It was one year, six months, and three days before Miranda stopped driving past David’s house every day. She gave up reading his stupid blog about deep-sea fishing a month after that. Finally she discarded the last unwashed t-shirt he’d left behind.
The following Friday she joined a dozen coworkers in the bar and ordered Tequila shots turbocharged with Cointreau chasers. Near closing time, she declared, “My addiction to the most toxic person on earth is cured and I’m getting a tattoo to celebrate. Who wants to join me?”
The skinny kid from payroll slid another shot glass her way and winked at her. When the pub closed they wound their way to the part of town that never shut down.
Miranda woke the next morning and lay statue-still, afraid that her head would crack if she lifted it off the pillow. Fragmented memories of the night before flitted across her brain: a fish and chips shop with hookers out front. A tattoo parlour with biker gang designs in the window. She’d bargained the tattoo artist down in price. The kid got a 3D bat on his shoulder. Everything after that was a blank.
She wanted Chapter 2 inked across her right wrist, to remind her that being a divorcee at twenty-five wasn’t the end of her life. She held up her right arm. Bare. Her left arm was uninked too. Maybe she’d changed her mind.
On shaky legs, she fumbled her way to the bathroom, stripping as she went. She glanced in the mirror as she turned on the shower. What was the black track that wrapped around her right breast and snaked down her stomach? Grabbing her phone she snapped a selfie and squinted at it. Spidery cursive script read: Whatever doesn’t kill us only makes us stranger. Stranger? She stretched the photo larger. It definitely said stranger. In two-inch high letters. In fact it looked like the tattoo artist had gone over the letter ‘a’ twice, to emphasize it.
When her phone rang, David and a picture of her ex-husband flashed on the screen.
“Yes?” she answered tentatively.
“Hi Babe.” David’s deep melodic voice still made the hairs on her arm stand up. “Can you forgive me? I realize what a total idiot I’ve been. How about we go out for dinner some time and see if the flame is still burning?”
© Maggie Bolitho
Image from Wikimedia Commons: Toulouse Lautrec, The Tattooed Woman, 1894 (uploaded by Petrusbarbygere)