“What do you mean you haven’t told your parents?”

“They don’t need to know about the tattoos.”

“Inca, yes they do. They could help you. Replica tattoos aren’t just uncommon, they’re supposed to be impossible.” My best friend’s face is somehow scrunched and stretched wide all at once, thoughts racing through their eyes as I blink.

“They’ll tell Grandfather.”

“Maybe he can help.”

“Ah yes, the great dictator of this world is so well known for being helpful.” I roll my eyes and they swat my arm, eyes narrowed to slits and cat-like pupils flared.

“One of these days, someone is going to realize you’re not joking when you say that.”

“But that day is not today, now is it?”

“Maybe it is.”

“That would require me to talk to someone besides you.” This prompts them to huff a sigh, shaking their head before running a hand across their brow. “Moab, you worry too much.”

“Inc, you don’t worry enough. Someone has to compensate. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about the tattoos, you goon.”


“Replicas! They’re replicas! We were in the same class! You know what that means!”

“I wasn’t paying attention, would you remind me?”

“I’ll kill you.” Their voice is harsh but quiet, the words not quite packing the punch Mo probably hoped.

“We both know that’s not true, if you can definitely take me.”

“Don’t flatter me,” Mo casts their eyes over to me and begins walking away. “I’m not going to succumb to that sort of distraction and you know it.”

“Where are you going?” I scamper after them, letting Mo lead me in the direction of their house. And mine.

“Where do you think?”

“If I knew, I wouldn’t have asked.”

This time, Mo seems to blow all the air out of their entire body, the air becoming thick and almost palpable. They duck down a side street and it’s my turn to sigh, but in relief rather than frustration.

“The library.”

“Right,” Mo gives me a glance. “If you won’t talk to your grandfather, at least talk to mine.”

“What if he doesn’t have an answer?”

“When has Apana not had an answer?”

I meet the steady question floating in Moab’s golden irises. “Fair enough, Mo, fair enough.”

Published by K. E. Diller

Young adult attempting to do a million things at once, including write books and follow my dreams.

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