For part one (WHICH YOU SHOULD READ FIRST---PLEASE) click here.
Eyes fluttering open, I tried to understand where I was. What was happening? And why I was even in bed in the first place. As I searched the room, everything became a blur.
Taking a deep breath, I tried to recall the last thing I remember.
I was sitting at the table when I fell off my chair. I was screaming in pain, as my body turned red, and a burning feeling came over me. And then…...and then….I blacked out. Groaning, I looked around, as everything started to still. I could make out chairs across the room, and a painting on the wall. Looking down, I noticed I was wearing a blue nightgown, and my arms and legs were connected with tubes.
I tried to hold back a scream.
Then, I heard a loud screeching noise.
“Maisel, calm down, please! Everything will be fine!” A voice said.
Turning, I tried to figure out who spoke, but the screeching noise distracted.
“Make it stop! Make it stop!” I cried, trying to cover my ears. Unable to, I felt something grab one of my hands, the weight keeping it down.
“You need to calm down, Maisel. Your heart rate is accelerating to an abnormal rate. That’s why the machine’s so loud,” The voice said again.
Nodding, I tried to take a deep breath, but my chest felt tight. Then, as if things couldn’t get worse, the burning came again.
Opening my eyes, I felt something cold against my skin.
“Masiel, honey, are you awake?” A voice called. This one was softer than the other one.
“Yes,” I croaked, not realizing I had blacked out again. Suddenly, I felt a hand on my cheek.
“Darling, are you alright? Do you need anything? Does something hurt?” The voice asked softly. Turning to face the person talking, I realized it was Mom.
Without even saying anything, I knew Mom hadn’t slept in days. Her dark brown hair, with grey streaks, was pulled back in a messy bun, that threatened to fall down. Her ocean blue eyes seemed slightly darker than normal, and she had deep purple bags under her eyes, it looked like someone had punched her.
“I’m fine,” I say, finding my voice. “Mom, what happened?”
“I think you should get some rest, the doctor will be back soon,” Mom said, avoiding the question.
That’s when I realized something. The bed I was in, was far too comfortable to be a hospital bed. Scanning the room, I realized I was in my room. Only, it had everything a hospital room needed, from tubes and hoses, to the heart rate monitor.
“Mom, what’s going on? Why am I here and not at the hospital?”
“Please, Maisel, not no-”
“Where’s Oscar?” I interrupt, knowing Mom wasn’t going to tell me anything. As if he heard me, Oscar walked into the room, Gwen right behind him.
Oscar came in carrying a plate full of food, and from here I sound smell the sweet smell of chocolate chip pancakes. Glancing in my direction, Oscar gave me a quick wink before going over to talk to Mom. Gwen was looking down at her phone, and from the way her eyebrows scrunched together, I could tell something was happening-and it wasn’t good.
After a few minutes of nervous whispering between Mom and Oscar, and complete silence from Gwen, Mom finally left with one last look in my direction. Coming over, Oscar set the plate of food in front of me, and pulled over my desk chair, sitting on it backward.
“So, how’s sixteen treating you so far?” Oscar snickered, drumming his fingers on the back of his chair.
“Not funny,” I frown, picking up a pancake. As I began pulling it apart, I heard Gwen sigh. “What’s wrong with her?”
“Last time I checked, you’re the one hooked up to hospital gear,” Oscar laughed, before giving Gwen a nervous look.
“I’m too tired for jokes,” I groan, taking a bite of my pancake.
“Alright, well she and Matthew got into an argument two days ago, and she’s been like this ever since.”
“Uhm, I see. And, what about me? Mom kept avoiding the answer, and giving me a weird look.”
“Well, Maisel, that’s a tough one. After you blacked out, Gwen and I rushed you to the hospital and called Mom on the way. You were in there for about two hours before Mom came and picked us all up. She started acting crazy, Maisel. Not like normal Mom crazy, but yelling and screaming. Arguing with the doctors, claiming we had to get you out of there. Then, when we got to the car, she called some friend of hers that was a doctor and they set you up in your room.”
