A grocery store may not be place where you’d expect to find a super-heroine, but here she is, Sally Blevins a.k.a. Skids of the New Mutants, taking her turn to do the shopping for her team. ‘Darn! Why do they always put the kind I want where it’s so hard to reach!’ Sally thinks to herself as she stands on her toes, reaching up to the top shelf to take a can. ‘Oh no!’ Sally thinks, as several other cans on the top shelf fall towards her. She extends her mutant force field, so the cans don’t hurt her, they just bounce off her field and clang to the ground with a lot of noise. ‘Sometimes it helps to have a deflector field’ Sally tells herself.
Sally puts her basket of groceries down and starts to pick the fallen cans up, when she notices a frazzled woman push a cart down the aisle, a baby sitting in the front of the cart, crying, while a girl of about 6 or 7 years old holds up a box of cereal, and a boy of about 3 or 4 follows his mother, clutching at her skirt. ‘Aaron, hush! Jimmy, Stop!’ the woman calls out, while the girl tries to put the cereal in the cart. ‘Mom it’s coco-monsters cereal! I need it, Mom! Sara Wilson’s mom lets her have it. Can we get it, please?’ the girl asks, while Aaron the baby screams some more, and Jimmy tells his mother that he wants to go the other way. Sally continues to watch and thinks to herself that it looks like being a super-heroine is sometimes easier than being a mom.
‘No!’ the woman snaps at her daughter, ‘Didn’t I tell you we weren’t buying that junk? You can’t have everything you see on TV… or everything Sara has either!’ the woman tells her daughter, instructing her to put the cereal back on the shelf and shut up so they can get out of here. ‘We’re running late already’ she mutters. The girl claims that Jimmy wants coco-monsters, too, and waves the box in front of her brother, ‘Don’t you, Jimmy?’ she calls out. Her brother Jimmy cries out ‘Gimmie, gimmie! Mommy, Sara won’t gimmie!’ as Sara dances about with the cereal. The woman tells her daughter to stop teasing her brother and put it back.
As she puts the last of the cans back on the shelf, Skids decides that those kids are pretty wound up, and acting wild. She wonders how their mother will get them to calm down, realizing that Sara doesn’t even seem to hear her. The woman grabs Jimmy by his wrist, ‘Stop it!’ she snaps, while ordering Sara to stop dancing about and put the cereal back before she knocks something over. Sara ignores her mother, and continues to tease Jimmy, ‘They’re mine, you can’t have any, nananananana!’ she taunts, but Jimmy pushes forward and falls into Sara, both of them falling into a display of boxes of laundry detergent. ‘Oh… no!’ Sara utters as the display topples around them. On the ground, Jimmy calls out to his mother and tells her that Sara hit him with the boxes. ‘I did not, you little brat! It was an accident’ Sara replies, smacking her brother on the head.
‘Accident - ha! I told you to stop!’ the woman shouts, grabbing Sara by her arm, she pulls her daughter closer towards her, ‘Now you’re gonna get it, kid, but good…’ the woman threatens, while a wide-eyed, saddened Skids looks on. ‘No. she can’t hit her - I know how much it can hurt’ Skids thinks to herself, as her mind wanders back - she has good reason to know, for back when she was a kid, the lesson was slammed into her every day.
‘You’re gonna get it, you brat! You’re gonna get it good!’ Bill Blevins shouted as he loomed over his defenseless daughter. But this time, things are different, ‘No. please don’t hit me again, Daddy. Please’ Sally calls out as she holds her arms up around her face - but Bill’s face doesn’t reach Sally, instead, it just stops, deflected by a force field. ‘What trick is this, you little witch? You’re some kind of monster!’ Bill calls his daughter, as he attempts another punch. Bill is wrong though, even if his beatings do make Sally feel like a monster inside, both unaware that she is in fact a mutant, born with the power to create a protective field around her body - with one problem. ‘I can’t get it off. It keeps me safe like armor. But it won’t shut off!’ Sally calls out.
