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This article is taken from PN Review 51, Volume 13 Number 1, September - October 1986.

Women Transfigured Mike Westlake

It all began one evening when Molly was walking by the canal and she noticed a girl with a rose tattooed high on her left arm. So small and discreet it was, yet for all that giving the girl a raffish almost piratical air. On impulse, Molly determined that she too would acquire a tattoo in exactly the same place. The question was what. Not a rose, that was the girl's by right of precedent. It had to be natural, and nothing to do with our city. Some other flower? Possibly. A bird? But not a parrot. Tree? Insect? Mammal?

A week later, as she floated weightless in a steamy bath, thinking of nothing, it came to her. A fish. A tropical, exotic, brightly coloured fish.

'Can you do it?' she urged down the phone to the tattoist the Yellow Pages had found.

'Can do.'

Molly was in luck, for when she tracked him down to the stifling little upper room nearby one of our city's two railway termini, he could indeed, and did so with a panache and delicacy which surprised her. As she emerged into the seedy street she felt elated by the little jewel of a fish on her arm, hidden from view by her blouse. When, after a couple of days, she plucked up the courage to wear a sleeveless top, the angel fish, Euxiphipops xanthometopan, seemed just right bobbing along with her.

She couldn't ...

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