I can see the privileged gold flecks through the marks on the side of the syringe-- the deeply hued namerot is contained, but festering within. The queen in front of me, in her position of dignified repose, ignored my syringe’s needle as it finished draining the swollen color from her “Beatriz” tattoo. She was impatient for the procedure to be over, would be disgusted at the hands of a peon touching her if the personhood of a peon ever registered with her. I was nothing, only a syringe offering a service that took time out of her day. There was no medical education that would be helpful for me to give, she’s been here twice this week for the same needle. She knows that every time someone, anyone, herself included, uses her name, she pays. It costs her body or her pocketbook, the namerot greedily devours it all. But she can pay, so she does. People usually guard their name to avoid the expense, but she flaunts it with the swooping lettering of Beatriz filling up the better part of her right arm. I don’t tell her this, but I might do the same if I had a name that beautiful. Her parents must have picked from one of the top-tiered lists full of classical and elegant names, and paid handsomely for that naming ceremony. For the rest of us, this leaves the names that fill the mouth with cotton. And we peons get the privilege of those tier-less names after our parents have put the naming ceremony off long enough to pay the price.
My thoughts wander as putrid mass drains. I bet Beatriz bought the nicknames too, Bea and Biz, she could use amongst friends. Scattering them like cheap neon flyers when she gets coffee and to meet people in bars. Despite being grown in age, belly, and thighs, I will turn around when I hear kiddo. That’s the closest someone like me gets to a nickname. My parents could afford to pay for it as a placeholder before I could have my naming ceremony. Well, they could afford “kiddo” just until the naming ceremony, not a moment after. Now I can’t answer to kiddo without starting a hint of rot.
The draining of the tattoo’s namerot isn’t finished, but Beatriz is. She motions towards the bandages, avoiding both eye contact and speech. I can take a hint. I pick the spray bandage, knowing she would approve skipping the wrapping materials. She prefers keeping the whole tattoo visible and I prefer the spray bandage working less well and knowing it’ll weep rot at all hours for the next couple days.
I was happy to see her go. I was happy to accept my cash payment. At the end of my shift at clinic, I have to sign my name before I can leave-- Navahleighee.
My namerot, my wound, festers.
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