When Kayleigh was just a little girl, her parents lay down some ground rules.
First of which? Never come home with a tattoo.
Kayleigh walked into her apartment, took her jacket off, and couldn’t take her eyes off of the new ink that had just been permanently engraved into her inner forearm. She couldn’t help but chuckle a bit to herself, the raised skin reminding her of all the rules she had broken as a child. Her parents rules were now adages of the past, whispers in the wind that Kayleigh only heard when she was near her childhood home where her parents were buried.
The tattoo itself, ironically, was for her parents.
Her mother had always loved to sing.
Kayleigh’s finger gently grazed the notes that were now on her arm forever, arranged in a staff that was surrounded by lilies, the flower that her mother was named after. The staff only had a few notes, all of which the same pitch: B natural. The starting note of a song that Lily would always sing to Kayleigh when the girl’s nightmares were too bad for any sleep to come over her.
The notes were arranged in a rhythm that would match a heartbeat. Kayleigh would cling to her mother, her ear pressed against her chest. The calm, steady beat of Lily’s heart paired with the sweet tune of their favorite lullaby never failed to take Kayleigh to her dreams.
The melody still crossed Kayleigh’s mind, even though her parents were long gone, since even before Kayleigh decided she wanted a tattoo.
The night went on, Kayleigh hanging out with friends, showing off her new ink, thinking about her mother. She wondered, would mama be proud of the woman I am today? Would she scoff at my tattoo, even if it was meant for her?
These thoughts lived in Kayleigh’s mind, settling into her brain like a virus into its host. They were a part of her. There was not one day where she didn’t have sickening thoughts that ate away at her heart and tested the strength of her tear ducts.
Returning home, Kayleigh got ready for bed. She undressed and changed for sleep, catching more and more glimpses of her tattoo and thinking more and more of her mother. She finally got situated in her bed, staring at the ceiling as more and more thoughts passed through her brain.
Drifting off to sleep, Kayleigh was hardly disturbed.
For a short time.
Soon enough, Kayleigh was awoken by nothing other than exactly what she had put on herself for eternity.
Kayleigh awoke with a gasp, being accompanied by an apparition at the side of her bed. Upon further inspection, Kayleigh could see that it was her mother.
Lily. Her mama.
Kayleigh’s heart began to race, certainly at a tempo much faster than anything her mother ever put her to sleep to.
Kayleigh heard something soft emanating from the silhouette of her mother, an undeniable tune that was feeding its way from Lily to her daughter.
As Kayleigh heard the notes, tears poured from her eyes. The one good thing about all the bad things that happened to Kayleigh in the night as her mother comforted her was that her mother would always be there to wipe away her tears.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case anymore.
Instead, she was visited by an intangible apparition, singing to her from a realm far away, only bound to the world around Kayleigh by some ink of a haunted tattoo.