30 Days Of Summer

One year. Twelve months. 365 days to find myself and live on the wild side in Australia. It seemed like a long time at the start. I made friends, learned how to surf, got a nice tan. The usual. Then I met five crazy Australians who changed my life. It wasn’t just the fun, the laughs, the risks, the love. They showed me a part of myself I didn’t even know existed. And suddenly, one year didn’t seem so long anymore. {http://www.wattpad.com/story/11732664-30-days-of-summer}


17. Chapter 17

{ A/N - I've never been in a tattoo parlour before or anything, so please excuse if I get some facts wrong. Vote, comment and enjoy. }

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I had never once set foot in a tattoo parlour. The dim interior and huge leather seats were unfamiliar to me; and the tiled walls crowded with images and posters looked almost intimidating.

The only thing I recognised was the vibrant ink etched onto the skin of my five best friends. It seemed strange to me, to want to draw on your skin as if it were simply a piece of paper, or a blank canvas waiting to be marked. But Daniel, Jai, Luke and Beau seemed to think otherwise; their arms and torsos were engraved with images and patterns.

I stood beside Luke and Skip as they flicked through heavy catalogues full of intricate designs. Luke's hand brushed mine, his fingers trailing over my skin, teasing me. I smiled. I still couldn't stop thinking about the night before; the anger in Luke's gaze as I told him what had been on my mind for so long. And the way his eyes softened as I spoke, the way he'd pulled me into him, the way his lips had felt against mine.

He didn't say that he'd forgiven me. I just knew. 

“Hey, Lil,” Beau said from behind me. “Fancy getting some ink done?”

I shot him a look. “Ha. No way.”

“Come on,” he nudged me playfully, green eyes sparkling. “Are you scared?” He advanced towards me, ridiculous chicken sounds gurgling from his throat.


I grimaced. “I've heard that you bark on trains, but I didn't know your animal impressions also included chickens.”

He grinned. “I am multi-talented.” 

“Go on, Lilly,” Jai piped, pinching the pages of a leaflet between his fingers and glancing up at me. “Don't you want just a little tattoo?” One edge of his mouth flicked up in a cheeky smile. I noticed that the hardness in his gaze had disappeared. He knew that Luke had forgiven me. I felt relieved that the burden I had been carrying was gone.  

“Hey,” Luke glared at his brothers, hooking his arm around my shoulders protectively. My thoughts swirled immediately to the night before and colour rushed to my cheeks. But I shook it off, smiling gratefully at Luke. “Stop teasing her,” he glanced at Beau. “Just because you can get 'Bitch' tattooed on your foot, doesn't mean Lilly has to do something equally stupid.”

I snorted. “Seriously?”

Beau flipped his younger brother the finger, the rebellious gesture masking the look of embarrassment on his face. I just shook my head in disbelief. “I think that wins the prize for the most outrageous tattoo ever.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” James said, sinking into an overstuffed armchair nestled in the corner of the store. He gestured towards Daniel, who was pointing at a colourful design and beaming triumphantly.

“You want...a jellybean tattoo?” I asked uncertainly, raising my eyebrows.


He jabbed insistently at the image. “I'm going to get them on my knuckles!”

The glee in his voice was contagious, and somewhat worrying considering the situation – a nineteen year old boy getting jellybeans tattooed on his knuckles - but I couldn’t help joining in the laughter which chorused from the boys. They cheered as the tattoo artist grabbed the stencil and began to work. I watched from beside Luke as the man picked up a long needle fitted with a small metal box loaded with ink. His rubber-gloved hands glided effortlessly across Skip's knuckles as he drew around the stencil, leaving an inky outline on the skin. 


“Are you sure you don’t want one?” Jai prompted. “It hurts like a little bitch, but it looks sick when it's finished.”

I shrugged. “But why? What's the point of graffiting on your skin?”

James turned to me. “Every tattoo means something. You think Beau got 'Bitch' permanently inked on his foot because he felt like it?” he grinned, “It was a dare. There's a story behind every one.”

I blinked, his words echoing in my mind. There's a story behind every one. I exhaled deeply and stared at the floor, words and thoughts and impulses colliding with each other in my mind. I thought of the year I'd spent in Australia, and the memories that I cherished. I thought of the days spent lounging on the beach with Tiffany, or the afternoons spent playing video games with Ellis. I thought of the weeks I'd had with the Janoskians; the pranks and the stories and the laughter. But to me, they weren't the Janoskians. They were just five crazy Aussies, and I knew who they really were, off camera. They were part of me, part of all the stories I would come to tell of my travels, and one of the best years of my life. And, I realised, I wanted to remember that year. I wanted to be reminded of everything I would leave behind. And I didn't have much time left to do it.

“So,” Beau grinned at me, as the tattoo artist added the finishing touched to Skip's knuckles. “What do you think?”

