by Martin Maenza
Arisia wiped her tears after a moment. “Oh, Dawn, you probably think me such a fool! To get upset over something that might not even happen.”
“Not at all,” Dawn Granger said. “After hearing all that, it makes perfect sense why you’d want to distance yourselves from the rest of the Green Lanterns right now.” She rose from the couch to turn down the water. She then opened a box of pasta and threw it in.
Arisia blew her nose. “It’s just that it’s so hard to see Hal right now,” she said. “Every time I look at him or even see him on the news, I hear Kyle’s words again, and I lose it. I don’t want to believe something like that could ever happen, but it’s hard to get out of my head, you know?”
“Yes, I do,” Dawn said as she returned to the couch. “Listen, I know that took a lot out of you to share, but I think that helped you some. It isn’t good to keep things bottled up, you know.”
“For sure,” Arisia said. “I appreciate your ear. If I can ever do the same…”
Dawn nodded. “Well, perhaps you can. Let me tell you about something that happened to me recently. I’ve wanted to tell someone about it, but it’s kind of complicated. I’m not sure how the others on the team would take it.”
Arisia blinked. “What is it, Dawn?”
Dawn bit her lip. “Well, I had a very strange visitor one night a few weeks back.”
“I guess I could tell you about it, in part because you really didn’t know him,” Dawn said. She looked Arisia square in the eye. “Now, this might sound totally off the wall, but I swear it’s true.”
Arisia’s eyes grew wide in anticipation of Dawn’s tale.
It was a nice evening with a cool breeze blowing in from the Pacific. The window to the fire escape outside of Dawn’s apartment was slightly open. It was after midnight, and she should have been heading for bed, but one of her physics problems had her stumped.
“Come on, you can get this,” Dawn told herself aloud.
Suddenly, there was a slight rapping on the window.
Dawn stopped working for a second and listened. Nothing. “Must be hearing things,” she said.
Then there was another gentle tap on the window, almost like someone would rap on a door.
Dawn whirled around quickly. The curtain was blowing gently in the breeze, so she couldn’t make out whether there was something or someone outside. Just in case, she reached for the baseball bat she kept for safety. Her mother insisted on it, even though bats were not her style.
Dawn approached the window and quickly pulled back the curtain.
There was no one there.
That’s weird, Dawn thought. She raised the window carefully, enough to get a look out. The fire escape was empty. Not even a bird or a small squirrel or anything. “Definitely weird.” She closed the window and locked it, and then she drew the curtains.
She turned back to her studies and let out a loud gasp. The baseball bat dropped from her hand and clattered to the floor.
“I hope you don’t mind,” said a gentle male voice. “I let myself in.”
Dawn’s jaw dropped as she stared at the costumed man before her. The body suit was a light blue and was accessorized by white gloves, trunks, and boots. The half-cape that draped from his shoulders was also white, as was the mask on his face. It was a variation of a costume that she was very familiar with. “You?” she asked in amazement.
“Hello, Dawn,” the visitor said. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“You…” the young woman said, trying to form a cohesive thought. “But how? You’re dead, if it is you.”
“It is me,” the costumed young man said. “I’m Don Hall, Hank’s brother… the original Dove. I’m sure this is all rather disorienting to you. If the shoes were reversed, I’d probably be reacting the same way.”
“But you’re dead,” she said. Then she reached out cautiously to touch him, to see if it was an illusion or a figment of her imagination. The hand she grasped was firm and solid. “You’re not dead?”
Don laughed. “Oh, I think it’s safe to say I’m still dead, or at least I will go back to being that way. That’s what the woman told me, anyway.”
“Woman? What woman?”
“That’s the odd part. She called herself Green Lantern, but she didn’t look like any Green Lantern I’d ever met. She wore a long, hooded cape of dark green with black symbols along the trim. And in her hand, she carried a curved hook of a wooden staff with a Chinese lantern hanging from the end. The lantern glowed with green light, so I guess that’s how she derived her name.
“She said she wasn’t from our world and wouldn’t be able to be here for very long, but she was compelled to visit my grave. She claimed that she was put on the Earth to give the dead one last wish, to allow them to rise up from their graves to perform one final task so they might lie peacefully in their final resting place.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: For the story of how this Green Lantern appears on Earth-1, see Justice League of America: Off on a Tangent.]
Dawn shook her head. “You’re putting me on, right?”
“I wish I was, Dawn,” Dove said as he sat down on the couch. He motioned for Dawn to join him there, and she did so after hesitating. “Truth is, I thought I was resting rather peacefully before this Green Lantern showed up. But now that I think about it, I guess there was something I needed to do, after all.”
