As She continued on in this existence, those feelings slowly faded into a hollow numbness. She stopped reaching out to her new neighbors in the government housing project She’d been forced into. All communication with her sister stopped; She no longer had the funds to pay for her family’s attention.
She didn’t leave much of a mark. In her apartment were a hospital bed, a creaking wheelchair, a television, and a third-hand computer on a couple of crates. And She had a shoe box with some of her father’s army mementos. The curtains and window shades were there when She moved in.
The only time she used her computer was to order groceries and prescription refills for Friday deliveries. The television was on just to drown out the sounds of children playing outside, especially when she could hear one of them shout, “Give up, Galactor goons!” Too many things reminded her of what had been crushed out of her. But She found She also had to be careful when the news was on; more and more often there would be footage of public events where a group of people would stand up or step forward, rip off their disguises in unison, and reveal themselves as Galactor henchmen. And then She'd remember. And then She'd cry until She was ill.
The day finally came when the town council decided to have a ceremony marking the fact that the rubble had finally been cleared away and rebuilding was about to begin. It was part healing, part defiance to Galactor. Everyone, especially the survivors, were invited to the amphitheater.
For once, she was going somewhere other than a doctor’s office.
The last time She was in that part of town was . . . how long ago? She was running beside Chris as he made his kite rise in the air.
"One of the aides from the other classes really liked it." he said after he stopped running, "She said she wouldn't be surprised if she saw Gatchaman himself inside!"
"I knew you'd do great!" She replied.
"But it only got Third Place."
"Out of the whole school! And the two kites ahead of yours were from eighth graders. Just think how the other kids five years older than you must've felt when your kite beat theirs!"
"I didn't think of it like that."
"Now, you'd better be careful -- if that kite goes too high, you might hit the real God Phoenix!"
She had to beat down more memories as the wheelchair lift hoisted her onto the bus; several neighborhood kids were running around with bath towels tied around their necks, chasing after several other kids wearing green and carrying toy rifles. She tried to take comfort in the feel of the army memento in her jacket pocket.
The amphitheater was on the edge of town, between the flood wall and the river bank. She chose to stay on the walkway on top of the flood wall. Every few yards was a security guard with a high-powered rifle. They gave her the same regard as everyone else did.
The view of the amphitheater with the sun-kissed river behind it and a few barges slowly floating by made her forget her pain for a moment.
A movement to her right caught her attention. A security guard was struggling to take off his shirt while holding on to his rifle. She then noticed the green uniform underneath. He wasn't as coordinated as the clips on tv. . .
Even better, she thought. She pulled the pistol out of her jacket pocket, closed her eyes, and pulled the trigger. She didn't have to hit any one . . .
She knew her chair had tipped over and she fell out. She was sure she’d been hit by gunfire, but she couldn’t tell the new pains from the old. She closed her eyes, and She heard screaming in the distance.
And She saw it again – the sparks that came from the saw cutting through the car frame. The glimpse of sky as She was pulled out of the wreckage. The huge, brown metal claw that had utterly flattened the rest of the car. Part of Christopher’s school bag hanging out of what was a window.
She heard a boy’s voice, but it seemed as though he was talking to her through a cotton-lined air duct.
Marie opened her eyes, and saw the boy’s face behind a yellow visor. She couldn’t make out what he was saying, though the concern was evident.
“Sorry,” Marie said, “I thought you were Chris. . .”