Billy had the ability to change the color of his skin. His mother first noticed while nursing the newborn. She looked down as he suckled and saw his skin change to the different colors of the rainbow. His mother thought he was ill and screamed. The doctors ran tests on the child, and much to everyone’s surprise, concluded he was not sick at all, but had a super-power, or rather a stupid power. The staff got a kick out of that joke.
At the age of eleven Billy was sent off to the Academy of Super Powers, as was customary for a child of power. It didn’t take long for Billy to find out just how useless his really was.
Sitting in Defense Class 101, the kids cheered on as Metal Boy deflected a bullet with his metallic skin. Billy remained quiet. He sat in the back of the class, waiting with dread for his name to be called.
Mrs. Norm, the instructor, clapped while Metallic Boy went back to his seat. She then walked to her desk and pulled out the seating chart. Billy watched her look up and point in his direction. “Billy, you’re next,” she said.
Fire Boy, who sat next to Billy, nudged him with his elbow. “Hey Crayon Boy, I heard Crayola needs a new mascot,” he said. All the kids in the back row laughed.
Billy stood and walked forward, his head hung low, snickers as he walked by. He made it to the front of the class and looked at all of the powerful kids in front of him.
“So Billy,” Mrs. Norm said, “how would you stop a man holding a gun at you?”
Sweat ran down Billy’s forehead. “Um.” He gazed at the class. One boy pointed at him and shouted, “He can’t do anything.“
“Billy, I asked you a question,” Mrs. Norm said.
Billy rubbed his hands. At the front of the class sat Replicate Girl, who could create any object with her mind. She smiled at Billy.
“I think he’s blushing,” another boy in the class shouted.
Billy looked at his skin, which had turned red. “It’s not blushing. Red means stop.” The class erupted in laughter. Billy quickly looked away from Replicate Girl.
“That’s enough, class,” Mrs. Norm said. “Billy, you can take your seat.”
During recess Billy sat by himself at the playground. He kept his head low as he listened to the laughter of the other kids playing.
“Hey Crayon Boy, I heard the traffic light stopped working down the street. Think you can fill in?”
Billy looked up and saw Fire Boy standing over him.
“Why don’t you just leave me alone?” Billy said.
Fire Boy stepped forward. “Aw, are you scared?”
“I don’t like jerks.” Billy stood up.
“Oh yeah, well what are you going to do about it?” Fire Boy shoved his fingers into Billy’s chest.
Billy’s hands trembled. He lifted his fist and swung, landing a hit square against Fire Boy’s jaw.
Fire Boy rubbed his chin and furrowed his brow. “So you think you’re tough now, huh?” He erupted into a giant ball of fire. “I’m going to make you pay for that.” He took a step towards Billy.
Billy started to sweat and took a step back.
“You think you can hurt me?” Fire Boy said, stepping closer.
Billy kept edging back. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“Yeah, well I don’t mean anything by this.” Fire Boy raised his hand, flames snapping at his finger tips, and shot out a fire ball from his open palm.
Billy let out a gasp. Just as the flame came an inch from his face, he looked away. Billy felt a wave of air brush his cheek. He opened his eyes, and saw a giant metal shield in front of his face. Replicate Girl stood to his side, her hands pressing against her temples.
“Looks like your girlfriend had to save you, wimp” Fire Boy said.
The shield dropped and Billy saw Fire Boy walking away, flames extinguished. He sighed and turned to Replicate Girl. “You saved me.”
“He’s just a bully,” she said.
“Yeah, but he’s right. My power is useless.”
“I don’t think you’re useless.” Replicate Girl stepped forward and held out her hand. She squinted her eyes, and a small, pink flower appeared above her palm.
Billy picked up the flower. “That was amazing,” he said. She smiled at him. Billy thought for a moment. “I wish I could give you something.”
“I don’t mind.”
“Wait, I know.” Billy put his fists to his side and concentrated his thoughts. He lifted his hands up and saw his skin turn pink like the flower.
Replicate Girl smiled. “I knew you weren’t useless.” The bell rang and she leaned in and kissed his cheek. He was stunned. She giggled and ran off toward the school.
Billy stood there rubbing his face.
Replicate Girl stopped at the top of the steps and turned back to Billy. “You’re not blushing are you?” she shouted to him.
Billy looked at his hands, which were now red. “Red is the most popular color,” he shouted.
“It also means love.” She turned and entered the building.
Billy walked back, his skin now changing between the different colors of the rainbow. “Red means love,” he said to himself, and felt a warmth spread through him.