The last of the guests had crawled away. She was in the kitchen, washing up glasses. She'd spent most of the night in there, behind closed doors, avoiding him. He walked up behind her and put his arms around her waist, his head on her shoulder.
"Are you mad at me?"
She stiffened slightly, trying to disengage herself from him.
"No, just tired."
"You spent all night in here. Didn't you enjoy the party?"
She shrugged. "They were mostly your friends. I didn't really know anybody."
He began to kiss her neck,his hands reaching for her breasts. She pushed him away, keeping her eyes down.
"Not tonight. I'm on the rag."
He pressed his body into hers, spreading her legs with his knee as his hands pulled up her skirt.
"I don't care, I'll renew my red wings."
She shoved him away from her.
"Jesus, I said no. Do you ever listen to me?"
She stalked into the bedroom, slamming the door behind her. He stood in the middle of the kitchen, the sting of rejection growing in his belly. Her cell phone began to vibrate on the table; flipping it open he saw "NEW MESSAGE". Hitting open he read: Babe, great party. So naughty in the kitchen. Want you AGAIN. He closed the phone and put it back on the table. Turning off the lights, he crashed onto the couch for the night as waves of grief and anger alternately washed over him.
Two days later they were sitting down to dinner; she was sullen and withdrawn. They ate in an uncomfortable silence when he mentioned he had an interview with a new tattoo shop that was opening two towns over.
"Oh," was all she said.
"Yea, they want to see my book. I was thinking of picking up a few hours there, just to have something to do in the evenings." He saw a spark glimmer in her eyes.
"How many nights?"
He looked into his wine glass. "Oh, I don't know, maybe three. Just to keep my skills fresh."
He saw her body relax as the wheels began to turn in her head.
"I think that's a good idea. We could use the extra money."
We my ass, he thought. "Yea, but I was thinking, I need to practice a little. Would you mind if I gave you something new?"
"No, that would be OK." She put her wine glass down and rubbed her face with her hands. "God, I'm really tired all of a sudden. I'm gonna go lay down for a while."
She got up and staggered to the bedroom, collapsing halfway there. He finished his wine, then got up and started to set up his inks and tattoo machine on the nightstand. When he was done he picked her up and placed her on the bed. He removed her clothes, then went into the bathroom to sterilize his hands. Pulling on a pair of nitrate gloves, he positioned the templates on her, turned on the machine, and began to work. He took his time, putting more effort and skill into each piece than any he'd ever done before. He inked for over four hours; finally he sat up and tried to straighten the crick in his neck. He blotted off the excess ink, and placed a light bandage over each. He packed up his inks and machine and left a note on top of his pillow. He walked to the front door, picked up a suitcase, and left. For good this time.
The next morning she woke up with a splitting headache. She rolled over to his side of the bed. "Jamie?" she slurred, wincing slightly at a pain in her groin. She reached for him; no one. Opening her eyes she found the note, then noticed the bandages on the inside of each thigh. Picking up the note she read:
I'm done. I'm tired of sloppy seconds. All I ever did was love you babe, but I guess that wasn't good enough for you. You always wanted things I couldn't give you. I've left you a little present so you'll always remember me. J
She dropped the letter and stared at the bandages, finally ripping them off.
"MOTHERFUCKER!" she yelled as she saw the intricately designed skull and crossbones on her inner left thigh, and the words, TOXIC, DISCARD AFTER USE embedded on her inner right thigh.
©2010 VL Sheridan