Thursday, September 5, 2013

Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook by Kelly I. Hitchcock


Twelve women, twelve tattoos, and a narrative thread that weaves them all together, Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook is a collection of stories that answers that lingering question in the back of your mind when you see an inked woman: what does your tattoo mean (or perhaps – what were you thinking)? From a parent’s suicide to the birth of an unlikely child, the stories behind why women tattoo themselves are literally worn on (and sometimes under) their sleeves, and retold on these pages.

Complete with artwork from the original tattoo artists and a foreword by Dr. Marta Vicente, one of academia’s foremost voices in Women’s Studies, this series of literary vignettes celebrates real, everyday women and their tattoos that, while they may seem insignificant at the time, are a symbol of the larger struggles and triumphs that make them who they are. These stories explore the idea of tattoos bringing together women from different worlds, and teaching them how these worlds might not be as far apart as they think.

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Paperback and Nook in the works

Megan ducked under the branches of the bare trees that led to the clearing where she’d snuck off to smoke (off and on) since she was sixteen years old.  She spotted the tree she’d carved MEGAN & ANNA BFF in twenty years ago and leaned up against it, letting out a big sigh.  She reached in her pocket to pull out a fresh Marlboro light, sticking it between her lips and digging around for her lighter in a fit of frustration.  Everything was supposed to be perfect on Nathan’s first day home, but she couldn’t help feeling like she had ruined everything, especially the stupid green bean casserole.  If only she’d learned to like it, maybe he would have eaten it and realized that now he was in a safe place, back in the house he grew up in with the family he grew up with.  Did he even recognize them?  She stopped herself and took a deep breath, trying to remember what her old counselor had told her about refuting irrational thoughts.
She continued foraging through her pockets long after she realized she’d left the lighter in her purse, back in the house.  She murmured an almost-silent “fuck” to herself and then shrieked in horror as a hand with a lighter reached over her left shoulder.  She jumped around to face her brother Nathan, who was actively shushing her screams.
“Shhh, shhh.  It’s me, Megan.  It’s me.”
“Jesus fucking Christ, Nathan,” Megan cried breathlessly, “I didn’t even hear you crunch the leaves.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, putting his hand on her heaving shoulder, reaching out again with the lighter.  “Force of habit.  You were needing this?”
Megan angrily took the lighter and lit her cigarette with her shaking hands, letting out a thick, smoke-filled sigh as the nicotine coursed through her airways straight to her frazzled nerves.
“You’re still pulling this shit?” Nathan asked, crossing his thick arms over his broad chest.
Megan rolled her eyes and stared at her feet.  “I know, right?  Thirty-one years old and I’m still sneaking off to smoke so Mom and Dad won’t find out.  Pathetic.”
Nathan lifted her head with an index finger under the chin.  “You’re not pathetic.  I’m the one who’s pathetic.  Can’t even bring myself to force in some of the green bean casserole you and Mom probably spent all day making.”  He opened his hand, beckoning for the lighter.
Megan handed it back, eyeballing the markings on its side she couldn’t decipher.  “Hardly.  It takes all of five minutes to throw that nasty crap together.  What do you have a lighter for, anyway?” she asked.  “You don’t smoke.  You’re the good child, remember?”
“I remember,” Nathan said, reaching in her pocket for one of her cigarettes and lighting it, holding up the lighter once he was done.  “I bought this from a kid in Kabul for about three cents.  He said it was for luck.”
Megan swallowed hard, not knowing what to say.  “What was his name?”
Nathan took one drag off the cigarette before coughing and stomping it out with his steel-toed boots.  “Rami.”
Megan paused, not sure if she wanted to know the answer to the question she was about to ask.  “What happened to him?”
Nathan straightened and met her gaze with his steel gray eyes, his mouth open like he was about to speak, but nothing would come out.
Megan stared down at her feet.  “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—“
“We’re going to go now.  We’re going to get a tattoo.”  The voice belonged to her brother, but Megan had to look back up to make sure he’d actually said it. 
Her eyes widened a mile.  She’d never once considered getting a tattoo.  Even if she had considered it, she never would have done it.  Just like her smoking, her parents never would have approved.  Even now, at thirty-one, going and getting a tattoo was about as likely as asking her mother to watch her German shepherd, Daggit, so she could go off and spend the night with her new boyfriend.  But looking at Nathan, buzz cut and broad-shouldered, she knew she was going to do it.
She didn’t even want to tell him no.  She just wanted him to have, in that moment, anything he wanted, just to know that he wanted something.  But just like Nathan couldn’t speak the words when Megan asked about the little Afghan boy, she couldn’t force any words to acknowledge that she’d heard him, and was willing to go along.  She stood, perplexed and open-mouthed.
“But I need you to drive,” he said, grabbing her by the hand.  “I don’t think I can.”

Kelly I. Hitchcock is an up-and-coming writer in the Austin, Texas area. She is author of various poems about the randomness of life, several short stories, random creative nonfiction works, and the coming-of-age novel The Redheaded Stepchild. She is world-renowned among a readership of five people and growing.

Raised by a single father in the small town of Buffalo, Missouri, Kelly has fond memories of cash-strapped life in the Ozarks that strongly influence her writing and way of life.

When she's not writing API documentation for money or writing poetry and fiction for unmoney, Kelly enjoys catering to the whims of a high maintenance rescue dog, frequenting Austin's many concert venues with her husband, and breaking things (in no particular order). She is an avid volunteer and fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

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1 comment:

KellyHitchcock said...

Thanks for featuring me Laurie!