Invisible Lines (Part 1)

This is the start of a several part story (I don’t know how many, only that I have 2.5 parts done as of now). All these last several days of bits and bobs have wound me up to it, though the seed of this first part is almost 18 months old. I don’t know yet how this will go, and will appreciate any and all feedback I can get on this story. –M

Invisible Lines


Big Lou, of Big Lou’s Tattoos, scowled.

“Let me get this straight,” he said, “You want that tattoo.”

Sima looked again at the full color lotus blossom design, bit her lip and nodded.

“With no ink.”

The artist, his sleeveless T revealing an Illustrated Man’s worth of his own ink, stood in front of a wall were covered with sketches and photographs; Big Lou’s catalog and oeuvre.

“Get out of my shop.”

“I’ll pay full pri-”

“Out. I’ve heard about you, girly. You’ve got a rep, you know? Think this is some kind of a joke? Some kind of rich-girl’s joke?” His voice raised as he spoke, bald head shading redder. “This is my art. My religion. This is my life. You respect the ink or get the fuck out of my FACE!”

The last words were yelled. Lou didn’t move from his place behind the counter, but suddenly he seemed larger, menacing. The twinned dragons on his biceps looked like they were going to leap for her. Sima fled.

She blinked away the tears as she walked down the dirty street and scanned for a cab. It was still early afternoon. She’d given herself plenty time to get out of the District before dark, but hadn’t counted on so many defeats. Now she felt like everyone she saw knew she didn’t belong there. She’d tried to prepare well enough, a dark worn coat over old jeans and flats. A loose blouse that was easy to lift or take off. She ignored the flip of her stomach and the ache between her legs as she walked, not meeting anyone’s gaze.

Afraid, angry, ashamed, Sima slammed the door of the taxi hard enough to draw an admonishing look from the cabby. Why did this have to be so hard? What’s wrong with me?

“Hey! Lady. I said where to?” The driver’s accent was like Daadaagee’s.

Sima mumbled her street and turned to look sullenly out the window. The interior of the cab smelled of masala spices. The scent both made her feel safe, and intensified the gnawing of need in her bones. Outside, the streets slipped by, the doorways and shop-fronts lost their angles as the light failed.

“Wait. Stop. Stop here!” She peered at a little shop-front through the gloom. The name rang a bell. She fumbled in her coat pocket, pulled out a tattered little notebook and flipped through the pages.

It’d only been two blocks, right at Old Market, where Midtown’s gentrification was waging a pitched battle with the District’s decay.

She could practically hear the driver roll his eyes, but stop he did. Sima overpaid him and stepped out without a word, and stood in front of Chrysalis Tattoo. That name was on her dwindling list of places she hadn’t tried and been turned away from.

I have a reputation, now? Like just finding places wasn’t enough trouble? But dammit. It was almost like claws inside her now. One more try.

The bell on the door tinkled as she came in. This place looked a lot like half a dozen others. The small front space was brightly lit, showcasing walls covered with art. The place was scrupulously clean, and smelled of antiseptic, indigo, and electricity. Behind the counter, a tall, lean man reclined, reading an electronic book. He had close-cut black hair with a pointed beard, and unlike most tattooists she’d seen she didn’t notice any tattoos on him right away, thought he was wearing a buttoned up long-sleeved shirt. Without moving his head he looked up over his half-glasses and raised an eyebrow.

“Can I help you today, Miss?”

No games, now, Sima told herself.

“I want to get a tattoo…”

The man looked around the store.

“Looks like you’ve come to the right place.”

“I don’t know. Maybe. It’s… Look. I want the tattoo. But I don’t want any ink.”

“Say again?”

“I want a tattoo,” and she already had spotted exactly which, as well, “without ink.” She finished through nearly gritted teeth, bracing for an explosion.


She’d been asked this before, of course, she forged on, determined.

“Because that’s what I want.”

“Come on now.” He’d laid his book on the counter and taken off his glasses. His eyes were light brown, practically copper, and their gaze somehow destroyed her resolve.

This is useless. She’d been through this conversation so many times. And no matter how she phrased it, the outcome was almost always the same. She pulled herself deeper into her coat and began to turn away.

He leaned his elbows on the thick counter glass, and interlaced the fingers of his hands. “I didn’t say no. I asked why.”

