As soon as her lips parted and the word left them, black ink started its journey scrawling across her wrist.  It wasn't painful, just slow. 

Even as a young child, she knew the weight of word.  She knew they were as precious as rubies and should shine on her the same way that gold jewelry glittered around the neck of her mother.  She had skipped over simple first words like 'mama' and 'dada' and 'cookie,' trading them all for 'Jo.'  

That small word was so quiet leaving her mouth that her father didn't hear it. Instead, he saw it happen.  "Look at you!"  The exclamation almost seemed harsh, too sharp and painful to her as her eyes watched it appear on his hand.  It replaced what used to be there on his knuckle, when he told her mother that he loved her, and it made her sad for a moment.  Those words were gone. Expired.  Hidden for no one else to see. He had wasted space simply to compliment her.

"Now you have nothing to worry about, love."  She winced as her father again, replacing more words.   "Now that you have one word, you are invincible.  No one can take you away."

He wasn't wrong.  'Jo' saved her.  Those two letters kept anyone from screaming "blank!" at her, and she would never be locked in an asylum because of lily white skin.  Two letters had that power, and it terrified her.

As she watched her father ramble, her mind crept back to a documentary they were watching together.  She wasn't supposed to see it, but he let her crawl on the couch with him after a nightmare disturbed her peace.  The narrator called it The World Beyond Blanks.  The images of grown adults with no words, locked away, screaming and drooling and foaming at the mouth were supposed to scare her, and make her feel fortunate for those two pretty letters inked onto her wrist.  Most of those people on the screen looked horrifying and ghoulish; although, some did not.  She would always find it interesting how people were terrified of what they did not understand.

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