Ha, already had someone defriend me for all this. SORRY FRIENDS, I PROMISE I WILL ONLY DO THIS FOR TODAY.
(Donate to chewbobington at gmail dot com!)
(A description of what I'm doing is here.)
13433 / 35811 words. 38% done!
"Here you go." She handed me a pink glass of ice cold water. I bet it came from a Brita filter, too. "So, do you have an idea of what you'd like?" she asked, sitting down on a couch across from me.
"Not exactly. I was hoping I could look through that book you mentioned earlier?"
Lisa nodded, and gestured to an overflowing notebook sitting immediately on the table in front of me. Leave it to me to miss something so obvious.
"So is this your first tattoo?" I heard her ask as I picked the hefty thing up to flip through.
"Yeah, it is."
"You might want to get something small then. The small stuff's up front."
I couldn't believe how many designs there were to choose from. I felt overwhelmed. Lots of them were pretty, I found lots of animals, Japanese characters, simple shapes, all sorts of things that would look good on someone like Colleen or Miriam. I kept reminding myself that this was for me. I had their confidence now, or else I wouldn't be here, right? That's the whole point.
I sat there, flipping through the myriad designs while Lisa continued to ask me questions about my lack of tattoo history. I had a tough time concentrating on her and the book. After what felt like forever, I finally found something that resonated. Something me.
"This one," I said, showing the page to Lisa.
She smiled at me. "Great choice."
** ** **
Ow. Ow. Ow? Um, ow. Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow fucking OW.
** ** **
"All done," Lisa said, wiping excess ink from my leg. "What do you think?"
I looked down at the area above my right ankle where my new tattoo sat. I thrilled a little. My new tattoo! I'd done it! I'd lived! What would Colleen have to say about THAT? Granted, I'd have to wear socks around my parents all the time from now on, but that was a small price to pay. In addition to the large price I'd have to pay bill wise, but I tried not to think about that.
"It's gorgeous," I breathed. "Thank you."
"Any time, sweetie. I'll be out front whenever you're ready."
I sat there, staring at my tender ankle with its new tattoo, and tried to connect to the fact that this was, indeed, my foot. I tried to imagine it in one of Colleen's billion pairs of shoes, in a picture on her closet wall. My foot. My tattoo. Me! Me, me, me, I'd done it! Did I feel different?
I looked at myself in the mirror hanging across the room. I certainly didn't look any more bold or powerful. I looked just as backgroundish as usual, blond hair pulled back in a ponytail because I hate the way it feels around my face, and no exciting features. Just Madeline.
Madeline with a dang TATTOO. I tried to hoist my ankle up to my face so that I could look at both of us in the mirror, but the presure on my foot hurt too much, so I dropped my leg back down.
I skipped out of the room (gingerly), ready to pay Lisa whatever she asked for.
** ** **
I banged on Colleen's bedroom door. Her mom let me in, with a little glare given that the sun was on its way down and this was a school night.
"What?" Colleen shouted.
"It's me! Let me in."
She opened the door, and I saw Dan was over, too.
"Oh. Hey," I said to him, suddenly not too keen to have a second observer for the new aspect of me.
"Hey," he said back. I always got the impression that Dan didn't care too much about my existence and whether I was around or not. "Is this a bad time?" I asked.
"What, do you think we're making out or something?" Colleen rolled her eyes. "We're just shooting the shit. Come in."
I made myself walk fully through the doorway. Maybe I could say I just wanted to hang out, and show Colleen later at school.
No, the tattoo burned. The Tattooed Madeline would show Dan, too, and MAKE him like it.
Good point, I thought to my tattoo. And then I thought that we were forming quite a strange relationship.
"So what brings you by at this twilight hour?" Colleen prompted, giving me the perfect opening to show the thing off.
"I have something to show you," I said, doing my best to keep my voice strong. And before I had a chance to chicken out, I pulled up the leg of my jeans.
She looked. "It's a red 'M'."
