India Ink

Everyone got 2012 wrong. It wasn't an ending--it was a beginning. The supernatural beings that lived in secret for thousands of years began to plan their first televised public outing. The world was about to be shown something that they could have never prepared for.

Johanna Rosas was one of those people. She would have never consciously chose to be apart of something so crazy. Her life was hectic enough. Between dealing with an abusive stepfather and caring for a mother who needed constant babysitting, she wasn't in any position to get involved. But after meeting a boy at a women's shelter one night after her mother was dealt a particularly bad beating, she didn't have a choice.

How will Johanna and the rest of the world react when everything they know is proven wrong?

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2. If Had Known Better

I never want to have babies. At least, that's what I decided after last night. All that work...it just didn't seem worth it. The baby would either grow up and either hate you or resent you for bringing it into such a messed up world. I mean, if my mom would have been more careful then she wouldn't have to worry about staying with an abusive husband just to make ends meet for me. Babies screw everything up.

I went to sit in the hallway when the baby started crying again. I picked at the cheap maroon carpet beneath me, watching the individual hairs give up quickly, surrendering themselves to my grip. I made a neat pile and tried to mold it into an Egyptian pyramid or something else pointless.

Some shouting pulled me out of my reverie. "Get out! Get out now!" I looked around to find the source of the screaming. It was probably a couple who'd gotten into a spat, although I knew it was against the rules to bring in an abusive partner. It was a shelter, for God's sake.

The door across from me opened and someone was forced out of it. I tried to shrink into the wall behind me--an impossible feat since it was stark white.

"Julian?" I asked, opening my eyes wider as if I wasn't sure it was him.

His face was scrunched up in disappointment. "Oh, uh, hi."

Something about this situation was suspicious but I couldn't pinpoint it. "Is your mom really the person you've been seeing?" I asked abruptly. I searched his face for some sign that he was lying.

"Yeah, why would I lie about that?"

I shrugged. "Why does anyone lie about anything?"

He leaned against the wall across from me and kneaded one hand in the palm of his other. He seemed to be avoiding eye contact. "Sometimes people lie for good reasons. To protect the people they love."

"That sounds like something a liar would say."

He sighed loudly, bringing his hands up to his hair and pushing it back forcefully. "Yeah, well, apparently telling the truth is even worse...for some people."

"You know the best way to prepare to tell someone the truth?"

He shifted against the wall, leaning against one shoulder now. "What's that?"

His eyes finally found mine and I grew envious. They were a pretty chocolate color where mine were nearly black. He had those eyelashes that guys didn't care about but girls would kill for. "Tell a stranger first. It's like...practice."

Laughter shook his tense body. "Are you trying to trick me into telling you?"

"I didn't say you had to tell me. Just someone."

He looked down the other end of the hallway. The silence among us was thick--I could almost hear his brain working, like gears in an old-fashion clock. Tick tock, tick tock.

"You wanna go for a walk?" He stood up straight now, waiting for my answer, and stuffed his hands into his jeans.

If I had known better, I wouldn't have gone on a walk with this strange boy. Yesterday, I did know better. I think Carl slapped the common sense right out of me. "Yeah, sure. Let me go tell my mom." 

I walked to my door and leaned my head in. "I'm going out, mom. I'll be back soon." I squeezed my eyes shut for a second, wondering what the hell I was doing, and then backed out.

All I could hear for a good mile was the sound of his boots thudding against the concrete. It surprised me that he was wearing boots at all. All I ever see boys wear is sneakers, typically with holes in them. 

I tried to ignore the awkwardness by reading some of the graffiti on the walls of the buildings around me, even though I had already seen them hundreds of times. "So, do you live around here?" he asked finally. 

I was glad to have something to fill the uncomfortable silence. "Yeah, I live a few miles away from the shelter actually. It's really convenient..."

He smiled. "My mom said the same thing once..."

A car zoomed by and the force of the wind that it carried hit us with an icy chill. The thought that I had the night before about staying away from him seemed silly now. How could I think there was something off about him? I liked him--he didn't look at me with pity in his eyes after hearing that I was abused. It was refreshing.

When I noticed where we were, I immediately took back that thought. We were in the park that my mom always made me promise I would stay away from. It was notorious for the amount of drug deals that happened within. "Are you trying to tell me that you're a drug dealer?" I asked, stopping abruptly in my tracks.

He began to laugh but after seeing my expression, he backtracked. "No, no. I'm not a drug dealer! Jeez, how little do you think of me?"

I felt heat tickle my face. "Wow, how embarrassing..."

"It's fine." There was that smile again. He seemed to do it a little more than often.

"Why are we here then?"

"Because I like it here."

I looked around at the park. There were empty McDonald's cups, wrappers, and even a dirty diaper on the ground next to an overturned trash can. The playground was always deserted and it too was littered with debris. "I'm starting to question your sanity."

We started walking again. "I'd be questioning your's if you weren't."

Julian sat down on a bench. It was almost void of paint, save a few pieces that were only just hanging on. I joined him and took it upon myself to get rid of the rest of the old blue paint. "So, what's your story Julian?"

He let out a heavy breath. "The short story is, my dad's on heroin, my mom stays in that shelter a lot, and I work in a car garage to pay the bills. Not very interesting. What about you?"

"Much of the same. I don't exactly remember my dad. He left when I was little. My step dad is insane. He drinks a lot and, blah, blah, blah." I waved my hand to show just how irrelevant it all was--even if that wasn't true. "Are you ever going to tell me that secret?"

"I never said I would tell you."

I narrowed my eyes at him. "Are you serious?"

A gush a wind blew our hair around. I could still smell the car oil on him but it was less distinctive and mixed with a musky scent. "Okay, well...something happened to me a few years ago... It was really...complicated but I ended up with a--a new group of friends. My mom's been accusing me of all kinds of stuff since then. I just can't tell her what really happened."

"Well, what did happen?"

He sighed for the third time that day. Something was obviously weighing him down, but at the same time, there was an excitement in his eyes. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"I will!"

"No, you won't." He crossed his arms over his chest.

I groaned. "I can't believe I came all the way out here for this!"

There was silence for a few moments. "We should probably get back. It'll be dark soon." He got up and started walking, leaving me on the bench. Maybe I was too harsh?

I got up to follow him but I made sure to stay a few feet away. He obviously didn't want to talk to me anymore and I wasn't sure that I blamed him. I put my hands in my jacket and watched my feet, focusing in on the sound of my steps.

After while, I looked up at Julian's retreating back. His shoulders were broad--I could imagine the muscles that lay underneath his black jacket. "No, stop it," I mumbled to myself, not loud enough for him to hear.

Suddenly, I heard footsteps behind me. My heart raced as I realized that we had just passed an alley. I always made a point to stay away from people who spent their time in alleys. I picked up the pace, consciously making myself look at Julian's back. I felt safer like that--safer knowing someone was with me. Maybe I should stop him so I could walk with him.

Just as I opened my mouth to call his name, I felt hot fingers close over my mouth.

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