The Uppercut community has been working tirelessly over the past three weeks to begin building the backstories for their Heroes. Over 1000 submissions have been made in the first three weeks, and we're sharing excerpts from six users' submissions, which they shared ahead of our first writing workshop. (Please note, these have not been edited for grammar or spelling.)
My name is Cassidy Harper. At least, that's what they called me anyway. Never did take to it much. I was left over at the Glenn Harper Boarding School when I was about three. No identification, no clothes, just a blanket and a thoroughly chewed teething ring to keep me company while I weep. I do find myself wondering every now and again what it was my mother may had called me when we first met. Or what cute little nickname my father might of given me. But that's neither here nor there. For now, I am Cassidy, but one day, I vow to carve my own identity.
Text response 2: Cassidy feels so formal for someone like me. Just call me Cass, or Ryder if we're friendly...
You know, it often sends me into a whirlwind of emotions when I look, and I mean really look at myself. That’s why I tend to avoid mirrors altogether. But on those rare occasions I happen to glance up and peer into the being reflected back at me, I can’t help but wonder…
Who do my eyes really belong to? My mother maybe? Would make sense I suppose. Can’t picture a man with such soft features peering back at me. Then again, the sharp emeralds embedded between the creases are rather intimidating. So, I guess they could be his.
What about the unruly crop of gold bands upon my head? I can’t stand it really. Took me years to figure out a style that helped me manage it better. A sort of, spikey dread look. Keeps the hair tight. The color could of came from anyone but I am certain the thickness had to of come from her.
My body…now that is something uniquely my own. But I can never seem to pack on the pounds when I want to. Considering I can eat a family feast for three on my own, and still remain sleek, must be something handed down to me. Im not weak by any means, but I would like to bulk up a little bit if my body would only let me.
That’s partially why I decided to cover myself in tattoos actually. Figured it would make me seem a bit more intimidating. Not looking for people to fear me or anything, but at least not treat me like some fragile damsel in destress when they see me out and about. Give off the appearance that I can probably hold my own, and they better not test me.
I don’t know. Getting a bit better about being so hyper critical about all of that but, it’s hard you know? Maybe one day I can look in the mirror, and just be happy to see…me.
Text response 1: I'm honestly surprised at how long I've lasted here. It's no secret that my terrible habits as a troubled youth carried over to my more mature years. Often saw a new job before I could consider a new pair of socks most of the time. But all that changed when Sensei came into my life though; took me in, forced me to look at myself and, well, life in general.
I spent countless hours cleaning the Dojo under him. Somehow found it peaceful. Can't make a living off free labor though, so I gotten this job at the local gym nearby. Still spend a lot of time cleaning and maintaining the equipment, but I also help train some of the patrons that come in. Even have a few regulars. I like it. It's simple, and allows me to think. But I do feel I'm destined to do much more at some point. But for now, I'm grateful for my current situation.
Ryder has had a more difficult start to life. It hasn't necessarily gotten any easier of course, but she wears the scars each experience left with pride. Whenever she feels she needs a reminder of where she came from, who she had been, she traces a finger over each patch of ink to let the pain breathe and tell her story.
Text response 2: This is also why she jumped at the chance to join Uppercut. This was her chance to make the pain make sense. To finally leave a mark that didn't carry a painful memory...a chance to be the person she set out to be.
Fear has never really graced my doorstep before. I guess when you spent a lot of your time alone with the demons in your head, you don't really scare too much. Sure, the occasional creepy crawly makes me a bit squirmy, but that's about it really.
Actually, if im perfectly honest, there is something that keeps me up some nights. To say that I have been careless with my life would be quite the understatement. But there was one time, one time when I came face to face with death that I actually experienced fear for the first time. So much so, I cried. It was odd. It wasn't the first time I'd been in that position or anything either, but it was the first that gave me a good amount of time to sit and really think about the contents of my life. And that's when I realized, it wasn't necessarily the idea of death that scared me, but going out the same way I entered this world. To leave this world without doing something to be remembered, something honorable...to die alone…
You know, it was never my intention to be this sort of, rebel spirit. Lord knows the last thing I ever wanted was to be a statistic. But I guess I had little choice in the matter. Bounced around foster families and in and out of Juvie more times than I could count. And I'm not blaming this on my circumstances or anything like that. No, not at all. At some point, I knew the difference between right and wrong or how I should conduct myself in front of others to be a productive member of society. So I take full responsibility for my more...questionable actions. But there is one, just one, particular moment I can't shake. That I wish I could take back.
Early teen years I got placed in a rather difficult home. Foster mom was nice. Julie was her name. I actually really liked her if I'm honest. But her husband, foster dad, was a nightmare. I won't get into details, but jusy know he made sunply existing a living hell for everyone in that house. And one day I don't know. I just...snapped.
See they had a child of their own in addition to myself. A little boy, half my age. They didn't really understand what was going on half the time, but looked up to me to keep them safe. And, well, I did everything I could to keep him safe. Everything. Foster dad came home drunk one night and put foster mom's head through the coffee table. We, us kids, watched in horror as the battle in the living room raged on. Their son begged me to do something and I grabbed the first thing my hand touched and slammed it across foster dad's head. He was out cold for awhile. Had come to just before the aide car and social services arrived. He blamed me for everything that happened, and I do mean everything. Foster mom didn't protest out of fear, and the little boy well, no one takes children seriously. So I was sent away, again. Did some time in juvie before being rehomed...but I wasn't too far away from that horrid house. All I could think about was that little boy and how scared he was that night...needless to say, I returned to the home one night. Snuck in. Just in time to witness another one of foster dad's tantrums. I ended him that night, right in front of the little boy. His nightmare was over but...I'll never forget how he looked at me. It was the same look he gave his father that night I got sent away. Breaks my heart. Foster mom cleaned me up and sent me on my way. Not before both thanking and apologizing to me for ended her suffering. I don't know what she told the police happened, but I know it wasn't the truth. It's a secret, a burden, the three of us carry to this day
Can I just say, one of the worst things humanity has ever stumbled upon were pickles? Like who in their right mind thought it was not only ok to soak cucumbers way too long in a vinegar bath, but to put it in their mouth after? And that's not even the worst part! That person then had the nerve to say it was delicious and somehow managed to con a lot, and I do mean a lot, of other people into thinking it was as well. Is that not insane? It's become quite the epidemic as well. People put that nonsense on everything now n days. I can't think of a quicker way to put me in a foul mood than to bite into a nice, juicy burger I been craving all day and be met with the foul taste of one of those things that I asked not to be put on there in the first place...even the thought of it has me wanting to put my hand through a wall.
