By Kate Larkindale
Like a hot iron…a momentary sizzling with lingering pain. Again and again the needle pierces the skin. He winces, draws in breath, but refuses to allow the tears that burn behind his eyes to fall. The girl across the room, watching with a look of amused horror as her face is sketched into his flesh. It is flattering sure, but she isn’t sure how much she’s going to like coming face to face with herself when they make love.
The pain is huge. Overwhelming. He was not expecting this. The girl had told him it hurt less than having your hair bleached. As the tattooist draws lines across his collarbone he cringes. The upper arm had not been bad, but anywhere there is bone, well, that’s a different story. He has new respect for blondes. He grits his teeth and smiles at the girl, assuring her that he’s fine. Every breath tastes of alcohol, ink and fresh blood.
A commotion outside the tiny studio stops needle and hurt. He glances up, heart leaping into his throat as he recognizes the strident voice on the other side of the graying curtain.
His mother bursts in, fury evident in her red face and blazing eyes. The receptionist stands behind her, the permission slip, on which he had forged his father’s signature, dangling from her hand. Silently his mother drags him from the chair. Her hands grip his shoulders painfully, fingers digging into freshly inked wounds as she steers him from the room.
He looks back once, rolling his eyes at the girl in the corner. He is surprised to still see traces of amusement on her face. She smiles and gives a small shrug as she watches the outline of her face leaving on his shoulder blade.
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