Arising From the Ashes

Submitted into Contest #249 in response to: Write a story around someone (literally) bumping into someone else.... view prompt

8 comments

Friendship Fiction Funny

The sterile scent of the tattoo parlor clashed with the distinct aroma of wet ink and anxiety. I shoved a piece of trident in my mouth to conceal the shots I threw down my throat to calm my nerves in the car on the way. As we walked through the door of the parlor, Jazz's foot caught on the edge of the carpet, causing her to stumble forward. "Damn thing was rolled weird," she said, giggling. I gave her the look of death. She shrugged it off, her usual carefree attitude shining through despite the nervous energy in the room. The buzzing tattoo machines filled the air, drowning out any other noise. I took a deep breath and tried to focus on my chosen design, willing myself to push aside any doubts or fears. This tattoo would be a permanent reminder of something important to me, and I was determined to see it through.

"Have an appointment?" The girl at the counter asked without raising her head.

"Why, yes, we..." Jazz slurred and leaned on the counter. One elbow missed. A cheek mark was smeared on the glass.

"Yes, McDonald," I said, kicking Jazz as she popped up like nothing had happened.

Unamused, the young girl at the counter looked up without raising her head. She twirled her knotted dreads with her aggressively bitten fingernails and yelled, "Your 2:00 is here, Mark."

Robed in a black apron adorned with hot pink skulls, the tattoo artist, Mark, peeked over the divider.

"Come on back, gals." He shoved the rest of his roast beef sandwich into his mouth and licked his fingers as he slapped the black vinyl seat. "Who's first?"

"You go," Jazz said, laying her hand on the chair for support. She flipped her hair, bit her tongue, and kicked her foot out—a repulsive attempt at flirting.

Annoyed by her obnoxiousness, I slid onto the slippery vinyl and took a deep breath. Mark raised an eyebrow at Jazz's antics before turning his attention to me. He meticulously cleaned my back, ensuring a pristine canvas for his artistry. He carefully aligned a clear stencil of my chosen design, depicting a majestic phoenix rising from the ashes with the contours of my body. The stencil clung to my skin, marking the precise placement of the tattoo.

"Ready?" He asked, his tattoo gun buzzing. I nodded, steeling myself for the pain that was about to come. As the needle pierced my skin, I clenched my jaw and focused on the sound of Jazz's nervous laughter in the background. Although the pain was sharp, I was determined not to show any weakness in front of Mark. He was pretty good-looking, I realized, once I let the initial shock of the obtrusive needle subside. She was always curious, never one to shy away from a new experience.

I turned my head and looked at her with a blank stare.

"Any significance?" Mark asked me. "My dad just passed away—just a tribute. It's a saying he always said."

"I'm sorry for your loss," Jazz said softly, trying to be funny yet well aware of each moment in my life up to that point.

"Shut it, Jazz. Please." My blood pressure began to rise as I leaned into the piercing pain as if it were comfort.

Mark continued his work in silence.

"K, done with the Phoenix. So, what does this saying mean? What language is it?" Mark asked, genuinely intrigued.

"It's Castilian. Resurgir de las cenizas. It means, Rise from the ashes. I know. It's lame, but it's what he preached." I explained, feeling a sense of peace wash over me as I shared my father's wisdom.

"That's great," Mark said with a smile, tightening his grip on the tattoo gun as he prepared to start the intricate part of his work.

Intrigued, Jazz eagerly stood up and leaned over Mark to observe his work closely.

I felt the shape of an ornate R begin searing into my back when Jazz suddenly started to sway. From my periphery, I could see her feet shuffling back and forth unsteady. I saw her reach her hand out into thin air and swat as her face turned white as the stark walls. I didn't have time to react before she crashed into the table, bumping Mark's hand and sending the gun blazing across my back like a lightning bolt.

Thunk. Jazz hit the floor. Mark, dumbfounded by the madness, cussed and leaped for the gun that had ricocheted to the floor, still vibrating next to Jazz's limp body.

