RIGHT HAND, LEFT BREAST

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The one and only tattoo he ever got was on his right forefinger. It said 'Thou shalt not kill' in that blue-black ink that no one used anymore, because color is so much more fun. She did not want it to be fun.

And it had not been at all. It had hurt like a bitch. She had known it would; she had told him it was one of the major reasons she had chosen to do it there. The hand is the most complicated part of the human body; it is constituted of twenty-six bones, which means that the two hands represent over a quarter of the total number of bones of an human body. Funny, no? She had said.

And the muscles? Over forty. Tendons? Over forty, too. She couldn't remember the number of nerves, but like the rest, it was such an enormous one. The sheer complexity of something we use everyday, so naturally!

She was no tattoo artist; her father had been one, and he had taught her the ways, but she had never had much interest for the technicalities. She had warned him that he was risking an infection, his finger falling off, or the pain never totally fading.

He had done it for her, because he loved her, and he knew that somehow, she was right. He needed something to remind him – them – of what he had done. He had had to do it, of course. They both know that.

The one and only tattoo he ever got said 'thou shalt not kill'. It was on the palm face of his right forefinger, the one that had pulled the trigger.

Hers was not her first tattoo. She had three others in various places. One on her left breast, spelling Brian, which was not his name, but her husband's. The two others were dates, both on her inner wrists; right, the date of birth of her daughter Charleen and left, the date of death of her father.

Charlie was not there when they did it. She did not know what they did, actually, and they did not plan on telling her. She was only five, much too young for everything that happened to her.

Her tattoo was on her left breast; he did not understand how she had managed to write it evenly. It said 'Thou shalt not commit adultery' in the same color as his. That was the first thing he touched with his right hand, the first time they made love. And he had used to sleep with his right hand on this breast. Only fitting, she had said, only fitting. He thought that she probably would have tattooed it on her heart had she been able to reach it. That was so ugly, he had told her when she had shown him, she should not have done this.

He was not the only one who needed to remember what he had done. That was her answer. They both needed a reminder and a punishment, and their tattoos were both.

She had suffered too; he did not know exactly how much, but he did know that when he spent too much time to her breasts, she often told him to stop because he hurt her. The pain must have been hard, yet she did not wince once.

The fourth and last tattoo she ever got said 'thou shalt not commit adultery'. It was next to the name of her husband, on her left breast.

And when he put his right hand on her left breast now, their tattoos told the whole story, again and again and again.


Entry for the Writing Challenge Contest of July at the Review Game.