Aileen walked in to the tiny shop on the corner. It was her 18th birthday and her virgin skin had begun to shudder in anticipation. The shop was simply named Tattoo, and inside there stood "the Creeper" a seemingly filthy man covered in Indian black ink that, with time fades to a forest green. Scraggily brown grey beard streaked with left over lunch and hair to match it, the Creeper was dressed in faded black. Aileen had seen demons dressed better, but she wasn't interested in his dress, it was his hands she wanted. His hands were his profession, clean and well cared for signaling their importance like those of a surgeon's, but a surgeon's couldn't have been more precise with their bloody lines. However Creepers tool wasn't knife or saw but a needle and droplets of ink.
Aileen walked over to him with the same courage of a mouse to a lion. Cautionary as she was, there was an air of respect from her. Creeper looked upon her, a disgusting white canvas in need of an artisans brush. 'Are you ready Aileen?' the Creeper asked a growing smirk upon his dirty face. Aileen was frightened of the needles but not the man who held them. She tried to not let her shivers reach the outside surface of her body. She handed over her hard worked sketch of the marks that would become a permanent part of her body. The Creeper smiled a smile so sinister that the worms passing over a grave would curl into a ball and roll away from the sheer sight of it. As she shivered his smile grew. He thought the sketch was nice but with his help it would be living. He took her artistry and made it into his own but it still held all the beauty that she herself had put into it.
"Take off your jacket please."
Aileen slid off her jacket with the grace of a snake shedding it's cracked dry skin for that of a fresh second skin. Thus Aileen began to think of herself as a snake at its first skinning, 'A fresh start to a new life.' Her skinned prickled with excitement and the chill of the air in the shop, as she sat down on a chair like a cowgirl. She slid her legs over the sides of the chair and placed her head where back of the chair ended, she heard the not so distant hum of the gun starting.
"This won't hurt." He said to her placing his hand upon her shoulder where the neck meets it. She focused on his touch as cold as ice and slick as a serpent's normally from such a man she would have slithered away from such an intimate touch. Then the needles started, he was right it didn't hurt. She could feel herself relax, just as the Creeper was in his element. For the artist and the canvas to melt together like water droplets is another form of love making. Love for skin, love for ink and love for the creation, and as with any love making there is a pain. Across one part of the tattoo Creeper hit bone, and Aileen bit her pain 'til it bled never once crying out. The Creeper was gentle for this part. As the last needle prick entered her skin she could feel the relief set in.
He backed away from her and as she stood staring into the full length mirror her eyes came across the blue and the yellow on her shoulder and then her red tears that her tongue had missed on her chin. She let her tongue come out of its slobbering cave and clean her chin. Her tears came then, as the realization came upon her. Her skin was marked, she was marked. The tattoo made her whole, a new person in an odd mirror. The Creeper lit a cigarette and offered one to the young light. She took it between her fingers and breathed in the blue smoke.
"What's this mean to you anyway?" He really never needed to know but always thought it polite to ask.
As her fingers gingerly rubbed over the welted bleeding skin, she said "This is change and this is transition. This means family and love. It is my everlasting bond with the people who made me, other than my life of course." Upon her back now etched in ink were the moon and the sun conjoined, with a star to the right. She traced the hard black lines and the soft lips of the sun sore as it was, touching seemed to help finalize the truth. The moon was blue as a corpse's mouth and the sun bright yellow like an orange busting in the mouth. It was the star that made her cry; it did not hurt as much as any other place but emotionally it was an everlasting reminder of death.
Throughout her life this moon and sun mashed together comfortably had been there for her. It represented change and yet staying connected to the past. It was her guiding light and her northern star. It meant family, and what it was to never be alone. The sun was her lighted mother and father bright and happy, and it was her as a child growing into a woman brilliant and strong. Her moon shone bright like the nights when her courage never failed her, and in the mist of fighting with her family she stood in the dark. The moon was her mother and father's ever changing moods. The star that was off to the side not a crowning jewel, but none the less important, that was Sam. Sam was her sister who had died at birth. Aileen at four had loved that baby more than anything, and 14 years later Sam still had an impact on her life. Sam was her guiding light and Northern star. Aileen had always felt Sam in the sun and the moon, watching the family with love, shining like the sun when times were good and luminates like the moon when they were tough. Inside that tattoo was 14 years of pain, hate, unanswered questions, joy, triumph, and love. Aileen had to go to demons to become whole, and now whole she was fully alive. Without that tattoo she wouldn't have been her really.
She turned her head to the Creeper with a gentle smile playing on her lips, she said "No one is light and no one is dark. There is no good, and there is no evil. We each have a tendency to be more like a prim and proper child or the junkie off the street. We all have a bit of each in us that's what makes us human. We all have a guiding light, dark moods and light moods. We are yin and yang to halves of a whole put into one. We are the moon and the sun in one sky comfortably together." The Creeper watched and Aileen gently traced over her welted skin as if putting memories in certain spots only she could find. Slowly she circled her finger tips around her palm on the bulk of the tattoo while her finger tips stayed in sprawled out, her pointer finger finally coming to rest on the shining star.