-Simple Fascination-

I've always had this strange obsession with goths, even before the day that I first saw one up close. Don't get me wrong, I didn't stalk them or anything. In fact, it was a stretch to even call it an obsession. I just liked their looks. Sure, when I was a six-year-old walking into Borders, I was a bit intimidated by the black-clad smokers. I remember asking my mom why they dressed like that. She told me that they all just wanted attention. I know now that that isn't true for the real goths.

My next encounter came when I was eight and a half years old, and my older brother was walking me home from one of the local expansion team baseball games. I saw a really tall, thin guy all in black walking towards us. Let me correct myself; everything but his hair was black. His hair was a bright blue. I remember thinking how original that was (yeah, I'm a pretty original kind of kid) and wanting to get a closer look, but my brother, like most of the other people on the streets, was shying away, and pulling me with him.

"Hey!" I protested, yanking out of his grip.

"Anna, get back here!" he hissed and made another grab for me. I went Matrix-style on him and made a perfect dodge. Perfect except for the fact that I kind of fell onto the sidewalk, right into the path of the goth. Okay, it was time to reassess my feelings towards them- looking up at one who's at least ten years older than you from the ground at their feet is really, really creepy. I couldn't say anything. I could only stare up at him with wide eyes.

He reached down, and I flinched. My brother had become motionless, so the goth proceeded to grab my shoulder. To my surprise, he pulled me up lightly to my feet. Reprocessing data…. Okay, goths were cool again!

Up close- well, as close as a 4' 1" kid can be to a 6' 5" one, I could see four eyebrow piercings, a lip piercing, and no less then seven earrings. His hand, which was just then withdrawing from my shoulder, showed a ring on every finger. Two were skulls, one was a snake coming around to bite its own tail (that was so extremely cool, by the way) and one had two words written on it in letters so flamboyant that I couldn't read them. Looking back, I'm pretty sure they said "Sex God."

He had eye shadow, and black lipstick, and he had tight black pants and a baggy black shirt. And his awesome hair, might I remind you, was blue. Just thinking about asking my mom if I could make my hair blue, I grinned. His green eyes, which had been solemn and dark before, got warmer and kinder. He still didn't smile, but he ruffled my hair as he left.

Then I spotted something on the ground, when my brother was just regaining the control of his limbs. It was black with small chains around it, and it looked like a wallet. I knew who it belonged to and snatched it up, pumping my little legs hard to catch up with him.

"Hey Mister!" I called, and somehow he knew I was talking to him because he stopped and looked over his shoulder. I finished my run to him (wow, he walked fast) and held up his wallet. "I think you dropped this.

"Anna!" my brother was yelling. "Get back here!" I ignored him, because the goth guy was smiling at me. He took the wallet and put it in his back pocket. He was smiling at me, so I beamed back.

"Thanks, kid. You're alright." I couldn't think of anything else to say, so I blurted out what had been on my mind ever since I saw the ring.

"I really like your snake ring. It's cool." His smile became amused, and to my amazement he pulled the ring off of his finger.

"You know what, because you're such a cool kid, and in return for my wallet, you can have it." He put it into my hand and I stared at it in wonder.


"Yeah, I got another back home."

"Wow, thanks!" I put it on my finger, and closed my fist so it wouldn't slip off. He grinned.

"What's your name?"


"Cool. I'm Render. Anna, how about you just keep the ring our little secret? I don't think your brother would be too happy about it." I nodded, eager to please the cool guy with the cool hair and cool name. And he was right; Alex would probably take it from me. "Hey kid, you might not understand this now, but if you ever get into trouble with my type around these parts, just show them the ring and they'll lay off. I know it don't make sense, but it will, eventually, if you remember." Sure, I didn't understand at all. But I nodded anyway. He nodded back, still smiling. "Tell your brother to change his dose. He's a bit tense."

"Okay," I agreed, not having the slightest idea what he was talking about. Alex appeared at my shoulder just as Render was leaving.

