On the Mortal Instruments series

(Not) For Illustration Purposes Only

By Rachel Caine

When I was a kid, the thing I most wanted, the coolest thing ever, was a tattoo.

This is mostly because my dad had one, probably courtesy of a drunken evening on leave in the army, but hey. My dad had a tattoo, so I wanted a tattoo, and damn those societal expectations, anyway. So what if I was a girl? In the 1970s? I also craved a floor-length leather fringe vest. My mom was not a fan of daring fashion choices, so I lived in disappointment on that score, but the tattoo? Right out.

“Only sailors and–and girls with red shoes get tattoos!” she sputtered, when I mentioned it. (I was not absolutely sure where the red shoes fit into all this. After that, I began looking out for red shoes hoping to spot some kind oftrend. Turns out she was under the mistaken impression that hookers wore red shoes. I don’t know. Don’t ask me.)

In any case, when you’re twelve and a girl and you live in the ’70s, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to follow your budding, possibly inaccurate, sense of cool and score that sweet tat (and leather vest) you think you really, really need to be yourself. So I found other ways to express my coolness. One of them was elaborate self-administered drawings in marker on my forearms, sometimes illustrating horses or spaceships. DON’T JUDGE ME, MAN. I was creative, okay? And I always washed them off before I went home, because I was  …

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