It’s an unbearably bright day.
From the window the sun bores through my albino outsides and gets me at the core, a colossal magnifying glass on my piss-ant soul.
There is only one solution.
Thanks to years of practice, I’ve managed to tuck another school day under the sheets.
“One of my migranes coming on, Dad. I’m sure I’ll be better in a couple of hours if I just hang out here in bed. See you later.”
As soon as I’m sure the house is all mine, I sit up and my hand dives to the back of the pillowcase, feeling for gear. Every finger itches to dive forward, but I force myself to slow down, taking in every step of the routine for the last time. One by one, I pull out the rubbing alcohol, my baggie of safety pins, the lighter, the India Ink. I set them all on the end table in a tight circle around the teacup.
Now for that remaining spot of blank canvas. On the right arm, I run my finger over the raised lines, redrawing the pictures in my mind: fat inchworms oozing out of the eye sockets of a skull, the lit stick of dynamite. I start to read the outline of a woman (wild eyes, hair standing on end), but it cuts off at her waist. All I feel below for about two inches is smooth, unmarked.
I slosh some alcohol into a palm, rub both hands together and slap the extra along the open area above my elbow. Then I unscrew and tip the squat bottle, letting a little night escape and nestle into the smooth cradle of the cup. The lighter licks and licks at the pin and tells me the job is done when the tip is good and dark. A dip in the ink and it’s darker yet, ready to go.
The dot-to-dot begins, heavy and steady. I’m spending as much time inking as re-inking the pin or dabbing the beads of blood off with a Kleenex. No hurry, though. Under the bobbing of my pin, some creepy spider legs are sprouting from the crazy lady’s waist. The black slides in me like a salve and then, as soon as it soaks into my skin, the serious magic starts. Like a rainbow trail of lit gunpowder, the color in the newly drawn spider limbs begins to transform: first it turns scarlet and tangerine at the hips, then gold and forest green at the first leg joints, next sky and navy blue following at the lower ones, and indigo finishing up at the bottom tips. And just like that, every trace of the original india ink is gone.
I remember I had just stepped inside the examining room for my first visit and suddenly this Dr. J was right there in front of me, shaking the life out of my hand, pausing midair to check out the doodling peeking from my forearm.
I just kept my head down, daring only to stare at the long fingers that had finally released mine and were now moving to roll up the white coat on her left arm. This unleashed a swirling battle of tentacles and spears, tsunami waves and ships.
The boom of her voice pulled me out from my trance with her tattoos.
“As you can see, I’m a fan of body art. I had all this done by a guy over on 5th and Grand. I know you’re not of age to have gotten yours professionally. How did you achieve that rich color? I’ve never seen anything like it.”
I couldn’t come up with anything better than a weak shrug for an answer.
She looked down at my arm again, thinking. Now it was her turn to shrug.
“I suppose it makes sense. After all, white is the reflection of every color in the spectrum.”
An hour and a half later, all eight of the spider legs are ready and I start making an hourglass above the widow’s belly button. But just three pinholes into the design, my bladder screams critical levels and I am forced to leap out of bed and stumble down the hall to the bathroom.
As I’m washing my hands, I catch my reflection in the mirror. I take off my ever-thickening lenses, rub the bridge of my nose, and move super close to the glass. More than my fluorescent skin or hair, it’s those pale irises that always trip me out. I swear I can even make out some organs behind them. You’d think their transparency would help me see better and not worse, right? Dr. J sure is trying, but honestly things aren’t looking so good for me in that department.
Back in my room, I put the last touches on the second sleeve and I lean down to go over every bit of the outlining, trying to carve it in my memory. I’m really glad there is a lot of scarring because that way, when my eyes finally go black, my hands can be the ones to see all those colors of white.