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i needle to talk to you

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She comes into your tattoo shop on a boring Wednesday afternoon. It’s cloudy and you’re tired because god knows you’ve been up all night reading again. You don’t know why you keep staying up late when your bones ache after a hard day’s work in the parlour. But you do it every time.

You’re slouching at the counter when she comes in. She has this air of importance around her. Maybe it’s her immaculate posture. Or maybe you just really need to get some sleep at night. She looks at you funny and you realise you didn’t hear what she was saying.

“I’m sorry. What can I help you with?”. You smile.

“A tally mark tattoo. Can you make me one?”

Of course you can. And you tell her so while getting out a paper to draw some design ideas. But really, how complicated can a line be?

Turns out it can be a little harder than expected when the person you’re tattooing smells really nice. But all in all it went really well. And quick. You go over all the ways she has to care for the tattooed skin while you wrap her up. She listens carefully and smiles at you when she walks out the door.

--

You don’t see her for a while. Not that you notice. You run your shop well and you have many costumers so why would you notice that the tally mark girl hasn’t shown up in a while. You don’t care. You did a good job and it’s her loss if she doesn’t want to come back. Pfff. You don’t care at all. Tally mark girl. Hah! You. Don’t. Care.

--

Eventually she comes back though. Not that you care. She requests the same tattoo carefully. As if she’s scared that you’re mad at her. Not that you are. Why would you be mad that tally mark girl hasn’t been her for so long and then comes back to request the same small tattoo that takes a minute and leaves you no time to talk to her. No. You’re not mad. Why would you be? She smells like flowers this time. Fucking tally mark girl.

--

The third time she comes in is right after you finished a full sleeve on a big burly macho man dude. A real bro type but he pays well so you don’t care. He’s actually really cool contrary to your first impression of him. He talks about dogs a lot. He’s also quite perceptive so he leaves the amount you agreed on on the counter and sneaks out the shop while you’re daydreaming about tally mark girl.

She asks for the same bloody tattoo and if she didn’t pay so well (and smelled so nice) you’d be pissed off. But fuck if you’re not curious as to what she is counting. You don’t ask though - you figure she’ll tell you when she’s ready. Her name is Kristina you learn. Though ‘tally mark girl’ is still stuck in your head.

She lingers a bit at the register before she leaves. And you can’t help but wonder, as you sit behind the counter, if she’s nervous to ask about something. But then she turns on her heel and leaves and you’re definitely confused. Not that you care. I mean just because she smells really nice and gets weird mysterious tally mark tattoos doesn’t mean you care. What is she even counting? Maybe she’s a serial killer who’s counting her kills. But her eyes are so kind and nervous when you look at her and what serial killer smells like roses after rain? Not that you care what she smells like. How good she smells. So what can she be counting then? Maybe she is a poet and she’s counting her finished collections of poems. But who writes good poetry that fast? It can’t be that.
You start tidying up the shop. Putting away ink and throwing out used needles. You check that everything is in place for tomorrow. Another day of work. Maybe she’ll show up. You don’t care if she does though.

--

She didn’t show up. But Big burly man Flint did. He had the decency not to talk about her though. Which you greatly appreciated. He came to talk about a new idea he had for a back piece and you’re not gonna lie it sounds really cool and you’re already brainstorming additional ideas with him. Your mind is racing with ideas sometimes you wonder how you even live in your own head.

When Flint leaves, you talk to your next costumer on the phone. They want matching barbwire tattoos. Ew. But costumers are costumers so you add the appointment to your calendar and think about hiring another artist.

You’re halfway through the ad when your phone chimes again. It’s gonna be a looong day.

--

When Tally mark - Kristina walked into your shop, you kinda didn’t think it was her at first. First off she usually wore her hair up and was dressed like she just came from work. Not that you’d spent time noting that. And today. Well today she wore her hair down. Shoulder length beautiful wavy brown hair and you just know it’d smell great. She wore a leather jacket, combat boots and a printed tee. Fuck. You didn’t even grumble when she asked for the usual tattoo. But your mind blanked (not because of how good she looked shut up) and you asked her:
“What are you counting”

“How many tattoos i’ve gotten”. She smiled bashfully and… was that? Was she blushing? Nah that can't be.

“I’m no longer serving you”, you said, voice warm. She let out a sigh of relief and sat down.

--

When you’re done with her tattoo she takes in a deep breath. You encourage her with a smile but that just seems to make her even more nervous.

“Look I. Knowthisisweirdbutwillyougooutwithme?”

You blink once. Twice. What?

She tries again: “I know it is weird because I am your costumer but I was wondering if you would go out with me. On ummm. On a date”. You smile and you’re pretty sure your eyes twinkle. “I have five tally mark tattoos to prove I’m interested so…”, she trails off.

“The shop closes at 11,” you say, "bring flowers and you got yourself a date".

“I’ll be there” Her dimples are really adorable when she smiles that big a smile.