Sister’s Tattoo

I draw like I write. I throw ink on an itch until it goes away. I rarely know where I I’m heading as I pull the first line across the paper, but where I end up might be exactly what I’ve been hoping to find. As I start, I cross my fingers that this time I stumble through the ink and find home.

Once a year, summer charges in and the inkwell dries. I’m a husk in those months where everything burns under the open sky. I hate it. I miss the cold. My mind aches when I try to think, let alone draw. I crave the brisk fall, with the leaves rotting and cold winds howling. My family loses me as the spring rains wandered off and the world fills with bright and heat and noise and people.

I hid. If they found me I hissed and raged. There was no medication, no salve, nothing to do for the torture of heat. I wandered from night to night, finding small reprieves when the crowds wandered inside.

My little sister called me in the burn of August (that special month where my norse blood boils) and asked me to draw Little Red Riding Hood for her arm. Didn’t care what, didn’t care how, just wanted her brother’s work on her arm.

It was too much. It was too hot. How was I supposed to–

“I’ll try.”

I broke pens on pads. Raged, threw tantrums, bawled. For the first time I was supposed to make something real and I kept tripping over idea after idea. I fell on my face, crawled, and threw draft after draft into the bucket.

Then sometimes you stumble from the glare. Sometimes things start to look familiar. Sometimes a little direction, when you least want it, will bring you home. 

“This is the best I could do…”

A smile: “That’s her.”

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