Publish Novellas 20 November 2022
EPISODE 11 – PLANNING
As treatments progress and Jillian prepares to give birth, plans are made for future extended family interaction.
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Jillian Agassi is now five month’s pregnant. Her and Ricky, her boyfriend, have been through two sessions of tattoo removal. Anticipating tenderness of her breasts as they swell in subsequent months, that is the first area of treatment. The dermatologist estimate they’ll require about four more laser treatments to reduce appearance by at least 80 percent.
The engaged couple is living in an apartment within a nearby town. Ricky continues studying online courses for tattoo removal and areola pigmentation. Jillian sends Jack progressive photos of their fading tattoos and growing baby bump. The brother and sister have a phone conversation about names for the baby as the delivery date approaches.
“Our father has done so much to help you, not only covering the expenses for your current place, but throughout our lives. It would be an honor, to name your son after him. That’s just my suggestion.”
“I hear you and want to show my appreciation. William is such a traditional name. My son will live in the future. So I prefer for William to be his middle name. As a first name I was thinking something like Zephyr.”
“What’s that even mean?”
“It means soft, gentle breeze. From Agassi to Zephyr literally covers from A to Z. That represents the range of future opportunities that are open to him.”
“I guess I could get used to Zephyr. If you don’t get married before giving birth, Agassi will be his last name on the birth certificate.”
“I kind of prefer that route. Erase any thoughts of me marching down an aisle nine-months pregnant.”
“I’ll speak to father. Perhaps we can meet you at the hospital when you go into delivery. Send me a text.”
“I’d like that. Thanks for all you’ve done. We’ll talk later.”
The months pass and Jillian gives birth to Zephyr William Agassi. Her father is proud to be present for the birth of his namesake. The progress on tattoos continues. Two months later, some are 80 percent gone while others are about 60 percent.
Ricky asks Jillian, “How much longer will we have to wait before moving into town?”
“I’ll try to find out from my brother.” She then calls Jack.
“Is everything okay with you and Zephyr?” he asks.
“We’re all fine. I sent you the latest pictures of our tattoos. Treatments are really painful but we’re enduring. Ricky and I were wondering when we might be able to submit an application to live within Agassi.”
Looking through the photos, Jack replies, “You’ve made tremendous progress. Some on your thighs and neck and arms are still quite apparent.”
“I don’t mind wearing a turtleneck and long sleeves. We’re not trying to bend the rules—too much—but we’re hoping for a reasonable goal.”
“How many more treatments do you have to go?”
“About two each to lighten another 10 to 15 percent more. The lasers weaken the skin so we can’t keep it up forever without a break. The only other option is to cut skin from another part of the body and graft it in. Then we have scars.”
“What about the drug use?”
“I had to stop when I got pregnant. Ricky has been sober for six months.”
“Thanks for the update. I’ll talk it over with our father.”
Mayor Bill Agassi is happy to hear about the progress. He looks at the tattoo area photos and tries to imagine 10 percent more fading.
“To someone who knows how dark the ink was before, the improvement is dramatic. But they’ll still turn heads even if 10 percent lighter.”
“I hear you. Their skin needs a break from the lasers. It is getting thinner and more tender. Jillian says they’re willing to wear turtlenecks and long sleeves.”
“Okay, I have a townhouse reserved for them. They can move in within a week of application after their final two treatments. If their skin is well enough to resume sessions a year later, they should agree to one or two more treatments. Also, they must get married.”
“Thank you, father. I’ll convey your terms,” Jack says as he exits.
Ricky has been studying up on areola pigmentation and wants to practice. Jillian has pale areolae that she wants darkened. So she volunteers to be Jack’s test subject.”
“Be careful, you’re still lactating, so the area may be sensitive,” he warns.
“Right now I’m craving pain,” as she begs him to ink her.
Ricky sets up his tattooing equipment and pigmenting supplies in the back room. “Let me know if it hurts,” he urges.
