She was pretty much vulnerable. His looks were of many things people often describe on the classic fuckboy look. He wears black in the daily, smokes cigarettes as often as he changes his hair colour. His stern eyes were more or less everything that captivates her to come closer and fell into his trap. His love is a fucking drag, and she desperately fall for it. He doesn’t even need to say a word or two, even a single greeting enough to burn down her barrier. Was he good-looking? Well, beauty is relative. And when someone said something alike, it’s clear that this respective person is nowhere near the common standards they hold in the society. They’re fucking right. There is nothing much to be proud of when it comes to his look. No, he doesn’t have that pointy nose to tickle her neck as he left his mark around. He doesn’t have that refined jawline, in fact, rather chubby and quite a proper size to squeeze. He has a nice body, though, and that sells it for her. Not that one complete six-pack, but still, her fingers can run through its almost drawn pattern while she lays on top of his body.
But she doesn’t need to draw much, and she just hates to admit that she’s craving for him not because of his love. It was all because of his appearance, one thing that she hasn’t mentioned while daydreaming as she waits on the nearby parlor.
It’s his tattoo that she’s talking about.
“Miss? Which one?” The man behind the counter appears to brush away her thoughts. She’s in the tattoo parlor, choosing some of the available patterns because she hasn’t had herself prepared with the design. She comes here absentminded, or perhaps driven by the threat of his open hand to come at any time if she doesn’t listen. Something to cover that bruises, splatters of black in her skin won’t make it much obvious when she comes home to her parents.
“I don’t know.” She says, shortly, finding herself in confusion. These drawings look obscure to her, something that doesn’t spark her interest at all. Perhaps not really if it was drawn to her body, but it looks freaking hot on him. And she wants that aura to exude on herself as she walks by. “Can you suggest something to me?”
The man behind furrows his eyebrow, looking just as confused. Not that this was his first time, but the lady looked far too unsure to arrive at this place when she already made her appointment and paid half of the service. It’s like she was forced to do this.
“This part is ladies favorite,” He points on a page full of — another obscure drawing for her — but this time, some of it design emanates more feminine vibes. “Or you know, if you have some random quotes or writings that you like. Proverbs, verses, phrases, or unsaid things.” He throws a sarcastic manner, slightly too obvious as his movement displays the manner of an impatient man.
Her gaze looks void, as if her mind drifts somewhere when he asks her to be more specific on her request. It’s not that she doesn’t hear him, his voice was loud and clear. And yet, her mind wanders around to think of the words that might remind her of things, something that surely she wants to keep for the rest of her life. She wants it coming from him — though she knows how risky it could be that he’s not going to be present for her future — but fuck it, that’s what falling in love do to you. Stupid things that kept you away from your sense, that’s all she thought.
And only then she realizes that he never left her many good words to be painted in her body. And I love you? The man barely said so, only once in a blue moon, and never even the like of such phrases. All she heard in her mind was those degrading words, something that often throws her off and shatters her completely as she cries all night long in her separate room. Not even the nickname he gave to her was all that memorable. He changes, most of the time, and sometimes a nickname of someone she doesn’t even recognise. Who is Julie, who is Emily? These bitches surely do have the audacity to live inside his head. Whether he left his stains on the bed of another, at least her name should be his to remember.
She notices that the counter man is going to snarl on her anytime soon as the time ticks, almost fifteen minutes past the appointment schedule. And so, she remembered one of his favourite T-Shirts that he uses almost everyday, so often that the writings in its fabric are close to fading off. Amor Vincit Omnia? She’s not sure what it means, but a quick google search will give you a hint that it’s a good phrase. She goes back to her senses and says, “Amor Vincit Omnia?”
“Huh.” The man quickly writes down the phrase and sending it somewhere on the chatroom — probably to her tattoo artist — as he secretly rolls his eyes when she’s not looking. Should’ve said those phrases sooner, it’s his nth time getting the same request anyway.
“Alright Miss. Amor Vincit Omnia, like this. Upstairs, second floor. Hyde will assist you.” He emphasizes on the word ‘assist’, knowing that this must have been her first time. He was right, and yet she still acts like it’s not her first time — of coming to tattoo parlor, not getting one — she has been in this room plenty of times, waiting for her boyfriend to finish another tattoo enough to cover his skin fully even when he’s not covered in fabric. And she proceeds to walk upstairs, such a fortunate event that it was much quiet. Perhaps that’s why he puts her here, in case she exposes her low pain tolerance.
