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"Inked Lines" by Rachel Canwell

She pushes her hip against his. Slender teenage hips, denim-clad and barely there. She can feel a burn beneath the fabric, chafing on her knicker line.

She imagines the new ink spreading; bleeding and vivid, leeching and settling into her skin before becoming permanent. Becoming part of her, another new part, a part she can’t erase.

Becoming part of them.

The last thought makes her smile, makes her lean further and press deeper into the pain.

She is trying to angle herself so her throbbing, clingfilm-covered spot is touching his exactly. She is trying to track the identical place that has made them one. Made them whole.

It’s hot here under the pier, hidden from the tourists and the brightest part of the day. And as she clings a bit harder, nudges a bit closer, she thinks she feels him shift. Feels him start to pull away.

She chooses to ignore it just like she ignores the pull and tingle of her skin. And his slight impatient sigh, as he fumbles for a fag. Instead, she closes her eyes and makes herself retrace their steps along the pier. Drifts back to the neon lights and thudding bass, back to the pierced, bearded man who flashed his surprisingly white teeth and asked, ‘You ready then?’

And then looked away with a wink when she handed over his sister’s ID.

It makes her glow to know they’ve done it together, on the same day, in the same space. Same design. Even if was a choice made by money, by time.

By him.

She shakes that thought away.

He has pulled away now, his arm hanging loose on her shoulders, as he blows curls of blue smoke up to the boardwalk above them. She turns away and tries not to breathe.

Instead she looks at the rubbish collected by the breakwater. Things washed up, things abandoned and thrown away.

Suddenly that thing she read is in her head again; about how pathologists use tattoo ink to identify bodies with missing limbs. How the ink tracks through the skin and pools in the lymph nodes, creating a rainbow that runs through your body forever.

And something in her shifts. And she thinks whatever happens now, they are joined.

These colours in their flesh. Forever.

Tomorrow then, tomorrow she will tell him about the other two inky straight lines. Parallel and blue.

Their other creation.

And that butterfly stamped on his shoulder. Maybe that will fly away.

Rachel Canwell is a reader, writer, teacher and blogger but not necessarily in that order.

She is currently working on her first novel and falling in love with flash fiction a little bit more each day.

You can find her on Twitter @bookbound2019


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