“Why was she so upset you brought me to the hospital?”
“Just to have you be here with a doctor?” Oscar continued, shrugging, “I have no idea, but whatever Mom’s thinking has her spooked. She hasn’t acted like this since Dad died.”
Nodding, my eyes shifted over to Gwen, and the way she held her phone to her ear. Her blue eyes seemed clouded, and her eyebrows still tried to meet in the middle. That’s when I noticed the tear forming in the corner of her eyes. Feeling my gaze on he, Gwen shot me a look before moving out.
“I think I should go after her,” Oscar started, standing up.
“Don’t,” I sigh, grabbing his hand. “She needs to do this al-”
Suddenly something bright flashed, blinding me. For a second it seemed like the sun was in the room, and I could see nothing but light. Slowly, the light dimmed, but I wasn’t in my room anymore. The first thing I noticed-or more of heard- was the sound of waves crashing into the sand. The ocean glistened, as the sun sat on the horizon, slowly coming out. The waves seemed to have more energy than anything else this early in the morning, yet it still looked beautiful. The beach was empty except for three people who stood watching the waves. Two held surfboards in their hands, the other one had a camera hanging from their shoulder. “Come on Ally! Too late to chicken out now!” The girl with the camera shouted, pushing one of the girls with a surfboard-Ally. “Shut up, Hannah! You’re not the one surfing at the crack of dawn when the waves are the most intense!” Ally yelled back, making her way toward the waves. “She’s taking the photos, Ally. Calm down,” the other girl said. From here I could see that Ally had bright red hair that was pulled back in a ponytail, that displayed her curls wonderfully. Light freckles decorated her face, and her green eyes seemed to shine with excitement. Hannah had dyed silver hair, that fell past her shoulder, and went halfway down her back. She had makeup on that gave her natural look, and made her brown eyes pop. Lastly was the girl I didn’t know the name to, who had her surfboard standing up in the sand. Her blonde hair was cut in a pixie cut, and her eyes were shocking pale purple. It wasn’t until Ally shouted at her, did I figure out her name- Lindsey. Turning around, Lindsey saw Ally running toward the waves, and after a small chuckle, followed her. Ally and Lindsey surfed for hours, as Hannah stood on the sand taking photos. The three of them would exchange laughs and giggles, yelling at each other over the sound of crashing waves. It wasn’t until Ally lifted her hand in the air to wave at the camera did it see it-the wolf mark on her wrist that matched Oscar’s. “Maisel, please!” A voice begged, shaking me.
Groaning, I shook my head and focused on Oscar who was holding me by the shoulders, tears forming in his eyes.
“Stop, Oscar. It hurts,” I say, placing my hands over his.
“What happen!? You nearly gave me a heart attack! One minute you were talking to me about Gwen, then you were…..gone,” He shouted, his voice ringing in my ears.
“So loud,” I whine, motioning for him to slow down. “What were you saying?”
“You just stopped, it was like something happened. Your eyes turned grey, and your skin paled, Maisel. And you kept saying stuff under your breath. Are you alright?”
Nodding, I ran my hand through my hair, feeling each knot my fingers tugged at.
“I know who your soulmate is,” I say suddenly, instantly regretting it as I see Gwen peek out from behind Oscar.
The same moment Oscar registered my answer, was the same moment Gwen’s face paled into a sickly color. Both of their eyes met, and it seemed like a slight exchange crossed between them, ending in his brown eyes to darken in anger, and Gwen’s to shine in guilt.
Gwen knew who it was too.
Suddenly, three things happened at once. Oscar and Gwen began arguing, making Gwen cry. Mom burst into the room with Grandma trailing behind her. And Gwen backed into my bed, her arm brushing against mine.
