Ocean sleeve rested a hand on her shoulder, his gentle way of cutting her off. “Don’t judge a book by its cover, that’s the saying, right? I don’t want us to go judging people based on their tats when we need to stick together. Besides, I think we’re better off focusing on how to get out of here than who is already in here.”
A burst of heat hit my cheeks, along with the desire to leave the room, because I’d started the blasted conversation. I wondered if that happened as a little girl. If I excused myself and hid in the bathroom after raising my hand and getting the wrong answer in class?
I stumbled upstairs, anxiety still swirling through my stomach, and discovered a row of bathrooms back-to-back. I chose the middle one and undressed in front of the full-length mirror inside, even though I worried whoever put us there also installed cameras. But I needed to see my tattoos, to see what mattered enough in my life for me to transfer it into ink.
I found four of them. A jet black garter belt holding a knife which circled my thigh. A half-faded skull on my wrist. A yellow jellyfish on my hip. Barbed wire around my ankle.
Nothing looked familiar, except for the fish, and for a moment I thought I poked at a memory – but then I realized Ocean Sleeves had the same one. In the middle of the blue waves across his arm, a yellow jellyfish with the same markings dripped down his bicep. Identical to mine.
Come to think of it, his hair color matched mine too, so he could be a brother, a cousin, an uncle. Or I could have been fucking him. He could have been the love of my life or an ex who hated my guts.
I slipped my shirt back on, thankful to be covered, because maybe I should keep my tattoo a secret from them all? Maybe I should pull Ocean Sleeve aside and tell only him instead of announcing it to the whole house? Or maybe…
I stopped when I heard a yelp, cut short in the middle, like the person heard himself start making the sound and then forced his vocal chords to freeze.
On tiptoes, I exited the bathroom and walked toward the adjoining one with its door ajar. I knocked hard enough to swing the entryway open and saw a man with a teardrop tattoo sitting on a closed toilet seat, razor in hand.
“Hey, whoa, are you okay?” I asked, knowing how stupid the question sounded when blood already squeezed out from a thin line in his wrist.
Teardrop twisted toward my voice, stretching out the arm holding the razor. His wrist shook as much as his voice when he said, “I killed someone.”
“What? What do you mean?”