I got in the shower and tried not to think about it as I scrubbed my skin and washed the hair I’d have to pull back today. It was getting too long to wear down. The absence of the hot water when I turned the shower off had me reaching for my towel quickly.
I wiped the fog from the mirror, my eyes immediately drawn to the words in my skin. My mind was already Noa’s, but now she owned my body and she’d always own my soul.
Every time I saw the tattoo, it was like a portal straight to Memory Land where Noa was the ruler. The sweetest hell.
It was no wonder she could so easily forget. I’d been the fool to get a tattoo as a reminder of her ownership of me right where I could see it every day. She’d been the smarter of the two of us to get it somewhere she didn’t have to see it.
But did anyone else ever see it and ask her what it meant? And if they did, what did she say? What did she feel in that split moment when she allowed herself to remember that night when we ventured out into the world after hours of lovemaking and marked each other in a way the world couldn’t ignore?
Did I own her in that moment?
My chest constricted at the thought. Even if she was mine for only that moment, I’d take it. Moments strung together like Christmas lights were enough to make the world just a little brighter.
I didn’t wipe the mirror when my image began to cloud with steam again. The dark smudge of the words in my skin were still visible. I remembered those four words and what they meant to me.
She only seems free.
She no longer seemed free. She was free. Noa was free of me.
I dressed with care, as I usually did. Having a put-together appearance usually kept people off my back. If I looked like I had it all, no one would doubt it.
I was grabbing my favorite pair of dress shoes when my hand brushed against something. I closed my eyes momentarily before grabbing it and straightening.
My camera. The one Noa had gotten me for Christmas.
What Noa didn’t know was that this device, built with plastics and metals and glass had moments of ours trapped inside. I turned it on, ignoring the flicker indicating a low battery. A few button presses later and there she was. The smooth expanse of naked skin, her hair piled on top of her head, her fresh tattoo, the bubbles surrounding her. I caught her before I started cooking dinner. Pressing the button with the arrow pointed right, it was like watching her come to life in slow motion. Each inhale, exhale, and inhale…as if she were taking deep calming breaths. If I listened close enough, I could hear the sound of the water filling the tub.
The camera’s screen shut off, and just like in real life, I hadn’t experienced her nearly enough. A story without a conclusion, a movie cut off nowhere near the end credits.
I shoved the camera back where it was hidden. I wouldn’t charge it. I hadn’t touched it since the day Noa gave it to me. As I turned off the light in the closet, I shook my head.
I’d likely charge it as soon as I got home from work. Each memory was a hit of emotion. It reminded me that I was living and breathing.