Tattoo Love

Tattoo Love

Theirs was a love of crushed beer cans with peeling beige paint and hair tangled in loose broken twigs. He’d carved her name on soft skin at the incline of his right hip: Stace. Some declaration of love.  Her nails bore the remnants of blue and green chipped varnish. Shorn ridges, bitten around ten thirty on November mornings, where a kettle steamed and spat hot water onto the mottled skin of the back her hand.  

Ten Lambert and Butler, tea strong with milk and the bag left in. He’d slide his half naked torso onto a torn crimson sofa, as she placed their happy infant upon a mucky carpet. Her hips whole and thick, carrying more weight, did not lessen his love for her. Tears streaming down her face stamping her foot. He left in half heard unfinished sentences and pale laughter that could not say his name.

He took up with a woman that bore resemblance to Stace. In shape, outline, skeleton.  In darkness, he caressed her back, as she talked of love in shrill voice. He clambered inside her. In the warm breath of climax he had said not her name. He’d slipped on jeans and shirt, then stepped over a cold discarded rubber on her bedroom floor. 

Along dark summer streets, London cars blaring music, he’d shout obscenities to the sleeping world. He considered past indiscretions. Once where he’d wedged some girl against a wall, in some back room bar, whilst Stace jolted her head back in long laughter. And after where he’d offered Stace his grubby hand on the street. She had declined and walked, only to turn her head and see the girl in his firm grip. In a room full of the stale breath of fucking and fighting she’d asked ‘Why?’ He’d replied, ‘I had to tell myself we weren’t together..’

He’d peeled her picture off a broken wall inside his head. A piece of her he had looked at when naked, drunk and over the shoulder of intimacies with others. He wrote numerous letters to her in his head. Imagining a fine rope between them, he’d take the thin frayed edge and tie it gently round her wrist, the rest wound firmly in his hand. Each night the particles of her cold breath whispered through folds of darkness some pained implorations of love. He’d slip into a re-occurring dream; she sat in long grass, the moon full and the sky black. A silvery light fell onto her lap and her slim fingers pulled the wings off butterflies. He’d awaken distraught, drenched in cold sweat.

That summer between the night hours of three and four he’d walk the streets, sit on the wall outside her window and kick small stones with the side of his shoe. As she lay inside with her lover, listening for the sound of them at love, he drank.

One morning she kicked his summer feet as he slept on grass. He’d stirred to see her face looking down at him in stern disappointment. He’d pulled her down next to him and placed her hand in the incline of his right hip.

Theirs was a love that caused him to call her name in angry affection down the High Street. Short and loud as he pushed their son in some cheap battered buggy. Throwing his hand up through warm summer air. Fist clenched, his forefinger pointing towards her wide back, that bore the tail of an inky black tiger. Tears streaming down her face, stamping her right foot. Theirs was a tattoo love.

Published by Stella McHugh

Survivor of so many things that happens to women and girls.

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