"Anna, don't run off like that!" he berated me. "Especially with people like… Like…"

"Change your dose, Alex," I said smugly, walking back the way we had originally been going. I heard my brother's growl behind me and the laughter of a goth a bit further behind.

I cherished that ring. I had to keep it hidden when my family was around, though, because Alex ratted on me and I got grounded for talking to a goth. Well, not so much for talking to a goth as it was for getting into a fight with my mom about doing it. Yes, I know, most people don't have half-hour long screaming matches with their parents until they're an adolescent. Usually they just throw a tantrum. I was different. I had always been able to come up with brilliant retorts, which was why I won a lot of arguments. But not that one. And oh boy, when I asked if I could turn my hair blue that night, she flipped.

By the time I turned ten, the ring could actually fit on my thumb without it falling off. I still could remember Render and everything he said to me. When I saw goths, I always looked to see if they had dropped a wallet in case I could get a chance to talk to one. That year, though, I found out that not all goths were like Render.

We had moved a town over, out of the city, and I had decided to explore the park. It was a really nice park, even if it didn't have a pond or anything. There were benches and a playground and trees and a couple of paths. There were statues of different people every once in a while, and sometimes I would stop to read the inscription. I had gone by three presidents, an inventor, a writer, and some escaped mental patient who became a hero when he saved a kid from a burning building when I came upon them.

They were all surrounding this one girl who was talking. They were all smoking something or other. They were probably just a bit older than Alex, around Alan's age (Alan was my oldest brother, seventeen at the time). They were all in black with piercings and rings and cool hair and weird shoes and interesting bracelets. They were all gothic.

I made sure to pass really close to them, just in case one decided to turn around and notice me and give me blue hair dye. Sadly, that didn't happen. Well, they turned to look at me, but only after I started coughing on the fumes. How embarrassing.

"Oh, is the widdle kiddie afraid of smoke?" a red-haired girl asked, blowing a ring into my face.

"Not more than I'm afraid of your face," I retorted. There were chuckles of amusement. See, that was original, if you could believe it. I'm not sure if your town has gone through the whole "your face" insult fad, but I can tell you I was the starter of that.

"'Fraid of the peircings?" I rolled my eyes.

"No. I meant it was ugly, smart one."

"Wanna say that to my face?"

"I did, you idiot!" I don't know why I had it in my head that a high schooler wouldn't jump a ten-year-old. Let me tell you, though, my illusions were shattered. She pinned me on the cold ground so I couldn't move. Nobody stopped her.

"That's a pretty ring you got. I think I'll take it."

"No!" I protested. I would have rather she ripped all of my hair out one strand at a time. That ring was important to me.

"Too bad," she said tightly, pulling it easily off my thumb and slipping it onto her middle finger.

"No, give it back! Come on, it's mine!"

"Not anymore."

"Give me my stupid ring back, you bitch!" That was a first for me. It was the first time I used a "bad" word, and it made me pause for a moment.

"No." She continued to sit on me.

"Come on! I want my ring back! Render gave it to me-"

"What?" about three voices said. Everyone else, who had previously been laughing, was now silent. They were all staring at me, Devil-Lady included.

"I said Render gave it to me! Give it back! Jesus, you guys are deaf and stupid-"

"You mean Render Jameson?"

"I don't know his last name."

"What'd he look like?" A different person asked that time. I shrugged, a hard feat when you're pinned on your back.

"Like you, kind of. He had blue hair." There were murmurs of wonder.

"Let her up, Ace."


"C'mon, Ace, how many other blue-haired Renders do you know?" Wow. I was finally starting to understand Render's instructions. Apparently he was known- apparently people respected him. A lot.

"I want to know how a stupid little bitch like her knows Render," Ace demanded. "And why he would give her the ring."

"Fair enough," one boy said. He was completely in black, even his ear-length hair. "Tell us, kid."

