Written by Rivers of Tarmac
She reaches out to my face. Gentle, like one approaching a startled animal. I tremble, I flinch, I pull away. Her expression flickers; betrayal, hurt, confusion. She hides it. She wonders if I saw.
She begins to make gentle soothing noises, “sshh, it’s alright, it’s OK, you’re OK. I’m not going to hurt you. Sshh it’s OK, you’re safe, it’s alright… you’re OK… sshh.”
I don’t realise for a while that I’m crying. Her face – pale and white, shining in the darkness – is a mask of fake smiles and comfort. Mine is a mask of dark purple and blue, and fear. She edges closer to me. I school myself to stillness. Gently, oh so gently. Her extended hand still rests on my face. She strokes the marks, her fingers barely making contact yet leaving white-hot trails behind them. Whether these are trails of pain or confusion, I am still not certain, but I feel it in my skin – whatever it is. Her eyes fill with tears as she traces the lines of one bruise, then another, then another and another until I realise I am no longer breathing. My breath falls out in one ragged gasp and I am sobbing, she is sobbing. My shoulders shake and yet my face is still, and tears stream down her face yet her hands are steady and she continues to touch me. I am trapped under her gentle fingers that exert no pressure yet somehow hold me pinned. Her breathing steadies, her eyes dry, her lips part.
I shift my head, ever so slightly. It could be a nod or it could be a twitch, but it causes her fingers to leave my skin, and I gasp sharply at the feeling of her absence, of a space between us. It feels like freedom and fear all bundled together. I yearn to be away from her. And yet, I yearn for her to touch me again. I lean forward, towards her, trembling.
“Please…” I whisper, and she brings her hand back to my face. There’s this electricity between us, an incredible spark, and I’m afraid. She meets my eyes. She presses her fingertips firmly onto my face. It hurts. Her eyes are stern, now, determined. She whispers one word.
She does not say if she means me or the bruises, and I do not ask.
Bruises is Rivers of Tarmac’s second piece in Inkblots, after her interesting take on the Half Hour Challenge theme Wishes, entitled “It Is Hard To Tell“. This work of fiction was particularly inspired by Rivers’s need to write a dark occurrence between two people after listening to a playlist full of poignant lyrics.