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"Ink" by Flavia Brunetti

I am a rational human, he says, tapping his chest. My eyes follow his fingers. I think, what does it mean then, that I am not?

I had spent the hours before cleaning my fountain pens, dismantling tiny perfect pieces of machinery, dislodging intricate nibs. Quiet hours of a spring afternoon filled abundantly reveling in the ink bursting forth from metal washed in warm water, curtains of colors staining my sink, shadows blooming in the webs between my fingers. Sometimes, if I rush after and whir the pieces back together too fast, the shades seep out muted, watered-down versions of what they want to be. Something temporary and timid where there is space for something real. But if I leave them enough time to dry, to get the air they need, when they write again the hue emerges true, and strong, and they are themselves.

You need to settle down, people tell me, even the ones who love me. What does it mean then, if I have yet to go to bed with a man who has not in some way, even not on purpose, taken his own measure against me and then chipped away to see if I could be made into a more comfortable size. Do you want to end up alone?

What does it mean, then, to submit to his fingers but to be thinking of cages opened, a flurry of wings, ink blooming through the water in a thousand beautiful complexions.

Flavia lives in Rome, Italy, where she writes microfiction and novels and works for an international humanitarian organization. She grew up bouncing back and forth between Rome and San Francisco and has lived between Italy, Tunisia, Libya, Palestine, and Niger, so her writing often revolves around time and belonging and is usually written on a plane where she inevitably apologizes to the person sitting next to her for bumping their elbow. She is the author of the novel All the Way to Italy. You can find her work published in Bending Genres, The Simple Things, Open Doors Review, The New Humanitarian, Pigeon Review, Writer’s Digest, and others. You can keep up with Flavia’s work and travels on Instagram at @whichwaytorome and

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