Nelson sat still on the couch, hands in his lap, intently watching his wife. She was calm, but he knew Cara was a wreck. There never was any seismic activity prior to her volcanic explosions. Best thing to do was sit, and wait.
After a few minutes Cara turned her gaze back to her husband. She ran her eyes over every line in his face, searching for what, she couldn’t say.
Cara repeated her question. “How long?”
“How long, what, have I known, you mean?”
“My whole life. Well, most of it. I didn’t think much about it when I was a little kid.”
“And, now, you think, hey, this would be the perfect time to bring it up. Hey Cara, honey, guess what? I have something to tell you! You have a moment? Take a seat. You’ll want to sit down for this one.”
Cara was reacting more like a Mount St. Helens than a Vesuvius. He expected Vesuvius. It’s why he sent their children to stay the night with friends, with a story for the parents he wanted to surprise Cara for their anniversary with a night all to themselves.
“Of course I’ve been thinking about this a lot. And yes, of course, it’s a big deal, a very big deal, and so I wanted to make time, that is, I wanted to choose a good time, the right time, I mean, well, there’s never the right time for something like…”
“Nels! Please stop, just…stop.”
Cara resumed her distant gaze. She looked frightened and confused and it was breaking his heart. Nelson folded his hands in his lap. As much as he wanted to hold her close and tell her it would all work out, he had to consider that Vesuvius was still a very real possibility.
Cara suddenly jumped up and went into the kitchen. Nelson heard the water in the sink run, the door of the dishwasher fall open, a tray roll out, and the clank of dishes as Cara started to load the washer. Nelson got up and followed her into the kitchen. He picked up a dish and a glass and handed them to her.
“Just put them down. I’m fine.”
Nelson put the dishes down, then turned and grabbed a bar stool from the bar counter, situating himself close to his wife so she had to reach in front of him to get to the dishes. Cara stubbornly kept working, pretending to not notice his close proximity.
OK. He’d have to risk it. Vesuvius had to happen, or there’d be no moving forward. Nelson took in a long deep breath, closed his eyes, and when he heard Cara scream, he knew his transition was complete.
“I can put on a pair of glasses, if that would help,” he yelled as loud as he could manage.
“Nelson??!! Nelson! I…I… where are you… I can barely hear you. Where the F– are you?! God, Nels, please, you’re freaking me out!”
Cara started to sob uncontrollably. Vesuvius. Nelson closed his eyes again, took in another deep breath, and when he felt the smack across his face, he knew he had rematerialized. He pulled her to him, fighting off her thrashing arms, and rocked her for what seemed like an eternity until she calmed down. She was still crying when he held her back by the shoulders and looked her in the eyes.
“We’ll figure this out, hm?” he whispered.
“I th…thoug…thought,” Cara hiccupped, “th…that stuff…stuff…is only, only Super Heroes in the comics, l…like, like the X-Men movies.”
“Don’t forget 50s horror flicks.”
“Oh, my God! You really are a mutant! Is that really how…they actually exist?!”
“No, no, no, no….I’m not Peter Parker who gets bitten by a radioactive spider. Or, whatever failed experiment made The Invisible Man invisible. And certainly not Wolverine.”
Nelson took his wife’s hand and led her back to the living room. He sat her on the couch and then sat opposite her on the ottoman.
“I have no idea how or why. I only know I’ve always been able to do it.”
Cara kept shaking her head. “Mutants actually are a thing, oh my God…!”
“Hey. I said, no.” Nelson put up a cautionary finger when Cara started to speak again. He continued, “That is entirely fantasy. I do not have cells that, whatever. Mutate. I change. Entirely. I go from one way of being to, I don’t know, being something else, is the only way I know how to explain it.”
Cara didn’t respond for a minute. Nelson fought the urge to sit back with his hands in his lap. Finally, she said, “Can you do it again? Now?”
Nelson moved next to her on the couch. He took her hands in his. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath.
Cara watched as Nelson dissolved in an instant. She felt nothing in her hands and instinctively pulled back in horror. Like before, she thought she heard Nelson. It was if he was yelling, but she could barely make it out. His voice seemed to be coming from not just very far away, but from every direction. In the next moment he materialized.
“I have so many questions. I don’t know where to begin.”
“We’ve got all night, and the rest of our lives. Just ask. Whatever. That’s where we’ll start.”