Fiction Five

Day 2 of Lothian’s Life’s fiction showcase.

Tit for Tat

I sat between a burly, hairy, heavily tattooed biker with only his face free of ink, and a skinny wee youth whose piercings carried more weight in metal than his body. I tried not to stare at the bangle-sized hole in both his ears, which was hard when they flapped around like a spaniel’s everytime he moved. He sported a little winged-heart tattoo on his right hand. His spindly fingers scanned through the tattered A4 folder of art, looking for his next piece of body art. He paused at the face of a red devil.

“Aye, that’s a good un mate,” piped up the hairy biker. “I’ve got one of them on my back, but big like. And it’d go great on your other hand, like the kind of opposite like, you know?” 

“Yeah that’s a great idea, man. Like love and hate. I like that. You know? Everyone’s got both in ‘em. Aye. So that’d make a great choice.” The wee guy nodded, his big holey lobes flapping.

My cheek muscles clenched tight to hold in the laugh. I didn’t miss the looks they sneaked over me. Sitting here in my best work suit, looking like a health inspector rather than a customer.

We all looked up at the young girl in school uniform exiting with a giant smile across her face. She giggled with joy as she gave her thanks and left. I thought back to when I was a teenager and the only body décor that trended then was pierced ears. Anyone with a tattoo was a freak, and if wee skinny here passed by with his giant holes and metal, they would’ve locked him up in an asylum.

“Dr. Neilson?”

I cringed, regretting putting my title on her form. It was habit having come from work, but this wasn’t the place for it.

 â€œYou want to come through?” The multi-coloured female tattooist beckoned, not a patch of un-inked skin visible. I clicked behind her into the room. “So, I got your email with the artwork, and this is no problem to do. If you’d like to have a seat and strip down, we can get started.” 

I eagerly stripped to my waist and settled on the freshly towelled padded chair. The time passed quickly as we chatted amicably. Before I knew it, it was over with, faster than a filling at the dentist.

“OK, then. Do you want to have a look?” The girl pointed to a full-length mirror. 

I stood, hands on hips, and admired the work. It was perfect. At a distance, I looked like I had normal nipples. As I walked closer to the mirror, they became more defined. A superman style S in nipple tones stood proud on my right breast where the cancer had been removed. But this S is for Survivor. And on the left breast, in the same style, a V, to represent my new life as a vegan, the only way I could now protect myself from further cancers, since I harboured that dreaded mutated gene.

After three years of surgeries, and double mastectomy and reconstructions, I felt like a woman again. It was a new beginning. I was different, but the same. I walked about, my chest stuck out proud, proud of my journey, proud of my tit tatts!

Neet Neilson

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