“Because…” She could feel herself blushing, but she couldn’t get herself to say anything more. “Because!”

He looked at her until she met his eyes, and then until she had to look away, ready again to turn and leave. He tipped his chin at her.

“You’ve done this before.” It wasn’t a question.


“How many times?”


His eyebrow raised.

“When was the last time?”

“Three months ago.”

“Show me.”

“Excuse me?”

“Show me the work.”

“It’s my left shoulder blade-”

“Ok, let me see.”

“But there was no-”

“You can show me or you can argue with someone else.”

He didn’t sound angry. But he wasn’t joking around.

Sima stepped up to the counter and shrugged out of her coat. She looked over at the door as she opened the top two buttons of her blouse and pulled it down over her shoulder, turning so the man could see her.

He grabbed his glasses and leaned further over the counter to see. She stiffened as he slid her bra strap off her shoulder. His fingers were smooth, cool against her skin.

“Butterfly,” he said. “Monarch.”

She craned her neck around to look at him. She’d examined that shoulder in the mirror just the other day, and seen no sign.


“Trace scarring. The fluorescent lights make it easier to see.”

“Scarring?! Oh, no!”

Sima jerked away from the man’s hand and dropped to a kneel on the floor, yanking at the cuff of her pantleg. Fuck these jeans!

Then she froze, and looked up in near panic. Over his glasses and his counter, the man peered down at her. And her open blouse. Sima felt the color rising in her cheeks, jerked her shirt closed and, then hid her head from him as a sob shook her.

{Continued in Part 2}

Latest Comments

  1. paul1510 says:

    intriguing, waiting for part two, I may well be hooked.

  2. filledandfooled says:

    I’m coming back to read this in a moment, but first:

    I think your blog is spectacular.

    I have not been around long enough to see if you accept or recognize blogging awards. But in an effort step out of my comfort zone and reach out to writers that just blow my mind, I am giving you recognition that is beyond deserved.

    • Monocle says:

      Thank you! It’s very kind of you, and an honor to be thought of that way. We generally don’t do the blog-award thing. Many of them are designed like chain letters and propagate very quickly to a large population. But I’ll check with Will and Ximena.

    • filledandfooled says:

      Hi Monocle!
      First and foremost, this series is genius. There is already so much depth to her character in my eyes with no physical description really, and only a few hints of her past. I am cheering her on in her quest, and as a side note, I might consider a tattoo now. Did you know the have glow in the dark ink? Not sure how well it works, but I thought it was cool.

      As for the award, it was bestowed with no rules or requirements. I recently stumbled on this blog, and what can I say more than I know the quality of work to grow toward now. I have years of striving to get near the talent of the three of you, but I have vision now. Any more raving you want to read go ahead and click on my link, but absolutely no further action would be required.

      Honestly, I’m just tingly you responded. It’s a little like talking to a celebrity :)

    • filledandfooled says:

      And I agree with the chain letter quality to blog awards. That is why I changed it when it made it to me. I don’t want to get an award because I am last in the circle, I want my writing to touch others, and recognition for it is what keeps me going. But in the case of The Erotic Writer, you ought to know the gold you spin here. I did feel silly in handing you recognition, but I did it for my own benefit (to trust my praise matters, even in the case of giving such praise to professionals)…I know it is sort of emotional blubbering but my blog is still somewhat of an online journal.

    • Monocle says:

      *Chuckle* I’m no celebrity, but I am very gratified indeed you are enjoying our writing here, and honored by your recognition. And if what we do inspires or encourages you, that’s far better praise yet.

      I have indeed heard of ‘invisible’/black light tattoos. If I were ever to get one myself, that’s exactly what I would get. I actually have a little flash fiction about one:

      There are lots of reasons and ways to blog – they serve different and varying purpose for different people. I hope that you continue to express yourself as _you_ desire.

    • filledandfooled says:

      Thank you, Monocle. *giggle at your chuckle*

  3. Robert Storm says:

    Niiiiccccceeee!!! Seeing writing like this makes me step my game up

  4. April says:

    Wow. Definitely intriguing, I will be following this for sure.


  5. wordsmithingimp says:

    I have a friend a bit like this–she doesn’t get inkless tattoos, but she enjoys them as much for the feeling of getting tattooed as for the designs. Interesting premise for an erotic piece, I’ll enjoy reading through the rest of these.

Share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.