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Coming to America: Venus

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It takes Zeke a week and half a bottle to get the courage to go to the tattoo shop. He likes the tattoos the sailors on the Lyra have, and they tell him that tattoos are lucky. Anything that means he doesn't get washed overboard is good in his book.

Maybe he should listen to his dad and stay in Iowa, but the captain of the Lyra needed someone to take care of that horse. Zeke is good with horses, and he wouldn't mind seeing Italy.

So he finds the tattoo shop. The man with the needles is dark and doesn't speak. Zeke talks to the woman behind the counter instead. He tries to be very polite. She's pretty, with dark eyes and curly hair, the kind of pretty that you should take your hat off to, even if she's foreign. She likes the tattoo he picks. She tells him she hasn't been in Boston long. She says she has a son his age, and he tells her she doesn't look like it. He tries to cover his mouth after saying that, but she just laughs.

The tattoo hurts worse than having your teeth pulled. The woman takes Zeke's free hand and squeezes it. He whispers to her about the sea voyage, about how the pay'll be enough for a farm with room for kids, and about how scared he is. She smiles and says it'll be all right.

When it's over, she's the one who bandages up the bright red heart on his arm, leaning over him to do it. She smells like the sea on a clear day, and like flowers. Shyly, Zeke asks her name.

She says her name is Love.