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Tattoos Only Fade - Molly Blumhoefer

They sloshed around the dark bathroom like large animals after tranquilizer darts. Two of the walls were cinder-block, a basement corner. The floor was concrete, streaked with glue that had once held down tiles. On top sat a dingy toilet and a bathtub, no curtain. Beyond the bathroom, Blood Rubbish blasted noise into every crevice with stabbing guitar riffs and drum crashes. A crowd of people smashed around, a sea of sleeveless black shirts.

Sarah’s black mini-skirt rode up as the backs of her bare thighs pressed into the small porcelain sink. “Cold,” she whispered, cutting short a deep kiss. Then, embarrassed, “Sorry.”

He leaned her harder into the sink. Shit, that’s going to bruise. No way I’m having sex in a bathroom. Mature considerations cluttered her mind. She caught a glimpse of their reflection in the murky mirror. But it’s just Danny. They had been friends since high school, but only saw each other every few years. She moved out of state when she was twenty-one, to escape a lifestyle of drug addiction. She had been successful, mostly.

Her Converse clung to the wet concrete. The threadbare state of her red t-shirt revealed a black bra and faded tattoos. The ensemble was well suited for a rebellious teenager, or for a middle-aged woman at an underground punk show.

Her curly black hair, decorated with narrow strokes of gray, flowed freely to her mid-back. He pulled on it, as if to anchor his footing. I will wake with pains, she surrendered. She slipped deeper into the basin, feet off the floor. The faucet dug into her back. Her head cracked into the mirror. Every slither threw him off. He swayed back and forth as they kissed. “Sorry,” she repeated.

He gained his balance, tilted his head back, and examined her face. He pulled her legs around his waist. His eyes and mouth smiled. Sarah was overwhelmed by the look of hunger on his face. For twenty-five years, their relationship had been mostly platonic. She closed her eyes again. He lifted her from the sink. They spun.

Her butt slammed hard into a plaster wall, denting the graffiti. Regressive thinking set-in, At least he cares. He wants me to feel comfortable, but I’m still not going to have sex with him in here. She then remembered making out with him when they were teenagers, at a drug-infested house party. Kissing was just to pass the time of sleepless days.

His lips are mushier than I remember, she thought, still pressed up against the wall. It was wet with mildew, beer, and neon markers. It had absorbed multiple eras of human grime; she felt it soak through her clothing. Fuck. Am I okay? Am I here? What is this? The environment suddenly felt dreamlike.

Sarah had developed a dissociative disorder in her twenties. Her mind would involuntarily disengage with reality when triggered. If intoxicated, this shift could be dangerous; it had resulted in her wandering aimlessly in the city at night or waking up next to strangers. Over the years she found help, ways to prevent its manifestation. She wasn’t supposed to drink. The wall suddenly felt softer, as if she were melting into a mattress, Oh shit. Catch it. No. Get it. Said her own voice inside her head. She took a great gasp of air, which paused her tongue on his neck. She opened her eyes. It’s Danny. It is Danny. You know him. Damn the tequila. Did he notice? Don’t worry. This is crazy, but okay. You’re here. You’re here.

He pivoted her from the wall, into the solid wooden door, and back to the sink. Their tongues were in each other’s mouths and on one another’s faces. They were like dogs slurping water on a hot day. They intermittently paused to pet one another, as if they were wearing the fur of soft creatures. She caressed his Black Flag neck tattoo, and stroked his clean-shaven face. He stroked her arms and legs. She bit the thick leather that covered his shoulders, as if it were an extension of his body.

“This is just getting in the way.” He let go. She slid off the sink and hit her head on the edge of the tub.

“Oh shit Sarah, are you okay? I didn’t mean to drop you.” He removed his jacket.

“I’m fine.” She smiled up at him, in the same way that he had smiled at her, eyes and all.

Her upper vertebrae ached. Everything became crisp. He crouched down to meet her on the floor. He pulled her by her thighs. The music shook the room. The guitar was stronger and sharper than the other instruments. Steel reverberations pounded into their bodies. It had been less than two minutes, more than enough time for someone to need to piss, but the music muffled pounding fists and shouts.

Her hands tore at his back, under his shirt, and his played inside her underwear. She noticed odors that she had been trying to forget, reasons she left this scene so long ago: rancid beer, vinegary heroine tar, schwag weed, and rot that reminded her of centipedes.

He unbuckled his studded belt with one hand. He held himself above her body with the other. In a sober voice Sarah interrupted, “Hey, maybe we should get out of here? Go to your house? Don’t you think?”

His expression abruptly changed. He’d given her the same look just before she left the city so many years ago. Vacant. He crawled closer to her face, grabbed her rib cage so hard that she instantly thought, I will have bruises shaped like fingers.

He said straight into her eyes, in a tone more dramatic than anything he’d ever said to her in their lives, “I don’t want to die, my darling.”

Sarah squeezed his hands more tightly onto her rib cage. “But, I don’t leave until tomorrow.” Danny paused, wrapped his arms around her body, and gently lifted her from the floor.


Molly Blumhoefer grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She currently lives with her husband in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She writes poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction. Her nonfiction has been published in Adelaide Literary Magazine.


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