"Yes, it is."
"Why'd you get a red 'M' on your leg?" Dan sneered.
Because it's my leg! Because it's what spoke to me! Because...I don't need to explain it to you?
"My name's Madeline," I explained. "Madeline starts with an 'M'."
"What, did you think you'd forget?" Colleen laughed. "You could have gotten anything!"
I felt my voice growing weak. "It's a really pretty 'M'. And anyway, you didn't think I'd do it, but I did."
"Did it hurt?" she asked.
"Do you feel empowered now?"
"Told you so. See you tomorrow," she said, not giving me the chance to make my own exit.
"Oh, okay, see you." I rolled my jeans back down and left.
** ** **
Well, that had sucked. I spent a shit ton of money on something Colleen had laughed at. Maybe I'd get a better reaction out of Miriam.
As I lay there in bed waiting for sleep to overtake me, I fantasized about Wake seeing my tattoo. He would be so impressed by my courage that he'd ask me to dinner. And then, as we ate something yummy together, like Chinese food or something, he'd realize that I was a lot more interesting than Janell from dance team and that I had so much more to offer him, so he'd dump her and kiss me and we'd be together forever...
** ** **
"Let me see let me see let me seeeeeeeee!" Miriam practically tackled me in the hall the next morning.
"I take it Colleen told you all about it," I said.
"Yeah, she said it's some stupid little 'M', but I want to see it for myself, let me SEE!"
I rolled up my jeans to show her. She squealed a little. "Oh, Mads, I love it!"
"Yeah. It's totally you. And it's so pretty! Colleen was just being a bitch. You know how she can get."
It's true. Colleen had a strong bitch streak.
"I'm so excited for you! Do you like it?"
I thought about that. I had liked it before I'd shown Colleen, and I liked it again now that Miriam liked it. "Yeah, I do," I said.
"Good, you better, you're stuck with it forever."
"Hey, Bret and I are going to the club tonight, you should come with us!"
I thought about that. Usually, when Miriam offered me club invites, unless she was playing, I declined. But I thought about what the tattoo would do. "Sure, I'll go."
"Awesome! Alec's coming, too."
I stifled a groan.
"We'll pick you up at seven, okay?"
Miriam gave me a squeeze and ran off. I figured going along with her would finish up any penance I still owed from the whole skipping her gig incident.
The whole day, I kept thinking about my tattoo, and who I could show it to, but in the end, I didn't show it to anyone else. I kept it to myself. It was my secret, after all.
At least until I was getting books out of my locker and I felt someone tugging at my pants.
"Right here," Colleen said. "You see? I'm not shitting you."
"Holy shit. That's awesome, Madeline."
She was showing Wake.
"Ack! Let go of my pants," I shrieked, kicking her away from me. I think these were the most words I'd ever said in Wake's presence. I wished they'd been more impressive.
"I've wanted a tattoo for a while now," he said. "Did it hurt?"
He was asking me a question. WAKE ELLINGTON WAS ASKING ME A QUESTION.
"Yes. A lot." He smiled that half smile and my heart went gurgle gurgle. "But I'm a huge wuss," I added, immediately wishing I hadn't. Why would I tell my dream guy about what a wuss I am? I'm sure that sounded appealing.
"Dude, I think it's cool. Very nice." He winked at me, which kind of made my brain short circuit. Then he waved at Colleen, and left.
I kicked Colleen again. "Oh my god, why would you sneak up on me with Wake like that?"
"He liked it! And you said more than four words to him."
"Yeah, I told him I'm a huge wuss. Fantastic."
"And anyway, you're the one who wanted to find her 'it' and own it. Part of that is knowing how to handle yourself in unexpected situations. You're not always going to have hours of fantasy time to plan out every interaction with anyone you want to appear cool in front of, you know."
I wanted to come back at her with something, but I knew she was right. I wasn't owning it. I was hiding it. I slammed my locker shut, irritated with myself.
