Tattoo


Sara and John were just sitting in the park on a warm spring day. His head was in her lap and she was running his fingers through his hair. Both were reading. She'd just gotten to a really good part, in fact, when he suddenly interrupted her.

"What would you say if I got a tattoo?" John asked her. Sara was shocked.

"What? Why on earth would you want to do that?" she demanded.

He shrugged. "I don't know. I've just been thinking about it for a while."

"Well, don't. Don't think about it and definitely don't do it," she told him firmly, returning to her reading as if that was the end of the conversation.

This time he sat up and pulled her book out of her hands. "Why are you so against it? What's so bad about tattoos that the mere mention of them has you all riled up?" he questioned, curious.

"I'm not riled up!" she said as she snatched her book back. "I just don't think it's a good idea."

"Why?" John asked her, looking at her with his eyes in such a way that she just knew she wasn't going to be able to get away without giving him a complete answer. Great.

"Because," she started, blowing out air in a huge sigh. "Tattoos are…permanent. Too permanent. People are always changing—their bodies, their minds, their careers, everything. Tattoos are great, perfect even—in the moment. The next day, a year from then, you'll regret it. Because while it meant something to you one day, it's not always going to mean something to you." Sara began playing with her watch, twisting it this way and that. "Or maybe it will mean something forever, but, now, you don't want to be reminded of it every time you look in the mirror. And if you get something that isn't important to you, then that's even more stupid. But I guess it's easier to live with." She shrugged.

"Wow, I just asked for an opinion, not an analysis of the human condition," John said, with a smirk.

"Oh shut up!" Sara said, giving him a good-natured push on the shoulder. John grabbed her hand as he fell back, and the two of them landed together, backs on the grass. John put his arm around her and pulled her closer.

"I love you," he said.

Sara smiled up at him, "I love you too."


The next time he brought up tattoos was a month later. They were watching American History X and, Sara thought to herself later, of course it would come up then. What guy wouldn't want to portray the same masculinity that Norton does in the movie? And what better way than tattoos wrapped around tightly coiled muscles? Okay, maybe she was going a little overboard there and her zealous adoring of Edward Norton…but the point was clear. He'd brought it up again as if it was a viable option. She'd again told him no. But she couldn't keep her hands from playing with her watch for the rest of the movie.


The third time he brought it up, only a week later, was when she really started to get worried. Nothing had prompted him this time. They'd been having lunch together in between classes, outside, under a tree. For once, they both felt they had all the time in the world. In fact, she'd practically been dozing when he interrupted her nap to ask, again. She noticed this time he'd asked what she would do, not say, if he got a tattoo. For a moment, her breath had caught. He couldn't be serious…could he? So she tried to make a joke of it. Just in case he was. Serious, that is. She'd said that she would kill him and for poetic justice, and because she was an English major, there had to be poetic justice, she would take a knife and skin whatever piece of him the tattoo was on so he would be buried without it. Obviously it wasn't as funny out loud as it was in her head. But he'd only given her a look and then asked what she'd really do. And she'd told him, as truthfully as she could, while fiddling with her watch, that she didn't know but he could count on her to be very angry about it. He'd dropped the subject after that.


Two months later:

Sara slammed open the door to John's apartment. John looked up from the couch, startled by her very sudden and very loud entrance. As she approached menacingly, John stood up, hands up, wary.

"Now Sara, sweetheart, don't be mad, okay?" he started backing up around the couch.

"John, honey, I'm so far beyond mad right now, it's not even funny. Oh wait, you know what was sooo funny? When that gossip girl-wannabe Morgan interrupted my lunch to tell me how lucky I was to have a boyfriend like you!" He was in the kitchen now. "And guess what he tells me when I ask him why he would say something like that." She finally reached him, cornering him between the fridge and the counter. He reached for his shirt's hem but before he could even try to hold it down, she yanked it up, exposing his chest.

"Oh my god! You did! You really fucking did!" Sara never cursed. "After all the times I told you I didn't like them, after all the fucking times I told you, every goddamn time you asked, that I hated tattoos—you went out and got one. And of all the fucking places, over your heart? Are you crazy? Masochistic? Fucked up?" She punctuated these last words with a push to his shoulder.

