Tattoo

He scratched his arm lazily. His class was dragging by slowly, and he could already see the students losing interest in what he was trying to say. Gazes were shifting towards the clocks, chairs were swinging, and a few phones were already peering out from underneath tables. The students still hadn’t realised he could see under the gap of their tables.

The promise of the weekend held too much power over them.

He continued on with the lecture anyway. If he was going to have to suffer through this last class of the day then goddamnit he was going to make sure they all suffered with him. A small sadistic part of him grinned at the thought.
He scratched his arm again as his gaze swept across the classroom. Flicking to the next slide, he leant forward to balance on the lecture podium.

“As writers, there will be periods where you feel as if you can’t write anything,” He looked at his student over the top of his glasses, the frames sliding down his nose. “And to be perfectly frank, it’ll be shit. Trust me, I’ve been there.”

The students rustled a little. The itching was starting to crawl down his forearm.

“But it’s not totally hopeless of course, as you will see from these methods that can help you cope with what we in the industry like to call ‘writer’s block’…”

“Professor?”

He turned towards the sound, watching as a lone hand raised in the air.

“Yes?”

“It’s just,” The petite girl paused hesitantly. “How did you cope with your writer’s block?”

He blinked, “My writer’s block?”

“Yeah?”

The classroom fell silent, and he could feel the weight of his student’s gazes on him. He had suffered through long periods of block, long dark months where he never believed he would be able to write again. It wasn’t exactly a secret on campus. He was an anomaly to his students, the quiet writer who would let years pass before magicking up another work of genius.

A deep itch suddenly flared in his forearm, and he glanced at the smooth skin. The shadow of black veins began to swirl across his arm, moving across muscle and bone to form soft shapes. He watched the shapes form, accompanied by the ever-familiar burn.

He had to bite back a laugh as the black swirled once more before coming to a stop. She must be bored.

“Professor?”

He raised his gaze again to his students, who were staring curiously.

“How many of you have met your mates?”

There was no reply. And then a few hands quietly rose in the air. He could see the dark ink peeking out from underneath long sleeves, the strange shapes stretching out onto the bare skin of their raised hands.

“To answer your question,” He rose his own forearm in the air, currently covered in graffitied dicks of varying sizes surrounding cursive calligraphy spelling out ‘Fuck me’. His students erupted into laughter. “My wife got me through my block.”

“How?” A deep voice rang out from the back of the classroom.

He ran his hand through his hair, pausing to consider the question.

“She was a Reminder. Used to write down words that would interest her, appointments she needed to make, friends she had just met, things she needed to remember. And I saw all of it.

“So I took everything she let me see, and things she hadn’t meant to let me see, and I wrote about her. Or who I assumed she was.

“She didn’t figure it out until after my second novel was published. And then it became a sort of game between us.”

The clock moved past the hour, but none of his students moved. Their attention was entirely on him, and for once he was thankful.

“So when did you guys meet?”

He laughed, “Not until years and years later.

“My wife is a little odd. She wanted our meeting to be completely natural. I guess it was her way of rebelling against destiny in some screwed up way. We actually met in a supermarket by complete accident, and the rest is history so to speak.”

“Were you not tempted to find her before then?”

“She knew who I was. If she had wanted to find me before then she could have easily.” He shook his head, “You see, I had already fallen in love with her by that point.”

A silence descended upon the classroom, and he looked at his students evenly.

A knock on the door drew him from his thoughts and he turned to see another professor appearing at the door. He smiled apologetically as the squat man tutted and tapped his watch. The squashed reddened face disappeared as quickly as he had appeared, but the moment had already been broken.

He clapped his hands together, “Right that’s enough for this week. Remember you have reading due for our next session as well as a short piece on The Survival of Mates.”

The room groaned and he grinned widely, “I’ll be reading them personally, so make sure it’s your best work.”

Chatter bubbled up in the room, as chairs slid across linoleum floors and bags were swung at tables. Some passing students shot him shy smiles, while others hollered greetings at him.

And then he was alone again.

An itching began in his forearm, and he watched as the ink shift and change to form new words.

And he smiled.


 

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