Penny and Imogene went to Starbucks and brought coffee’s while their girls went to load their bags in the car and spend some time looking around the shops, they both had a fair bit of pocket money they’d saved up over the long Holiday, especially as they hadn’t really left the house. Penny took a few sips of her Caramel Latte double shot then looked skeptically at Imogene, gathering herself enough to say what she was thinking.
“Imogene.. I think we should take the girls to counselling.” As soon as the words were out, she knew she couldn’t take them back and just hoped Imogene would agree. It took a few seconds for what Penny had said to sink in, and Imogene wasn’t quite sure what to think of it. At first she shook her head and took a few sips of her own coffee, Cinnamon Swirl Flat White, but the more she thought, the more benefits she could see from it.
“I’m not convinced it will help.. But anything is worth a try at this stage..” She finally said, looking at Penny with a soft smile. “I’d do anything to get our girls back, they’re so dark and empty now..” The words came out before she could stop them, dipping her head a tear dropped off her nose onto the table. Penny put her hand out and over Imogenes, rubbing her thumb soothingly over the skin.
“It’s okay, we’ll fix this, we’ll find something that will work. We have to.” The other lady nodded and the finished their coffee’s then stood and left the shop, going to look for the girls.
Nala and Suzy were in the Tattoo Parlor, Suzy was nervous but Nala was eager to rebel, do something wrong, get a permanent mark on her ‘flawless’ skin, she mocked the use of her Mother's words in her head while her eyes scanned the designs available. She was too young, but as long as she paid the Tattoo Artist would always turn a blind eye. Finally, she saw two snakes curling around up a sword blade, the sword was sharp, stabbed into a rock, the snakes were a plain green and red, but she thought they were beautiful.
“How much for this?” she thrust the design book at him and pointed to it, the Artist looked her over.
“Depends where you want it, little lady.” he said with a smirk. Although his wandering eyes made her feel sick, knowing what he wanted from her, Nala also realised she could use it to her advantage. She swung her hips out to one side, stood straight forcing her breasts out as far as they could go and pulled her jersey off her left arm, revealing a pale, skinny arm.
“How about down my arm? From the shoulder to elbow?” she asked, and winked. The Tattooist was stunned briefly, then laughed and nodded enthusiastically.
“Yea, that’d work. That would be $70.” Nala handed him half her wad of cash, shoving the rest into her purse and back into her jeans. Suzy reached out and grabbed her friends arm, tight. She had a scared, angry look in her eye and shook her head frantically. Nala pulled her arm back and glared at Suzy.
“Live a little, Suze, it’ll be fine.” and with that she followed the man into his studio, and Suzy sighed but followed suite, not wanting to leave her friend alone with this strange man who clearly had ulterior motives.
The back room was dark, with a few bright lights placed around to light up certain area’s, like where the ink guns were kept, and all the ink. Nala jumped up onto the chair and sat back while Suzy watched the man preparing the gun and ink. Once he’d done that he turned to find Suzy staring up at him aggressively. She passed him her notepad, with a very blunt note.
She isn’t old enough. The man was confused at first, but then read it and threw it back at her.
“Who cares, as long as she paid, I claim ignorance, and no problems occur. Plus she clearly knows what she’s doing.” He strode past her and proceed to start the Tattoo, printing the design onto Nala’s arm with a pen to go over with the gun. Suzy watched Nala’s face turn from certainty to nervous and skeptical. She was second guessing herself, she knew how wrong this was. She didn’t have any time to make up her mind though, as the man started the gun and the design was being inked in. Nala squealed and covered her mouth with her free hand, looking at Suzy with a scared expression. Suzy wanted to be able to tell the man to stop, she opened her mouth and tried, but not a single sound came out. She knew if she touched him at all he could jerk and hurt Nala, she couldn’t do anything, she couldn’t help her best friend. Nala had made her choice and there was no going back now.
Penny and Imogene had checked every shop in the mall, checked the car and asked the mall cops if they’d seen their girls. There was no sign of them.
“What did I get that girl a phone for?! She never uses it to contact me.” Imogene cursed quietly, peering into Just Jeans for what seemed the millionth time. Suddenly Penny gasped beside her and raced forward.
