Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. Its name is a hybrid word, originating from the Greek bios for "living" and the Latin lumen "light".
So says the ever useful Wikipedia.
Tinley closed out the tab on her computer screen and shut her laptop slowly, gently pushing it across the top of her black and purple floral print comforter that she only let her mother purchase for her after she noted how some of the swirly pattern was translucent and some of it opaque. She'd read more than those first two sentences, but she hadn't wanted to. And once she had, she'd wished she hadn't. Tinley always did seem to regret her choices.
But, she thought with a bitter, disbelieving laugh, maybe it was just some silly, super-mega-rare illness that wasn't deadly. Maybe she was even the first one that had ever had this disease. She quickly wrinkled her nose at the thought. Whatever was going on, she prayed to the gods that it wouldn't get out because if it did, then she'd turn into an even bigger freak show.
That's already how she felt at school, what with the way Nyle paraded her around on his arm like she was the most important thing those mainstream contradictory wannabe hipsters would see in their lifetime. Though, on that front, she supposed she could agree to an extent. The way her peers conducted their lives, they'd end up being street corner whores trying to be the next It Girl with problems even rehab couldn't help or deadbeats living in dilapidated apartments without the money for even the supposed-to-be-obscure broken futons they wanted because they favored buying scarves that went with nothing, skinny jeans too tight for even an anorexic to fit into, and lens-less glasses.
She debated on telling someone. She felt like she needed to, even though they'd probably blow her off. At least until she proved what she said was true, at which point in time they would run screaming because Tinley Moss was officially a freak. Tattoo it on her forehead, brand it on her ass, and carve it into her arm, because Tinley knew her life was never going to be the same. She could feel it in her bones—if she still had them. And at this point, she thought it a distinct possibility that she may not. Things could only get so much weirder, she figured, so why not?
She took a deep breath and then pulled out her cell phone. Tinley tried her best friend Cassandra first, but all she got was the dial tone. Cassandra's phone had shitty service, so she tried again, but gave up by the time call number four refused to go through.
She waited as the phone rang, nearly freezing up and losing her nerve when her boyfriend's familiar voice came over the line.
"Hey babe," he said cheerily.
"Nyle….we need to talk."
No one ever wanted to hear those words. We need to talk. Nyle ran through the last month and a half in his head. They hadn't had a fight in at least that long. Nothing serious, anyway. He hadn't done anything breakup-worthy, he hadn't forgotten any important dates (he always made sure to log them in his phone to avoid any female wrath), and after four and a half years of dating, Nyle couldn't imagine why Tinley had sounded so….weird.
He fidgeted, hands overlapping awkwardly in front of him, shifting his weight from foot to foot, all byproducts of the fear Tinley had instilled in him with her words.
Then Nyle scoffed at himself. Act like a man, you big baby, he told himself. Tinley loved him just as much as he loved her. She wasn't going to break up with him. God, he could over react like a bitch sometimes. Then he smirked. Tinley probably just wanted to remind him how much she loved him with a nice date or something. Maybe she even wanted to talk about taking things to the next level—oh god, but he wasn't ready for that. Marriage at just eighteen? He was a guy, after all, and he just couldn't see himself being ready for that. With Tinley? One day? Yes. Absolutely. But with anyone, at eighteen? Not so much.
Now Nyle felt more fidgety than he ever had. What if she really did want to talk about marriage? Oh god, Tinley needed to hurry up so she could put his mind to rest and just tell him what all of this was about.
He stood in front of one of the large stone columns in front of the local library, waiting for her exactly where she asked him to, and it was ten minutes after the time she'd designated. He was getting nervous and impatient. But that's what Nyle did: he over thought and over analyzed every little aspect of life and it was absolutely ridiculous, no matter how he looked at it.
"Sorry I'm late," Tinley heaved, running up to him. She bent at the waist a bit, pressing her palm flat to the stone column for support as she breathed heavily and tried prepared herself for what was coming next.
"So, ah…." Nyle nervously wiped his hands off on his jeans. "What is it you wanted to talk about?"
Tinley stood up, breathing still slightly labored but not as bad as before. She must've had to run all the way here; her family never was good about giving her rides. She glanced around, looking just as nervous as he felt. Then she grabbed his wrist. "Not here. Come on. We need to be alone for this."
Tinley began dragging Nyle around the back of the library where there was a large, empty field. "What's going on, Tin? You're acting really weird, babe," Nyle said as she pulled him along, getting as far from the library as she could.
"Just….I'm about to tell you. Or show you, really. Then you'll understand why I couldn't do it right there in the middle of everything," she replied, stopping just at the tree line and turning to face him.
"Well, go on. What is it?" he asked, somewhat concerned now, and extremely confused.
Tinley hesitated before blurting out, "I glow!"
Nyle stared at her and blinked. "Excuse me?"
"I glow," she repeated, holding up her hands and pushing up the sleeves of her shirt to show her wrists, where it was usually most visible.
This had to be some kind of joke. "What is that? What are you doing? How are you doing that?" he asked in quick succession.
Tinley shrugged. "I don't know. It just happens. So what do you think? Do you think I'm sick or something? Am I like, an alien? Or is that not there and I'm just seeing things? Maybe I'm just imagining it and I just need some meds to fix my brain."
"No," Nyle said, slowly shaking his head. "No, that's there. You're definitely glowing, babe. Uhm." He furrowed his brow and it was clear he didn't know what to say. Hell, he didn't know what to think. But neither did Tinley, so she didn't hold it against him.
Nyle thought for just a moment that he was looking at a lava lamp beneath Tinley's skin. It was as if there was a flowing green liquid just under the surface that didn't just flow through her veins like blood, but seemed to flow everywhere. He blinked, unsure what to think. He opened and closed his mouth like a gaping fish.
"Is it….is it always green?" he sputtered.
Tinley stared blankly at Nyle before giving him a hard shove. "That's all you can say? I'm freaking glowing, and you ask about the color?" When Nyle only stared back at her and blinked a time or two, Tinley sighed and amended, "No, Ny, it isn't always that color. Sometimes it's this sort of magenta color, sometimes aquamarine-"
"Getting a bit color specific here, are we?" Nyle interrupted.
Tinley shoved him again.
Nyle held his hands up in mock surrender. "Show me again, Tint," he said more softly, seriously, using his nickname for her.
Tinley held up her hands for her boyfriend, and they both stared in a strange mix of awe and shock. Tinley's hands were glowing, just like a lava lamp, as Nyle had equated it to in his mind. Today, her hands had a lime green light illuminating them from the inside out.
"What do you think it is?" Nyle asked.
"I think it's called bioluminescence."