May 10, 2013


I used to be obsessed with any injury I would get; cuts and scrapes and bruises from riding my bike, climbing trees, running through corn fields, hiding in barns, stepping on nails. Tears only elicited anger, not sympathy, so I knew better than to go looking for help where I'd find none. Instead I would sit down, quietly, wherever I was, and watch myself bleed. Encourage it, even. Squeeze the place where my insides had opened and examine the ruby red river as it pumped out, fascinatingly bright. How could something so luminous come from a place so hidden and dark? It was beautiful. Hopeful. Sad.

Don't pick your scabs, she said, they'll scar. So I hid, and worked at them harder. Because I wanted the scars, was desperate for scars. A collector.

Scars show what's happened. They leave a story behind. It was fascinating to me, that my pain could leave a story behind. But it was wretchedly unfair, too: these small injuries, which hardly fazed me, left their mark, but the far more terrible things that happened to me every day did not show at all. No one knew. My insides were lacerated, perforated, a tangled mess. No one could see. It would not occur to anyone to ask me if I needed help.

But if I pick, pick, pick at this, on the outside, if I make it last, someone might see. Someone might ask. Someone might notice, and sympathize, and talk to me. If only for a moment, and about a thing that did not matter. Maybe a scar could be more than a story. Maybe a scar could be a door.

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