That nonsense aside, we as a species have come up with great things as well. Football, pizza, cheesecake...my newest love is boba tea though. Oh and mochi Donuts. Gosh I can't get enough of them, boba especially. My favorite is actually just a jasmine green tea with tapioca. Oh man, the tapioca. And not that stuff you find in pudding no, but real tapioca. My mouth is drenched just thinking about it. Think I'm going to go have me some, double boba. It's been a long day.
This might sound crazy, no, I know it sounds crazy but...I really do think I have, super powers. Not in the traditional sense but, like the universe bestowed a unique gift upon me for whatever reason. It came to me the other day. Well, I mean, I knew it was a thing for a good while now, but I really had a chance to think and sit with it the other day. Let me explain.
I have a friend, surprising yes I know, but I do, and they aren't in the greatest situation at home to put it lightly. And I don't know what it was, but as I was out for a light jog I suddenly became overwhelmed with, grief. I had no reason for it, but that was the emotion that had taken over me for a bit. I had to sit down and very nearly started to weep. That grief then turned to a more unsettling feeling in my gut. I began to shake and felt sick to my stomach. Next thing I knew, I was up and running again, with purpose this time, and I didn't stop until I was in front of my friend's driveway. It was eerily quiet at that moment, and I had no idea why I was there at first. Heck, from the looks of it, no one was even home. Feeling silly I started walking back home when I felt a car pull up behind me. It wasn't long after that when the aggressive screaming and pleasing commenced. When I returned toy friends driveway, a man had her firmly by the hair, dragging her up to the door step. I hate to think of what may had happened if I wasn't there.
Empaths. That's what they call us. I always thought such a thing was nonsense and situations involving such high levels of "projected" empathy to be mere coincidences. But if I'm honest with myself, and really look back at all the "trouble" I gotten into growing up...I realize that's what often made it hard for me to sleep at night. I'm always channeled in to someone, somewhere. It's a very real ability, both a gift and a curse. You can't just turn it off, or so I think, you just always....are. Forever present in someone else's reality in conjunction to your own. It's a little maddening. And in a way, lonely.
Did you know, it takes about seven days of constant repetition to develop a habit? Wild right? Not entirely sure why that isn't the case when it comes to waking up in the morning, but I digress. When I was adopted by the Dojo I did take the time to develope some healthier habits. You know, to help make this new journey I'm on a but easier. Like each morning, before I do absolutely anything else, I down a glass of luke warm water and just sit for a moment. Completely silent. Letting the liquid trickle down and settle casually in my tummy. It's almost cleansing in a way. You can tell when I hadn't started my day this way, that's for sure. What's that saying? Something about the wrong side of a bed? In any case, it's one of my many self loving habits I've developed over the years.
Of course, old habits die hard as well. I've always been a bit of busy body and lord knows that if I get fixed on something, I'm in real deep. So I tend to forget to nourish myself, often. I've gone days without eating and wouldn't even notice until someone mentions it. Couple that with my nonexistent sleep schedule and you have a recipe for disaster. I feel my sleep patterns got heavily altered when I was with in the home with Foster dad, you know, that whole ordeal. I wouldn't sleep for more than a couple hours at a time then. It's a terrible habit to develop, but I could never seem to break that one. It catches up to me every now and then though. One time, I was cleaning up in the weight room at work and I guess I sort of passed out. It was during a holiday so we were closed, so no one knew. I woke up two days later, dazed, confused. But also a little recharged. Like my body was giving me a sort of thank you for allowing it to rest. I really need to do that more often.
I was obviously too young to attend The Glenn Harper Boarding School when I made my grand entrance. They kept me for a couple years though. Rather nice from what I remember. Not super fancy or anything like they try to play up in movies, but nice. Learned a lot in my short time there. Probably more than any four or five year old if I'm honest. I learned to count shooting dice, the mathematical art of probabilities counting cards in blackjack, and I knew Nirvana's Nevermind album inside and out before I could recite my abcs. I also learned I was really good at making things disappear without anyone knowing.
Eventually, I spent my early years bouncing around the system. Foster family to foster family, juvie...the streets basically raised me. I know that sounds like the start of a villains backstory, but despite it all, I was a good kid actually. When I attended school I did well, fought like hell to get my diploma, eventually, and I was always out trying to help those in need. I don't know. Something about being brought into this world and dropped off with nothing, as a nobody, really set something off within me. And whatever it was just grew stronger as I aged, and I had to teach myself how to manage it properly...that was until I was placed into my my forever home. When I finally found my family, here, in this Dojo. Despite my trail of negativity, they saw Me.
I'm not sure where I'd be if it weren't for this place. At least, that's what I tell myself anyway. I'm pretty sure we all know where I was heading, despite my good intentions. Regardless, that's why I move more gracefully now. I think before I act, I exercise empathy. I walk a more honorable path to carve out the name I feel waits for me.