I wanted a tattoo. Something wordlessly proving to the world that I wasn’t who it thought I was. Scarlet Valentino had a pouting red rose resting provocatively on her hip. Lucy Wang had an exotic Chinese character, all black swirls and loops, at the nape of her swan-like neck. She refused to reveal its translation. I imagined an ethereal purple butterfly, fluttering delicately around my ankle; a symbol of beauty and elegance.
My father didn’t look up from his newspaper.
“You’re eighteen,” he said, “do whatever you want,” in a familiar tone of defeat.
“Don’t,” my mother said, acid stinging through her words. “You’ll regret it when you’re older.” Her infuriated expression caused my desire to set hard like concrete.
My grandfather sat in grim silence, as usual, through this latest conflict. I glared at him, wished for once he’d say something, either support or defend. Take a side and fight for it.
He rolled up his sleeve and revealed the faded blue-green serial number etched on his arm. I heard the distant cries of those queued up for death. I smelt the acrid burning. I felt the cold wave of fear. The tattoo refused to fade.
I decided not to bother.
Artwork by Lauren Matthews
Want more? Read Lingering
Nah, time for Poetry
Go back to Issue 2