Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Half of a Heart                                                                                               
by Emma Hines

For a tattoo artist, she didn’t have very many tattoos. Only one on the inside of her left wrist; the black outline of one half of a heart. They always asked where the other half was.
She loved it when they did that.
“You have the most beautiful green eyes,” a man crooned. She knew a pickup line when she heard one, and leaned towards him so he could better see the neckline of her dress; a little black thing she enjoyed wearing because it made her feel like she could kill someone. She liked his eyes, too; deep blue that would go nicely with hair that was dark, like hers.
“Why thank you,” she said.
This one will do nicely.
She invited him to sit with her, and pretended not to notice as he obviously looked her over. She knew she was beautiful, but it was a surreal beauty, a beauty that made people look twice because it was so unbelievable the eyes had to see it again to make sure it was standing before them in the form of a woman with eyes greener than the earth. At first it had annoyed her, but she’d found a way to make putting up with the catcalls worth her while. Honestly, it was hard to blame the ones that oogled, and she’d long since stopped minding when people stared because it made her hobby so much easier. She’d started frequenting bars and nightclubs because that was where all the pretty people went.
I can always be more beautiful.
“You know, I normally don’t like tattoos,” the man said, his eyes stopping at her wrist, “but for you I’ll make an exception.” She smiled at him flirtatiously, fluttering her dark lashes and letting her hair fall over one shoulder, glancing away to look just the right amount of mysterious and sultry.
Thank goodness I decided on long, thick hair.
"Who has the other half of the heart?" the man pressed, not very subtly asking if she was single. She pretended to remember a long-ago heartbreak and made her voice husky when she replied,
"Someone who abandoned me, a long time ago."
"I wouldn't abandon you," the man promised.
A few drinks later, she was ready to make sure he wouldn’t. Alcohol didn’t affect her like it did the rest of them, so she had to work her voice into a bubbly, overexcited pitch when she squealed,
“Wanna go to my place?” Of course, the man nodded; they always did. She hated taxis but she’d already pretended she was drunk so she was forced to call one and sit in the back and pretend she liked the man’s sloppy kisses.
No wonder I didn’t have to fight anyone to get this man.
She never liked having to steal someone away from another person; it was just such a pain, but she’d done it a couple times, for the right hair or smile. Stealing took a few days, and she preferred a one-night job where she got what she wanted with little to no effort at all. When she dragged him out of the taxi, she was glad she’d convinced him to leave before he’d had another drink. He was heavy and she couldn’t carry him without damaging her nails.
Her house was her tattoo shop, and the man stumbled inside to collapse on a chair. His eyes never wandered to the strange books on her shelves, or the candles all around, and he didn’t bother to glance down at the rug with a pentagram on it that was centered right underneath his chair. All he looked at was her, and when she came near, tugged her onto his lap.
“Wait, wait,” she told him breathlessly. “Before... I just... I need to know you won’t abandon me.” She held his gaze, those beautiful blue eyes, and watched her beauty work on him. The three shots of vodka in his system worked, too.
“Anything,” he swore.
“A tattoo,” she said, blurting it like she’d just come up with the idea spontaneously. “The other half of my heart.” The man hesitated and looked away, but she let one of the straps of her dress slide down, and that was all it took to convince him.
She’d already prepared the needle, and in no time the man was staring at his right wrist, testing how the ink looked when he twisted his hand. The man was starting to feel faint, she could tell.
Perfect.
She put their arms together and lined the tattoos up to make a complete heart, then traced around it with her finger, and visualized what she wanted from him.
Beautiful blue eyes.
The man started to scream, but that was why she’d set up her shop in the middle of nowhere. She timed it, and the thrashing lasted about twelve seconds.
Then the man was dead in her chair, and his eyes were gone.
She felt a pop, and she blinked as the world was gone for a brutal second before coming back in neat clarity.
She put the body where she kept the others, then checked herself in the mirror.
They do go nicely with my hair.
The next night, a man stopped her on her way to a new bar.
            “You have the most beautiful blue eyes,” he said. She smiled at him, and he grinned back. His teeth were whiter and straighter than hers, pearly and beautiful. How would they look framed by her red lips?
            “Why thank you,” she said.

* * * * *

Emma Hines is a 17- year-old junior in high school, planning on pursuing a university degree that will support her goal of becoming a professional writer.