"I did him a favor."

"Kind of vague, kid," Ace spat. "How do we know you didn't just overhear someone talking about him and try to pass some novelty ring off as his?"

"Really! He gave it to me!"

"Ace, lemme see the ring," the boy said. It was that same one that was completely black. Ace complied immediately, and the boy flipped the ring over, looking on the inside of it. "It's Render's alright. His sign's carved right into the iron. Let her up."

"But what if she stole it?"

"I didn't steal it, he gave it to me!" I shouted, bringing my little fist up to punch her in the nose. Maybe I did it because I was really fed up. Maybe it actually connected because she was busy looking the other way. Maybe she swore and jumped off of me because I had hit a really sensitive spot. But I lay all the credit on fate.

I scrambled to my feet and snatched the ring from the boy, who didn't make any move to take it back. The girl was clutching her nose and swearing at me. The goths were laughing.

"Jesus, change your dose!" I told her.

"She knows Render alright," the boy said approvingly. "He says that all the time. What's your name?"


"Cool. I'm Diablo. If you see Render around again, tell him I said hi."

"Alright," I said, deciding that it wasn't important to tell them that I had only seen him once and talked to him for about a minute and that was over a year ago.

My next real encounter didn't come for three more years. By that time, Render's ring was starting to fit, and I had my earlobes pierced as well as another piercing up higher on my right ear. I was looking to get my eyebrow pierced, and all I had to do was ask my mom… Heh. Yeah right. She would never let me do that. But I was getting the adolescent feeling of rebelliousness, and was considering having Alex take me to the tattoo parlor to get it done, or at least put some blue streaks in my dark hair.

This time, it was the first day of school. I found myself in homeroom with the first real goth of our class. His name was Conan, and he had a mowhawk. It was a poor excuse for a mowhawk, at only two inches high, but after a few months we all knew that he kept it that length by choice. But it was original. It was cool, to me at least. I liked him. He didn't smile at all, though. Either way, he was my first junior high crush.

He never smiled, but you can believe I changed that. I taught him that goths were allowed to smile, they were allowed to laugh.

Believe me, it isn't as romantic as it sounds.

You want to know how? You really want to know? Okay, well… Iranintoadoorwhilehewaswatching.

Shut up.

Moving on, after that, he smiled a lot, and he laughed a lot, and he made jokes a lot, and yeah, he got into a lot of detentions because of his jokes. The point? None. But I still had a crush on him. Jason Rubie, the hottest kid in our grade at the time, asked me out.

Okay, I have to admit, blond-haired blue-eyes hot, athletic boys certainly have their charm. If he asked me again, I would probably say yes. But call me crazy, I said no. Now he's the most popular kid in high school and I'm the girl who sits in the back, writing in her little notebook.

Conan got held back. I cried on the last day of school when I heard the news. I caught glimpses of him in the hall the next year, once in a while, alone, a slightly dazed look in his eyes. I knew he was taking pot, but I didn't care. After moving up to the high school, I never saw him again. I still think about what might have happened to him sometimes. Hell, he's probably dead now. He was always a bit suicidal.

In high school, goths became more numerous. Certainly not the majority, but there were more ten of them who always ate lunch by the big dead tree outside. And I mean always. When it was raining, when it was snowing, when there was lightning, when it was below zero degrees, when it was over a hundred, they were there. I was obsessed with them- again, a slight exaggeration. I always made sure to walk past them when I could, and I ate my lunch relatively close on some days. I swear, the only thing that was stopping me from becoming one of them was the drugs. Oh yeah, and my friend, Jessica Reynolds.

Otherwise I would be so making out with Bishop every day.

A/N: Okay, so this is a terrible start. The only hint of romance comes at the very end, and you've only met one main character. This prologue is very boring, but sadly completely necessary to the story.

Yeah, you can probably tell that this is my first story. How's it coming? (Other than the lack of anything happening...)