“I needed to talk to you, Dawn.”
The young woman looked at the visitor blankly, then blinked twice. “Me? Why me? Is it because I’m the reason you were killed?”
“You’re the reason I was killed?” Dove asked incredulously, then shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. I seem to remember dying while saving some children during the Crisis. You weren’t anywhere around. I’d have remembered someone as pretty as you.”
The young woman blushed at the compliment. “But I received my powers on the exact same night that you died,” Dawn said. “I was in London. My mother was in danger, and then I heard the voice.”
“Ah, yes,” Dove said leaning back. “The mysterious voice that gave us our powers. Like my brother, I guess I never really stopped to wonder where our powers really came from or why we were chosen to have them. We just used them the best we could and hoped our luck wouldn’t run out before we could finish helping folks. Back in those days, we just kind of went with the flow, you know?”
Dove sat back up. “But I’m not really here to speculate about the past. None of that can be changed, anyway. I know my time is limited, and there were a few things I wanted to say to you.”
“I hate to sound like a broken record,” Dawn said, “but I need to ask again — why me?”
Dove laughed. It was a sweet, gentle laugh. “You’ve known my brother for a while now, and I think you have a good handle on him. Can you imagine if I appeared to Hank? There’s no telling how he’d react, exactly.”
Dawn nodded. “Good point.”
Dove stood up. “Dawn, I chose to come see you for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’ve been watching from, you know, out there.” He gestured by slightly tilting his head to the side. “I thought maybe you might need a guardian angel or something, but you don’t. You’re quite an impressive young lady. Even though we both experienced the same powers as Dove, you can do so much more with it.
“See, I think my problem was that I held back because of my older brother. I looked up to Hank in a lot of ways, many he didn’t understand. We were so different, though, and I wanted so much for him to be like me in some ways, too. I guess I didn’t explore my own strengths and spread my own wings because I lived under his shadow. That was a hard way to grow up.”
“Hank respected you a lot more than you knew,” Dawn said. “And he loved you, too. I can tell by the way he talks about you.”
Dove smiled. “That’s good to hear. We both had grown apart some after high school. Hank enlisted in the navy, and I went off to college. We worked together a couple times during those years, but the hero gig took a back seat while we got on with our lives. We had spent so much time together that it was time for us to explore who we were as individuals.”
Dawn stood up and put her arm about his shoulder. “We tend to miss what we take for granted when it’s no longer there,” she said.
Dove nodded. “True, true. But back to why I’m here.” He stepped back a bit. “I guess I also wanted to thank you in advance for all you’re doing. Not just for taking over as Dove, but for what you’re doing for Hank. He was losing his way for a while after I was gone, giving in to darker things. But I think your presence in his life is a positive one. I think he’ll appreciate things more now, thanks to you.”
“I don’t know about all that,” Dawn said.
Dove took her by the shoulders and looked her in the eye. “Don’t ever doubt yourself, Dawn,” he said. “You are so full of potential. You can succeed as long as you try.” He leaned forward and gently kissed her on the forehead. His lips were cool to the touch. “Just remember that, okay?”
Dawn finished relating her story to Arisia. “And with that, he just sort of vanished into thin air.”
“Wow!” Arisia exclaimed. “That’s so wild. So, you think it was actually him?”
Dawn nodded. “I kind of wondered that myself, but looking back on it, I am pretty sure it was. I know I wasn’t in any danger. I sort of have a sense for that. I can’t really become Dove, anyway, without there being some sort of danger or threat. I didn’t feel any threat that night, so I know it wasn’t someone trying to pull something on me.”
“Wow,” Arisia repeated herself as Dawn handed her a plate of the pasta salad she was preparing while she told her tale. “I can see why you were reluctant to tell any of the others, especially Hank.”
Dawn fixed herself a plate. “Exactly. I know Hank would probably take it really hard. And the others — Mal, Karen, and Charley — all worked with the first Dove. Though not as strong as Hank, they have some emotional attachment as well. I guess that’s why his spirit came to me that night.”
Arisia sat down and picked up her fork. Dawn joined her at the table. “Well, you said earlier you have an eye for things,” Arisia reminded her. “Maybe that’s why he came to you that night, because you have an open mind and can take in things in such a way.”
“I guess you’re right,” Dawn said. “Thanks for letting me share that with you. I appreciate your keeping it between us.”
“Mum’s the word,” Arisia said as she took a mouthful. She chewed then swallowed. “Or should I say mmms the word. This pasta salad is delicious!”
“Thanks,” Dawn said. And so the two young heroines were on the road to becoming good friends.