Texas

Chinna Balachandran

I have pierced the water’s skin with my bone needle, ink dripping carelessly from her silhouette. It was an act of God that she happened to be in the water when I was. My friends always joked that water was my kryptonite. Well, once again, Lex Luthor has brought Superman to his knees. I should have been mad at her for making me go to the lake. What was she thinking? And it’s kinda funny because we would always joke about how if I was ever drowning, she’d save me. She’s my own personal lifeguard. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief when I saw a mess of ink attached to a woman swimming towards me.

 

She let me tattoo her once we started dating. It seems like so long ago… I could tell she was thinking about it too as she swam towards me; the ink was so heavy. She kept coming my way, determined to save me from dying in the stupidest way possible. After all, nobody wants to be responsible for their own death. I reminisced about her asking for the tattoos. What was she thinking? But if she wanted ink, I’d give it to her. And my bone needle pierced the surface of her skin over and over, as the months and years passed. Before she knew it she was covered from head to toe in my tattoos. I warned her that I don’t have a light hand. She took it like a champ at first, but ink that heavy was gonna take a toll on her eventually. “I can handle it,” she told me, “my tats work on me.” And she was right; her tattoos really seemed to fit her body better than mine fit me. I’d listen to whatever she told me anyways. Her drawl could move mountains.

 

And now she’s swimming frantically towards me. She wants to get me out of this mess. As she gets closer, I realize what’s coming. The lake turns black around me as I see the markings covering my body washing off. I should have expected to see the ink drifting towards her- this poor girl wanted every tattoo I could give her. I swear I hear our song and she does too, even if it’s only playing in my head. The tattoo I gave her the first time we listened to it together is on her shoulder. She’s reached me now, treading water in the middle of this ink-tainted lake. I take her by the hand and say, “Baby, I’m drowning” and she says “I know. I’m here” and just like that, it’s over. My bone-needle tattoos her one last time and the ink in the water clings to her. All my ink… all my shit is dragging her to the bottom of the lake. She’s a swimmer but I know she won’t make it back to the surface.

 

And then I push the tips of my toes downwards and realize I can stand.

 

 

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