In Lines, her first of two February Femmes Fatales pieces, Laurita tests your comfort levels from the very outset. Let this story move and unnerve you - for it will. And then some.
He glanced at his arm, at the progress. It wouldn’t take long; just one line this time, stark black on his pale flesh. Little dots of red rose to the surface, mingled with the ink, and he looked away. He didn’t like the sight of his own blood.
When the buzzing stopped he looked down at the finished product, the horizontal slash that crossed four existing vertical lines, a set of five that matched the one above it. Ten. It seemed like a small number, until he saw them grouped that way. He knew the suffering that went with each line.
He paid and left as soon as the work was done. Outside, the evening had cooled. He didn’t bring a jacket, didn’t want the fabric against his throbbing arm. It was really aching now, and there was a heavy knot in his gut.
The cold felt good.
He reached for the crumpled pack of smokes in his pocket and pulled one out with his lips.
He took it from his mouth and threw it on the sidewalk, tucked the pack back into his pocket. Just in case.
There was an all-night diner on the corner. What he needed was a good strong cup of coffee, maybe some of that awful apple pie with the cardboard crust. Something to ease his mind, keep his hands busy.
A young waitress pulled the door open just as he reached for it and she almost walked into him.
“Oh! I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you there.” She offered a smile and stepped around him.
“That’s alright,” he whispered, and watched her run across the street to the bus stop, pink skirt and red ponytail swinging.
He found a booth at a window, ordered his pie and coffee without taking menu. It was warm in the diner, uncomfortably so. He drummed his fingers on the table, focused on the drawl and twang from the juke. Outside, the waitress stood underneath the bus stop sign, illuminated by the streetlamp. She pulled her sweater around her and bounced a little on her toes. She craned her neck, looking for the bus. A stray dog wandered over to her, stuck his nose to her leg. She patted him on the head. He thought about the lines on his arm. The ten.
His pie and coffee came, dumped onto the table by a surly middle-aged waitress. The coffee was strong, the pie soggy and flat. He turned back to the window. The young waitress was just climbing onto the bus. Tonight she would relax and prepare for her long shift tomorrow.
He rolled his shoulder, felt the ache in his arm, felt a sob rise in his chest.
She would be number eleven.
_________ The End _________
Bio: Laurita Miller lives on a rock and and collects lines of her own. She sometimes comes out of her basement for coffee. Her work is scattered all over the web, like flies. She blogs here – www.ringkeeper.blogspot.com