Art by Melissa Mead
Words on a Page
by Allison Starkweather
He flinches at the touch of sharp, cool metal against his shoulder. Only once and then he stills, holding himself motionless for her. She begins slowly, dragging the nib over his skin, leaving tracks that chill him as the ink dries. He shuts his eyes and focuses on the movement of the pen upon his flesh, but he can't be sure of the letters she's writing.
A shudder runs down his spine as she finishes the first word with a flourish, a strange sensation of relief like the purging of a wound as she pulls it from him and lays it out on his skin.
He wants to know what she wrote, and why. What she saw. She only said she wanted to write one word on him, that it would be like performance art. But her pen moves on, writes another, and a third. It's a strange feeling, having these words drawn out of him, but each one intensifies the sensation of being cleansed and purged, so he wrestles down his impatience and keeps himself a still canvas for her art.
She fills his back, inscribing it from the stretch of his broad shoulders to his narrow waist. He thinks maybe she'll stop there, but the pen continues, drawing its cool, itching lines over his buttocks, down his thighs. She writes something small and intricate at the backs of his knees, and it's all he can do not to writhe at the torment. Her pen stills until he has regained control of himself.