This is my piece in response to Chuck Wendig’s weekly challenge. This week’s “A Second Game of Aspects” pitted a list of sub-genre, setting, and element for our wily dice to choose for us. My roll garnered me: Ghost Story, Paris 1944, and Tattoos. I spent too many days researching and getting lost in the history of Tattoos on women and what Paris was like in 1944. But, I’m still happy with how this ended up rolling off the fingers and onto the screen. It’s dead on 1,000 words. I give you: Tattoo Pairs. Enjoy. As always, please comment below. It helps, truly it does. ~C.
Paris, Aug. 27, 1944
Sabine waited. She knew he would be coming home soon. The worst was over. The city was liberated. She felt in her heart, in her mind, in her gut – in her soul – which René would be home today. Soon she would hold him in her arms again. She had drunk too much wine with her neighbors here along Rue Mademoiselle. Every street was a different party. She also didn’t want to stray too far from her own flat. There was a threat of perhaps more mortars coming in or an air raid; although, it seemed the Americans had the Germans running.
“Good,” Sabine thought to herself. “Those Nazi scum could run forever.”
“Run and Die,” she said out loud to the warm air within her apartment. She had seen some returning soldiers from the armored division stopping in the streets right as certain sections of town were liberated and getting married to their sweethearts. Weddings right there amongst the war’s rubble. The look on the faces, it made Sabine smile so big she thought her face would explode from how her smile stretched her face. Sabine wanted René to look at her that way; she wanted the two of them to be happy. The war was over. It was time for happiness. It was time for normal life to resume.
She was confused about what to wear. It would be just the two of them, but maybe he would want to go out? Should she just wear some lingerie or should she put the new yellow dress on? The one she bought the day René left. She swore he would wear it when he returned. She would bathe first and then decide.
As she undressed, she looked at the tattoo on her backside; it sat at the edge of her waistline, before her buttocks began. A French Flag with a banner of René’s name underneath, with a wreath of roses around it and flourishes of grapevines curving out and hugging the ridge of her buttocks. Her girlfriend, Yvette, had suggested that. She had also had a Fleur de Lys inked between her breasts. High upon her hip, edging towards her belly was the National Symbol of France. She read the country’s motto, “LIBERTE, EGALITE FRATERNITE” in elegant script and the words actually felt real. This tattoo matched the one on René ’s left bicep. His right bicep had a pin-up girl that looked suspiciously like her. He always said that Sabine was the girl of his dreams. She giggled. She looked again at the symbol with its shield and oak and olive branches. Olive branches, peace, it once again was in her life, in her country’s borders. With the German occupation, both men and women were showing their loyalty in creative ways. Sabine and her friends had worked and saved and sometimes didn’t eat to afford the tattoos. She caressed all three, closed her eyes, and thought of René e. Warmth ran over her body as she imagined holding him again.
She dipped a toe into the tub and slowly worked her way into it. The scent of Jasmine – one of René ’s favorites – enveloped her. She sat back, relaxed and closed her eyes.
A knock at the door found her waking in the tub. She looked around, shaking the bewilderment off. She must have dozed off in the tub – all the excitement and the wine had apparently made her sleepy.
“René?” she called.
The door creaked open.
“Oh, I’m not ready; I fell asleep.”
Into the bathroom stepped, a man. Cream colored modified jodhpurs, a leather jacket with a garrison belt and his dark hair slicked back with goggles.
It was René, except he hadn’t shaved in days, it was clear.
Sabine jumped up from the tub and went to grab her towel. She wrapped it around and went to hug René .
She fell right through him. She stepped back, frightened. “What? What? René , what is wrong?” She jerked in air through her mouth, causing a squeak to come from her – like her subconscious wanted her to scream, but she couldn’t.
He was speaking to her, but no sound came from him. His lips were moving, but no sound.
“I can’t hear you. What is it darling?”
His hands and arms were gesturing wildly. He pointed to her tattoo – the symbol, the one they shared. She could see his eyes filling with tears.
He was reaching for her, holding out her hand like he wanted to take her for a stroll. She reached back; again, her hand went through him; he was nothing but air.
She closed her eyes and shook her head. Perhaps she was simply hallucinating. The worst hangover she had experienced, yes, that was it. That was the problem.
She opened her eyes and René was there again. This time he was slumped against the wall beside the door, blood ran from his head, his shoulder – exposing his tattoo. He held one hand on his abdomen.
“René!” she screamed. “What happened?” The force of the image – the blood, it forced her on the ground, the cold tile shocking her naked derrière.
She began to cry; René was talking again – like a silent movie. No sound. He was emphatic, but slowed by his apparent injuries.
There was a knock now at her apartment door. She flung her robe around her and raced through the door, glancing back at René. He held his hand out towards her. “Moment, my love, moment, ” she said.
At the door, stood another soldier, he had the mourning band on his arm. Next to him was a chaplain.
“Mademoiselle Lawrence?” the soldier said, he held a stack of letters tied with a yellow ribbon. Sabine recognized her handwriting on the letters.
Sabine fainted right at their feet. As she slipped into unconsciousness, she felt René’s breath on her ear. “I love you, darling. I’m sorry; I guess it’s time for me to wait for you.”