Forever II

“Which type do you want?” Taeyeon asks, eyes locked on the menu.

Tiffany is unable to answer because she’d been staring at Taeyeon instead of the menu so she says the first thing that comes to mind, “Samgyeopsal.” As soon as she says that, her lips curl into a smile. Sunny orders it every single time they eat at barbecue restaurants and it’s not really a surprise that her answer would come like second nature to her. Damn it, Sunny. I’m spending too much time with you.

“You like pork too?”

Tiffany’s smile widens. Taeyeon favours pork. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out when it’s the first and only type of meat she looks at. “I like pork, chicken and beef. Not a fan of fish though.”

“Why not?”

“Fish eyes freak me out.”

“Fish eyes?”

“It’s like they’re staring at me. So cold, a-and dead, a-and–” A shiver runs down her spine. It’s a creepy-crawly feeling and she gets the chills at just the thought of it.

“And creepy?”

“Yeah–yes.”

A corner of Taeyeon’s lips turns up and stretches. “Are you squeamish?”

“It depends.”

“What other things freak you out?”

“Mmm, bugs. I hate bugs.”

Taeyeon covers her mouth with her fist and chuckles. As she moves, the warm light in the restaurant bounces off her blonde hair, giving it a lovely sheen. “So, haunted houses…”

Tiffany cringes and shakes her head. “Scary.”

Taeyeon grins and is about to say something when the waiter appears. “Are you ready to order?” he asks them.

“One serving of samgyeopsal and one serving of dwaeji bulgogi.”

“Is that all?”

“That’s all for now.” Taeyeon hands the menus over to the waiter and turns back to Tiffany. “Are you into reading?”

Tiffany nods. “Yes.”

“What have you read that you like very much?”

“The Time Traveller’s Wife.”

“Romance.”

Tiffany nods.

“You like romance.”

“I do.” Tiffany smiles. “Do you like reading too?”

“Not so much.” Taeyeon shakes her head. “But what I like isn’t important. We’re here to learn about you.”

“Alright.” Tiffany straightens her back. “So what else do you want to know?”

Taeyeon smiles. “Lots more.”

x

Four palm-sized slices of samgyeopsal and one bicep-sized slab of dwaeji bulgogi later, Taeyeon had asked her about almost every question conceivable. From school to work, friends to family, love life to singlehood, Taeyeon left no stone uncovered, leaving Tiffany feeling a little naked.

Tiffany leans back as she chews on her last piece of samgyeopsal. Her stomach is filled to its limit and she can’t eat any more even if she were paid to.

“So, I’m thinking. Maybe you’d wanna consider a phrase or a proverb instead of a symbol. You know, since you’re into reading and literature and movies.”

“Phrases…?”

“Like a short phrase that encompasses everything you want to say.” Taeyeon points just under her left breast. “It can start from here and end,”–her finger traces the gentle curve to the side–“here.” Tiffany exhales after Taeyeon retracts her finger but her breath stills again when Taeyeon looks into her eyes. “What do you think?”

“I think it’s a good idea, but I don’t have any phrases in mind right now.”

“That’s what this dinner is for. We’re here to forge a relationship and come up with something that you won’t regret tattooing after a few years.”

“Right,” Tiffany nods, “you’re right.”

“So give it some thought after going home tonight. The phrase will come from you and the design will come from me. It’s best for you to know exactly what you want to wear on your skin for the rest of your life. Forever.”

“Alright, I’ll do that.”

Taeyeon nods and wipes her mouth with a tissue. “Let’s get the bill.”

Days go by and Tiffany still has not found the words to ink on skin. It’s harder to think of something when she has to. It’s also harder to choose something when it’s going to be forever.

She’s in no hurry to find the words though. Taeyeon did tell her to take her time, not to rush it and end up regretting. Getting a tattoo is more serious and solemn a process than she thought. It had seemed straightforward enough with Sunny. Her flatmate didn’t mention the depth that Taeyeon had gone to in order to design her tattoo. She didn’t mention the lengthy thought process that went on behind the scenes, unseen, unspoken of.

Or is it just her?

Taeyeon is right though. A tattoo is forever and she doesn’t want to regret it. No regrets allowed. She will find the words that fit. She will find the phrase that is meant to be.

