“It looks so awesome!” Serena marveled at her best friend’s dad while he worked. For her 18th birthday, the man offered a free tattoo. “Thanks a ton, Mr. Ortega,” she thanked him.
“You’re an adult now,” he gestured at the tattoo he was etching into her wrist. A mermaid pouring water out of a golden pitcher. The rest of the tattoo was complete, he only needed to add one more detail. “You can call me Mundo.”
“Thanks a ton, Mundo,” Serena said with a smile. A noise distracted her and she saw her best friend coming into the room from the kitchen. She carried a tray of drinks and snacks.
“Mija, are you sure?” Mundo looked up from the tattoo when he heard his daughter walk into the room, then looked up at her as she set the tray down. “I’m about to finish it,” he added.
“Give us a few minutes alone, Pop.” Serena looked up at Llina with confusion.
“Hey, he’s almost done, what’s going on?” Serena asked. Llina sat down on the couch next to her and stretched her arm over Serena’s shoulder to pull her closer for a hug.
“You know you’re my best friend, and I love you, right?” Llina asked. The left corner of Serena’s mouth pulled upward to smile, but she remained unsure where her friend was going with this.
“Yeah?” Serena said.
“This tattoo is going to change your life,” Llina said. “Literally. You know I want good things for you, but I can’t just spring it on you without telling you.” Serena pulled away from the hug. Not in fear, but she wanted to make sure she looked at Llina in the eyes.
“What’s going on?” she asked. Llina chuckled to herself, then put her hand up between them.
“We’ve been best friends since elementary, but I’ve had to keep a secret from you.” While looking Serena in the eyes, Llina moved her hand upward, and a small black hole appeared floating in the air. The hole swallowed her hand while she moved it upward, then she pulled her entire hand back out holding a blue rose. She took a deep breath, then smiled.
“The short version is: I can travel to alternate universes. For your birthday I thought it would be cool to show you a few amazing universes, so my dad helped me put together a scavenger hunt for us.”
“You and your dad can go to different universes? Can your mom too?” Serena asked. As long as she’d known Llina, she knew when the girl was being genuine. She also saw the proof with her own eyes. Llina shook her head.
“My mom can’t, and neither can my dad,” she said.
“How’d your dad help with the Scavenger hunt?” Serena already made her mind up to go, but she still had too many questions.
“Uh, it’s kind of complicated, and I can explain more as we travel. But do you want to go? Do you want him to finish the tattoo?” Llina asked, and Serena nodded her agreement.
“Yes! But how is it going to change my life? Just knowing that there are other universes?”
“No. Pay attention. You and I and my dad are something called Unique Souls. Unique souls have different powers, but you don’t have any powers until you have a representation of your number on your skin.”
“What’s my number? OH! Is it six? Please tell me it’s six!” Serena asked. Llina chuckled.
“Yeah, it’s your favorite number. It’s going to be six for you.” Llina showed Serena her own tattoo on her wrist. A purple star with the number 35 in the center in black numbers. “Mine’s 35.”
“But what do the numbers mean?” Serena asked.
“It’s the Unique that we are. I’m #35, La Estrella. You’re #6, La Sirena. My dad is #37, El Mundo,” Llina said. Serena looked at the mermaid on her wrist and could not stop smiling.
“That’s so cool. So once he finishes the tattoo I can travel to alternate universes too?” Serena asked. She moved her hand up in the air to mimic the move Llina made earlier that produced the blue rose. Llina shook her head.
“Every Unique has different powers. Mine lets me make portals. My dad’s power is knowledge, he knows all about Uniques. Sirenas can affect the mood of people around them. So you’re going to have to be careful with that,” Llina said. “Do you want my dad to finish it, or do you want some more time to think?” Serena began nodding her head.
“Yeah bring him back so we can get started! This is the best birthday ever, thank you!” Serena hugged her best friend.