I sat at the desk fronting the doctor’s receptionist. She passed me several papers she requested I sign. After signing them I gave the stack of forms to her. Glancing down, I noticed a tattoo on the arch of her right foot. It read “Papa.” The letters, in a fancy scroll, were about two inches tall.
Pointing to her body art, I said, “I hope Papa is not a boyfriend.”
She smiled. “Why do you hope that?”
“Because boyfriends come, and boyfriends go. Some enter and exist with the season. Many don’t even last a season.”
“You don’t have to remind me of that,” she sighed, a hint of sadness in her voice. “I’ve experienced the kind you speak of. In fact a couple, truth be told.”
Sensing her many regrets, I shared too. “If it makes you feel any better, most people have had such experiences, including me.”
“Thanks for the boost, but no, my tattoo refers to my father. He,” she said and hesitated, “…he died last spring.” Her eyes turned glassy and she blinked several times, as if to force away the tears. She slipped off her shoe to gaze at the entire tattoo.
“I see. And judging from the distress in your voice, I’d say you don’t need that tattoo to remind you of him. My guess is that he’s tattooed in your mind and heart.”
She beamed a smile. “Yes, he is. But there are days when the sky is overcast and it rains, I need to glance at my tattoo, and when I do, I see Papa’s face, and in spite of the clouds overhead, the sun comes out again, bright and clear.”
“Miss Tobias,” said the voice over the intercom, “send in the next patient.”
“That’s you,” she said.
“Thanks.” I rose. “Miss Tobias, do me a favor.”
“Never remove your tattoo.”
“There aren’t enough barrels of ink remover on this planet to erase the art I have on my foot.”
“Nor, I hope, the one in your heart.”
Following my visit with the doctor, I entered the waiting room. I smiled at the receptionist. She smiled at me. Neither said anything more. We didn’t have to. We had said all that needed shared…about life, death…and love.
— Calvin Davis is also the author of THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.