Spots

        Spots was born on October 11th in the middle of the night. No one quite remembers her mother coming into the hospital that night. After all it was quite some time ago. Most of the doctors were medical students and have since left the hospital for others, and the nurses all say they see too many pregnant mothers to remember just one so long ago. In any case, though few can recall her mother, everyone remembers Spots. One can scarcely forget a child like that one.        Spots wasn't her real name of course. Her mother named her Molly, she said after a ship she had once seen in the harbor in New York. One of the nurses there at the time, Nurse Franklin, was something of an artist and wrote the name out in beautiful block letters with an old style calligraphy pen on the birth papers. It was Molly on her papers, and her charts, and a small card on her bassinet that was printed up by the hospital, and even on a tiny plastic bracelet they gave her. But to all of the staff, at least when not in her mothers presence, she was Spots, and for obvious reasons.         They started on the top of each foot, no larger than the dot at the base of a question mark, but as they moved up, they got bigger. The larger ones were nearly the size of Molly's thumb nail, which being only hours old was admittedly small, but certainly larger than your average freckle or beauty mark. Each a sort of creamy coffee color. On her right foot there were only two, but the left had three in a sort of oblong triangle. One of the doctors called it isosceles but he was always saying things like that. Such a technical term didn't seem fitting.         Once several of the nurses tried to match up the pattern. One though it looked like a cat, but the others all agreed it was far to disorganized. Another mentioned a dappled horse she had seen as a child, while still others found better models in nautilus shells or strange asian goats with funny sounding names, but none of the pictures ever seemed to fit quite right. As the spots grew up her legs and across her back and arms, each larger spot took on a character of its own, some more of a ring shape with a light patch in the center, others like drops of paint that had been spinning when they struck a surface. As if some fish swimming in coffee had skipped up the placid river of her skin, leaving dappled rippling patterns as it dove into the surface at acrobatic angles.         When the nurses gave Molly a bath, or took her weight, the name seemed to placate her, and it quickly spread through the ranks until even the doctors were using it. Finally, one of the new nurses, unaware of the unspoken rules, used the name in her mothers room while changing Molly's diaper. She could tell from the shock on the faces of the doctor and other nurses in the room she had made a serious mistake, and began to cry. Molly's mother just chuckled. "Oh Nurse West, you gave away my secret pet name for Molly to all your friends." She gave the nurse a quick wink, and the whole room burst out in the giggles they had been holding in for days. From then on, even to her mother Molly was Spots. On the day Molly and her mother left the hospital, one of the nurses brought in the department camera to take their picture for the big wall in the corridor where they put each new baby's photo. So many doctors, nurses, and staff wanted in the picture that the nurses had to take thirty in all. So many that Spots got her own section on the wall.