I jumped in shock, my heart pounding as I tried to process what had happened. The room fell silent, the only sound being Mark's heavy breathing as he picked up the gun. Ill intentions are written all over his face.

My eyes widened in horror but amusement when he kneeled next to Jazz, his hand buzzing as ink spattered everywhere, and began tattooing the blank canvas of her bare arm.

The image of Mark tattooing Jazz's arm amid the chaos was surreal and strangely fitting. It was a bizarre twist to an already intense situation. I couldn't resist pondering the narrative that a tattoo would narrate, permanently engraved on her skin as a memory of this unforeseen twist of fate. As the ink seeped into her skin, I was in awe of Mark's craftsmanship and boldness. The juxtaposition of cruelty and artistry in that moment was truly unforgettable.

Jazz started to rouse from her alcohol-induced haze as Mark completed his spontaneous masterpiece.

I slid off the chair and landed on the ground, trying to make it seem like I had been helping Jazz the entire time. Mark sat next to her on the cold floor with void eyes still grasping the gun.

Jazz sat up, unaware of the chaos that had ensued. Miraculously sober, she jumped up and asked what had happened. Mark looked at her, his expression unreadable, before slowly standing up and walking away without a word. Jazz stared after him in confusion, wondering what had caused such a sudden change in his demeanor. The tension in the room lingered, thick and palpable, as we all grappled with the bewildering aftermath of the unfolding events.

"OH! I love your tat, Jess!" Jazz said as I rolled over to put my shirt back on. It's like the phoenix is taking flight." she said, amused.

I looked down at Jazz in disbelief as I read the tattoo she was oblivious of across her arm: "Like the Phoenix rising from its ashes, no matter how often you hit bottom, stand up, dust yourself off, and march forward."

Amid the chaos, I chuckled at the irony of the situation, recognizing life's uncanny ability to unveil what we genuinely need to comprehend. Jazz looked up at me, puzzled by my abrupt laughter, and I returned her gaze with a smile, grateful for the reminder.

May 08, 2024 11:20

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8 comments

09:46 May 26, 2024

Moral of the story. Get tatooed on your own. Not with a friend. Especially if they are drunk. Did she ever get her phoenix finished? Did it need much fixing? I felt horrified as this story played out. Oh, dear!

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Ken Cartisano
01:51 May 14, 2024

Good writing, I wasn't sure about the ending, but it is a tattoo parlor and I suppose just about anything could happen.

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Darvico Ulmeli
20:28 May 10, 2024

"Like the Phoenix rising from its ashes, no matter how often you hit bottom, stand up, dust yourself off, and march forward." Just for that, it was worth reading the story.

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Trudy Jas
23:15 May 09, 2024

:-) Wine helps. Definitely helps. But not before a tattoo. LOL Great story.

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10:27 May 09, 2024

Weird and funny, easy to read. The tattoo artist, dark, very dark :) I liked it, well done!

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E.L. Lallak
12:09 May 09, 2024

Oh man, I started with the dancing one, mine- Lost in the Jazz of Midnight Reverie, and it was grueling for me. My mind couldn't get the words out I was trying to say. So when I finished it I wrote the tattoo one straight through without thinking after two glasses of wine and sent it in. Just to make sure my brain was still in tact. It's so lame. haahahah!!! Definitely easier and a lot more wacked. ha! Thanks for reading. If you read my other one you'll understand. hee hee.

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Mary Bendickson
18:36 May 08, 2024

This one was movin' and groovin'.

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Alexis Araneta
17:32 May 08, 2024

"The sterile scent of the tattoo parlor clashed with the distinct aroma of wet ink and anxiety." Oooh, the vividness of that opener. Wow ! What a lovely read. I love the use of detail in this. The flow of the action was very dynamic; it made me feel so plunged in the story. Always love your work. This is no exception. Great job !

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