[Day 9: Write a scene working from the title "Roses are Red, Violets are Dead".]
I twisted the ring on my finger as the Minister pulled on her gloves. The thin rubber snapping against her skin sounded painful, but her face only showed skepticism. “You sure about this, Rose? No turning back. My inks are permanent and my needles are blessed.”
“If you really thought I’d call it off, you’d have asked me before I stripped and got on the chair.” I rested my head on my arms, trying to look more relaxed than I felt. “Let’s go.”
And that was the only question she asked me throughout the weeks, as I booked appointment after appointment to sit in her studio and have her needles bite into me.
I’d only been a hardass on one aspect: every piece of Esslyn’s DNA must make it onto my skin, and in patterns a tissue engineer could easily read and transcribe. Everything else – the designs, the colors, and where to put them on my body – I left up to the Minister. She was used to doing this, after all. I was hardly the first war widow to have her love’s genome mapped on her skin.
After the final session, I stared at myself in the mirror. Four letters repeated millions of times, so tiny they resembled continuous lines swirling in intricate shapes and forms over my entire body.
“Those curlicues on my eyelids hurt like a sonofabitch, you know,” I said. The last letters inked, on my collarbone, shifted slightly as I watched them.
The Minister nodded. “Good. Pain to get him back is a nice match for the pain you felt when he was taken away.”
“Is he?” I whispered. “Back, I mean?”
For the first time, I saw a smile on the Minister’s face. “Look at your arms.”
I did, and saw the lines wrapped around them shivering too much to blame on muscle movement.
As I looked into the mirror again, feeling my eyes burn with tears, her cool, crisp voice continued. “Such early sentience is good. It means the offering of your skin was accepted. When you’re completely healed, come back and we’ll find out whether the spirit who responded is actually Esslyn.”
( The list of questions. )