Luke rolled his eyes. “Shut up, guys. Lilly doesn't have to get a tattoo.” He reached for my hand, touching it lightly, so briefly it was hard to notice that he'd done it at all. But I felt it. I looked up at him, smiling.

“No,” I said, my voice louder than I intended and doing nothing to shield the faint uncertainty which flitted around inside the pit of my stomach. “I want to get one.”

“Are you sure?” Luke glanced at me, his gaze jarred with concern.

I shrugged, shifting uncomfortably. “I've had an amazing year, and I guess I want to remember it.”

A heavy silence descended just for a moment, and I felt Luke tense at my side, a muscle in his jaw jumping. But soon the familiar chaos usually associated with the Janoskians commenced, the boys prancing around the tattoo parlour, laughing too loudly and talking too much.


Skip jumped up from the chair and showed off his knuckles, now artfully decorated with a number of colourful jelly beans. I scanned the walls of the tattoo parlour, searching for an image. The boys pointed out a number of ridiculous designs, but I couldn't find anything I wanted.


Finally, Luke tilted his head, pointing at something. “What about that one?”


I followed his gaze, squinting up at the small design. It depicted a tiny anchor with a heart in replacement of the shackle at the top.

I thought of all the things that anchor represented; the days spent riding huge waves at the beach, the way I had fallen hopelessly in love with surfing over the past year. And I thought of the previous evening with Luke, watching out as the moonlight ricocheted off the water as the waves curled. Everything I loved linked back to that tiny anchor; the beach, and surfing, and all my friends. It was a symbol that part of my heart would always be anchored right here, in Melbourne.

“It's perfect,” I whispered back, a nervous smile spreading across my face.

”You sure about this?” Luke asked.

I took a deep breath. “Yeah.”

He nodded, beckoning for the tattoo artist and informing him of my choice. The other boys grinned as I settled myself into the worn leather chair. I felt increasingly apprehensive. There was no going back; the ink would be imprinted on my skin forever.


But part of me liked that idea. The anchor would be etched on my body even when I was a wrinkly old woman, and beyond, reminding me that part of my heart remained in Australia.

Luke sat down next to the chair, entwining his warm fingers with mine, and I felt my nerves beginning to evaporate. I watched as the tattoo artist approached, manoeuvring his bulky frame into an old chair and turning towards me. His skin was alive with ink, patterns and images so intricate that they seemed to merge into a single mass of vivid illustrations. He gestured to the stencil. The tiny anchor looked meagre in comparison to the tattoos that covered his arms.


“Where do you want it?” he asked in a rough voice. 


I chewed on my bottom lip. I hadn’t considered this factor yet. I mulled over it until finally coming to a decision. I held out my arm and pointed to the evenly tanned skin below my palm. “Here. On my wrist.”


The man reached behind him and revealed a familiar contraption; a small box brimming with ink. A long needle protruded from one side. He jabbed at a button and it whirred to life, the needle shuddering with each flick of his hand. I tensed, trying hard not to flinch as he brought it closer.


“Hey,” Luke said softly. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” I said through gritted teeth, my voice tight. I inhaled sharply, trying to calm myself down.  “It's just... needles.” 

“It doesn't hurt, I swear,” he answered, squeezing my hand affectionately. I managed a watery smile.

“Go on,” Jai piped up from the back. “It's not that bad.”

I raised my eyebrows. “What happened to 'it hurts like a little bitch?”

My response was cut short as I felt the needle run over my skin, the jagged movements somehow leaving a perfect outline on my wrist. I bit my lip hard as it dug into the flesh, unaccustomed to the harsh feeling. It seemed to take forever, but the process was over before I had the chance to decide whether or not it really was painful. I risked a downward glance, sighing with relief at the completed design now etched into my skin.


The tattoo artist cleared his throat loudly, wiping the ink with a cotton swab and plastering my wrist with plastic wrap. “All done. You can take the plastic off in an hour’s time.”

I thanked him, a grin spreading across my face. I glanced down at the dark anchor which now stained my wrist admiringly. The other boys joked around with the men behind the counter as they paid. I turned towards them but Luke led me towards the door, the morning breeze kissing my cheeks as we made our way out into the street.


He turned towards me, a small smile on his face. His fingers were still laced with mine, and he used his free hand to reach up and tuck a loose lock of hair behind my ear, his warm digits brushing against my cheek softly.


He stepped back just as Jai skipped out of the tattoo parlour, letting out a low whistle. “Hey. I’ve got my eyes on you two. Don’t go all lovey-dovey on us.”


I groaned, burying my face in my hands with humiliation but Luke just forced a shaky, unnatural laugh.


Jai stood a few feet away from us, his mischievous gaze fixed on Luke. “So you finally found the guts, or what?”

“Yeah,” Luke shrugged. He suppressed a smile, his hand still clasping my own. “Something like that. 


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