Fragment #002: Dragon (1/3)
From the memoirs of Carl Rogan, written in years 7-9 A.C; collected Year 24.
We had been together for maybe a month or two when Jean brought me to the tattoo parlor to see her design. The artist laid it down on the table for us and she just beamed down at it like she’d won the lottery. The same expression she’d given me once, maybe twice before, when we were in bed. I had to fight down a surge of jealousy that something other than me could bring that look to her face so easily, right there in front of me.
I knew I was being irrational, of course, and rather than let Jean notice, I looked at that tattoo as hard as I could, looking for something nice to say about it.
It was the most beautiful tattoo I had ever seen, I told myself, a lithe and graceful Chinese-style dragon designed to curl down her torso, tail flicking up between her breasts, body curling down her abdomen down around her navel. It was a huge tattoo, bright and colorful, the sort of horror image mothers get in their heads when their teenagers talk about getting tattoos, but despite its complexity and size there was something disarmingly subtle and simple about it.
I stared at that design for so long without speaking that Jean finally put her arms around my waist and asked my neck what I thought. “It’s very beautiful,” I told her, trying to sound sincere. “When are you getting it done?”
Her lips pulled back into a grin. “Sometime this week, Carl. I was thinking maybe even today, but I don’t want to make you wait around. It’s going to take hours.”
I looked down at the design again. I was here first, I thought. But that tattoo will probably last longer than I will.
I was wrong.