Thursday, April 17, 2014

To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo

She places a book, thick as a brick, a cornerstone of a bank, on the table. She is studying o-chem, organic chemistry. She sets her I-Phone to one side, butters her freshly toasted bagel, and polishes her glasses. As she licks the butter off the knife, she wonders if she should get that tattoo she has been thinking about, the one that came to her in a dream a while back.

She runs her finger along the screen of her phone, just to make sure he has not sent another desperate text message. He seems to be taking it hard, her moving west to do her pre-med requirements.

The tattoo braids a sinuous vine of roses with a snake and is set in the Garden of Eden. It dances in contrast to the rigid rules of chemistry that she will spend the morning mapping out on scratch paper. She doesn't have much time to think about the tattoo, given all the pages she will have to cover before the exam next week.

There is a notice on her Facebook page, something about a status change of her best friend back home. She says she is dating him now.

A stab of shock, anger, regret, and jealousy hit her all at once. She sets the phone on the table and looks out at the other students hard at work on their projects and course work or whatever it is they do with their time here so early in the morning.

One of the women wears a camisole that flatters her shoulders and slender arms has an artful run of tattoos across her back, down her arm, and under her armpit, disappearing beneath her shirt toward her breast. This woman sits with a handsome, tall, thin man and their talk is secretive, animated, and she stares him in the eyes.

The med student opens her notebook and pulls out some three by five note-cards. She slowly lifts the cover of the thick o-chem text and locates the chapter reading for the day. She pauses for a second before diving in to the bonds between atoms and the electrical charge they engender.

The tattoo winds away in the back of her mind, food for later thought, some other day, when the work is done and the exams taken.

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