“Miss? I am Hyde.” His appearance is enough to make her baffled. She doesn’t expect him to be this… clean. Like many other tattoo artists downstairs, at least all of them have thousands of drawings complimenting their complexion. But this guy looks like a blank canvas. Or so, perhaps underneath. He only wears T-Shirt and jeans, and yet still nothing much revealing.
All that she knows is that Hyde is so damn attractive.
“You may want to sit here. I’ll prepare my things.” He commands as he walks somewhere, leaving her clueless even though his words were clear. Fuck, she knows that she loves man with tattoo, but this one doesn’t even — she brushes her mind as she sits down on the said place. Her eyes scans the surroundings, pretty much things that you’d expect in a tattoo parlor. Numbers of needles, paints, and some of their results they’re proud of. She knows she could get herself turned on only by looking at those pictures.
“Amor Vincit Omnia it is?” He comes closer like it was nothing, ruining her daydreaming. She responds with a slight nod, then pointing at her collarbone. “Somewhere around this area? Or do you have any better suggestions?”
Hyde is surely informed by the man downstairs that this is her first time. A feeling of ecstatic and pressured, to contribute to someone’s cherry popping while at the same time wanting to give the best expectation for the very first tattoo. “Which area do you feel most confident in?”
She stops again. There are so many things happening in her head, that she was never confident to come to this tattoo parlor in the first place. She just wanted to impress her boyfriend that she’s so much more than the blonde bitch Marie that her name keeps appearing on his moans lately. She believes that she has tattoos all over her body and she wanted to be just as hot as she is.
“Hyde, honestly, I am not sure that I have that confidence.” Weirdly, she chooses to open up. This whole session suddenly turns into a talk with her therapist. Nothing much changed — the seating and all still the same — just this time it’s in front of your tattoo artist. “I just wanted to impress someone. Can you please tell me which part? Or just, the safest part.” She adds.
Of course, for Hyde, this isn’t much of a strange occurrence. He loves to talk with his clients, just a way of keeping them comfortable while going through the stinging pain on their skins. But she’s clearly unsure, and he doesn’t want to give her that bad impression or tattoo regret. “You’re going for permanent, that’s very bold of you. Do you have any restrictions? Like, workplace? That should be taken into account too.”
This Hyde guy surely knows how to silence her, again. Oh, workplace. It has been a while since she actually attend her work. She spent her life savings only for her boyfriend to waste it on his alcohol intake. Nowadays, she relies on freelance work, doing random things on the internet, or, if her father grants her, her parents will always be her last aid. All because how much her boyfriend wants her to be around for him, like she’s his favourite used toy to play with at any time. Of course, she doesn’t even mention the crimes that had been going around in their city.
“No, my workplace doesn’t really have that prohibition.” White lies will do for a stranger, of course. “Just somewhere that could catch my boyfriend’s eye?”
Hyde nods, slightly observing her figure as he puts on his gloves. “If you ask me, perhaps it’s the back of the neck.” Hyde proceeds to run his fingers on the back of her neck, mouthing an excuse as he does so. “It’s the perfect place usually. Once you lift your hair, it greets you like a surprise.”
It doesn’t take much for her to turn her body around, laying on her stomach as she follows, “Do it right there, then. Help me impress him.”
A short agreement comes forth, Hyde turns on the machine and starts pressing gently on her skin. She hisses a little bit on the process, but the pain feels nothing compared to the whole relationship that she spent with her boyfriend. “Why Amor Vincit Omnia? Your boyfriend’s request?” Hyde opens up the door for his usual conversation with his client. Except this time, he’s pretty interested in it.
“Uh.” Somehow she finds herself lost at words. It’s hard to lie when you’re always trained to tell every single truth in your daily life, not even to miss a second of where you’re going.
“It’s just a phrase on my boyfriend’s T-Shirt. He loves to wear it so I thought that’d be nice to have that tattooed on me.”
What an interesting situation, Hyde’s thought. He had encountered many things during his experience as tattoo artist, including witnessing someone’s breakdown for their divorce to an unprovoked death of another, and yet he always finds discovering someone’s layer through this process is his very own favourite part.
“In your boyfriend T-Shirt? So you know the meaning of it, right?”
She’s slightly annoyed by the question. So much to mock her right away when the two just met.
“Of course? It’s Love Conquers All.” She responds shortly, yet her tone is rather cocky. Thanks to that quick google search she did before.
Hyde chuckles lightly, again, not so much of something that he barely encounters. This one pretty mainstream, he’d remember how many times he will have to re-do some of their tattoos just because they found out that the meaning isn’t always what they expect it to be.
