This piece was inspired by a sketch by Flycatcher263 on Deviantart. Unfortunately, it’s not up there anymore. You guys will just have to imagine it.
“Isn’t that like a symbol for how many people you’ve killed?” Naria asked, her confidence gaining strength as she went along and Ferra didn’t like, glare or something.
Ferra looked up from the rose she was gently untangling from itself. She looked back at it. “A pink and white rose?”
“No, no.” Naria pointed to the soft skin under her right eye, where Ferra had a tattoo of a black tear. “The tattoo.”
Ferra blinked. “I sure hope not!” Then she frowned. “I’ve never heard that before. Where did you hear that?” She picked up a tattered twist tie from the bucket of assorted gardening tools.
“I dunno.” Naria thought for a moment. “Maybe something about Russian prison tattoos? Or maybe it was a book.”
“It was probably a book.” Ferra said, sticking her face back into the rose bush, headless of the thorns. (They never seemed to bite her anyway.) “I’m sure the tattoo artist would have told me if it was something like that in real life.”
Naria shrugged. She’d never met a tattoo artist. Maybe they figured that if Ferra was scary enough to have killed someone they’d better not risk it.
A wasp flitted around, looking for something it couldn’t find. Naria watched it nervously, but it didn’t land. “Why did you get it?” Naria asked her sister.
“Lots of reasons.” Ferra said, deep in the rose bush. She stuck her hand out and dropped a cluster of brown thorn covered twigs. “I had a friend who really wanted a tattoo, but she wanted someone to go and get one with her, so I was thinking about it. And a lot of people at school were getting them. Tattoos, I mean.” Ferra’s face appeared again, as she pulled herself out of the bush one slow movement at a time. She looked at it critically, and then stood on her toes to push a higher stem closer to the trellis. “Plus, they were doing a special so it was cheep.”
“No, the tear I mean.” Naria said, pulling her knees up tighter to her belly.
Ferra leaned over to grab another twist tie. She was smiling evilly. “Oh, you know, I killed this guy with my math book.”
Naria squealed. “Ferra!”
Ferra laughed and turned back to her bush.
“Tell me for real.” Naria insisted.
Her older sister nudged the bush up against the wooden frame, fingers walking around the ripping thorns. “Well. I guess…” and she trailed off as she tied the stem in place. “I was really sad, you know?”
“Oh.” Naria frowned. “Why?”
Ferra sighed, and stepped back to get a better look at the bush. “I don’t know. Lots of things, I guess. I was missing you guys, and all my friends back here. And the world seemed like a really bad place. You remember what happened at Westcort?”
“With the guy with the gun? Yeah, I heard about it on the TV.”
“Well, one of my friends had died there, and everything just seemed generally hopeless.”
Naria hugged her knees more tightly, and looked up at her big sister. She looked sad, but in a distant, serene kind of way.
Ferra frowned slightly, then reached into the garden box for clippers. “Anyway, I wanted some way of expressing how I felt, but I couldn’t find it. The tattoo seemed like the right way.”
“Oh.” Naria said. She watched her sister prune off selected stems, one at a time. “I am sorry you are sad.”
Ferra turned to give her a smile. “Well, I feel much better now. Thank you though.”
Ferra clipped the bush some more, each snip of the clippers considered at length. Then she started cutting some of the bigger flowers, catching them as they fell. Ferra had said that if you clipped the flowers, more flowers would grow. Like more total, because the bush would try harder to make flowers.
Naria wasn’t sure about that. But it seemed to be working so far.
“When does mom get home?” Ferra asked.
“Oh, prolly two or three or four. Like three usually.” Naria said, as Ferra’s phone started to ring. It was sitting next to her on the stone. It buzzed itself onto the grass. Naria picked it up and looked at who was calling.
The picture was of a piece of white cloth. Black tears lined the edges in fancy sewing. There was no name, just a number. Naria held the phone out to Ferra, who was turning around for it. “It’s your friend.” Naria said, on the basis that it had a picture.
Ferra smiled at her, took the phone, glanced at the picture, and took the call.
“Hello Nancy! This is Ferra.” She cupped her hand around the mouth of the phone and walked down the path, away from Naria and the house. “What’s up?” She rounded the corner of the shed, hidden by walls and profuse ivy.
Naria could hear the rhythm of her voice, but nothing else. She sat for a little bit, and considered going to look at the golden flowers near the shed. Eventually, she decided not to. After a moment, Ferra came back around the shed, looking a lot more serious then she had when she left.
“What’s up?” Naria asked.
Ferra dropped the cutters into the bucket. She picked up the rest of her twist ties and twisted them gently back around the handle. She took the thick leather gloves out of her belt (she’d never worn them all morning) and dropped those in too. “One of my friends needs some help with something.”
“A friend from school?” Naria asked.
“Yeah.” Ferra said. She picked up the bucket. “She’s gonna swing by here to talk to me for a bit.”
“All the way from Texas?” Naria asked, shocked.
Ferra laughed, but it didn’t really sound like she thought it was funny. “No, she’s visiting people around here anyway.”
“Oh. Okay. Is she going to stay for dinner? Do you want me to call mom?”
Ferra shook her head. “Nah, it’s only gonna be for a bit. She’s got stuff she needs to do. We just need to talk about something. That’s okay with you, right?”
Naria frowned. “I’m gonna get left out, right?”
Ferra gave her a sad smile. “Yeah. It’s private stuff she’s got going on.”
Naria sighed. “Yeah, I guess that’s okay.”
Ferra furrowed her eyes in apology. “I’ll make it up to you, promise. You wanna go out for ice cream tomorrow?”
“Yes!” Naria perked up.