Cursed Ink

By @NoahShaw
Cursed Ink

Jem Santos gets a tattoo after a night of drinking and ever since he got it, he has been seeing a strange girl in his dreams, who he one day meets.

Chapter 1





I think my new tattoo is haunted. Not because anything particularly bad has happened. My girlfriend did break up with me two weeks ago, but I’m sure there is no correlation. And then there was the thing with Ms. McDougal’s cat, Sprinkles, (how was I supposed to know she was going to wander into the street on my way to get my daily McMuffin?)

No, it’s because I keep having this weird dream. Now, I’m an insomniac, typically filling my time watching Bob’s Burgers, (because who doesn’t aspire to be Louise?), in between my two-hour naps. But lately I’ve been able to fall asleep for more than five hours. And in those five hours, I see a girl. 

My vision is kind of distorted and the dream is hazy, as if covered in fog, but I’m positive it’s a girl. I can vaguely make out trees in the background and leaves on the ground as she walks slowly toward me. Her walk is calculated, as if she is hunting down her prey. She is wearing a plain, white dress that flows in the quiet wind. Her hair is pitch black, the same shade as the feathers on a raven. Her feet are bare but there are no traces of dirt, as if she glides above the ground. Since this is a dream and she is wearing white, she might be. And her skin is almost translucent, gold specks floating across it.

But the most peculiar and most frustrating thing about those five hours, is her face. Though the scene around us is hazy and unclear, her profile is as vivid as real life, but when I try to look at her face, it’s blurred out. The only thing I can tell is that her face is small, too small for a girl who is around my age.

When she finally reaches me, she just stands there, eyeing me, trying to figure me out. She always takes my hand in the dream, and I’m always surprised at how cold her hand is or even that I can feel the temperature of her hand at all.

She brings my hand to her too small face and rests, the motion of her eyes closed not lost on me. It’s as if my touch is calming a quiet storm within her. After a while in this hazy and quiet scene her eyes pop open and she stares at me. A few beats have passed and she brings her face closer to mine, my heartbeat keeping track of the seconds that pass.

There is a slight hesitation when we are a breath apart and after she whispers something that I can’t make out, she presses her lips to mine. Soft but cold, the kiss only lasts a few seconds before am I brutally ripped out of the dream, struggling to understand why I keep having it.

 I stare at my tattoo now, stationed on the inside of my right wrist. A tiny triangle with a slanted line in the middle is the cause of all my confusion and I can’t help but glare at it, reinforcing my dominance.

The cold air materializes my sigh as I tug my thin, black cotton coat closer to my body. I walk this little strip nestled in the small city of Poulsbo, ready for some overpriced hot chocolate to warm me up (as an insomniac, coffee is my worst enemy), and head in for my shift at the only music store in a ten-mile radius.

I’m almost to the coffee shop when someone walks out of the vintage store just ahead of me. The first thing I notice about her is the combat boots she’s wearing. They are definitely her most favorite pair of shoes, the poor things on their last leg. Then I see the dress she is wearing, a thin blue polyester number with bright yellow birds on it and I can’t help but frown at her choice of clothing in this god-awful weather of thirty-five degrees. And then there is the huge worn guitar case strapped to her back, making it almost impossible to make out her frame.

This girl seems to be new to the area, everyone knowing everyone in this part of the city. I start to wonder who she is and when she begins to turn around, I immediately regret it.

The pitch-black hair. The translucent skin. The too small face.

I stop dead in my tracks, her silhouette moving away from me instead of toward me. I can’t help but look at my tattoo, imagining it silently mocking me, and instantly making plans to remove it. But getting rid of the tattoo won’t dispel what I already know: the girl from my dreams is real and she wasn’t going away anytime soon.

I’m never drinking again.

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