The wedding had been difficult to arrange. Waiting nervously outside the church Bill Militaire watches as friends hurry inside. Some wave, some give a thumbs up; most look slightly nervous.
At the altar Bill slips off his jacket and shirt.
“Do you Bill take this tattoo to be your lawful companion in sickness and health till death do you part?” asks the vicar.
“And you, tattoo of Kate Bush take Bill to be your lawful husband?”
“I now pronounce you man and tattoo.
”Everyone cheers except the tattoo that remains strangely unmoved.
It wasn’t painful, a gentle tickling feeling as the needle pierced the flesh of my upper left arm. The only noise penetrating the silence was the rhythmic buzzing of the needle not unlike the sound of a dentist’s drill. The composition gradually took shape. Small droplets of blood appeared and were wiped away by the Tattoo artist. I fell asleep and was woken by a whisper “All done.”
Too late to change my mind. A scab formed, eventually falling off revealing the design for posterity. A carefully crafted wreath of flowers enclosing the immortal epigram.
My first tattoo was Chris & Mandy with two hearts. A clever tattooist over inked the ‘M’ with a curly swirly ‘S’ when I met Sandy and added some more hearts. A year later I added m19.6.2002 and red hearts. Back to the tattooist for Joel b10.09.2002, Fergus b16.08.2003, Jewel b23.08.2004. Added an angel holding a gun next to Joel with the words joined the angels 12.10.2018. In 2019 didn’t bother going to the tattoo parlour, used needle and ink to score line through Sandy and my name. January 2020, new year, new beginning, Hazel, no red hearts.
A dorsal fin tickles my thigh. A large swordfish glides past, its pale silver underbelly and sloe coloured back fading. I continue swimming across the bay.
A man and woman pick their way across the rocks. Long black hair and a flash of red dress. They reach a clearing. She unbuttons her dress; such bold nakedness. He gazes, she turns to reveal a body carpeted with carnations, tulips and hyacinths, with peacock feathers and acanthus leaves. Hues of Prussian Blue, aquamarine, crimson and magenta. Her skin a canvass for exotic art.
I am in love.