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Inked Up

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My reflection is paradoxically inviting. In my eyes lingers malice, but the arch of my brows rise in provocative gestures. I lift my shirt over my head musing my hair. The black ink beneath my cream complexion looks surreal. A dimple appears in my right cheek because the corner of my mouth is drawn in a clever smirk. There’s something about getting a new tat that makes my bones sore. It’s a good ache. An ache that lets me know I’m still alive and pain isn’t just a pretense. Sixteen years young, not that that’s ever stopped me; black flowers bow in the arch of my back and the curve of my spine. I turn my cheek, peering over my shoulder to see the new scar. The tattoo is surrounded with an aura of pink; beneath the flesh are broken cells. I curse under my breath and struggle with the clasp of my bra.

I never meant for this to happen. There were too many feelings to suppress. My only chance of coping was to draw. Scratchy pen across paper; a lethal scrawl. Carved letters into oak wood, slashed scriptures line my veins. Lifting my hand, my wrist writhes like a snake lulling it‘s head. A dark shadow hovers their. An omen of my yesterdays. Since childhood, I’d learned to push the thoughts from my mind, determined to keep a blank slate, but I have yet to learn to master my feelings. Overwhelming memories flood through my demeanor and crack the delicate walls I’ve struggled so long to sculpt. The clay dry’s in the heat of my anger and chips off. I struggle to smooth out the damage, but my hands are ever too small. I surrender dejectedly, calling the emotions for what they are. A vast ocean of enigma.

I choose the tattoos with caution. The pictures have to trigger something. A wide percentage of the time they trigger emotions I would never admit to otherwise, but in their wake I find peace. I search my calf down to the bony ankle. Two wings are spread opposite each other. They are not the wings of a dove; the tattoo doesn’t mean hope. Rather, the shape of a vulture. I didn’t know why the ugly shape appealed to me so much, but later it became a moral like the rest of my tattoos. To never let the vultures get to me again. A bird that circles the sky hungrily, preying on the weak like so many people in life.

I didn’t know what the new tattoo would mean, but my spirits finally felt at rest. Like maybe this was the end of the search. The mystery was no longer in the tattoos because this part of my life, the rest of my life, wasn’t about figuring out the past anymore. It’s about figuring out the future. I took one last look at the tattoo peaking out at the nape of my neck and smiled. The last tattoo made me feel happy, but the ocean of enigma I was about to swim against, would make me whole.



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