Test Of Trust
In a small courtyard made relatively quiet by the surrounding walls, Sylvie lay prone on a bench, breathing evenly while a tattooist worked on her back, and calming her mind by repeating in her head with each breath ‘I trust her’. Sylvie had not seen the design her friend Gumei had come up with. It was about the size of her palm, a cool sketch on her left shoulder blade gradually turning sore-warm under the needles.
I trust her.
Gumei was right here, getting a tattoo of similar size, in the same spot, that Sylvie had decided on. A gull in flight might not have been very original—Gumei owned a brooch in such a design—but suited her; she often seemed flighty, making her sudden decisive actions a surprise for those who did not know her.
I trust her. We've been friends for too long.
In contrast with Aman. The rhythm of pinpricks, her breath, her mantra had let Sylvie slip into a state in which she could stand thinking about him. The first boy who'd shown interest in her. A little older and taller than her, confident and charming. He'd plied her with compliments and attention. And laughed in her face for being stupid enough to believe him, after she had slept with him. She didn't even want to know what kind of gossip he and Cassar were spreading about her.
I trust her. I trust Gumei. I trust my old friends.
Sylvie couldn't let Aman take that from her.
But what if I'm wrong?
Sylvie and Gumei used two small mirrors to show each other what they had etched into their backs now.
Gumei's quick, delighted laughter at the bird could not be feigned, relieving one of Sylvie's worries.
Her own... "A lizard?" All right, that wasn't bad. Amusing since it was nothing she could have imagined, but not bad. "Why a lizard?"
"Because of the times I found you high up on a rock sunning yourself." Like when she had brought the idea of those tattoos up again, when Sylvie had been trying to see how big she could grow a plant from a seed using only magic, no soil or water. It had not worked well. "And because of the old story how lizards have leaf-shaped heads because they grow from seeds."
It drew the first genuine laugh Sylvie had had for weeks.
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