She fumbled with the silver crucifix around her neck. Her eyes were distant and her face blank. I wondered what she was thinking about. She wore a soft pink dress and her hair was wrapped up in a bun, making her look fragile like a rose petal. Her face was contorted, as if deeply worried. Curious about what she was thinking about, I approached her.
“Morning,” I said. “My name’s James.” I extended my broad hand. She blushed, shaking it.
“Hi.” She all but whispered.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Yep.” She nodded, eying me suspiciously.
I looked around me for something to talk about. We were standing on a platform at a train station. There was a newspaper stand only a few metres from where we stood. The headline read: Teacher Fired Over New Tattoo. The front page was covered by a large photograph of a fire-breathing dragon tattooed over the top of a woman’s back and across the shoulders. I thought that would make good conversation so I brought it up.
“Hey, do you think it’s fair that teacher got fired over having a tattoo?”
She stared at me blankly. “What?”
I pointed to the newspaper. “You know, are tattoo’s unprofessional?”
She started fiddling with her necklace again. “No,” she replied sharply.
For some reason I had expected an innocent woman like her to be solidly against tattoo’s so I probed some more.
“But it’s a dragon and she’s a teacher?”
She looked at me again; this time meeting me squarely in the eyes. “So what if it’s a fucking dragon? It’s just a picture of a mythological creature. I don’t think it’s fair they fired me over the stupid tattoo.” Her dainty fingers then slid the zip of her dress down slightly and she turned her back to me revealing the lick of fire emerging from the dragon’s mouth. “And for the record, it’s none of your god damn business.” She then gave me a dirty look and moved down the platform, away from me.
As the train rolled into the platform, I felt stuck there. My feet were glued to the ground as I gawped after the woman, my feelings a mixture of shock and awe. And I learned an important lesson: Never judge a book by its cover.