She will.

 It’s by chance that she comes upon it. By digging into her past. Not deliberately either. She’s doing a little spring cleaning (although it’s summer by now) when she finds her diary. It’s been left untouched for so long that the cover creaks and pages groan as she flips through the book. It was written during one of her most difficult years. Oh, the memories of that time…

Sitting on the floor in the middle of her room, she begins to read. The entries speak of fear, uncertainty, despair, rage, sadness, hopelessness and desperation. It was a life-changing experience for her. To witness the strength that her mother put up for her despite her ailing condition. To be the recipient of comfort and consolation although she wasn’t the one who was inflicted with the life-destroying mutation of her cells. How her mother had stayed that brave throughout everything was beyond her.

She flips page after page, pausing when a particular line catches her eye. It makes her gasp, her memory jolted and she is reminded of how incredibly amazing her mother was. Still is, forever in her heart. Forever. It is perfect. She has found the words.

“La vita è bella?”

“Life is beautiful,” Tiffany answers with a smile. “It’s Italian.”

“Why this particular line?”

Tiffany looks at her fingers and interlocks them one pair at a time, clasping her hands tight at the end. “It’s something my mother loved to say to me.”

“Loved? Does she not say it anymore?”

“She passed away many years ago.”

Taeyeon closes her eyes for a brief moment. “So you want to remember this line?” Taeyeon covers her hands with hers and squeezes as she nods.  “This line will give you strength when you need it most.”

“Hope and faith. It is hard to say it with conviction especially when life in this world is full of uncertainties and disasters could strike any moment. But my mother believed in it till the very end.”

Taeyeon looks at their hands. She doesn’t say anything for a moment. Then she says, “I know the font to use. Cursive, italics, flowing and free.”

Tiffany watches as Taeyeon pulls out a sketchbook and pencil. She sits quietly as Taeyeon’s hand moves across the page, eyes focused on the task at hand. Her eyes widen as the words take shape and she is soon able to make out the first two words designed in cursive script. She doesn’t dare to make a sound, lest she should disturb the great artist at work so she tries to keep as still as prey hiding from its predator.

Taeyeon finishes just as an itch on Tiffany’s calf balloons into an desperately needed scratch. The sketchbook is turned around and Tiffany forgets all about the intolerable itch right away.

“I love it,” she says, her eyes admiring the smooth curves of each letter, flowing from one to the other. “I’d love to have this on my skin.”

“This is a rough draft. I’ll refine it and let you have another look. When are you free to come here again?”

“Any day next week,” Tiffany says, eager to see the final design of her soon-to-be tattoo, “just send me a message when you’re done with it.”

Taeyeon smiles and nods. “Alright.”

Tiffany is getting sick of jumping every single time she receives a message on her phone, only to get the sinking feeling of disappointment when it isn’t Taeyeon’s message. She’s not quite sure how she made it through the past couple of days at work; she was that distracted and impatient. So when Taeyeon’s message finally pops up on her screen, she shrieks and picks it up to send a reply immediately.

Taeyeon Tattoo Artist
Design done. When are you coming?

The next available slot you have.

Taeyeon Tattoo Artist
930.

AM?

Taeyeon Tattoo Artist
PM.

Aren’t you closed by then?

Taeyeon Tattoo Artist
I can OT for you.

Are you sure you won’t be too tired?

Taeyeon Tattoo Artist
I’ll be fine. You probably can’t wait
to get your tattoo 🙂

You know me pretty well huh (:
OK 930PM. See u tmr ♥

x to be continued x

I must apologize for taking this long to write Part II but I think it’s a blessing in disguise that I put it off till now because this popped up:

and this:

See ya at Part III 🙂

x

Thanks to Steph for inspiring me with your tattoo CSI deciphering of the possible words for Tiff’s tatt 🙂

6 thoughts on “Forever II

  1. I’ve been trying to figure out what Tiffany’s tattoo could possibly be. “La Vita e Bella” makes sense. I’ve only seen “La Bella Vita”, but still it’s a great quote. You know what they say once you get a tattoo right? You want another. I have three and I still want to get another.

This is where you get to say something :D

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