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2014 Short Story 9-10 2nd Place
Amby flinched as the needle pricked his virgin flesh. His memories eluded him; how he came to sit in this shady establishment, he had not the slightest recollection. The black, windowless walls encroached on the boy; sweat trickled from his caramel curls down his dainty nose. Adding to the unscrupulous atmosphere, it seemed that there was only one light in this cramped cage of a room, a spastic incandescent bulb, and it was aimed at the point directly behind his left knee. The light was not cool like the fluorescent lights at university, this light burned with an intense passion; the pain he felt from only the light was just as uncomfortable as the pain from the needle’s touch. Amby wanted to cry out; he wanted the sharp pain to stop, but it was too late, the ink from the first few strokes had already set; worse than a full tattoo was an incomplete one.
As far as Amby could remember, he had never ventured to this part of the city; he never had any reason or want. It seemed to be a red-light district which only those with “special connections” or “certain reasons” could enter; though there were no windows in this dark hut, the walls were anything but soundproof. Amby was painfully aware of his location. He could hear the click-clack on new high heels on pavement. He could hear the slow drawl of drunk women and men mere feet from the wall’s protection. Even more odd, Amby never before had the slightest interest in tattoos. Why here, why now was he reclined in this worn and faded office chair, his foot propped up on a splintering mahogany high stool?
After what seemed like eons of agony, Amby’s pain was over, the tattoo was complete. The course brown-haired woman with the needle backed away, handed the boy a mirror, and let the young boy inspect the fresh addition to his flesh. Satisfied, yet very uneasy about the new ink, a small yellow daylily, Amby flew from his seat and hurried to leave the dreadful place. But a wrinkled and calloused hand jerked him backwards, grasping tightly and surely his right arm. “Payment, ‘youngin,” the nasally words slowly escaped from the middle-aged female tattoo artist.”Payment. A smooch from you, ‘youngin. Kiss me, you fool. You poor little fool.” The female leaned in closer and closer to him, first scraping his forehead, then his cheek, then his lip.
As the boy was tugged closer and closer, his mind pulled farther and farther away from his reality. Anxiety rose from his inner being, and he felt his world collapsing in on him. Emotions imploded, and he felt everything at once.
Finally, he felt nothing at all.
The girl grew up in a large house in a small community of two hundred. She had always been out of place, even before she moved to the small town. Her hair was never neat like the other girls’; she often wore her dirt brown mane in a messy, knotted ponytail. The young girl’s mother had no time for the girl. The mother was hardly home, and when she was, she always had a strange, new man with her. Her father (“as ‘stank as the beasts ‘e butchered,” according to her mother) had vanished years earlier.
“‘Betta that ‘es gone! ‘Betts that only ‘aim ‘ere!” chortled the woman, with a cheap cigar in hand, sludge spewing from her black, cancerous mouth.
As much as the girl knew she ‘ought to love her mother, she couldn’t help but absolutely, wholeheartedly loathe her. The girl despised that woman’s clothes. The girl despised the woman’s manner. The girl despised the woman’s men, and most of all, the young girl despised the woman’s stupidity.
The woman had not only a daughter, but also a son, a perfect son. A son that never fought back. A son that never cried; a son that loved his sister. Unfortunately, the woman had her own thoughts about the perfect boy. “The ‘lil imp looks too damn much like ‘im! Crime it ‘oughta be, damn crime!” she’d often screech.
The girl had learned to ignore the woman’s cries, as the woman was often too drunk, too high, or in most cases, just plain stupid; still, even stupidity could never explain her utter hate for the boy.The young girl knew that her brother, tiny for his age of eight, was an angel wrongly condemned to live in this hellhole. His sweet face always comforted the girl after a day of the woman’s rambling. Caramel brown curls framed her brother’s large spring green eyes, his tiny dollop of a nose, and his perfectly bright and brilliant smile. His lilliputian limbs were as delicate as a porcelain doll’s, and little brother always embraced the girl with such warmth, such tenderness. They whispered secrets and happy things when the woman wasn’t around. They laughed together, they played together. They absolutely and wholeheartedly loved each other.
One day, when the young girl couldn’t take any more of that woman, the girl stole away with her brother in tow. They ran away, they ran far, far, far, far away. The girl ran until she couldn’t see her hell of a home. She ran until she couldn’t hear her incapacitated
drunk of a mother screech brutal, nasty things. She ran until her legs couldn’t support her no more. She ran until her mind went fuzzy. After that, she crawled; she needed out, out, out. Her brother followed too, but not for the same reasons; the girl’s brother ran simply because he loved his sister.
When the pair reached the edge of their small town, they continued their journey. Traveling until they reached a field of wild flowers. It was not yet sundown, and the girl wanted to continue on, but her brother stopped and sat down in a patch of lemon yellow day-lilies. He didn’t pick the flowers, as most curious children would, he simply sat in his little patch, in his own little world. He stared at things the young girl could not see. He smiled at things the girl could not see. He was in his own little world, and nothing could distract him; not a thing in the world could take his eyes off of those lovely lemon yellow day-lilies, but that hand! But that touch! The boy’s sister grabbed him in his pleasure. She held him tightly; tightly like no one had ever held him before . . . no one but the woman. The girl stroked his hair; she petted him. The girl’s face encroached upon the boy’s face. Her lips brushed his forehead, his left cheek, his lip. The boy did not like this; no, this was not his sister. His sister loved him too much to jump at him like this. Only that woman ever did this.
This was a monster, a ferocious beast. He needed to tame this creature.
He roared at the creature, and it jumped back. It looked frightened, but the boy knew he couldn’t back off. It was still a monstrous beast. He scratched and kicked, and the thing didn’t fight back. When he grew tired of fighting it, he stopped and looked at the beast’s face. Mauled and bleeding and bruised, it looked much more like his loving sister than a wild creature. She looked sad and pitiful, but he couldn’t risk the wild beast returning. He planned to flee without the girl, he was old enough, he was strong enough, he was brave enough. Before departing into the dark rays of sundown, he looked at the girl, the poor, stupid girl, and whispered, “You fool, you poor. little. fool.”