I dreamt of a tattoo
7:34 at the coffee shop
Last night, I dreamt of a tattoo. How strange it was! It wasn’t Picasso’s dove or Napoleon’s emblematic bee. Nor was it Mount Fuji, which I contemplated from near in 2015, the beautiful yellow Cora sun or anything so special to me that I’d want to have it inked onto my skin.
I rebel against this type of thing. And yet the woman who woke up in my bed this morning was staring at her arm. She was running her fingers over a blue tattoo made up of 8 numbers and 4 letters approximately half an inch tall.
This woman in my dream wasn’t me; she was the FEAR WITHIN ME; the fear of becoming weaker; the fear of losing my faculties and the terrible fear of dying. I must admit, I have an almost excessive attachment to this life on Earth and I quickly become agitated when I imagine my last hour.
The fear was active and verbose the entire night. It had the horrible idea of getting a tattoo. It knew to put it on my dominant side and even knew which colour to choose — the same blue that can be seen from the Baie-des-Chaleurs, where I was born.
This bold bodily artwork is increasingly common. No doubt these treasures, often hidden under clothing, pay tribute to the animus who feed them. The illustrations sometimes look alike, but the grain of each individual canvas is unique and renders them impossible to duplicate.
It’s the FEAR in me that orchestrated everything. It had this lifespan tattooed in permanent ink on my left arm while I slept. It inscribed my birth year, the name of my father’s mother’s — which is also my name — and the year of my final departure: 1947-CORA-2047.
This dreamlike tattoo doesn’t represent an artistic trend or a creation worth exhibiting. I know the FEAR that lives in me; it has all my qualities: audacious, enterprising, clever and tireless. The tattoo is a subtle exhortation to the Master of the Universe. A pact written in my flesh. Two dates that guarantee me 100 years of existence.
My FEAR has so much to say, and it always needs to be right. It doesn’t want to die either. That’s why it persists, coming to me in my dreams, taking possession of me as I sleep and filling my head with recipes for longevity.
It is even whispering instructions as I write this letter, dear readers. It is telling me to keep my tattoo to myself because it is similar to the markings seared onto slaves’ bodies long ago. The epitaph on my arm instead serves as a powerful talisman: to keep my body alive. This FEAR knows how tightly I grip this life here below. Since it would do anything to urge me to keep on living, I forgive its nocturnal misdemeanours. I know that this tattoo is a message of hope, a supernatural deal with the ever after.
My long life crumbles, thins and exhales a bit more each day. The rest of my life lives in a roofless house from which thousands of sentences ride away; flying with the wind. I like disappearing gradually, finely sliced until there is nothing left. Week after week, my letters rest on the previous one like the steps of a long staircase leading to paradise. Word by word, I climb towards the end at a snail’s pace.
I don’t use this old head of mine very much now, and my crooked fingers still type mistakes on the keyboard. One morning, while the world is starting to stir, or perhaps as I sleep, a kind elf will come and rest his hand on my forehead and close my eyelids. At that very moment, on the fifth planet of Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince, the lamp-lighter will light a lamp and a new star will be born.
Carmen, the person who usually sits at the table next to me at the coffee shop, asks what I am writing about.
— “I’m writing about death, dear Carmen. About my fear of dying to be specific.”
— “Don’t worry, Cora dear, “when we die, we either fall asleep or we wake up.”
— “Who said that?”
Carmen doesn’t remember.