I think my new tattoo is haunted.
The sly fox had been winking at me all day, a tantalizing glint in his eye, as though he was laughing at me. Smug *******.
Sighing I yanked the sleeve of my sweatshirt down over the inside of my wrist where my new friend lived. Ha, I thought, not so amused when I put you in time out, are you? But then I felt my eyes widen as I realized what I was doing: I was taunting him… my tattoo. Rubbing my forehead in exasperation I recalled just how I let this happen.
I suppose it started, as many of my reckless decisions did, with Rikki. She was my cousin, but she was also that one wild and alive friend we all have, and, to a certain degree, need.
It had been her birthday last week, which is the reason I had found myself walking into a tattoo parlor at 11:50, ten minutes before she turned eighteen.
Rikki entered her first moments of adulthood making theatrical faces of exaggerated pain, whilst shamelessly flirting with the middle-aged tattoo artist. Luckily, he was kind enough to find her amusing instead of irritating.
There was once a time when Rikki and I had been a lot more alike. A time where we were both incorrigible troublemakers, free to chase the wind, no fear weighing us down. But things changed when my mom died. She had been the one to encourage our reckless abandon. She had a free spirit and a gypsy heart; she even named me Luna, after the moon.
Ever since her death I had just been more comfortable on the sidelines of my own life. Which is why I was the one behind the counter, watching Rikki. Until I felt someone watching me.
Glancing up I saw a short Hispanic woman approaching me. She had fire engine red hair pulled back in elaborate twists with a black bandana. It was immediately clear that she was the coolest person I had ever seen, her style a marriage between 1950’s pinup girl and leather-studded biker.
“You doing twenty dollar Tuesday?” she asked, shacking her gum.
Quirking my eyebrows together I shook my head no. “What’s that?”
The woman smiled at me conspiratorially. “We have a special deal on Tuesdays. Customers get a discount if they let the artist choose their tattoo for them. Gives us a chance to create whatever art we want and you get a great deal.”
I just blinked up at her for a moment. “Wow. Uh, no. I mean,” I let out a breathless laugh, “having no control over what goes on my body sounds terrifying.”
The woman smirked at me, “I think that’s the appeal. Sometimes people just need to do something spontaneous and exhilarating, ya know?”
I could feel the confusion on my face melting away like butter as I looked at the woman again. “Yeah, I guess I do,” I murmured.
Shortly thereafter I was sitting in a chair, a needle poking my arm, permanently marking my body with god only knew what. The woman, whom I had learned was named Lucy, wouldn’t let me look until the very end.
When she finished I just stared at the little fox for a solid minute. Lucy chuckled and said, “You’ll get used to it. The permanency of tattoos is what allows them to become a part of you. Maybe he’ll lead you back to who you are, show you where you belong.”
That little fortune-teller sentiment had struck me as strange at the time, and even more so now that my tattoo was acting possessed.
Daring to peek at him one last time I stared at the figure, as if daring him to move. My eyes widened comically when I saw his whiskers twitch and his bushy tail flick.
Air. I needed air. I hastily paid my bill and practically raced out of the little café and down the street.
As I started walking home I took a detour into the little forest near my house, desperate to clear my head. But the moment I entered, my tattoo started prancing around on my wrist, as though excited. I watched him race across the palm of hand, and just as he was running out of skin, and I was confused as to where he would go, he was standing in front of me.
Before I even had time to pick my jaw up off the ground he was sprinting away. He came to an abrupt halt when he was a few paces ahead of me and jerked his head forward, as though beckoning me to follow him.
Now there are some people who might not have chosen not to follow what was very likely a hallucination. But deep inside I was still an insatiably curious girl, raised by a woman whimsical enough to name her daughter after the moon. So, I chased him.
I followed him into a clearing where he suddenly stopped again, head whipping around as though searching for something. Suddenly, a dove came soaring out of the thicket of trees behind me. My fox let out a little yelp of excitement and rose up on its hind legs in greeting.
I was becoming more and more overwhelmed, and as my knees started buckling, another body smacked into me.
It was a boy, a boy with the same mischievous smirk as my fox. We both just stared at each other for a long moment until I saw my fox move out of the corner of my eye. He approached me slowly and placed his paw over the back of my hand, suddenly dematerializing, then reappearing back on my wrist. I watched in fascination as the dove also perched herself on the boy’s shoulder, only to transform into a tattoo on his bicep.
The boy shot me a disarming grin. “Lucy told me the dove would lead me where I needed to go. Guess she was right,” he said.