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Faded Rainbows, Aged Skin

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There is no silence in the room. However, for me, it feels as if every move I make could be heard across the world. I feel every rip in the cushion of this seat as I slouch forward in it. My calves, as I’m wearing Capri’s, are nearly sure to get a splinter from the wooden legs of the chair. Pieces of my greasy hair fall into my face, forcing me to look at its dull coffee ground color. My mother sits beside me, in the same kind of beat-up, uncomfortable chair as I. She, of course, manages to show me up once again. Her posture is perfect and her beautiful blonde hair is pulled back into a tight bun. Worry spreads across her face as I pick up the binder from the cracked, concrete floor and flip through the pages of designs. Her wrinkles deepen as she asks that question for the twentieth time.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” The question takes me back. The conversation was like a broken record. ‘Yes. I don’t care what they will think, my answer is yes.’ Yet, I can’t seem to get that word out. My mouth doesn’t seem to move, just twitch.

I have always loved to be the odd one. Why not? Going against the grain was something I went out of my way to do. I have always painted my nails with the pointer finger of each hand being different. The rest were the same. I was the non-conformer- I was those two pointer fingers. So, when people asked, “Why did you do that?” I’d answer with a chuckle. “It’s me.”

Now, I stare this close-minded woman down. I avoid thinking about her exactly average height, normal weight, and run-of-the-mill face. She had an ordinary job and wages, and the least unique wardrobe of anyone I’d ever met (not leaning to far towards sloppy or OCD-like pristine.) I watch her eyes, the way they bounce back and forth between my face, the binder, and the man holding a needle. Then when I sit up and shrug, I watch her surprise- the way it washes across her face. She was so easy to read. I scoff on the inside as she tries to pass it off as a cold chill, shivering. Then I feel her soft hand gently rubbing my arm. She was going to try to calm me down.

“Honey, are you okay?” Yes Judice, I am perfectly fine knowing you’re surprised that I’m an intelligent life form. You must have known there was a brain inside of this creature you birthed. I mean, at least a pea-sized remnant of what could have been.

“I want to think about this.” The words feel strange. Maybe I was destined to speak them, but my body was holding me back. And again, it is as if there were silence within a loud room. I prefer it this time. Now that I have thoughts, I enjoy it.

Judice stands up, smoothing out the wrinkles in her black pencil skirt. Concentrate. Do you, Elizabeth Anne Miller, want a tattoo? Are you willing to give up your precious skin to that malicious needle. I glance at the man again, then catch the look on Judice’s face. “It isn’t the devil, mother.” I say it to me just as much as her. The ink is so permanent. The word is so foreign to me. Do I dare say it? A whisper leaves my mouth, “permanent.” My lips separate slowly. Then, they come together for a short-lived reunion. My tongue lifts to the roof of my mouth, not once, but twice. There is a slight aftertaste to the word itself. I detest it.

Judice walks out, her shiny heels clicking the entire way. I stare at a man covered in tattoos. It is a dull, maltreated rainbow of colors. It stretches from his ankles to his large bald head. He was old, twenty-odd years older than my mother I’d guess. His wrinkles are etched into his skin, as if by knifepoint. Sags and folds are stained with mementos of his immaturity. His liver spots dot them, adding another color to the rainbow. Spider veins cross over a tattoo of a heart on his leg. I watch as he points out a new tattoo and begin to gag.

I realize that all tattoos are destined to become faded rainbows on our sad, elderly bodies. “I can’t do this.” I leave the room, a combination of jogging and speed walking. I push the door open with my right knee and elbow, careful not to touch it with my hands. My head is down as I briskly walk towards the car.

“Elizabeth,” a woman calls. I stop, two feet from my car. Her footsteps click on the ground, each getting louder as she nears me. I turn around, avoiding eye contact. I suddenly feel her warmth and arms wrap around me. I forget about her pure averageness. I see her imperfections and her mistakes.
“I love you,” she whispers. I hear the way she’s holding back tears as she talks.
“Mom, I love you too.” I step back, waiting for a fake cold chill to rattle her body. No surprise appears on her face. There is none. She really does love me.



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