“Suzy! Nala! We were so worried! Where have you been?!” she pulled them both into a tight hug, Imogene doing the same as soon as Penny let them go. Only Suzy noticed Nala’s little winch as both parents touched her arm, the Tattoo was complete, colour and all, and it was beautiful. But Nala was scarred, she hadn’t really wanted it, it was a bad decsion and now there was nothing she could do unless she told their parents, which she refused to do.
“Sorry, we went for a walk to Amy’s house just around the corner, I dropped my phone on the way and only found it walking back. I don’t have any texts though Mum.” Nala lied so smoothly Suzy could barely believe it. Amy did live right around the corner, and the parents knew it, she also knew Amy would happily lie for them, and could convince her Mother to as well. Imogene glared at Nala and shook her head.
“Why didn’t you tell us you were going?! You know the rules! Oh, whatever, it’s time to go home, we’re just glad you’re both safe.” Imogene and Penny ushered the girls to the car and they drove home in silence, only the radio playing in the background. Nala’s jacket was rubbing against her new Tattoo, the sensitive skin was getting irritated, making it all the more painful but she knew she must keep quiet, she couldn’t let the parents find out. Suzy watched her friend from the corner of her eye and could see how much pain she was in, she shook her head and sighed, she should have been able to help her!
As soon as they arrived home Nala leapt from the car and ran into the bathroom. The Tattooist had instructed her to shower and let lukewarm water run over the Tattoo, with a little bit of soap, but not to rub or scrub at it, then pat water off lightly with a towel and air dry. She wanted the pain to stop, so raced to do it before anyone could ask her to do anything. Suzy sighed and grabbed all their bags from the car, forgetting her notepad and pen. Penny and Imogene watched the girls go and shook their heads confused. Penny reached into the back and grabbed her daughters notepad and pen, then flipped through the pages, she wanted to get an idea of what they were talking about at Amy’s, see if they told her anything they could use to help them help their kids. Penny’s mouth fell open on the last page. The words stuck out on the page as if a knife had etched them into her heart, her blood felt ice cold in her veins. ‘She isn’t old enough’. Penny handed it to Imogene with shaky hands, Imogene read, reread and read again a final time before jumping out of the car and racing inside. She ran down to the girls room, barged in and found Suzy staring up at the ceiling, a concerned look on her face.
“What isn’t who old enough for, Suzy?!” she yelled, getting into the girls face. Suzy sat up and looked at Mrs. Lark worriedly, she kept getting closer, looking angrier. “Tell me what happened, what were you and Nala doing??!” she screamed. Penny came running in and grabbed Suzy, pushing Imogene away.
“Calm down, Imogene! Suzy can’t speak, remember? And I’m sure it’s just a simple misunderstanding.” she turned and looked at her trembling daughter, handed her notepad back open on the page saying ‘She isn’t old enough’. “What does this mean, Suzy?” Penny asked tenderly. Suzy leant into her Mother and closed her eyes, she was so confused, worried, unsure. What was she supposed to do?!
At that moment Nala walked in, wrapped towel around her wet hair and a fluffy dressing gown covering her arms. She looked at the ladies and raised an eyebrow.
“What’s going on..?” she asked, walking over to her draws and grabbing out some underwear, a bra, socks and shorts and shirt. Imogene walked over and put a hand on Nala’s shoulder.
“On the last page on Suzy’s notepad it says ‘She isn’t old enough’, what is it referring to? Did someone try touch you? What happened??” Nala groaned at her Mother's accusations, if only she knew the truth about Peter.
“I wanted to get my ears pierced, the lady almost did it but Suzy gave her the note, and she wouldn’t. Okay? Nothing happened.” Imogene relaxed and pulled Nala into a hug, saying once again how glad she was both girls were safe.
“If you really want your ears pierced, I will take you and pay for it today, before school. How does that sound? We can get you some nice earrings too!” Imogene said, rubbing her daughters back. Nala grinned against her Mother’s shoulder and nodded. Suzy sat watching and shook her head, disgusted at her friends behaviour, but she wouldn’t say anything and Nala knew it.