John winced. "Sara, listen to me—"

She stopped him. "No, John, no. I will not listen. For God's sake, we're supposed to be a couple. We've been together over two years and you made this decision all by yourself, ignoringmy opinion completely. What do you think that says about the value you place on my opinion? Oh, I know the answer—zero."

John flinched again, this time for an altogether different reason. "Sara, please, just listen to me for one second," he pleaded, wrapping his arms around her, trying to calm her down.

She pulled away, putting up her hand to stop him from trying again. "No, you listen. I am sick of your bullshit. I feel like I'm a second-class citizen in this relationship, and you know what? I'm fucking tired of it."

She'd expected him to look at her with horror or worry or say something to the akin of "Noooo!" But no, he was just looking at her. Or at her hand rather. Shit. Quickly she pulled her hand to her side, holding her left wrist with her right hand.

John's voice was curiously quiet when he spoke. "Sara, darling, why is my namewritten on the inside of your wrist?" he asked as if he was asking her what she was making for dinner.

"What are you talking about? There's nothing on my wrist, see?" she said, displaying her right wrist for him. He just looked at her.

"When did you get it? And why did you never tell me? And why the fuck have you been giving me all this shit when you had one yourself?" John never cursed either.

"July 25th, last year." His rage was gone before it had even really begun. He slumped against the counter.

"Oh."

Both were quiet, remembering.

Sara had just gotten a tattoo, a gift for her boyfriend for his birthday. Actually, it was probably more a gift for herself. She'd been thinking about it for a while and well, now that she'd done it, she didn't regret it one bit. Seeing his name on her wrist had excited her and soothed her all at once, and she couldn't wait to show it to him. She really hoped he liked it.

She let herself in quietly, wanting to surprise him. Looking around, she realized he wasn't in the common room. He was probably in his bedroom, still sleeping off his hangover, she thought. She grimaced, remembering how disappointed he'd been when she'd told him she couldn't make his birthday bar hopping, too busy studying for a test. She'd been disappointed too, but then the test had gone well and the guy at the tattoo parlor had been so nice and it had come out beautifully—and besides, I know the perfect way to make him forgive and forget.

She opened the bedroom door and froze.

"Oh," John said again. He licked his lips, "I-Is that why you think they're too, uh, permanent?"

Sara looked up, meeting his eyes. She shrugged, nodding.

"We promised to love each other forever." She bit her lip. "It, when I got it, I just thought—it was like it was written in stone, you know?" She was crying now. "But then, I saw you andher and I couldn't believe it and," she took a deep breath, trying to calm down enough to continue, "And now every time I look at it, it just reminds me of—" She buried her head in her hands, unable to stop the shaking in her shoulders, the tears running down her face, the pain—everywhere.

John approached her, pulling her into his arms. She started crying on his right shoulder, even in her pain, mindful of his. "Sara, you know, don't you sweetheart, how much I love you and how sorry I am for that day? How much of a mistake it was? I know you forgave me Sara love, but did you know that I never forgave myself? Sometimes," Sara could feel his tears on her face now. "Sometimes Sara, I can still see that hurt in you, that I put there, and it kills me that I did that. I'm so sorry, sweetheart. So, so sorry. I-the reason, I got this tattoo was to show you how wrong I was on that day. I wanted to prove my love to you. And—especially after you said all those things about how permanent they were—well, it seemed fitting. So I got it."

It was a few moments before Sara pulled away and cradled his head in her hands. "John, what exactly did you get?" she asked hesitatingly.

"Well, you know what they say," he said, a small smile at his lips, "Great minds think alike."

Sara laughed a small, choked laugh. "Oh John, do you mean it?"

"I love you Sara," he said, pulling her in for a lingering kiss. "And now you know—I won't ever stop."


A bit of a cheesy love-fest again. What can I say, I have a one-track mind? Anyway, inspiration thanks goes to Cupid's Psyche for her thoughtful work, Thoughtless, which I highly encourage you to read if you have the time. See if you can figure out where the idea came from. (It won't be too hard I promise).