Under the leer of a new moon, inky slithers melt into life.
A mermaid licks salt-crusted lips, flicks her scales and dives, breaking through the waves of skin that roll across your chest.
The rose unfurls its petals, nips at flightless doves, thorns snatching at banners declaring ‘Stella’, ‘Gloria’ ‒ ‘Mum’.
You wanted ‘ink’ ‒ to be a man. Now the pictures that smother your skin smother you.
They weave and warp to form a tattoo where you never felt the sting before – your throat.
You dream of the needle, of the sea, of Sleeping Beauty cradled in her bramble nest. You stir, gasp, swallow.
Ink is your final breath-taker.
This is a story I first wrote last year for the now sadly defunct Micro Bookends flash fiction challenge.