She had five tattoos, when we were dating. They were all poorly done, but she wanted to fuck the tattoo artist, so she kept on going back and getting these mediocre, blotchy, unaesthetic tattoos applied to herself. None of them really had any significance, aside from the fact that they were simply things that she liked, as if she were a billboard and needed to externalize these minor aspects of her personality, which was barely a flicker anyhow.

She had a peace sign inside her left arm, made of vines. Not any kind of thick, living, verdant vines – just a scrawl of what a child thinks vines look like. A thin tendril with leaves too far apart, and which belonged on a completely different type of plant. You could not touch the inside of her arm lightly, because it made her whole body shudder and convulse in the least sexy manner possible.

Encircling her left nipple was another ring of vines, identical to the first. These you could touch, but only because they had no sensation in them after a surgery she’d had many years earlier. I’ve always been attracted to scars, but a cruel part of me had always envisioned the doctors hacking away at her with a butter knife, as everything seemed so jagged and rough.

On her ankle was a cartoon of a fat bee that she had drawn. Despite being deathly allergic to beestings, she loved bees. Once, after a rainstorm in Philly, she stopped to pick a floundering bumblebee from a puddle, in spite of the fact that it could potentially kill her. I fell a little more deeply in love with her at that moment. I’ve never liked cartoon bees.

Inside her hipbone was a blue rose, which was probably the most acceptable tattoo of them all, though it held no more significance than a love of blue roses.

And on her upper back, on her right side, was a lion – all blurry greys and a disjointed eye. It attempted to be realistic, though it failed completely, and I could never get past the fact that one paw just seemed to wander off, Escher style, and never meet up with the rest of the body. I never said anything.

The sixth tattoo was going to be one of my design, based on her specifications. Lower back, a kind-of-Victorian pattern of wild vines – the real kind this time – with an empty space depicting the shape of a heart. I’d even convinced her to include a few bees. All of this was an effort to counteract the collection of ugliness that she’d branded onto herself, giving some kind of indication that she knew a little bit about art and style. I guess I knew at the time that she was going to cheat on me, because I also wanted it to serve as a territorial marking : I was here first, and now you have to look at me while you’re screwing her. I knew it was going to happen.