Olive often traced her finger along the black ink lines of her rose tattoo. The simplicity of the black lines, with the beauty of the rose and the mystery of the appearance.
She had no memory of when or where she got it, and it would be fine the way it sat if it weren’t a swimming tattoo. The ink that was pierced and blended in the skin just as any other tattoo but this one could move and slither over the body.
Every day, every hour, sometimes every minute, the rose tattoo would move. Never content to stay in one place. Replanting itself where ever it pleased on Olive’s body.
The rose tattoo was twelve inches long, beginning with a perfectly blended red rose. So realistic that often Olive would touch the petals and imagine it was silky flowers beneath her fingertips. In the middle of the singular line stem, was the profile of a female face. Woven elegantly from the lines.
Not a single leaf or thorn along the stem, just the face. A side profile of a gorgeously perfect feminine face. A high arched brow, a single eye adorned with curly lashes and centered by a smart nose. Then there was the mouth; a beautifully poised smile with soft lips. Occasionally the smile pulled back to a toothy grin. Ending the face was a heart-shaped chin and another few inches of straight stem before fading off to nothing.
The face was lazy and casual, beautiful and erotic but it drove Olive crazy more nights than not. The rose tattoo’s home was on Olive’s outer thigh. Ending just below the divot of her hip bone.
The problem was, her rose tattoo enjoyed swimming over Olive’s whole body. Sometimes keeping her up at night, other times distracting her while working with chemicals for her work. The rose tattoo would harass her stationary ink pieces. Opening its mouth and pretending to bite Astro Boy’s hair peak off. Or the wings off colorful bumblebees positioned along Olives flank.
The rose female tattoo is not only a nuisance but had once almost caused a car accident by hanging off Olive’s nose.
There were a couple other women at the chemical factory that also had swimming tattoos. They never complained of said ink causing problems. Wanda, the safety charge, had a small library in her office. She also knew a lot about a lot of shit and laughed at Olive when she complained of the swimming rose female. The red petals would roll smoothly over her curves, but it was always the intent of the tattoo’s movements. It was an issue that had to be corrected.
After laughing at Olive’s grievance, Wanda explained how she had a star fall off her body. The moon and star set never looked proper again, “waste of money,” was her main grumble.
“I had to tape the rest of the stars on for weeks afterward.” Wanda continued, shaking her head. Olive could see it was apparent the moon was not meant to be floppy like melted cheese. The lines had sagged trying to hold onto the breaking tattoo. “It never swam again, but still.” She turned back to the book shelf, “there are a few different ways to make them stop. This book is really good…” her voice trailed off as she scanned the color sorted bookshelf. Black and white spine manuals took up three shelves. The last was a perfect painting, an artwork made of words.
The bookshelf rainbow began with pale peaches and banana yellows before the books melded perfectly into a row of bright orchids to calm mauve. Then mulberry of a first kiss down to the eminence of one’s last breath.
Wanda murmured the book titles as she scanned the shelf. Finally pulling the correct book out. The spine was Cornell red and faded to a lustful pink near the opening. The front cover is a spectrum with indiscernible creatures painted from black paint splatters.
Wanda set it in Olive’s hands, Wanda didn’t waste any time returning to her desk, the phone already ringing with another potential workplace accident. “Make sure you read it thoroughly before attempting anything.” She warned before answering the phone. Olive held the book, it felt too heavy for the size.
She peaked at the table of contents on her way home. The picture icons next to the chapter numbers were helpful. A picture of a black circle with typical swim lines, chapter 9: Over Ambitious Tattoos and How to Stop Aggressive Swimming.
Turning into the driveway and parking, Olive wasted no time grabbing a glass of water, bandages and closed the bathroom door. Although she knew her roommate would be hours before she was home, olive still preferred the privacy.
The name of the book, Cures to The Common Chaos, seemed safe enough.
The main points in chapter 9 covered the basics of how the ink was made. Crushed ruins pounded; chemicals added to give the ink properties comparable to that of chameleons. Mixed with your skin cells, it learned the travel. To swim.
It also mentioned how the ink particulars often took on personalities. Reports of Playboy bunny tattoo outlines with women tattooed on the inside, taking over the movements of host body with swimming. Causing pain to force limbs to move. Leaving marks and blood when not obeyed.
The mirror stared at her as she sat on the edge of the bathtub. Razor in hand, water, soap, towels, vodka. All the medicinal necessities on stand by.
Her phone sat ready for 9-1-1 just in case.
Step 1. Anger the tattoo back to the original position by smacking burning or drowning.
Step 2. Confirm the nearest location of main veins. If original position lands in red zones below (on human chart that was below the instructions) relocate to new position. Placed only in the white zones as bellow.
Olive broke the razor apart and plucked one blade from the mess. The tattoo swam to her inner thigh then around to her bum before travelling up her spine. It already knew. It dragged pressure along her back, causing Olive to cringe. She held still. Patiently, she swallowed the sick feeling as the tattoo began swimming faster.
Stopping suddenly, it tore a rip in Olive’s skin. A road rash, initiated from the inside. The inked face frowned as Olive began smacking her own tummy to force the tattoo downward. She had to get it settled back to the top of her thigh.
Hot red handprints traced the line of where her smacks landed. Olive timed it between her right palm hitting her tattoo downward and the blade running along the skin above her knee cap. The female face growled, and Olive’s muscle jolted from the rose tattoos anger. The rose head was jerking from side to side causing more pain.
The Cut was the width of her leg, but only slightly more than that of a cat scratch. The petals grew more angry. They billowed and crackled with anger. Like caged lightning. The female’s mouth shifted from an angry scowl to a silent death scream. Before the tattoo could swim in retreat, Olive dug the second line above the rose. Deeper this time, her breath caught on a stab of pain.
Olive shut her eyes for the East cut line.
Step 3. Once swimming tattoo is in appropriate place, make four touching cuts around tattoo. Deep enough only to make the line. Felt pen does not work for this. West sided line drawn last.
Tip. Do not cover the cut lines until the tattoo has shrunk substantially. That, says the book, is how the tattoo will become stationary.
Step 4. Change bandages often and keep wound clean and dry.
Tip. The swim of affected tattoo will be over.
Olive wanted it frozen to her upper thigh where it mysteriously appeared to begin with.
There was hardly a line of blood from the tiny cuts she drew. Only one left before the tattoo would be stationary. The west line. The rose tattoo female ripped and pulled harder at Olive’s skin, contorting the rose head and burning her hair follicles from friction.
Bleeding ripples appeared and Olive couldn’t take it anymore.
“Fuuuuuccckkkkk,” Olive hollered as she stabbed the knife into the once thin cuts. Wanting to be done with it forever, she sliced quickly down to the female’s chin. The delicate rose petals withered and fell. The reflection in the mirror caught the petals falling but not the pain. Her hand stopped dead at the skin between the rose tattoo’s chin and the last two-inch solid line of stem. The singular line which created the whole tattoo. Olive made a quick snapping motion with her wrist, but the world shrunk to blackness.
Olive opened her eye, horror flooded in as she looked at herself. Laying on the floor, bleeding from the arm. Her eyelids didn’t flutter, her chest wasn’t moving.
Olive reaches out to her body but had no hands. She rolled her eye down and screamed. Her inked lips made no sound. She couldn’t even blink in astonishment as her body stood up. Slowly and a little shakily, but soon it stood and walked out of the bathroom. Without her.