The light came again, only this time, a little less bright. But I was still blinded by it. And once it faded away, I wasn’t in my room, nor the beach, but at someone's house. Recognizing Matthew, I watched as he rubbed his damp hair with a towel, wearing only a pair of basketball shorts. His face was scrunched up, and he slouched. Anger rolled off him in waves. Then, I noticed the same quote in the same spot as Gwen. The small bit of doubt I had before was gone, he truly was her soulmate. This time when I regained my focus, the room was quiet. The only other person in my room was Grandma, who sat flipping through one of her sewing magazines. Feeling my gaze on her, Grandma looked up, a small smile playing on her lips.
“My Maisy-Daisy,” She said, setting her magazine down, “You’re not looking quite yourself.”
“Hi Grandma,” I shrugged laying back down. I had officially given up trying to make sense of anything.
“That’s it? No questions? Come on deary, that’s not you.”
“I’ve come to realize nothing in my life makes sense, so-why try?”
“You’re starting to sound like those teenagers on those stupid shows kids watch nowadays.”
Shrugging, I reached for the remote that sat on my end table. As I turned on the tv, Grandma had gotten up and walked over. She stood at the side of my bed. As she went to touch my arm, I jerked my hand away.
“Please don’t touch me!” I shout, suddenly feeling embarrassed when I realized what happen. “Sorry, it’s just every time someone had touched me, I keep….blacking out.”
“Interesting….” Grandma murmured, clasping her hands together. “And, you only back out? Or do you see things?”
“I, well, it’s hard to explain. They’re like memories, but I don’t remember ever experiencing them. Or even being there, for that matter.” Deciding on Gilmore Girls, I placed the tv remote back on the end table.
“Do you notice anything about the ‘memories’? Or, does something stand out?” Grandma kept asking. Glancing at her, I noticed that her innocent, sweet, grandma look was gone, and was replaced with her serious one. Her grey eyes seem to darken, and her eyebrows were raised. But what stood out the most was the way she messed with her bracelet on her wrist. She never fiddled with jewelry.
“Grandma, what’s going on? Do you know something?” I question, raising my eyebrows.
“I know lots of things, Maisy-Daisy,” She answered, but the sweetness in her voice sounded fake. Sounded forced.
“Oh alright, it’s about time you found out,” She waved, going back to her chair. Before she sat down, I heard her mutter, “We should’ve told you earlier, but your Mother said ‘no, no, it won’t happen’.”
“Grandma,” I say again, turning the volume down on the tv.
“Maisel, do you remember when your grandfather died? Do you remember anything about him?”
“Not really, I was only eight. But I do remember all the marks he was covered with. It was like he had a lot of marks. Which I thought was weird because you only had one…..” I trail off, “Why?”
“Every time your grandfather helped someone find their soulmate, the marks of those people would show up on him. It was like a gift, so he could always remember how and who he helped people. You see, your grandfather started off like you are now. The feeling of being burned ran all along his skin, and every time someone touched him, he visioned their soulmate. However, over time, he was able to control t, and used it to help others. Historically, people like him were called ‘Stained’, because in a sense, after years of uniting people, their bodies would be stained with ink. Spiritually, they were called ‘Markers’ because in that sense, they controlled the power of the marks. Helping each mark find another. But, lately, people call them ‘Ruiners’ or ‘Cursed ones’ because many are losing faith in the marks. What you chose to call yourself, is up to you, but you are one of them Maisel.”
When grandma was done explaining, I realized my mouth hung open, and my hands still clenched the remote. Relaxing, I dropped the remote, and closed my mouth. It took a minute for the words to sink in, but it seemed like my brain still couldn't grasp it all. The ‘Stained’ and ‘Markers’ were legends we learned about in school. No one’s heard of them for decades, so the belief started to fade with the relevance.
“What about my mark?” I squeak.
Grandma’s face fell, and I could tell from the way she tried to hide it that whatever she was about to say, would haunt me. That whatever happened next, would define the rest of my life. And I couldn’t have been more right.
“You don’t have one,” She whispered.