Short Story | ‘The Tattoo’ by Stacy Poole, Illustration by Jordan Wester
The woman stood outside the You Tattoo parlor; the logo, simply a hand with the letters, Y, O and U scripted across the palm. She didn’t have any tattoos, well, none yet. She had been wrestling for a year or more with what she’d really want on her body for the rest of her days here on earth. Contemplating that decision and imagining where on her body she could have it placed so that ten years down the road it wouldn’t be sagging or wrinkly. Heck, where on her body could she put it NOW that it wouldn’t look distorted in some way. Right upper breast? Top of her foot? Should it be right side up to her view or the view of others if she chose placement on her slender foot? Too many variables. Variables that might ruin the art. Were tattoos just art? Or were they more a statement of beliefs, a way of changing thinking patterns and creating identity?
She really wasn’t sure. She knew other women her age who sported tats but most had gotten them much earlier in life… “during a phase”. Some were a simple small cross on an ankle; some played peek-a-boo when donning low riding jeans, others private and completely covered. All of them, however, intriguing and beautiful. Yet she could not imagine her own body having that allure.
She looked nothing like the tall, slender and firm girls in the tattoo rags that lined the shelves of Barnes & Noble. She wished she did but reality is a hard master and you just can’t change facts. She’d never be able to sport a hot, black, leather, sleeveless vest and shorter than should be legal shorts, straddle a Harley and look good. Heck, she wasn’t even tall enough to straddle a hog let alone pull off the butt cheek accenting wardrobe. Would she just look ridiculous? Would the tat fade and turn that ugly green and look like a set of spider veins gone wrong? Would the tattoo artist be laughing on the inside, or worse yet, on the outside the whole time he was inking her?
All these fears aside, she still couldn’t decide on what statement needed to be made. Thinking about getting a tattoo just made her feel lost anyway. Like she didn’t even know herself – like she had no personality. There was nothing in life important enough with which to emblazon her body and take to the grave.
She stood outside the tattoo shop looking through the glass, waiting for a spark of inspiration. Countless dragons serpentined up the wall and hearts pierced with knives bled back down the other side. A bleeding heart surrounded by life’s dragons. Who wanted to be marked forever that way?
Then she saw him. Who was he? Not the pierced, multi tatted, large ear lobed, scruffy man you normally envision straddling the stool with needle poised for pain. A gentle man, with kind eyes – not saying a word but somehow calling. Breath caught in her chest with a glimpse of her own reflection, her lost face staring back in the glass, and his raised hand scarred with what he loved and found most valuable in the world.
Y O U – the only thing she needed that day to know who she was and reignite the spark of truth that she was treasured beyond measure.
I will not forget you!
“See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hand.”
Isaiah 49:15-16 (NIV)
Illustration by: Jordan Wester