Front door jacked open, drone of overhead fan and whirring of machinery slipping out into the night-shaded street. She moved from light puddle to light puddle, a restless bundle illuminated in shades of dirtied yellow and orange. Her conversation was animated, punctuated with gesticulations and violent head shaking.

Maggie knew arguing with herself was pointless; she never won.

She entered the shop, stopping to admire the hundreds of designs, signed by the artists, tacked to the walls. Dungeon and Dragons, Celtic symbolism, Eastern mysticism, the Grateful Dead. Nestled next to Mom encased in a heart of roses, lips spouting kiss my a**; poems, delicate or degenerate, in various scripts. Dreams and nightmares.

Acrid incense barely covered the smell of combustibles. A languid skeletal thin girl, lounged against the front counter. Delphinium tattooed, like a name tag, above her peeking left breast.

After a sliver of breathe, Maggie pulled a crumpled piece of paper from a pocket of her voluminous coat. “Here,” she said, passing it to Delphinium, “this is what I want.” Delphi, as called by her associates, nodded and pointed to a chair behind the undulating curtain of clackey-tacky plastic beads.

Delphi tossed the request on the counter. “I can draw you a better one,” she said, moving towards her table of artistic tools, vials of colour, sketchpad and pencils.

She traced out the word, and encased it with tiny images – “This is better,” showing the girl her design. Rejection in flowing calligraphy, surrounded by daggers, razor blades, arrows, spear tips, bleeding hearts, drooping eye lids, slashes of red-lipped mouths and tears.

“Yes,” Maggie whispered, shaking off her coat and laying out her freshly-stretched canvass body for the ink artist.

For mlmm tale weaver 139: rejection

To end on a lighter note: