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The room was already booming with loud music on this Saturday morning, and it wasn’t even noon. The words of the song awakened the soul and forced one to feel the good and the bad. Although the world outside of the room may have glowed, there were no windows that allowed entrance for sunlight. A girl was sitting on a couch that seemed to swallow up her medium sized body as she looked for a lighter with a tightly pearled marijuana blunt pressed against her lips. With half of her body already painted in images of her pain, she looked like she belonged on canvas. She had been here before. Been here quite too often. She rummaged through her bag and when it did not offer her what she was looking for, she hunted throughout the room.

This small basement tattoo shop with no windows and one door leading upstairs had become Troy’s altar. There was not a warm summer night that she had not spent waiting, smoking and eventually offering her body on a leather chair to a loud buzzing needle. It was a day just like any other day. Outside people walked with purpose, laughed carelessly, and cried about everything, while really crying about nothing at all.

Dane Mason sat by the leather chair with half of his body leaning on it. He was a short, thin man with a chest that seemed to cradle his beard and he had charcoal brown eyes, the color of fall leaves right before they die. There was not an inch of his body that was not plastered in tattoos. He was a man that one might compare to their lover and father in the same sentence, and they would find no fault in it. Troy was finished indulging and her short breathes and red tinted eyes wandered toward Dane. Every swift movement of her body signaled to him that she was not ready. Dane was about add to Troy’s body of work. He was preparing to carve his eighth masterpiece into her almost naked body.

Troy removed the necessary pieces of clothes, holding her breathe as if it would render the curves of her womanhood invisible. Her shirt and shorts slid helplessly off her body. She always looked about Dane’s house when she did this, never directly at him. Troy pictured her girlfriend somewhere laughing because she always was and not wondering where Troy might be because she never did. After removing her garments, she laid her body softly on the leather chair. She did this aware of the hatred she had towards people that threw their limbs casually as if the tattoo artist and his gun were doing them a favor and not vice versa.

She heard the gun, needle and its inky contents shriek with excitement at the sight of her skin. Troy took a deep breathe, and in that breathe, recognized that the first few minutes would be painful. She would question whether or not she had given Dane permission to penetrate her skin and strip it of its natural innocence and beauty, but by then, it would be too late. He would be holding her down forcing her to take the pain. This time she was getting a tree covering the side of her rib and reaching down where its roots would be grounded at her waist. It was a requirement by Dane that she was naked, for her clothes would restrict his access to her body. Her mind decided to comply with these instructions in fear of her body being disciplined if she resisted him. Troy really had no choice in the matter, Dane made all of the decisions. He made all of the rules.

Eventually, Troy felt like her mind and body had been separated. Her mind seemed to be screaming as it watched from a distance her boy being infiltrated by this intruder. She lied to make herself feel better, first convincing herself that it indeed did feel good, that somehow Dane was not only concerned with satisfying himself, but also was attempting to pleasure her in the process. But her initial effort to make herself feel better failed, so she merely concluded that she deserved this. That she had asked for it.

The outline of the tree was now done. Next, Dane would be changing the single tattoo needle, to a shading needle, intensifying the discomfort she would be receiving.  There was a short pause, but Troy knew he was not finished with her yet. He would be finished with her when he felt he was finished, not when she couldn’t take it anymore. Dane was in control of the situation.

While Troy’s body laid limp, her mind raced.

She thought, “I could just get up and tell him to stop. That’s what I’ll do, I’ll tell him to stop. That I don’t like what he’s doing. That I want to put my clothes back on. I’ll tell him that he’s hurting me and that I know he doesn’t want to”.

Though the music was loud, Troy could hear a knock at the door and the sound of footsteps shortly after. An older woman with black crispy hair walked toward the couch directly across from Troy and sat down. She seemed to be responding to a text message, but when done, looked up at poor Troy being held against her will on the leather chair. Her facial expression hinted that maybe she wanted to relieve Troy, but fear of the same thing happening to her prohibited her from doing so. The woman just watched. The woman’s physical features reminded Troy of her girlfriend and immediately made her appalled at the thought of her girlfriend seeing her this way, in this position, being taken advantage of so viciously.

Troy thought to herself, “It’ll be over soon. He’ll be done soon. This will be the last time I let him do this to me”.

And she was right. Dane was finishing up with her. The shading of her tree was almost done and in a little while, she would no longer be useful to him. He had done this many times to females and like all the others, she had been marked, ruined, and would soon be forgotten, while Troy was left to forever recall herself hearing the buzzing and feeling her motions for help being silenced.

She was allowed to get up now and cover her body. The woman on the couch gazed up at Troy and accepted her fate. The woman would be next. Troy wanted to tell her not to sit on the leather chair and to not let her clothes be removed, but she knew Dane was watching.

As they exchanged places, their eyes met and the woman simply asked, “Did it hurt?”

Even with her skin throbbing and the most intimate parts of her body aching, the only reply Troy could make out was, “Just a little”.



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