Once upon a time, I had a different life.
Back then, I knew a boy. A boy who had charisma, strength, and loyalty oozing from his pores.
No one is more loyal than Lennox Cruz. He gave me this gift, so precious without any stipulations, and it’s why I sit here today. I take a deep breath and give silent thanks once again for all that he has given me without even knowing the extent of his gift.
A message on my skin that no one can erase, as if I’m rewriting my story and starting new. Because once upon a time, I knew what it was to be free and to live a life full of love, happiness, and hope. Most would think that I’d need a blank canvas for that, but for me it’s different. Each tattoo is my life. The good, bad, ugly, and really fucking bad all wrapped in words and pictures around me.
The large piece on my calf consists of nine different butterflies. They’re in a 3D form and look as though they are taking flight or hovering above my skin. Each one goes in different directions such as my life spinning me just the same. Today, the tenth will be put into place.
They are each unique, because several different artists have worked their magic on me, weaving their styles with my wants. All my ink is significant, but it’s the butterflies that are the most.
Each one represents a year of my life lived in hell and my hope for a rebirth. My fresh start. Each one spreading out its wings to soar above and be free after coming out of a dark cocoon, rebuilding themselves from nothing. Freedom doesn’t really come for someone like me, though. It’s about the hope and only a matter of time before it will run out. I need to enjoy this taste of a peaceful life while I can.
This butterfly is distinguished in its own way. The colors are red and black, and its wings are spread with a shadow underneath of it, making it look like it’s hovering over my skin. Protecting. Watching. Waiting.
The only instructions I gave Jade—the woman with the gun—was I wanted a 3D butterfly like the others, but unique, and the colors had to be black and red—to remind me. Remind me of a time that for once I wasn’t an object. That I was an actual human being.
The moment in time when I meant something other than a pretty face. When a man looked at me like I hung the moon and not as a useless human being. When a man touched me in a deep, profound way, reshaping my thoughts about myself. Special.
“Hun, you doin’ okay?” Jade asks as I look down at her. She’s covered in concern.
“Yep,” I answer, laying my head down on the cushioned chair. We’re in a private room in the back. Stupid is not a word to describe me. He is coming for me, and there is no way I’ll go to him freely. Every move I make is calculated. Even though I know my time away is fleeting because he never gives up.
Fighting, kicking, screaming and gunshots—it’s the only way he’ll get me. Never will I submit myself to his life and his control. I will fight with every breath, every day for as long as I can. I’m going to pay for it, this much I know. But under it all: the makeup, too tight clothes, and sullen face, I’ve learned I’m a fighter and I won’t go down easy, no matter how much it will cost me later.
The buzzing continues, and I try my damnedest not to let the thoughts invade because each time they do, this feeling pulls me lower. The anguish, hate, betrayal, and hurt all want to take me down. I’ve let them—many times. They’re always there below the surface fighting to get out, but I don’t want to be that woman any more.
Hope is all I have, now. The hope that they won’t find me, even though they will. There is this sliver inside of me that will not die. As my mom used to say, it’s the strength of a Kratos coming through. It’s in our blood, the fight to carry on and push through.
Those words are all there is to hold on to. There is also the hope that in another life, I’ll see Nox again and give him just a taste of what he’s given to me.
I sit up and see the amazing butterfly up my calf almost to my knee. The wings are beautifully spread, and the detail of each line is exquisite defining every vein precisely. The reds are deep and move lighter in some parts, each shading together and creating a beauty I’ll cherish forever.
“Where’s the N?”
Low and behold, there it is blended in with some color. Now that I know it’s there, it’s plain as day jumping out at me. But no one will know it by looking at it. It’s truly mine and mine alone. Even allowing the world to see it, it will still be hidden.
I needed to have a piece of him with me. We would never meet again, but the impression he made on me in a very short amount of time needed to be remembered. He needed to be remembered. I would never have him. I had faced this reality, but this piece is all mine.
“It’s great. You did amazing work,” I tell her as pride in her work oozes off her.
I leave it at that.
Now all I need to do is survive.
I won’t hold Nox back. I’ll give him the freedom from my tainted past. I refuse for him to be bound by my wreckage.
I’m damned to the life I have, but I won’t tie him to it.
At least one of us will be free from the wreckage.