to ordinary speed safely. Damarco primarily uses it to give himself more time to think or react. Since meeting Jiang, however, he has increasingly used it to help her control her erratic Super-Speed.
Motivation: To accomplish things.

Learning disabilities include a variety of learning disorders and developmental disorders.

Jiang Hu -- She has tawny skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and long straight brown hair usually put up in a bun. She wears glasses. She is Chinese-American, but only speaks English. Currently Jiang lives in the St. Elmo Sankofa Home in Santa Cruz, California. She still has regular contact with her birth parents, who could not help her master her ability, so they agreed to a group home for the sake of improving her quality of life. She relies on her houseparents for advice about superpowers, and on her foster brother Damarco to help her slow down.
Origin: A cape fight between two speedsters created a shock wave that injured hundreds of people, causing several of them to develop superpowers of their own. In Jiang's case, this also made her bad vision even worse due to distortions from wavering speed.
Uniform: Casual girl clothes.
Qualities: Good (+2) Ai, Good (+2) Foster Family, Good (+2) High School Student
Poor (-2) Vision
Powers: Poor (-2) Super-Speed
Her control is terrible, and her maximum speed -- about 60 mph -- is low for a speedster, only about twice the ordinary maximum. (Average Super-Speed is around 150 mph.) She often flickers into high speed without intending to, but can only sustain it for a few minutes on purpose.
Motivation: To love and be loved.

Confucian virtues affect Chinese adolescent development. Ai is the virtue of compassion and affection.

* * *

Childproofing is good in moderation but can be overdone. Here is an age scale for childproofing techniques. Compare this with safety proofing a home for people with various disabilities. The principle is the same with superpowers: identify potential sources of injury and take steps to prevent that from happening.

Grounding relates to the element of Earth. Elemental Powers are among the most common superpowers.

The methods used to secure items in zero gravity are much the same as those used in a recreational vehicle. I totally used my ulterior experience as a spacer when traveling by RV on summer vacations.

Foam helps to minimize injury from collisions. Cover sharp corners and edges with foam rails. Cover walls and/or floors with foam mats. These come in a variety of colors and patterns to accommodate various ages and tastes. Older users may prefer plain white or a wallpaper pattern over the bright colors used for children.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, safety, weblit, writing
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