Sally remembers that she was trapped like that for years, cut off from everyone until a friend helped her lower her armor and care about people again. ‘Now I fight injustice. And if I know one thing it’s that… children aren’t for hitting!’ Sally calls out as she moves forward and grabs Sara, extending her own protective field around the girl, before her mother can slap her. ‘What?’ the woman gasps as she looks at her hand. ‘Mom… your hand just bounced off me’ Sara calls out.
‘My power worked that time, but I can’t stand here forever’ Sally tells herself. She knows that Sara needs protection and that her mother needs help. Skids decides that a different approach will work better.
Skids drops the force field, and extends her hand to Sara’s mother, introducing herself as Skids of the New Mutants. The confused mother shakes Skids’ hand and replies ‘I… I’ve seen you on TV’. Skids remarks that she knows how tough it can be shopping with kids, and how embarrassing it can be to have things topple at the market, and asks if she can help. Skids starts to pick up some boxes of detergent and suggests that Sara and Jimmy help her restack the boxes, while the woman finishes her shopping. The woman doesn’t respond, she just carries on down the aisle, while Sara and Jimmy start to pick up the boxes, and Sara asks Skids why she did that, why she protected her.
‘Because I don’t think that parents should hit their children’ Skids announces, adding that she knows from personal experience how much it can hurt. ‘You do?’ Sara asks, surprised, while remarking that her mom says she doesn’t listen, that hitting is the only way to make kids mind. ‘She smacks us all the time. She says it’s because she loves us’ Sara explains. Jimmy is about to throw a box of detergent to the ground, when Sara grabs it from him, ‘Jimmy! No!’ she exclaims, while raising a hand to smack her brother, but Sally grabs the girl’s arm, ‘Stop and think. You sad your mom hits you’ Sally reminds her. ‘Sure. A lot’ Sara replies. ‘And does it work? Does it make you behave?’ Skids asks. Sara replies that it doesn’t, or she wouldn’t have to keep doing it. ‘It just makes me feel bad’ she explains.
‘So it doesn’t do any good for me to hit Jimmy, either, huh? It makes him feel bad, too’ Sara realizes. ‘He’s got the same right to be free from harm as you do’ Skids tells the girl. ‘Then I don’t get it’ Sara remarks as she stacks the display of detergent. ‘My mom says she loves me and she made me this dress and she gave me a really nice birthday party… so why does she want to hurt me?’ the girl asks. Sally tells Sara that it is confusing, she knows. ‘And it’s good that you told me, Sara. If a kid gets hit a lot, she should tell someone, until she finds someone who can help her’ Skids explains.
When the detergent display is restacked, Sally holds Sara and Jimmy by their hands and walks with them to find their mom, while suggesting that their mom wouldn’t hit them if she knew how bad it made them feel. ‘Did you ever tell them?’ she asks. ‘No’ Sara replies, so Skids offers to be here beside them while they do. The woman pushes the grocery cart towards Skids and thanks her for helping. ‘Most of the time I’m okay, but sometimes when they’re yelling and nagging at me. I… I just lose it’ she admits. The woman kneels down so she is at the same level as her children, as Sara tells her mom that when she hits them, it makes them feel really crummy inside. ‘So why do you hit us?’ she asks.
‘I don’t like to hit you, Sara, but I don’t know how else to make you behave’ their mother tells them. ‘But, mom, it doesn’t make us behave. It only makes us feel bad and mean’ Sara replies. Everyone carries on down the aisle of the grocery store, and Skids, still holding the children by their hands, tells the mother that she knows they are a handful, and that making them listen to her can be a problem, that it is a problem a lot of parents have. Skids informs the mother that lots of local groups have classes in parenting, and that they have lots of ideas that parents can use to help children behave well, ways that don’t involve hitting.
The woman looks down at Aaron who is asleep in the cart and announces that she would love to take one of those classes, that sometimes she feels like she is at the end of her rope with these kids. ‘I could use some new ideas’ she admits. ‘Me too!’ Sara calls out. ‘Me… too!’ Jimmy utters. The woman asks how she can do that, as her husband works nights, and she has to watch the kids during the day - so who could watch them? ‘Skids will, Mommy. She’s my new friend. She’ll help’ Sara smiles, looking at Skids, who replies that she could for a while - that’s what friends are for.