Garnet stumbled into the house, trying to calm her heartbeat and her breathing before her mother heard her. She wanted to forget everything that had happened, from Mark's attack to her own reaction the the blood in the alley. Maybe especially the blood in the alley. She didn't want to think about just what her reaction might mean. All she wanted was to just relax, have a bath, and sleep.
Sweet oblivion, however, was not to be hers. Not yet anyway.
"Garnet? Is that you? Where have you been?" The rapid fire of questions were, of course, not really meant to be answered. Clearly Garnet's mother was still awake and the girl winced, shoulders slumping for a moment as she stood hidden from her mother before taking a deep breath, pasting a smile on her face, and trying to think of an explanation for the dirt on her clothes.
"Hi Mom. Sorry. I ran into a friend on the way home." That was one way of saying it, although not a truthful one. Mark wasn't a "friend" and she didn't run into him so much as he cornered her.
Thinking about it she had to work hard to keep it from showing on her face. She'd never been good at hiding how she felt although she should have been, considering how much practice she had. Always seeking to play the part that everyone else was certain she should be pleased to be cast in; inside wondering if it was a mistake, always looking for something else.
"Oh?" Her mother was distracted and didn't look up right away as Garnet came into the room where her mother sat reading a book, something light where there was always a happy ending, no one was ever frightened, and the world was sweet and bright. Garnet thought back to her evening, and was glad for the shadows, for the dark places where she could see the stars, where she could hide the part of her that wanted more.
When her mother did finally look up her eyes widened. "Oh, honey, are you okay? What happened? What on earth did you do to your sweater?" In her mother's world, there was no attempted rape, no attacks by boys from school plotted into her life course. There was no room for sticking her fingers into a pool of blood.
Garnet cleared her throat, looking down at herself and trying not to favour her arm as she brushed some more of the dirt off, mostly just smearing it around. "Umm, I tripped. It was stupid. I'm fine though. I'll just throw these clothes in the laundry...," Garnet trailed off, hoping she could escape so easily.
"This isn't like you. What aren't you telling me? First you are late the other night and say you just lost track of time, now you come in looking like you were rolling in the dirt. Do you have a boyfriend? Is that it?" Garnet's mother narrowed her eyes slightly. It was quite clear that if there was a boy he was clearly not an acceptable choice if he made precious Garnet late and returned her home in her current state.
The woman who sat holding the book was an older and more worn version of Garnet, the crimson hair darkened, streaked with grey. Lines radiated from her eyes, hints that she most often smiled and laughed, that she was kind. She worked hard, shown by the care lines between her brows and around her mouth. She did everything she could to ensure that her daughter would have the life she should.
Except listen. Except leave room for choice, for a different kind of path.
Garnet was shaking her head before her mother even finished speaking. "No. No boyfriend." She thought of Erinye in that moment, but shoved away the thought of the dark hair, pale skin, the patterns over arms that she wanted to explore.
The thought shocked her and she stood, open-mouthed, looking at her mother without seeing the other woman. Where on earth had that thought come from? Sure, she found Erinye fascinating. The other girl was everything she was not. That, and... something about her seemed like an answer to the question her soul kept asking. But she didn't quite understand why she was thinking about being very close to the other girl's arms. An image of those arms wrapped around her, the tattooed skin against her own, made her heart speed and she caught her breath.
"Garnet? What is it? Well? Where have you been? If it isn't a boy then what is it? Are you in trouble?" Her mother had missed the confusion, missed the entire issue that was striking Garnet. Her worry was there, concern evident on her face.
Garnet twisted her fingers around the gem that hung just above her breasts, nervously toying with it. What to say? "No, Mom. I'm ok. Really. I promise." She smiled, a bright smile that lacked depth. But her mother seemed pacified at least for the moment.
"Go get cleaned up then. If you want we can throw the clothes in before you go to bed." The mundane activities consumed the thoughts of the mother while the daughter's thoughts whirled, contemplating things she had never before considered.
A she pulled her clothes off one final, startling thought crept its way into her brain, making fire run through her veins and leaving her breathless: Licking salty-sweet, coppery blood from tattoos.
What was happening to her?