All Women's Talk

A Short Story for Anyone Who Wants a Tattoo ...

By Holly

The needle bit into my skin, heating up the space on my lower back. We had to visit three tattoo parlors before we could find one sketchy enough to deal with our drunk asses, but it would be worth it. I'd wanted a tattoo since I was a kid, pushing stickers onto my skin to try to look more like my badass parents.

My dad had twenty-two tattoos, from the top of his foot to behind his ear. My mom only had ten, but one was a cartoon camel, which must've been a drunken mistake. Neither of them would give a damn about my new ink.

At least that's what I'd thought.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" my mother asked when I walked downstairs the following morning, my steps heavy from my hangover.

"Plenty of things," I said, but she didn't laugh.

Instead, she thrust her phone in my face. The screen was opened to a picture of my tattoo. A butterfly with pink and purple wings. It was a cliche idea, but it was the only thing my drunken mind could think to ask for at the time. I must've sent a picture to her sometime last night before I'd passed out.

"What's wrong?" I asked, rubbing at the design on my back. "That it's a tramp stamp? I don't get why lower back tattoos are such a big deal. I think they're cute."

"You know I have one, too. That's not the problem."

"What's the problem then?" I asked, opening the cabinet to search for some cereal. It was too early for arguing.

"A butterfly. You got a butterfly." She clenched her hands, like strangling the air was the best substitute for my neck. "Why?"

I shrugged, moving over to the fridge for my milk. "It was cute."

"It doesn't mean anything to you, does it? Nothing at all? You got a tattoo that's meaningless."

My eyes rolled. "Oh, come on. Like your fricken camel tattoo means anything to you."

She crouched to the floor to pull up her pant leg, revealing the desert animal on her ankle. "Camels travel long distances. They go on journeys. This tattoo represents the spiritual and physical journey I've taken in my life. It's my favorite tattoo." She drew out the next words. "Because it has meaning."

"What about the apple blossoms on your ribcage?" I asked, stubborn. "They're pretty. That's the only reason you got them."

"The ancient Celts viewed them as a symbol of love. They also represent fertility. I got this one after you were born. It's for you."

I rubbed my lips together, feeling like an asshole. "I didn't know that."

"Sarah." She let out the longest sigh of her life. "I've let you dye your hair. I've let you get piercings. I've let you wear whatever clothes you wanted. But all of those things are temporary." She yanked her pant leg down and got back up. "You can get as many tattoos as you want. Cover your body with them. Get them on your neck or your face for all I care, but for God's sake, Sarah, make them mean something."

"Sorry," I said, because I knew she was right. It would be one thing if I was an artist who appreciated the beauty of the butterfly's design, but I didn't. It meant nothing to me.

"Come over here, then."

"What are you doing?" I asked, watching her open up a drawer and pull out a sketchbook.

"I'm not paying for tattoo removal. You're getting this one covered up with something that's actually meaningful."

I nodded. Sat. And started throwing ideas around.

"You know, I kind of like that camel. Do you think they can cover it up with one of those?" I asked, and finally, she laughed.

** That's the whole story! Hope you enjoyed it! **

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