It would have been easy to blame her mother; but she didn't. That's something that few people realized about Tat: she was surprisingly forgiving. But that was only toward the people she loved, and no matter what had happened, Tatienne still loved her mother. Maybe that was stupid of her, but she did. That didn't mean she had to love her mother's choice of second husband, though. If Tat blamed anyone - and, being honest, she did - it was him. If he could have just left her and Cerise alone...
Cerise was Tat's favorite person in the world. Somehow, Cerise had never become that bratty little sister that the world seemed to think was normal; you know, the one on every TV show who annoys the hell out of the older sibling but never gets in trouble with the parents. Cerise wasn't like that at all. Instead, Cerise was always as rosy as her name suggested. That's something Amandine did right,
Tat would think grimly to herself about her mother. She knew how to name us.
But as far as doing things right went, that was just about all Amandine had managed for her children. Tat and Cerise's mother was too caught up in varying stages of depression and mania, sometimes not leaving her room for days and other times not coming home from some "friend's" house. Tat did her best to shield Cerise from it all and keep her 9-years-younger sister as rosy and unburdened as possible. Tat even saved her money from her job as shop helper/apprentice tattoo artist to buy her sister a week of trapeze lessons down at Chelsea Piers. Cerise's excitement and sheer joy at this gift made everything worth it to Tat: all the hassle from the school about missing classes to take extra work shifts; all the jerky clients at the shop trying to feel her up; all her idiot druggy classmates making insinuations about her mom. None of that mattered. Not while Cerise was this happy.
Then it all changed. Things all happened at once, so it's all still blurred in Tat's mind - which is understandable, given her current state - but what Tat does
know is this: it started with him.
Her mom brought home a new boyfriend out of the blue one day, promptly announced she was marrying him, and that was that. He was now a part of their barely-together lives, and there was nothing the two girls could do. Truthfully, her mom was so distant from them at this point that Tat doubted she would have cared were it not for 2 things: 1. He went after Cerise, and 2. He found out Tat's secret.
Soon after Cerise was born, not long after their father died, Tat realized she had a secret. She realized that she saw things on people that no one else did. There were words, sometimes even pictures, crawling around on people's skin. It didn't take long for Tat to recognize these words as bad words, mean words; not curse words, or at least she didn't think so, but ones that didn't sound nice, especially to be ON somebody. "Liar" was an easy one she knew. "Thief" she knew too, and "Cheater". There were some other harder words though: "Bigot", and "Adulterer". She didn't know what those ones meant, but she could guess they weren't nice either. The pictures were scary too: snakes with sinister eyes and rats with menacing teeth. She didn't like this, but she also knew that her mom would yell at her if she told her about it. So it became a secret that she nurtured and did her best to ignore, but always she was strangely drawn to it too. That's probably what drove her to become a tattoo artist, really; she wanted to try to drown out the bad images by making more visible ones that everyone could see. Sometimes, though, she'd get a client who had the twisty invisible markings that only she could see; inevitably, that person would be someone she immediately didn't like, and often she'd find an excuse to pass him off to another artist. When she was forced to work with these people, though, she did so as quickly as possible, without talk.
Cerise was the only one who knew about this. Naturally, Tat couldn't keep a secret from her sister, and shared it to her when she was young enough to believe. But Cerise believed everything Tat told her anyway, and she saw the way that Tat would sometimes tense up around people for no apparent reason; that's when Cerise would know who was marked.
It was because of this that he found out. Tat immediately saw words on her new stepfather's arms, his legs, twisting up around his neck; she couldn't even stay in the same room as him. Cerise was young but not stupid; she picked up on it quickly, and did her best to avoid him too. But this new stepfather of theirs wasn't happy with that. He spent a lot of time trying to get near to them both, but mostly to Cerise. He always seemed to be around, and their mother was as oblivious as ever. Tat tried her best to protect them all, but she couldn't be there for her sister at all times; she did still go to school and work and couldn't always take Cerise with her there. But when she walked into her house that day and saw that man putting his arm around Cerise with that look on his face, she snapped.
