I have scars on my body. Like all scars they tell stories.
That one under my hair, where I smashed into a beam with a nail sticking out while crouch-running under a friend’s house at a party. We were wild and screaming, I was about 13 I guess. I suspect my friend never even noticed when I stopped, when blood started running down my face. It didn’t hurt. I was concussed and just wanted to pass out. The grown ups all kept me awake and I didn’t cry until we got to the doctor’s and I was told I needed stitches which was the most terrifying thing I had ever heard. When the doctor started with the needles, it was my Dad’s turn to nearly pass out. All 6’3 of him crumpling to the floor. I don’t remember that, but they told me later in gleeful detail.
A scar that went keloid on my chest. From me enthusiastically running into the edge of an open wardrobe door. At some camp, I think, where they hate to send damaged kids back to their parents. The tongue of the door’s closing mechanism bit into my skin and sliced it open. No stitches, though it probably needed one or two. Hardly visible now.
That one under my chin, whose origin I don’t even remember any more. Which is surprising. I think I remember lots of blood.
The tiny one above my knee from a dog bite. A friend’s dog. A large rottweiler-doberman cross. I wasn’t afraid of it, I’d never been afraid of dogs. Not before then anyway. The dog barked at me some. I held out my hand for him to sniff, speaking gently to him. He made a half hearted effort to sniff me then sank his teeth into my leg. I swore my head off. I was wearing black pants and my friend kept asking me “Are you SURE he bit you?!” at which I screamed “YES I’M FUCKING SURE, DICKHEAD!”, stripping off my pants to reveal mauled flesh and a hole where a canine bit deep. A single stitch, no anaesthetic. Also terrifying.
Some almost identical scars on the fingertips of my left middle and index fingers from careless knife-wielding in the kitchen. Apparently when I try to slice the tops off my fingers, I do it in exactly the same way every time. My fingers carry the twin half-moon scars, chunks that look like they might have been chopped right off, but that reconnected and healed and now feel slightly numb. Physical evidence showing why I should be excused from culinary endeavours. I am not to be trusted in the kitchen with knives.
Then some grown up scars. From health issues for real. The kind that make your mind still when you learn of them. The kind that bloom as an icy frost in the pit of your stomach. That make everything slow down and the world go fuzzy. That make you take stock. Slices on my breasts, a long one across my abdomen, a much shorter one on my back.
Reminders of places where skin has been carved and then horrors that don’t belong there have been cut out. I like to imagine the horrors as gruesome living creatures; alien, frightening, misshapen, malevolent. I don’t know why. Perhaps because then it feels more like a righteous quest to conquer evil than something more mundane. I asked the doctor after one surgery, all doped up on as much morphine as the little button would let me pump into my body, “Did it have hair and teeth?” He laughed and said no. I wish he’d said yes just to humour me, though I just googled that and it’s horrifying, so probably better he didn’t.
They are flaws and stories and affirmation of life and I am lucky to have so few of them. Familiar and foreign, evidence of my body’s betrayal and resilience, both. Untrue to say I am grateful for them. I’m not. But I don’t think you get out of this life in pristine shape. Best case, you go out with everything still working pretty much as it should, and scars to remind you where you’ve been.