Originally posted to 15-minute ficlets in response to the prompt “brand.”
Shuna held still while the tattoo artist worked the ink into her beck and back, ignoring, or trying to, her mother’s hovering disapproval.
“Shune-loon,” she began again, resorting to childish nicknames, “it’s a…”
“I know what it is,” she cut her off, the pain pricking along her spine making her shorter than was prudent with Mother Dearest.
Her mother plowed ahead anyway. “It’s a brand, Shuna. It’s marking you as his in permanent ink wrapped around your neck. It’s a collar you can’t take off. Couldn’t you just get a butterfly or something?”
“Hold still, please,” the tattooist murmured, cutting off her frustrated exclamation. She made herself relax, her forehead resting on the face pillow, and tried not to wonder what her mother was up to. She couldn’t even see her feet anymore.
It was the tattoo artist who spoke again, a few minutes later, sounding apologetic. “This glyph, miss, are you sure this is the one you want?”
She knew without looking which one was in question. “That’s his Name,” she murmured in response. “And that’s where it goes.”
“His Name?” The capital N suggested the concept wasn’t new. “That…”
“You see why I worry,” Shuna’s mother put in. “A Name like that and she wants to mark herself as his?”
“Mmmn. I see. But it’s her choice, isn’t it?” There was a challenge in the question that made Shuna smile.
“It is,” her mother agreed grudgingly. “But this isn’t how I brought her up.”
“I hear that a lot, here.” The needle was still working, avoiding the central glyph as the artist continued the pattern down her spine and around the sides of her neck.
“And what do you say, then?”
“I say…” Shuna fought not to jump as the needle hit the skin at the center of her neck, beginning the glyph, “that parents set children’s feet on a road, but it’s up to them where they walk it.”
“Even with him?” Her mother’s voice was getting hysterical as the inevitable was etched into her.
“Even with Death, yes.”
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