This week I am posting stories that go for #aceweek. I wrote this initially for a contest that called for 300 word queer stories based on the word ink. I came up with the idea of trancedental ink, which is in line with the idea of soulmate marks, but marks taken by choice, and how this changes society. This actually has a background file that is about twice as long as the story, and might be a longer piece of a world later on.
Brighid stood alone with arms wrapped around herself, in a twisting line of couples. They were all clinging to one another, excitement palpable in the air despite the wait.
It was a marking day, the first one in three years. Transcendental ink had been developed over 100 years ago, and became scarce shortly after. Too many people had taken advantage of the ability to get the perfect marking, exactly as you imagined it, down to the tiniest detail.
Nowadays there was a limit: 36 square centimeters of ink per person, done in a single session. It could be anything though, a 6×6 centimeter square to a 1-millimeter line wrapping 3.6 metres around your body.
What started as the ultimate self expression, had become an expression of commitment. Rings could be removed, but this was for life. 72 square centimetres across two bodies forming a single flawless work of art. There were of course break-ups among the marked, but far fewer than the non-marked population. Brighid suspected that it was less to do with love, and more to do with the stigma that came from dating someone with a mark that didn’t match your own.
No one cared if two men walked down the street holding hands, but if those clasped hands had mismatched marks… Well the looks and comments got ugly. Brighid had even seen a woman cover her children’s eyes and hurry them across the street lest her children be exposed to such abhorrent behaviour.
Her entire life Brighid had been told to save her mark for the right person, but part of her always knew she was different. She stayed quiet, never admitting she didn’t feel that drive to be with another person.
As she stepped out hours later, alone and freshly marked, she felt free.