Life Painted On Skin

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I remember crying and my father laughing as he stained me with a permanent ink-filled scar. Sixteen-year-old Hayden O’Connor is the son of a famous tattoo artist, Michael O’Connor. Back when he was starting out and not well-known he used his son as a practice subject. He practiced on him in order to perfect his art. He got his earliest tattoo at the age of five. Two wings with chains woven around them on his back. It was his dad’s reminder that he couldn’t just grow wings and escape the pain of his practices. Hayden’s father gave him many reminders in the form of ink… When Hayden meets Rayland Daniels he hopes to turn his life of pain and misery around and find an escape for him and his fourteen-year-old adopted brother Ronan, from his father. Hayden’s mother died in childbirth and it contributed to his dad’s sadistic ways. Instead of only submerging himself in alcohol or drugs he took to drawing. Tattoos specifically, and on a young child nonetheless.

Horror / Drama
3.7 3 reviews
Age Rating:


It doesn’t happen as often anymore, maybe once every three months if I’m lucky. So far, I’ve prevented Ronan from suffering and I hope to keep it that way. He doesn’t need a reminder of that kind of pain or any kind of pain actually. As his older brother, I guess he does look up to me but I’m nothing much to be proud of. I may seem strong and brave with all my tattoos, and he says he’d like one or two like mine when he’s older but I reassure him over and over he wouldn’t want one. Not now, not ever. Or at the very least, not one done by our father.

I’m surprised people haven’t complained about the way he does his tattoos. It feels like you’re being shot and stabbed numerous times and even after all the needle-pricking is done there’s a sharp ache left behind that lasts for weeks. I’m beginning to wonder how I haven’t run out of skin, yet. It’s probably because he only does them bit by bit so I’m in as much pain as often as possible.

I’m surprised I haven’t come home to Ronan tied down to a table with my dad just inches from scarring him with ink. Maybe he’s starting to realize it’s wrong. Nah, I highly doubt that. Maybe he plans to do something more than just stab Ronan with a bunch of ink-filled needles. I don’t know, I hope not but it’s probably just a luxury that I hope that.

He probably won’t make it out of this house unbranded, without one of his marks. I guess the good thing is, it hasn’t happened, yet. When I was five, I got my first of many. Wings, tattered and bound by decaying chains.

I remember crying and my father laughing as he stained me with a permanent ink-filled scar.

After he was done he showed me in the bathroom mirror and I just stared at it. I accepted after many attempts that it wouldn’t come off.

About a week later another tattoo graced my skin, this time a spider, its web and many trapped insects. My father put it on the left side of my stomach, he explained that the spider was him, the web was our house and the trapped insects were me. And just like those insects, I had no way of escape. Not unless someone came along and cut me free from the web and that has yet to happen.

By the age of seven, Ronan had joined our family and he was just like me before age five, accept he was five. He was curious and had a thousand questions, especially about my tattoos. He asked where they came from and what they meant.

He said they looked cool and that made me have a little pride for them. But I explained to him that if our father ever tried to tattoo him to come find me. I may have been young but I knew that life wasn’t supposed to be full of pain unless it was unpreventable and Ronan didn’t need tattoos to live so it was preventable.

He had yet to come to me and say he had tried to tattoo him and I was grateful that he hadn’t had to suffer like me. I hope he’d never come to me with that problem. Or any problem that involved pain in reality.

By the age of eight over a quarter of my body was covered in symbolic inked images for one reason or another, by age twelve it was half and now, at sixteen, it was three-quarters of my body.

Ronan, on the other hand, was still a clean slate as far as I knew: No inked images had appeared out of nowhere to claim otherwise and I hope none ever will.

But hope is just a thing in our minds. It can’t prevent or change things that have happened or will happen. Even if I keep hoping it won’t change my father or his ways. I highly doubt I can do anything to stop him at this point. Staining people with ink, willing or unwilling has probably become a part of him. He’s been doing it for eleven years and a more than decade-old habit is hard to break or I imagine it is anyway.

As long as I’m the one being stained by ink and not Ronan I’m fine with it. All the others paid him money to do it so they either know or will find out the consequences of tattoos.

1. They are expensive.

2. It hurts like Hell when you get them.

And 3. They’re permanent, you can’t remove them, so don’t get one you’ll regret.

With all that said, thousands of people still come barging into his shop, slapping down cash and demanding an image painted on their skin for one reason or another.

Whether it’s so they never forget something or somebody or just so they seem tough I don’t think it’s a good idea.

I hope Ronan does get out of this house unbranded but I hope for a lot of things and I know the best thing I can do is tell somebody that can actually do something but…for some reason I fear that if I tell somebody they won’t believe me. Considering that I’m not exactly seen as a goody-good boy in the world outside my house they’d probably think I was doing it for attention. I hate that. When people assume you’re always crying wolf, the one time you’re not they don’t believe what you’re saying and don’t come. It usually ends with terrible consequences, they should just believe what you’re saying each time and check it out, make sure it is or isn’t the truth before you go and assume they're lying outright.

People who normally lie, don’t always lie. Criminals can turn their lives around and so can liars but in both cases, it’s up to them whether that happens or not. I guess if I stopped getting into fights and stuff now and tell someone in a few months they might, might, believe me, but there’s still the chance they won’t. And Ronan’s got another four years in that house at the most and when I’m gone in two…who knows what will happen to him? I can’t say I know but I bet he’ll end up like me unless I stick around or take him with me when I move out. Can’t say he’ll want to come with me either, definitely won’t want to stay here that’s for sure. The only reason he hasn’t left is that he has nowhere to go and because he, like me, is afraid to tell someone.

Everybody’s afraid of something and this is what we’re afraid of. It was never the dark or the monsters under our bed. It was the monster lurking in our father. The demon that possessed him after I was born sixteen years ago.

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