“This isn’t my first ink. Besides I pushed an entire human out of me. Just rub a little Novocain on the area. It should be fine.”
“I’ve tried that on other tattoos, topical Novocain is not that effective.” Jillian moans as the tattooing instrument buzzes and scrapes the skin. “Hold your hand up if you want me to stop.”
“More!” she shouts, while still moaning. “And turn up the hip-hop music.”
Jack decides to drive out to Jillian and deliver the news in person. When he arrives, Ricky is not finished pigmenting Jillian. Jack rings the doorbell.
“Turn off the music!” Julian shouts. With only one areola darkened, she quickly throws on a tank top to answer the door. “Hi Jack, what a surprise. You drove way out here without phoning ahead.”
“Yeah. I hope this isn’t a bad time,” Jack says apologetically.
“It’s okay, you just took a chance that we might not be home. Please excuse the apartment,” Jillian says as she clears an area on the sofa and picks up baby toys from the floor.
“I had to see my nephew with my own eyes… You’re the handsome fella, aren’t you Zephyr?” Jack says while bouncing the baby on his lap.
“Can I get you something to drink?”
“Just some water, thanks.”
“I know I’m your sister, but are you really here for me to strip down and examine my tattoos? I’ll do it if you think the photos are doctored. Not that I’ve been in prison, but unannounced strip searches are common there, and you are the police.”
“I don’t want to see my sister naked. That’s not why I’m here. Is Ricky home? I came to share the mayor’s decision.”
“Oh, he’s in the back. I’ll get him,” Jillian rushes to the back room to see if all the tattoo equipment is put away. “Come on out. Jack wants to talk to us.”
“Hello Ricky. Thank you for taking care of my sister,” Jack says.
“It is my pleasure Mr. Agassi. Welcome to our humble apartment.”
“Call me Jack. You seem less antagonistic than when you first visited me in town.”
“Perhaps I’ve matured since then. Accept my apologies for any disrespect.”
“That’s water under the bridge. My father says if the two of you marry, you can move into Agassi after completing your last two laser treatments. He also asks that you consult a dermatologist about a year later to see if your skin is suitable for a couple more treatments that may lighten your tattoos further.”
“That’s fantastic! We should complete our treatments within a month,” Jillian says.
“You will still need to cover your tattoos in town. There are annual exams for new tattoos. The hope is that they might be barely noticeable by then. Residual marks can be covered with cosmetics at your discretion.”
“All that sounds great. We have some news for you as well.” Ricky adds. “Your sister and I are now married! We eloped.”
“Oh, well… That’s a surprise. Father will probably be bummed for missing the opportunity to give away the bride. But let me welcome you into the family as my brother-in-law.”
“Thank you. I told you I’d grow on you.”
“That you did. Okay, so keep up the good work. I’ll send you an application for completion in about a month. Within a week after that, you should be moving into your own townhouse.”
“I really appreciate everything,” Jillian says.
“Hey, you’re all family. Can I get a group hug?”
“We will take a raincheck on that hug. Our skin is still tender from the laser treatments,” Jillian warns.
“Oh, right. The townhouse will be fully furnished. I’ll send you photos. But if you need help moving anything, we can have that professionally done. Take care.”
After Jack drives away, Jillian turns to Ricky and says, “I think you convinced him.”
“Perhaps. But he doesn’t know that the purpose of some tattoos is to mask your cutting,” Ricky replies. “You complained to your brother about the pain of skin grafts.”
“He doesn’t need to know about my cuts and I look forward to the grafts. I just had to sell the inconvenience to Jack so he would hurry things along. I’m going to feed the baby now. Do you want to watch me grimace?”
Ricky expresses concern, “You should use the nipple that isn’t inked.”
“As a cutter, I thrive on pain. Ink the pale one while I feed Zephyr from the one you completed. Now get me the baby and turn on my rap music!” Jillian demands.