Under the skin

Henna hand tattoos

Image : Pixabay

‘Can you recommend anything?’ she says.

The doctor stares at her palms, at the intricate design of tendrils, petals and leaves that curl over her skin.

‘And you say this happened as you slept?’

Scepticism in the doctor’s voice. She attaches no blame for that. Seven doctors, three specialists, a holistic healer – all have seen the scars, all shook their heads, doubtful, doubting her honesty, her mental health. She knows some have suspected her of making the marks herself, of scouring the patterns with a razor, a pin, a knife, waiting for the wounds to heal to delicate threads and whorls.

‘It happens every night as I sleep.’

Every morning the same,Β the pain somewhere new – the base of her neck, behind her knee, the sole of her foot – and when she looks there it is, another flower, another leaf, a serpent, the scaly dragon’s head, wings outstretched, ready to fly from her back.

Suddenly she doesn’t know why she’s here, why she’s put herself through the scrutiny, the prodding, the intrusive examinations, only for the same bafflement to follow her from the consulting room.

She grabs her coat, mumbles an apology, makes to leave.

He grabs her hand, his cuff rising on his outstretched wrist. It’s then she sees it.

The same brown scars, the same curls – the same dragon’s head, beady eye winking.

‘We need to talk,’ he says as tears soak her face.






32 thoughts on “Under the skin

    1. Haha! Thanks Joy. I did like this as an opening premise for something longer, though not sure where it would go after this. Nice to know the poor woman has an ally, though πŸ™‚ Thank you for reading

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you lovely. At least they have each other, eh? I like the idea of marks appearing on the skin by themselves. Had a kids’ story idea where a persons’ markings changed according to their mood – soft swirls when calm or happy, zigzags when angry. Quite liked that idea πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks Tish. I think it could be longer, though sadly I can’t think what direction I could take it at the moment. Love the idea of the marks appearing overnight – how terrifying that would be. Thanks so much for your kind comments πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pola. As you can tell from the photo, henna tattoos were the inspiration for the story – they’re so gorgeous. And yes, lovely that they found each other. Now whatever is happening to them, they can face it together. Thanks so much for reading πŸ™‚


    1. Thanks so much! I started by finding the photo on pixabay (love henna tattoos anyway) and it was one of those ‘what if’ stories – what if those tattoos weren’t drawn on, but appeared by themselves overnight? What would you do? Some might think it was a (weird) medical condition and see if science can help them overcome it. And what if she finds she’s not totally alone, but that at least one other person has the same condition?
      Sometimes ideas just ping into your head and you’ve no clue where they came from. I did quite like this though – potential for something longer perhaps. Thanks so much for reading πŸ™‚

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      1. Most of my flash comes this way – picture or word prompt first, then a story spinning off from that. Novel ideas are more complcated, of course, but still often a ‘what if?’ or being nosy, wondering what people are like, what they’re thinking. I saw a builder on the bus a few weeks ago – an older man but still very strong, muscular. Then I noticed he had two hearing aids and began to wonder how that affected his view of himself, his work mates’ view of him. In a masculine world, did it make him feel any less able? I think when it comes down to it, I’m just a nosy dreamer πŸ™‚

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      2. Yes, you’ve really got to love it or what’s the point? Writing becomes a habit and once you’re in that habit, it’s very difficult to shake it off because your brain keeps spinning even when you don’t really mean it to πŸ™‚

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      3. I don’t have targets – though I’m sure I should – and spend much too much time on the blog rather than on projects like novels that might pay one day. I fit writing around work and other commitments, though I’m lucky not to work full time at the moment. When do you write? Do you set yourself targets? πŸ™‚

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      4. I do know what you mean, though I’m always thinking I’m not focussed or productive enough. Not if I want to make some money out of writing one day πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks very much Jessica. Sometimes stories just come together – of course sometimes you’re just staring at the screen, wondering what the heck you’re going to write today … Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much πŸ™‚ Maybe I could extend the tale a little in the future – if I can work out where it’s going! That’s the joy of flash fiction – you only need to hint, no real plotting required πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading


    1. Ah, thanks so much, Cymbeline πŸ™‚ I really must read some Ursula le Guin – the Earthsea books are supposed to be terrific, aren’t they? πŸ™‚


      1. They really really are, although do be prepared for a definite change in tone through the series! The first three are more typical fantasy (if atypical in terms of quality), the last two are harder to describe but no less compelling in my view…

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