"GET THE HELL AWAY FROM HER!" she screamed in fury, pushing her way in between the two and giving the man a harsh shove. "Don't you EVER put your hands on her AGAIN in ANY WAY, do you understand? And stop hanging around and stop mooching off my mother and just LEAVE US ALONE. I don't CARE what my mom thinks, you WILL NOT stay here anymore! I'll - I'll - get my buddies from the shop, they'll stay here, they'll keep you out. You need to GO, NOW."
"Stupid dog, you don't tell me what to do! I wasn't f*ing doing anything! You don't know who the hell you're dealing with here, do you?" he tossed back, standing his ground.
"I do. I know exactly what you are. You are a liar. You are a thief. You are a bigot and a cheat. It is written all over your skin," Tat replied in a low, cold voice. She didn't even know what she was saying anymore, and didn't care or notice that her words wouldn't make sense to him. But she had to keep going. "The writhing is making me sick - YOU'RE making me sick, you and your writing, your markings. You're dirty and unclean. The words, the words on your skin, I see them all the time, and all the time you are disgusting. Get out. Get OUT. GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!" She was shrieking by those last words, and her stepfather was staring at her with wide eyes. Cerise was still standing on the other side of Tat, paralyzed with fear; she had never seen her sister like this. She thought she understood the man's wide eyes, but she didn't expect him to say this: "You're one of THOSE!" and with that, he fled out of the house.
As soon as he was gone, Tattletale fell to her knees on the floor and started sobbing, shaking. Cerise stood frozen for another minute, and then slowly walked over to her sister. She stiffly knelt down and put her arms around her. They stayed like that for a long while.
Finally, Tat stood up again.
"I need to go back down to the shop. I need to get the guys there to come help us," she explained. "Don't go out behind me. Lock the doors. Mom is working the late shift, she won't come home from work until a lot later, I'll be back long before then. Won't be long. And Cerise," she added, turning back from the door handle she had reached, "I love you. I'm sorry."
"I love you too," Cerise replied sincerely. "Please. Hurry back."
Tat was already out the door.
She was walking briskly down the streets, not seeing much in front of her. It was only around 10:30 pm, not very late in terms of Manhattan hours, but somehow it was pretty devoid of people. They didn't live in a particularly crowded area of the city, but still, generally it was more crowded than this.
That's when he stepped out of the alley next to her.
She should have realized.
It clears out when there's been signs of gang activity.
Or the sign of a madman with a gun.
Just like the one standing next to her now.
The one she had just called a "liar, thief, bigot, and cheat".
"I know your kind," her stepfather said, taking another step closer to her. "Believe it or not, I know what you can see. Bet you thought you were crazy in the beginning, seeing things, didn't you. Bet you thought you were alone. Well," he said slowly, "you are very, very alone right now."
She saw his hand come up quickly, holding that black object, and that was the last thing she ever saw.
In that body.
She "awoke" some time later - was it time? Did time still go on? Was it going on without her? Was she part
of time? - knowing that she had been shot. She also knew that she was dead, because she felt no pain. Instead, she felt only the need to go back to Cerise and make sure she was okay...and then make things right. There was a faint tingling in the back of her mind that made her feel like she ought to be curious about something...about that man...about why he knew...but it didn't matter anymore. To her, there was only one main purpose for being there: Protect Cerise. Identify those only she could see. Mark them so that anyone can see, if they look. Get rid of them.
That's what she does now. She still sees the words, clear as ever, but now, no one can see her. It makes it easier to take action against them. Before, as a small girl, she never felt like she had a chance to make a difference. But now, she had the power. She couldn't be caught; hell, she was already dead! What could anyone do? They couldn't even see her. So, she would find them. She would get knock them out. She would mark them with the words that she could read on their skin, tattooing them with UV ink. That way, they were still secrets, but they were always with the danger of being exposed. In regular daylight, you couldn't see them, but under blacklight, they would be as readable as anything. Once she was done, she would leave them with their own little blacklight...they would know that they were one bit of darkness away from complete transparency. One tiny slice of light away from never hiding again. They would know that they had been called out. They would know that someone had tattled.
And her sister would be protected.
And you are a Liar
and UV Tattletale
, UV Tat
by a beautiful anon
Tattoo Machine CI by Shur
profile graphics and coding by Pinto