Final Tally

square needle webThe letters were crude block capitals, searing ink poked into the skin on her thighs with a sewing needle wielded by her own hand. Beginning below the groin of each leg, scrolls of names were etched in her skin like notches carved in the handle of an old western revolver: Tom, Jim, William, Hank, Fred, Matthew, John. There were a lot of Johns. And, others. Unknown men answered the wanted poster tattooed above the cross straps of her sandals: let’s fuck. The newspaper obituary did not include these graphic details, only that her motorcycle crashed in a blinding August downpour.

Cathy Safiran has published poetry in The Hummingbird Review, and written a series of essays for the Shipshewana Amish Backroads tourism website.

Photo Credit: Beret Olsen

11 Responses to “Final Tally”

  1. This was amazing, unexpected and a crucible for a much larger story. Brava!

  2. Janice says:

    Amazing how much story is told in those 100 words! ??

  3. Roxanne Pilat says:

    Rich and raw and unexpected. This story will linger in my memory for a long time to come.

  4. Charles Redner says:


  5. el poquito says:

    This blows the door down on polite propriety! 100 word obits of realness could become the new death notices – honed to the bone, so to speak.

  6. may cobb says:

    I love this so much! Superb and rich and haunting…

  7. Dragon says:

    Searing! Wow.
    Still reeling from this one.

    Keep that ink flowing.

  8. jeff switt says:


  9. WOW. Those are some vivid and powerful 100 words. Will look forward to reading more from you.

  10. Pam Russell says:

    Cathy, your concise and startling portrait of this young woman brings me up short, like running into a glass door that I thought was open. Wow! Keep up the writing, Cathy. You have so much to say and have found your voice.

  11. arLene Shannon says:

    Very poignant yet portrays the vitality and joie de vivre of the character. I loved it.

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