Hannah — The mark

The Mark

Trembling fingers run over the cross hanging on her neck. Delicate hands fold, perfectly centred, on her lap. Finally the wooden door swings opens and she looks up with pale grey eyes, eyes that once danced with life the way sunlight flickers on moving water now dead. As she stands, the plastic chair sticks to her bare, sweaty legs. He beckons her to enter and as she passes by he can smell the fading perfume, like a flower that has crumpled and withered in the blistering summer heat.

She feels lost, an Alice in a not so wonderful land. Dreams that were once so bright are now like the peeling wallpaper in the waiting parlour. The smell of cheap sanitizer burns her eyes and nose as she walks further into the room. She closes her eyes against the pain and says a silent prayer. A faint smile creeps upon her lips as she hears the clattering of someone walking through the beads that hang in the entrance doorway, just like they hung in her fiancée’s bedroom. Quickly she pushes her eyes open before she can see her fiancée’s face or smile. She sways slightly and steadies herself on the doorframe. She can feel her courage draining and the only thing that keeps her there is the need to fill an emptiness.

The man stands behind her, examining his next customer. As she caresses the wallpaper he can see her nails have been bitten away, until only bloodstained stumps remain. Her whole appearance seems so faint and fragile to him, if she had not been alone in the room his eyes would have roamed right over her. She was like a used, rusted penny among a handful of shiny dollars. He was not in a position to judge he decided, she was his customer and he was her dose of adrenalin, her dealer…an artist in his own mind. So he stands back from her and returns to his working frame of mind; she is not his to care for.

With the last of her courage she glances around the room. It is littered, like a Toronto street corner, with magazines and pictures. A wastebasket in the corner of the room towers with used needles and so she sits gently on the chair in the middle of the room. She pulls up her sleeve and leans it on the metal table in front of her. He straps her arm down, conjures up a new needle and stares, almost mesmerized at her fragile figure. She rocks her body back and forth on the chair, disturbed by his gaze. His olive green eyes come back into focus and he smiles at her roughly. With one rugged hand he grabs her pale arm and with the other he positions the needle.

“Your body is a blank canvas,” He whispers as he leans over her soft, bare skin “ let me turn you into art.”

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