She was stunning. The ink vivid, the flowers lush, the feathers sweeping, all perfectly positioned. The tattoos enhanced her body, her body enhanced the tattoos. Reds, hues from pink to magenta to cinnabar. Persimmon, tangerine, sliding into saffron sunshine. Hints of spring, summer-screaming green, with olive and midnight evergreens demure in the background. A bit of blue, like streams singing seaward down her arms. And there – one jolt of electric purple, above her left knee, where the promise of mounting to paradise began. A dark dip into the cavern navel, perfect for his spelunking finger. Nipple-peaks peeking through her jungle, inviting, teasing, hinting at retreat into the undergrowth if he misstepped.

Please, he heard himself think. Please.

Even if his mouth and mind were impotent to define ‘please what’, his body was far from inadequate. He’d never been so hard, so long, so thick. He shivered with the thought that something else might take part in spelunking, might reach all the way up under that dark secret navel, plunging to the depths and withdrawing until he’d solved the mystery.


He knew what would happen. It was inevitable. Tempus fugit. The jungle would succumb to Time’s greed. The nipple-peaks would erode, slumping, the deepened wrinkles no longer pierced by the pitons of desire. Navel cavern would fill with the detritus of a thousand quick sorties, a hundred mapping expeditions. Forgotten, neglected.

No. He wouldn’t let that happen. In his studio, he chose the proper line carefully for his own artistry. Her beauty would be displayed forever. She deserved his most meticulous work. The stretcher frame, all the tools he needed, everything was there and ready. He closed his eyes and centered himself. His hand closed around the handle of his flaying knife and he began.

[photo credit unknown]

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