“You’re right. Love Conquers All.” He says as he taps his thumb against her complexion, slowly turning a bright red. “It was a painting, though. A good one, if you’re into medieval paintings.” He was about to continue on his ramblings, but he doesn’t want to leave that impression of being Mr. Know-It-All. Only if she proceeds, perhaps.
“I am not.” She says, looking uninterested. “All I know is that love conquers all, that we can’t live without love, and we need that love so much that — fuck, forgive me. Don’t even bother.”
Hyde was taken aback by her behaviour. She changes her mind a little too quickly about it, though it seems funny enough for him.
“I can see that.” He says, “As cheesy as it sounds, we really do need love. Just as long as you get the right amount of it. For me, it’s too much when you think that love takes control of you so much that it conquers your whole-being. You might be losing your sense because of it.”
Safe to say that she’s very much offended.
“Oh, really, Hyde? What about it? I mean, what’s so bad about love that you think you can’t just let it conquer you altogether?”
And it’s not his first time being misunderstood.
“I didn’t say that love is bad, though. It’s a broad term, you can’t always generalize which one is bad and good. And because of it too, you can’t always succumb to it. It may work like a boomerang, too.” He calmly drifts the conversation back to the lane. “Anyway, this one’s going to hurt a little. Hold on.”
She scrunches her nose over the pain, but his words still make her want to come after him. “I let love conquer me and I can assume that I have never been happier. This love gets me a tattoo.”
Hyde sighs, knowing where the conversation will lead him to. He knows he doesn’t always encounter the brightest people in this place. “And you were unsure about getting one. Does your love don’t give you enough confidence?”
She was close to slap him if only the needle didn’t sting her once again. The fucking timing.
“That was just me and my insecurity.”
“And if you’re happy enough I suppose you don’t have to deal with any of it.”
Fuck off. She thought to herself.
“But I see, your boyfriend must have loved you so much. He’s not coming today?” Hyde tries to change the topic, bringing up the love that she has been defending so badly.
“Not your business.”
The next minutes feel like an awkward situation. She refuses to speak, and so does Hyde, knowing that his words might just as well be a double ended sword for himself. Until he discovers a small bruise near her shoulder.
“You have bruises here.” He points slightly on it, “It’s not going to touch your bruises, but perhaps the pain will double.”
She doesn’t say a word, not so much. She chose to remain in silence, and let Hyde do the whole tattoo work for her. She remembers so much how she ended up with those bruises. She went home late for once that Thursday, and he just came after her with his closed fist and the next thing she remembers, she wakes up in terrible pain all over her body, laying on the floor with all the mess of broken vase and mirrors. He wasn’t pleased with it.
Hyde continues his work, still, knowing that something isn’t right. It’s not his first time to encounter domestic abuse and the type of bruises that usually follows. If his guts is right, then he’d find more of it. Or perhaps, she already covered those dark circles with her make up. For someone being too gullible with the definition of love and yet still having all that insecurities and bruises upon it, then the whole relationship wasn’t meant to be a healthy one.
Her skin turns into all that colour: the pink, bright red, jet-black, and that dark circles, altogether in her pale complexion as he sees her tearing up a little over the silence. So much for a painted tattoo, so much for something you’d do for love. For the sake of staying, for the sake of having him, for the sake of telling him that she’s the only one.
“It’s done.” He finishes with a quick blow around her skin, lending his phone to show the picture of its result. “Amor Vincit Omnia.”
After all those sudden tears, she’s afraid of things to come. That she might regret her decision, that she might find home crying over the fact that she let someone write her vulnerability permanently on her skin. She took a long gaze over the picture and the results were beautiful.
“If this actually helps to ease you out, instead of seeing it as your mere Boyfriend’s T-Shirt,” Hyde explains, “I might want to correct things I said earlier. It’s not about conquering that makes you blind. But sometimes love often helps you to find another thing in you or even to help you live through many things in your life. And as I said that love is broad, take it as loving yourself. Try that.”
She heaves a deep sigh, a close call for her to break down at that very place if she doesn’t immediately pack her belongings to go downstairs.
“Thank you, Hyde. For a first tattoo, I’ll always remember this one.”
Hyde throws her the same smile that she saw from the first time they met.
“And I left you my card in your purse.”
Her pupils widened in shock, “What? I have a boyfriend.”
“I didn’t say I was flirting with you though.”
“And what does it mean, then?”
“In case you’re about to get another bruise, call me.”