Paradise Lost

For our final week we were given a group task. We all had to create a character, and then write a story about that character in a setting chosen by the class. The setting was a convention run in the Paradise Hotel. Our character had to bump into at least two characters created by the rest of the class. It was decided that not only was a sci fi convention running, there was also a pigeon fanciers convention taking place at the same time. This is my resulting story! I hope you enjoy~

Today was going to be the day.

It had been months in the planning. Sore fingers bore the evidence of her labour, where amateur stitches had found flesh instead of fabric. For weeks she’d worked on the costume, only to panic at the last minute and buy a cheap knock off from eBay. Again, she wondered if discomfort was preferable. As fabric rode up her thighs she tugged it firmly back down, pressing her spine into the unforgiving train seat. She should have just worn the damn thing; at least the skirt was long enough. Would people really judge her untidy hemlines? Would they even care?

Beside her Amy babbled brightly, asking who the guests were; if they’d see that one guy, from that one series. Shark farmers was it? Whilst she’d never actually seen it, it seemed a dumb premise for a TV series. Jaws was one of her Dad’s favourite films, she had spent her youth terrified of swimming pools, because she’d been convinced that sharks lived in the cleaning vents.

Still, today was going to be the day. Today she was going to find her soul mate. Perhaps he’d be dressed as Wolverine, or maybe he’d be one of the Doctors. What if he actually looked like David Tennant? She wasn’t sure she’d even be able to meet his eyes. Amy said that was what the costume was for. Wonder Woman was brave, fierce; she didn’t take anyone’s crap! More importantly, if she was Wonder Woman, she didn’t have to be herself.

By the time they’d found their way to The Paradise Hotel’s reception, any courage she might have summoned, had swiftly disappeared. Everywhere she looked there seemed to be people. A suffocating amount of people.

“Isn’t that Jon Snow?!”

The resemblance was striking. There wasn’t even a moment to catch her breath, feeling the sharp nudge of her friend’s elbow as she was shoved forwards, nearly falling over her tenuously glued together boots. Did she speak to the first man she stumbled in to? Words faltered as she looked up, all deer, full headlights. Jon seemed not to notice as he swept passed, his trademark angsty furrow melting away into an out of character smile as he took hold of Cat Woman’s hand.

Oh.

“How is even possible to get that costume on? Do you think she used a whole bottle of talc? Listen, Jon Snow isn’t the man for you, you need someone… more cheerful, opposites attract anyway… Don’t worry.”

If only it was that easy.

By 2pm she’d said a grand total of three words to people who were not Amy. It was a complete disaster, how was she meant to find someone if she couldn’t even talk to them?

“Just enter the masquerade, then they get to see the goods! After that they’ll come to you, that’ll be easier, won’t it?”

Whilst she was sure her day couldn’t get any worse, the idea of parading on stage in front of hundreds of onlookers made her stomach crawl up her throat. In the safety of Amy’s room it had all seemed like an adventure. She’d be the heroine; she’d find her Steve Trevor and maybe even go on a date. Now reality was an empty stage and every tiny thing that might go wrong.
She might trip. There were stairs; she’d definitely break her neck on those. What if her corset popped open? What if no one clapped? What if she forgot how to walk and froze in the middle of the stage? What if she was booed?

It was now or never.

Not even the most ambitious catastophising could have prepared her for stepping out to the stunned silence of a thousand pigeon fanciers.

This wasn’t reveal they’d been expecting. Instead of a prize winning bird, victor of a hundred races, there was a terrified girl in a Wonder Woman outfit, who seemed like she was about to cry. No one was quite sure what to do, she had frozen on the spot and no one moved to help.

The tension was finally broken when the back door was thrown open, an angry mob spilling through in hot pursuit of what appeared to be a 6′ tall cat, running for his life, clutching onto a wicker basket.

In the confusion that followed a young man had come to her rescue and coaxed her off the stage.

“Chin up pet, they’ve probably forgot what happened by now.”

The tweed jacket was warm, the sweet tea he’d provided, warmer still. If Todd hadn’t climbed up on stage, she was sure she’d still be there. Even now it seemed like some kind of outer body experience. She could still feel his arm gently around her shoulders, comforting her as though she was some small, frightened animal.

“Anyway, I think you look cracking… You’re Wonder Woman, right?”

“I’m not so sure about the Wonder part anymore.”

“Aye, well you’re the prettiest pigeon I’ve seen.”

Perhaps not all heroes wore capes.

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