FIRST TATTOO • by Christina Morris

Wally shouldn’t have gotten the first tattoo. Soon enough he was covered – sleeves, neck, legs, and torso. He shaved his head and had a glorious bear skin rug image applied to his skull so that even if he went bald, he would be decorated.

He decided to go 3D when his cat was on its last legs. He had China’s tail grafted to the top of his coccyx at the same time he put the cat down. He woke up with a gray tail, which, while long for the cat, was dwarfed by Wally’s size. He wore it sticking out of the top of his pants. He was careful not to squish it, and in a few months time, he could even make it sway back and forth with the man-made, cultured muscle tissue that was implanted with it.

For his second enhancement, he took his mother’s hands. Within hours of her death, he had one attached to each side of his ribs, palms forward, so he could always feel her hugs. At first, he wondered if he had done the right thing. The hands lay on him limply and he had to tape them so they wouldn’t flop under his shirt. But, like China’s tail, with time, they grew stronger. Eventually, they squeezed him and even occasionally tickled him.

Within a few months, his father gave him a graft of his chest hair because Wally didn’t have much and he asked. He had the clinic put it above his right nipple. It was in the shape of a heart. The hair fell out at first, but then grew in so thickly, he had to trim it to see the shape.

Then Wally met a girl. She was a blank. Her skin was the color of gesso. He loved her instantly. She had potential.

She found him fascinating. Soon they were inseparable. They had picnics in the park. Took long walks in the woods. They made love with the lights on so that she could see all of him. She loved to rub the four horns on his head that came from the Chousingha he smuggled out of the zoo. He felt a little guilty about killing the small antelope but it was worth it. She liked to grind on the snake body attached to his leg that was at its bulk on his thigh. Her favorite thing was when he used the finger he cut off his friend in a coma and dying of cirrhosis to caress her. She liked to hear the story about how he fought off the nurse to get the finger for her pleasure as he used it to lightly make circles on her skin. She wasn’t too into his mom’s hands at first, but she got over it.

He imagined his ink flowing into her, coloring her. He imagined her with horns and snakes and fingers.

He wanted to be the one to give her the first tattoo. He told her, over and over.

Over and over, she said, “No. That’s not me. I like the way I am. I like the way you look at me with longing. If I let you tattoo me, you’d get tired of me.”

For their six-month anniversary, he planned a great surprise. He told her to meet him at the clinic. When she got there, he gave her his pinky toe, on ice. He said she could put it next to hers. She left the clinic and him, crying.

He stopped going to work. Instead, he followed her. He watched her as she went to the grocery store, got her hair cut, went to and from her office. He watched her go to nightclubs with friends and alone. He called her every day, begging “I need you to see me!” Every day she patiently replied, “Wally, it’s over. Don’t make this harder than it already is.”

He didn’t feel soothed by his mom’s hands; the cat’s tail was no longer a comfort. He rubbed the hair over his heart and tears squeezed from his eyes. He needed more. He needed her. The desire was killing him.

One night, he watched her come out of her house, alone. He approached her. She glared at him. They quarreled and tussled and she fell and hit her head.

He knelt beside her, his extra finger lingering on her skin. He watched her luster, dulling. “I just wanted you to see me.”

“I can’t see anything,” she whispered.

He had never wanted her more.

No one at the clinic was surprised to see Wally come in at dawn, carefully holding a spoon. He said he wanted the eyeball it contained for permanent placement in the middle of his forehead. “Windows to the soul,” he smiled.

Christina Morris lives in Cleveland with her husband and three children. She works as a web developer and writes stories when not distracted.

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