She stood in line ahead of me at the coffee shop, her hair in a bun. The butterfly tattoo on the back of her neck was blue and gray and pink.
A thin, pink seam broke the butterfly in half, a dotted scar years healed.
I mentally drafted up this dramatic backstory about how she had endured a major spinal surgery and decided a butterfly tattoo was the best way to mark her perseverance.
“I like your tattoo,” I said to her.
“Yeah? Thank you,” she replied, her fingertip tracing the left butterfly wing and then sliding down the scar. “My surgeon was really proud that he was able to bring it back together like that without making it look like we’d cut a butterfly in half. It was a big surgery, but it’s fine now.”
No fictionalized backstory compares to the real thing. That butterfly was there before, medicine and art bringing both of their bodies back together.