Picture It and Write It-Scars in Ink

Thank you Ermilia for the kick ass photo prompt this week.

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The tattoo is the mark of the soul.
It can act as a window through which we can see inside,
or it can be a shield to protect us from those that can not see past the surface.

They lie side by side in a king size bed. Their black lab, Mowgli, takes up the other half. He juts his paws out and appears to be running as he dreams. A soft whimper escapes from his open mouth.

“What do you think he’s dreaming of?, Damon inquires.

“Chasing rabbits in the woods,” Rhiannon replies.

“Why do you think he’s chasing rabbits?”

“Because he’s smiling.”

Damon shakes his head and chides, “Dogs don’t smile honey.”

“Mowgli does, but only when rabbits are involved,” Rhiannon giggles.

Damon turns on his side and faces Rhiannon. She is so beautiful. Green eyes, freckled nose, and red hair. Real red hair.

She continues to lie on her stomach but turns her head to stare into his blue eyes.  He begins to gently trace the lines of ink on her back. Wishing he could understand her need to have a needle full of color driven continuously into her skin. It becoming an amalgamation of many stories into one. Harmonious in its chaos.

She looks at him. “You want to know why, don’t you.”

“Yes.”

“Is it that important to you?”

Damon lies and tells her, “no.”

Eyeing Damon suspiciously she begins to speak. The tale that Rhiannon weaves is almost beyond comprehension. He had no idea the pain she’s endured during her life. He wonders how she ever made it. A beautiful, broken woman with ink permanently etched into her skin. They are her scars and badges of honor. Rhiannon wears them proudly to prove that she is a survivor. Oh God, how Damon loves her. Even with her scars.

“My step father raped me and then passed me around to his friends. I was a young girl and confused. It felt good to be needed. Felt good when he touched me. I thought he cared about me. As I grew older, he wanted less to do with me, and his attention turned to my little sister. I endured pain and humiliation, but I would be damned if he was going to touch her. One night while he and my mother slept, I shot him. I made sure that he would never touch another young girl again, especially my baby sister.”

Damon stares at her unblinking. He can’t believe his ears.

“You asked me why, and now I’ve told you. The images cut into my skin are reminders of a life left behind. I didn’t get charged with anything and Sis was safe. At 15, I became a grown up, but my innocence was gone long before that.”

“I have no idea what to say,” Damon admits.

“There’s nothing to say, and no balm invented to fix me,” Rhiannon explains. “Isn’t that all we ultimately are, scars that have been repaired?”

“I guess you’re right, but I’m sorry. That’s all I can think of to say.”

Looking into his eyes she says, “that’s all you need to say, and that you love me.”

“I love you Rhiannon, with everything I have.”

She rolls over and into Damon’s waiting arms. He kisses every inch of the tattoo on her back. Rhiannon gives a contented sigh, and watches as Mowgli continues to dream of rabbits and smile his doggy smile.

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Beauty, Battle Scars, and Survival

“BATTLING CANCER MAY HAVE WEAKENED MY BODY BUT IT EMPOWERED MY SOUL.”
Denise Osborn, Survivor 1998

She looks at her breast in the mirror of the tattoo shop. Behind her there is the sound of the needle biting the skin of another willing participant enduring pain for beauty. For art. There are people milling about too. Talking. There’s music. Steady, with a heavy base. She hears and sees none of it. She just looks at the beauty of her body and her reflection. She realizes that her breasts do not signify her womanhood. They are merely flesh, fat, blood, milk ducts, and nerve endings. They’ve been used for nourishment and for pleasure. They have experienced pain, need and want. Recently the left one has experienced pain. From mammogram, biopsy, diagnosis, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. It is now battle scarred.

It will never work the same way again. The nipple is there, but it is merely a prop. The breast has been reconstructed, but it will never feel the nuzzling closeness of a little one’s mouth when it’s time to eat. It will feel the hands, lips and tongue of a lover but it will never respond the same way. The nipple will never rise again. It merely exists. But it is there all the same. She is there all the same. She and her breasts are still viable. Still beautiful. Still her.

The artist decorated her breast with an array of pink petaled flowers and green leaves. Not to hide the scars, but to commemorate them. To honor her struggle. Her survival. She knows now after this journey, that her womanhood is not tied to her body parts. But to her spirit. Her battle scars are her womanhood now.