"Can I borrow a pair of your shoes?"
** ** **
When I'm going out somewhere public, I often think about the outfit I could wear that would help me blend in the best. But now, I felt compelled to enlist Colleen to help me pick out something that would make me stand out, show me off. Including a pair of sexy, ankle baring pumps.
"You're going to have to trust me," Colleen said, rummaging through my drawers for my paltry makeup collection. "Part of owning it is getting all dressed up and knowing you can pull the clothes off."
"What if I can't pull the clothes off, though?"
"Then you're not going to own it. Do you want to own it?" She grabbed my shoulders and bored her stare into my eyes. "Do you?"
"Yeah, I want to own it."
"Okay. Then you're going to wear these shoes and you're going to know you can walk and look hot in them."
I took the maroon rhinestone pumps from our earlier photo session. "I'm not sure about the walking part."
"Yes you are! You are one hundred percent sure about the walking part, because you are an it girl, and you CAN do this! Now, here, take these earrings."
She handed me some long, sparkly, dangly things.
"These are going to get tangled in my hair and probably rip my ears of."
"I've worn them a hundred times and I still have both of my ears," she assured me, taking them out of my hand and sticking them through my ears for me. "Now, do you have any other eyeshadow colors than this?" She held up a couple small compacts with neutral colored powders in them.
She bit her lip. "Okay, I'll make do. Close your eyes."
Colleen went to work sweeping the stuff on my face, and I tried to imagine that she was actually drawing on war paint. I was preparing to go into battle! I had a fight to win, a fight that said I could stand up for myself and be awesome, and this would prepare me for that fight. I felt a little better.
"Do I have time to run home and get my silver eyeliner?" She asked.
"No. They're going to be here at seven."
"Okay, okay, let's see." She squinted at me. I felt kind of like a science experiment. Finally, she un-scrunched her face and nodded once. "I think you're done. Look at yourself and realize you're hot."
Well, I looked at myself, anyway. She'd managed to make me look like I kind of knew what I was doing when it came to makeup and hair, and I appreciated that. Now if only I could pretend I knew how to act around people.
I looked down at my outfit. I wore the shortest skirt I'd ever put on my body. Granted, it came down to about two inches above my knee, but I still felt super exposed, as I was used to wearing jeans or baggy sweat pants. And Colleen had also brought over one of her halter tops, so now I had bare shoulders as well as bare legs. I felt kind of naked.
"Do I look like a slut?" I asked.
She appraised me carefully. "I can't see your butt crack, so I think you're good."
What more could I ask for?
I checked the clock. Five to seven. I felt nerves course through me.
"What do I have to do again?"
"You have to initiate conversation with at least one person you don't know. And you have to dance to at least one song, whether you have a dance partner or not."
"You're trying to kill me."
"Hey, you're the one who keeps asking for my advice. Take it."
I sighed. She was right. I twisted my fingers around each other, and glanced down at my tattoo. "This is all your fault," I whispered. I swear I heard it say "sorry" back.
The door bell rang.
"Augh! That's them. Are you sure I don't look stupid?"
"You don't look stupid. You look amazing. Go kick ass." Colleen smiled at me and patted me on the shoulder.
I squeezed her hand. "Thanks. I owe you one."
"Forget it. I plan on raiding your fridge before I leave, so I'll consider that payment enough."
I ran out of my room and through the hallway to the front door. Before I opened it, I tried to collect myself and feel that reassurance Colleen had given me. It was shaky, but it was there. I opened the door.
Miriam and Bret looked just as fabulous as ever, like they belonged on stage and not just on the dance floor. Miriam squealed when she saw me.
"Oh my god, Mads, you look amazing!"
Bret nodded. "Have to give props, Maddy. You look pretty nice."
I grinned. Two approvals all ready! Maybe this wouldn't be such a bad night. You know, other than the whole having to initiate a conversation thing.
** ** **
It is food break tiems, I think.