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Desdmona's Erotic Story Contests
2004 1K Bedtime Flash Contest
Honorable Mention


The woman in front of me – crushed between two Australian back-packers – has a new tattoo. I know, because when one of the Australians yanked off his knapsack, twisting his bony shoulders so the bag descended into the constricted space of the underground carriage, it caught the small of her back and she hissed in pain.

I watch how she straightens carefully and reaches back with one French-manicured hand to touch, oh so gently, the delta of her spine just above the swelling ripeness of her buttocks. It’s not just the hiss and gesture that convince me. She’s wearing a loose dress, but she looks like a girl who’d normally choose hipster jeans and a tight tank top.

I push the nearest Australian in the ribs. He half-turns, smiles, and moves aside for me. They always do. It’s something to do with my being small and blonde and wearing a white uniform. I look like the school nurse, or the candy striper they had a crush on when they were fourteen. Or how she looked in their dreams, anyway. So I end up right beside her.

Oh she’s gorgeous. Taller than me, with dark hair in tendrils and curls that kiss her long neck – bed hair. And when she turns, responding with tense aggression to the gentle touch of my hand on her hip, I see huge brown eyes, warm and melting, like chocolate sauce. And she sees me, a trim girl in a white overall, and she smiles – wide lips, curving sweetly.

“How long since you had the tat done?” I ask.

“Four days.” She doesn’t even wonder how I know.

“What have they given you for the swelling?”

“Uh?” She brushes a hand across her forehead and I get a great view of her breasts as they lift and press gently against the fabric of her dress.

“I have surface anaesthetic,” I indicate my satchel. “I give it to all my clients – I can’t believe your tattooist didn’t provide you with it.”

In the moments while she assimilates this, and the carriage sways her closer to me, so that we’re almost thigh to thigh, I try to guess what the tattoo will be. A peacock, I decide. I wish it would be something amazing: a tree of life, a submarine, a praying mantis – but it won’t. She’s conventionally unconventional. Or she has been until now. I’m about to surprise her out of her recently inked skin.

“You’re a tattooist?” she says.

I grin knowingly and hand her my business card. She reads it and grins back. “Skin Artist” is what it says, and that’s what I am.

We get off the tube at Harrods, which has, as I remind her, toilets nicer than some people’s flats. I indicate the Australians with my head and she giggles.

Let’s get one thing clear. There is nothing unprofessional about this. She is not my client so I’m doing nothing wrong, professionally speaking. My husband might not agree. Her tattooist would certainly suggest that sex in her present dermally challenged condition is a bad idea. Whoop de do. I am an expert. I know what I’m doing. It’s time to hand out a free sample of my expertise.

I take her into one of the wide, elegant toilet cubicles and lock the door. Without even being asked, she takes her dress off. Under it she is wearing absolutely nothing. She has gorgeous tan skin and large breasts with dark nipples. Then she turns round. The tat is a koi carp. The wide head and golden barbels rest just below her shoulder-blades and the final frisk of its red gold tail-fin disappears beautifully into the cleft of her glorious pear-shaped behind. But the whole design is ridged with swollen tissue where the ink has been forced into her almost poreless flesh. The pain must be relentless.

I get her to kneel on the toilet seat with her hands on the cistern. I ask you – what kind of a woman must she be? Or perhaps, what kind of pain must she be in, to be so compliant?

If you took a good cello and leaned it against the wall, it would look like this beauty, resting her forehead against the rear wall of the cubicle. As I coat my left hand in the anaesthetic cream, I imagine a cello tattooed on her back, like an image within an image. I rest my hand on the carp’s head, letting the painkiller lullaby her tortured nerve endings to sleep. Slowly I work my way down her spine, constantly adding cream so that her skin slides gently into painlessness. Then, around the middle of the carp, I rest my right hand lightly on the ripe undercurve of her thigh. She doesn’t react.

I let both hands slide around a little. Nothing. I keep my left hand still and urge my right thumb sweetly into the soft plum-coloured divide between her legs. A gentle moan is all it earns me.

For the next couple of minutes I watch the carp swim. It knows where it is going. Its sinuous movements speed up as the woman undulates; the glowing fins rise and fall with increasing urgency as the fish heads for its ultimate destination. I opt for stillness, holding my thumb upright in the ocean of her pleasure, letting her swirl her currents round me. The idea of a fingerpost in the middle of a sea makes me smile. Well, the whole thing makes me smile, really. Wouldn’t you?

The fish leaps and the woman gasps. Not the strangled hiss she gave in the underground carriage, but a long delighted inhalation, followed by a soft moan of pleasure achieved. My thumb slides from its mooring. I am cast adrift.

She dresses silently. I hand her the tube of cream. She bends her head and kisses me with soft precision.

As I unlock the cubicle, she tucks my card securely into her bag.

Carmel Lockyer has an overdeveloped work ethic and a fig tree in her garden. She finds it hard to reconcile the two. She is a Jerry Jazz Fiction Award winner, with a column at and another at Her short-short story “Domestic Violence” made the final five of the Guardian fiction contest, Beltane and Samhain has placed third in the Science Fiction Contest and her work appears in six anthologies in 2004. Her website gives details of her current and forthcoming publications. The fig tree is also flourishing.

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To: Carmel Lockyer

Desdmona's Erotic Story Contests
2004 1K Bedtime Flash Contest
Honorable Mention