She’s seventeen, old enough to know what she wants, but more importantly she’s not sixteen anymore, which means she has a shot of pulling this off without Mel ever finding out. Still, she waits until she’s down in Vancouver visiting Bobby at university to set her plan in motion.
She’s had the stud for two years: small, silver, and unadorned. The extra months of waiting had been a pain, but now she’s so high on the possibility of it actually happening, that time don’t seem to matter.
Bobby’s not convinced. He thinks she’s headed straight for disaster. Although, if they’re being honest, he’s more worried about Mel than he is about her. Bobby might not be all that good about thinking things through when it comes to his own life, but he sure as hell makes sure she thinks twice about unintended consequences. They both know Mel would have their heads if he ever got wind of this conversation let alone found out she’d actually gone through with it.
He comes along with her though because he’s Bobby and he knows Ivarson stubbornness only comes in one form: pig-headed and steadfast. He jokes about needing to hold her hand as they wind their way through the streets, past rows of shops and houses until they reach the place they’re looking for. It seems a bit macabre but Bobby’s friends had insisted it was one of the best places in town: clean, cheap, and discreet.
Krista pulls the door open and almost jumps when a bell rings at the back of the shop. The girl at the counter looks up expectantly as the door clinks shut behind them. She looks a lot like Krista’s friend Susie only with a nose ring and a couple of rather impressive tattoos. It’s a realization that makes Krista glad she had brought Bobby along. He had always been good at smoothing over whatever awkwardly forward mess came out of her mouth.
Even so, right now she’s focusing on trying to keep her mouth shut. She might be glad Bobby was here, but there were times it was better when he didn’t say anything either. Krista forces her smile wider, trying to match Bobby’s rather flirtatious grin. “I want to get my belly button pierced.”
The girl looks her over. “We don’t have any openings today.”
“What?” Krista hadn’t intended to sound murderous, but based on the look on Bobby’s face that hadn’t gone so well.
“Come on Krista, you’ve been waiting two years. We’ll come back tomorrow.” Bobby tries to head her off, but Krista hasn’t taken her eyes of the girl who looks almost bored despite Krista’s obvious agitation.
“Two years.” Krista drops the stud, warm from where it had been held beneath curled fingers, onto the counter and waits.
“Most people come in here with a huge stone or some long dangly thing the picked up at a mall kiosk.”
Krista rolls her eyes and the girl laughs. “Have you really been waiting two years?” When Krista nods the girl continues. “I think Al’s free now if you don’t mind waiting another minute.”
One minute turns out to be ten, but it’s not long before they’ve been ushered into the back and Krista’s tucking her shirt up into her bra. Bobby doesn’t seem to have come around to the idea, but he still takes a seat beside her head and tugs her hand out from where she had tucked it under her waist.
She glares at him, intent on making sure he knows she hasn’t gone soft since he’d left Yellowknife, then winds her fingers around his palm, squeezing. She’s not nervous, not now that she knows they’re not going to send her back home thwarted, but the adrenaline from the anticipation has her a bit jittery.
The whole thing is over so quickly, it all blurs in her memory later. The only thing that sticks out in her mind is the quiet sigh Bobby had uttered when she had squeezed his hand, surprised somehow by the sharp pain of a needle passing through her flesh. It had to have hurt, her fingers clamped tight around his, but to her ears it had sounded more like a sigh of relief, finally it had whispered as her grip loosened and she craned her neck to get a better look.
Finally, she had done it. It’s an overwhelming feeling of awe and joy, gratitude too for Bobby who helped her clean the piercing for the few days she was in town and who called every weekend for the next three and a half months to make sure she hasn’t gone and done something stupid like attach herself unintentionally to part of a DC-3. She hasn’t of course but she strings him along a bit, eager to hear him gripe at her and then sigh, again, when he’s absolutely sure she’s joking.
Another month passes and she sneaks off to buy a new stud, carefully changing it in the mall bathroom before heading off to spend the evening working at Arctic Air. When she gets home that night, parking carefully behind Mel’s truck, she finds a box waiting for her on her bed. From Bobby is all it says for the return address, but it’s enough for her to know what it is. Slipping the door to her room shut silently, she cuts through the tape and hides a squeal of excitement in the palm pressed against her mouth. Nestled in a layer of milky green tissue paper is a pair of silver earrings and a stud with a slender diamond pendent. At the bottom of the box is a note that simply reads Don’t go getting any ideas.