I promised to share excerpts from my newest middle grade novel; here is one. My heart breaks whenever I read parts like this.
The only thing I remember about my dad is his tattoo. It was barbed wire and wrapped around his bicep. When I was little, I’d sit on his lap and trace the tattoo with my pudgy fingers. I remember the day as clear as ice he told me about the tattoo.
“You like that, Will?” he said. He took another sip of beer. “Got that when I was in the Marines. Something to do. When you’re older, maybe you can get one just like it. Then we’ll match.”
When I was about seven, I took a black magic marker and drew a barbed wire “tattoo” around my upper arm. Well, it was more like a black squiggly line. When Mom saw it peeking out of my short-sleeve shirt, she went wild.
She grabbed my arm and pulled up my sleeve. “What possessed you to draw on your arm?”
“It’s a tattoo. Like Dad’s,” I smiled, showing off the hole where my front teeth once were.
“Willy,” she said. “What am I going to do with you?”
I put my hands on my boney boy hips. “It’s Will. I don’t want to be Willy anymore.”
Mom sighed. “OK then, Will. What am I going to do with you? You used permanent marker. It’ll take forever to go away.”
“But I don’t want it to go away,” I said. “I want it to stay. Like dad’s.”
Mom ran to her bedroom and shut the door. I could hear her crying from downstairs.