Water Colours

Rosalind felt restless. She wanted change. Something big. But she had no ideas, beyond another tattoo. She already had several, but couldn’t think of anything else to do to break her ennui.

She decided to add a level of fate into th-56fgve mix. She got on a bus, then the subway, then another bus. She walked down streets at random until she found a shop.

The tattoo parlour that faced her looked like most others she’d seen. A glowing ‘open’ sign. The image of a snake curled around a sword. Entering, there were a few customers milling around. No one seemed to notice her entrance, save one woman.

“Welcome to Dex’s Lab. I’m Dex.” She was all smiles and piercings.

“Rosalind. Do you have any openings?”

“When?”

“Right now.”

Dex looked around at the other artists. They each had a customer already. She put a hand to her chin, studying Rosalind. “I don’t often tattoo people anymore, but you seem like the kind of customer I like.”

“I… do?” Rosalind didn’t stand out in this room. Among some company, her clothing would attract attention. But not here.

“You came here to get something special, right? Something you’ve never seen before.”

Rosalind nodded, dumbfounded.

“Then you’re my kind of customer.” Dex led her to an empty chair. “If you could have any design, what would you have?”

“Watercolours,” she answered automatically. “But I don’t know what image I want.”

“Watercolours are beautiful. They’ll definitely suit you.”

Rosalind raised an eyebrow. “Are you flirting with me?”

“I never flirt with customers,” Dex lied. She pulled out a portfolio of watercolour designs. “If anything catches your eye, let me know.”

Rosalind closed her eyes and flipped to a random page. Her eyes still shut, she traced her finger in circles, finally landing on one image. Her eyes stayed closed. “Give me what I landed on.”

Dex blinked in surprise. “My, my.” She took the book from Rosalind and prepared her tools. The process was surprisingly quick. Rosalind had never gotten one so quickly. Dex asked questions throughout. Odd questions to ask of a stranger:

“Where’s your happy place?”

“Would you rather be a fish or a bird?”

“What’s your zombie apocalypse weapon of choice?”

At first, Rosalind wondered if Dex was an awkward conversationalist. It felt more like they were playing a ‘get to know you’ game than chatting. Yet, as the tattoo took shape, she got the sense that the questions had a different purpose.

She kept her eyes shut the entire time. She didn’t want to see until it was complete. It would be too late to regret her decision then.

“It’s complete.”

Rosalind opened her eyes and looked at where she had felt the pressure of the tool moments before. There was no tattoo there.

Dex smiled slyly and extended a finger. Waiting to make eye contact and get a small nod from Rosalind, Dex traced the length of her arm.

Watercolours appeared as if dripped from a paintbrush held aloft. Blue, pink, purple… They came from beneath her skin to form a body of water. A river that flowed down her arm and onto her hand. Fish began to crest the waves, leaping and dancing.

“How…?” Rosalind trailed off.

“This is you. Your soul. You want to move, to swim somewhere new. But you need to see that,” Dex said. “Now, you’ll never forget.”

“But how?”

Dex didn’t answer, instead she led Rosalind to the cash register. As she left the shop, Rosalind’s eyes were drawn again to the watercolours on her skin. She knew she was restless, but… leaving didn’t feel like the answer then.

Instead, she began thinking of ideas for her next tattoo.

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