A blanket shadowed their world in darkness. They hesitated briefly before starting their journey to the familiar silver ring. The dragon typically arrived first in the short flight down from the right shoulder with a few swift flaps of its graceful wings. On the opposite shoulder, the tiger made its own furtive approach as if stalking some unsuspecting prey. Slowest among the sojourners was the rose. Without the benefit of wings or legs, this flower had the farthest to travel, slowly inching its way upward from the ankle like an earthworm on freshly-soaked pavement. On several occasions, the rose acted as a buffer between the dragon and the tiger, separating the antagonistic beasts. This night was different. By the time the rose reached the rendezvous point of the metallic belly-piercing, the tiger was playfully pawing at the leapfrogging letters from the forearm’s now unintelligible verse while the dragon swung at them with its sharp tail.
All became suddenly still as a new figure timidly descended from the side of the neck for the first time. Fluttering bright purple wings came to rest as the small butterfly gently landed on the tiger’s tail. The dragon leaned in for better look while the letters carried the rose closer like a crowd-surfing rock star.
Without warning, there was an unexpected shaking below. As the silver belly-ring began to vibrate, they all knew the introductions would have to be cut short this night.
Their host abruptly sprang up from her slumber in the direction of the neighboring bathroom. The dragon quickly flew back up to one shoulder while the tiger hastily lept towards the other. Gravity aided the rose’s freefall back to the ankle while the letters rolled back into a familiar sentence just as the bathroom filled with light. In its inexperience, the butterfly delayed its return to the tender pink outline of the neck just long enough that her groggy eyes caught its final movement as she reached the mirror. Must be the painkillers, she convinced herself, as she gently massaged the stinging, ruddy skin around her colorful fresh ink.