by Eleanor Stewart

I once knew a girl who wrote on her arms.
Even if there was paper to spare, the pen would always find the soft skin canvas to etch on. The words were always large, in thick ink, in red or blue or black. The first night I met her, her arm read:
ACRYLIC & GLUE in large, curling letters.
Because I want to paint with them, she said.
She laughed nervously when she said it.
I thought she was sweet and vulnerable. Different from other girls I’d met.

A week later, after I’d slept with her, we went for a drink.
THE SEAGULL read her arm.
It’s a play, she said. By Chekhov. I need to read it.
You’re so interesting, I said.
But felt a pang of resentment in the pit of my stomach.

Not long after, and in an upmarket restaurant no less, her arm said:
I was angry at this.
What does it mean? I said.
I don’t know, she said.
I knew that she did know, but wouldn’t say.

Cover yourself up, I said, pressing my jacket onto her shoulders. I was so ashamed. She was wanton with her feelings. She was uncouth.
But these are just my words, she said.
I don’t care. I said. Cover them up. People are looking, people can see. Have some dignity.

MAYONNAISE was the last straw.
Do you think that’s terribly cute and charming? I said, and my face was hot.
I don’t think that, she said.
What are you trying to say? You’re strange, do you see that? You’re strange. No one else in the world feels the need to write messages on their arms. Who are they even for?
They’re just for me.
No one responds to them. And I’m ashamed. We’re done, we’re through. Wash your arm, for God’s sake, wash your arm.

I returned home furious and flung open the door of the fridge. I wanted something to get my teeth into, something substantial, something real. There was ham, there was cheese, but looking through the condiments I noticed
that we had run out of mayonnaise.

  1. #1 by D on October 2, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    I love this. Really well written and interesting.

  2. #2 by mariann on October 2, 2011 - 3:04 pm

    This is a brilliant insight into perspective and lack of communication. Thank you.

  3. #3 by Catherone on October 2, 2011 - 4:47 pm

    Very very cool this! Ciao cat

  4. #4 by Sandra Crook on October 2, 2011 - 6:58 pm

    The growing tensions in this relationship were almost palpable. Great flash, thank you.

  5. #5 by Maree Kimberley on October 3, 2011 - 11:44 am

    really enjoyed this & have overwhelming urge to write on my arms

  6. #6 by Ellie Stewart (@Elliemayonnaise) on October 3, 2011 - 4:43 pm

    Thank you so much for all your kind comments! I’ve got lots more writing up on my blog as well:

  7. #7 by Simon T on October 4, 2011 - 12:25 pm

    This is really good! I love the changes in their relationship, even in such a short piece.

  8. #8 by Anne G on October 4, 2011 - 9:14 pm

    Very clever structure and great pace, so much happens in so few words. Nifty and original…like writing on your arms. :D

  9. #9 by Robert Paulson on November 4, 2011 - 2:31 pm

    This is very good, I was not a very great fan of contemporary poetry but this is just so simple, original and even dark. The poem, even in brief, gives so much about the girl and how ill-suited was the relationship. The ending was great too, a trait ever-absent in modern rubbish that is passed as poetry.

  10. #10 by Lan on October 18, 2013 - 11:32 pm

    I just couldn’t go away your site prior to suggesting that I actually loved the standard information
    a person provide for your guests? Is gonna be back continuously to investigate cross-check new posts

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