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It Stings

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It stings.

I’m not sure what I’m referring to, the pain from the needle injecting ink into my skin or if it’s deeper. The buzz of the tattoo gun is almost soothing, lulling me into a meditative state of sorts. I should probably be paying more attention to my surroundings while I’m under the gun; but I can’t bring myself to work up the energy.

I miss him.

I miss waking up each day knowing that he would be with me. I miss his laughter and his belief that we couldn't fail. So many things I didn’t appreciate when I had the chance, and now he’s gone. The girl inking me pulls the needle away from my skin and dabs at the drops of blood that are beginning to pool at the edges of my new mark. I take a deep breath as she starts back again, and then I fall into the fog again.

Getting this tattoo reminds me of the other one I have, the one we shared. Now I’ll have a mark all my own…and it doesn’t fill me with joy, or even the peace the other brought. It’s just one more thing I get to do that he won’t ever have the chance to. Though I know he would never do anything like this, putting something on his body to mark himself without really needing a specific reason. The other tattoo had a purpose, it was protection. It worked, kept the demons out. Check. This tattoo? It’s all about him. It’s to remind me what that deep ache in my soul is. But it’s more than that. It will remind me not only that he’s gone, but that he lived. Here…with me…

God, how I miss him. So much sometimes that I forget to breath…

She’s about done. Finally. I feel like I have been sitting here for years. When the she lays down the gun and starts the cleanup, I start pulling myself back together. As she explains the aftercare procedures for new tattoos I pull down the collar of my shirt to expose the other tattoo for a moment; going through the action brings memories of us showing that tattoo to another girl in close to the same way, a bittersweet smile crosses my face.

After paying for the work, I thank the girl and head outside. The sun is bright and gleams off the classic car in the parking lot. I approach the driver’s side door and just lean against it. I know I’m supposed to keep the bandage on for a while, but I need to see it. I tug the tape from my skin and gaze down at the mark on my right wrist. It’s exactly what I wanted. I wonder what others will see when they look at it. Will they understand? It’s doubtful, but it doesn’t really matter anyway. I’m satisfied.

Before I seal it back up I run my finger around the edge and across the middle of the fresh ink. It stings. But it reminds me all the same. I slide into the seat and start the car. It’s time to get on the road. I have someplace I have to be.