Alex Leigh Jones
Our skin welcomes the invader. The needle drags across our hip, dancing at a piercing tempo. It makes no apologies for the bloody trail and dull ache it leaves behind. The design, no bigger than a quarter, was hand drawn with a black Bic pen by the man whose name we didn’t catch. It comes to life before our eyes—crooked, disjointed, enchanting. When it’s finished, we smile and hand the nameless artist a twenty. It’s the deal of a lifetime. We stare at ourselves in a cracked mirror, glowing like Venus never could. We’ve never seen anything more beautiful than this tiny peace sign, its shaky black border, the purple oozing into black. This is our secret, tucked behind jeans and undergarments and lies. But we know it’s there. And this makes us powerful. Invincible.
But we want to self-destruct. Mom likes to blame our wildness on caffeine but we’ve been chasing this since childhood. We watched our father go headfirst, into the black that tore apart our family. What’s a secret marking on the daughter of a liar, a cheater, an abandoner? There’s no reason, no rationale, no regrets. We just do. We could blame our age. But do other seventeen-year-olds end up in random living rooms of random homes on random streets with a blunt in hand, ready for their first tattoo? Maybe they do. Maybe we’re nothing special.
Alex Leigh Jones is an emerging writer who will join Lindenwood University’s MFA program in the spring. She lives, writes, and thinks about writing in between cups of coffee in Austin, Texas. “Our Secret” is her first publication. You can find her on Twitter at @aleighwrites.