“Who are you talking to?”
The boy tightened the aviator jacket, zipped it closer to his neck. He couldn’t understand why he did not sense the presence or the arrival of the other boy, who was wearing a hoodie with pockets where he hid his hands.
“Why do you stand in the shadow?”
“Why haven’t you answered my question? I asked you first.”
“I was talking to nobody.”
“You were not talking to nobody.”
Even the moon hid her face. She would not look upon the two boys, one by a grave marker, the other hidden by a tree. She remained out of sight as ghostly clouds veiled her. Night winds rustled through the branches, shaking leaves down to the damp, cold earth, like loose wild horses on the shore, running against the turning tide and cracking every shell in their way.
“Again, I ask you: who are you talking to?”
He was resolute to get his answer. He would not take a step forward. Nor would he back down. And he was not going to let a boy from out of town bully him into obeisance.
“I’ve told you: I was talking to nobody.”
In the shadows, two fists balled up. Heels dug into the softened soil. A few meters away, a thumb nervously traced the shape of a skull ring wrapped around a finger. Toes tensed inside their boots.
“You were not! Has he been talking to nobody? Has he? Was he?”
All of a sudden, silence fell on the graveyard. Neither wind nor time seemed to pass through the place of the dead. It was like his voice hushed an unseen crowd, who were now figuring an answer to his question. And though he stood far from the shadows, he could see that there was an unmistakable gleam in the other boy’s eyes. Then he saw it! Faint but familiar, something he has too many times not to notice. A shadow moving in the shadow.
By the grave, he asked, “Who are you? What are you?”
“I am Nobody.”
“Please, I am not playing games.” He sounded desperate now. The confusion from his eyes found their way to his voice and to his fingers. He couldn’t understand why they answered him, a mere boy. A mortal! He was not a god. Not even a half-god. “Who are you?”
“I am Nobody.”
[The character Nobody Owens belongs to Neil Gaiman and The Graveyard Book while Nico di Angelo is to Rick Riordan of the Percy Jackson and Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus series.]