Invisible Lines (Part 12)

Invisible Lines

(12)                  {start with Part 1}

Sima looked startled at his interruption. Paul had the feeling she’d gone through this little spiral of review and recrimination more than once before.

“You’ve never told anyone about this, have you?”

Sima gave a short, humorless laugh.

“No! My father still tells the story as ‘the time Sima almost got kidnapped in the market,’ though there had never been anything like that.”

Paul reached across the counter and took her hand in his, she let him.

“Thank you for telling me. No matter whether we wear them inside or out, the marks of our history are always on us, and the oddest small things can leave the biggest marks.”

Paul turned his left arm, showing her the underside of his forearm. The legs of the black scorpion design that seemed perched on the top of the arm wrapped most of the way around his wrist, but didn’t close. In that gap, artfully framed by arthropod legs was a rather sloppy looking, and faded “REBEL” with cartoony flames coming off the letters.

“That was my first tattoo. I did it myself when I was 13, and had no idea what I was doing.”

Sima’s eyes went wide.

“It hurt, and it changed things.The trade of pain for something. It was powerful, even though the art was crude and poor. I expended a lot of teen angst trying to figure out whether I’d ruined my life, or opened an amazing new door. I didn’t get another for a long time, but I studied them, and the people that did and received the work. When I decided on more, I still wanted to do it myself. And when I decided I wanted to do it for a living, I promised myself I wouldn’t use any technique on a client that I hadn’t tried on myself first.”

“So all of your tattoos..?”

“Most. Not all of them. Some areas are harder to reach.” He smiled. “My main mentor, and one more are the only two others who’ve inked me.”

Sima looked thoughtful.

“You’re… very careful with who you let under your skin.”

Paul nodded, smiling wryly.

“It is indeed that literal.”

“Kind of like wearing your heart on your sleeve.”

Paul made a show of checking the bestiary on his arms. There were no hearts of any kind on display.

“Yes, but not literally,”

Sima laughed.

“But here’s the point,” Paul continued. “While our whole past builds us, key events draw outsized, unexpected patterns in us. So in the end, we are the canvasses we are, whether or not you can see the designs clearly. And… I like what you are. The histories that marked us, I think they made us, in this one maybe unique way, matched opposites.”

Sima nodded, slowly.

“You took me by surprise, that way. But I like that I found you. That you found me. I like it a lot. And there’s a part of me that’d be quite content for us to simply use each other to scratch our respective itches. I think you know by now you can come back to me again for that. I want to take my needle to you again.”

Sima shivered visibly at that. Maybe she hadn’t known.

“But I have one condition,” He said. “Your lotus tattoo. Let me color it. I want one mark that shows. I… need that much. I can make it something you’ll like. Or at least hate less.”

Sima sat quietly for a long moment, eyes searching his face, then tracing his arms to where he still held her hands. She disengaged one and drank most of her water in one go. She nodded slowly.


Paul smiled, part exultant, but then went serious again, and considerably less certain.

“But… I really want more still than that. Or rather, I want to know if there’s more to be had.”

A range of expressions played across on her face, culminating in an almost bashful smile.

“Are you… asking me out?”

“Yes. I suppose I am.” Paul broke eye contact, and set to the organizing and assembling of snacks. “But not tonight. Sandwiches in, tonight. And tea – unless you want something stronger. ”

“Paul,” Sima’s hand was on his, index finger caressing the fang of the snake,


“I want… to see your tattoos. And hear their stories. All of them.”

The first part, Paul had heard a number of times before, but the second, only once, and when he had far less ink than now. Sima was asking for a not-small thing. And, Paul thought, she knows it. Which was why he agreed.

{Continued in Part 13}

Latest Comments

  1. paul1510 says:

    the best work is always the hardest.

  2. April says:

    Always ‘To Be Continued’…… Sigh.
    Wonderful, as usual.

  3. dark gracie ® says:

    I liked this post. I like that we get see more of Paul. Beautifully written as always. Each scar, each tattoo always has a story behind it. Funny, no one has asked the stories behind mine, yet.

    • Monocle says:

      Thanks, Gracie. Sometime I wish I were bold enough to ask random strangers their tattoo stories.

  4. Deliza Rafferty says:

    I heart these people.

  5. Wordwytch says:

    Another good installment. :)

  6. Cara Thereon says:

    Tattoos are so personal sometimes, and the stories attached to them (even the silly ones) are interesting. There’s something attractive about it. I like what you had Paul say about the canvasses that we are.

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