Stop looking at me….I said stop looking at me. Yes. You. Yeah, I am talking to you. How would you like it if I kept staring at you? Since you know I don't have eyes, do you not see the disparity? I was born at a disadvantage so is it fair for you to exploit me?
I know what you are thinking. Where did I come from. The who what where of all of it is driving you crazy. I know your type. You walk the dog before sunrise on trash day, just so you can peek inside recycle bins. So what if the old lady down the block hits the sauce, and it's none of your business if the family next door exceeds your definition of "true green" in their use of consumables. At least they are recycling. Did you remember to pick up your dog's poop in the dark? Aren't you one of those dog walkers who will bend down only when someone is looking pretending to pick it up? The rules of the game don't apply to you. Do they? You are trying to prove you are better than them; all the poor peasants that circumnavigate the world around you.
"It must have been the husband," you think. He has that menacing look in his eye, not quite a Jeffrey Dahmer type, more like Chris Brown. It must have been him in a drunken rage. He caught my harbinger in a lie, when she was only trying to protect her poor children. He grabbed the closest thing to him, a Chinese Dehua Princess, and she defensively raised her arm to block her face. He hit her with such force the glass shattered all over the room. The blood was everywhere. Although she needed stitches, she was afraid to go to the hospital, for fear of reprisal.
Wouldn't you like to know.
It didn't happen that way.
You are never going to know my origin, because it is none of your business.
Walk away little girl.
He shouldn't have done what he did.
My baby hair had just fallen out.
If you never did it (and I hope you never will) the dullness is better. The impact is way more succinct.
Never to condone.
But always one to understand.
I wish that reach to escape from pain on no one. But know, i still trace them all, and realize that I survived each one. Never condone, but always understand.
The maps on our arms are just warning alarms. I hope one day I'll be able to turn the alarm off and get some sleep.
The silver marks on her legs were trophies from her soccer days. She had been very good at taking hits then--though less so now. She would be surprised by how many scars there were if she ever bothered to look at herself, but perhaps, when healing is mostly done, this is the best way forward. Once, her own teammate trampled her chasing the ball. A knee to the head and a cleat to the thigh left very little in the way of blood, but wounded deeper than you might think. Two others ran over her after that. You aren't meant to stay down in a fast paced environment, of course, but it took too long to rise. 'It was your own fault being in the way like that,' naturally, her father said, 'you should have gotten up quiker.' Head still aching from the initial blow, she said nothing, and did not see the bleeding wounds all over her body. She did not look down; only forward. She did not cry. She did not question the narrative, though perhaps, she should have.
Ninth grade, high school, A blank slate, a new era...Pep Squad.
I gave up sports for dance. Well, for pep squad. Instead of gym, I had dance. I think deep down, a part of me still preferred to be in gym class. Or better, athletics. I've never been very athletic, but I love sports.
I enjoyed cheering on the football team every Friday or Saturday night. I lived in Texas after all. I already new the rules of football, but I'm still a die hard fan to this day. Football was fall. In the spring came competitions and preparation for next year's audition. Dance team, Varsity Dance team, Cheer, or Pep Squad...again.
I wasn't the best dancer, but I could do most moves and I was flexible.
"Wow! You can do the splits! You should tryout for cheerleader!" a classmate said.
"Hahaha." I laughed it off.
Me? A cheerleader? Never! Besides, cheerleaders need to know how to tumble. Sure I could do a forward flip. It's basically a cartwheel with a little extra twist. But a backhand spring? I couldn't.
Well, why not give it a try? I can climb trees, jump off roofs, and jump over trash cans on roller blades. Surely I can do this backhand spring.
I went upstairs to my bedroom when I got home. Took off my socks and shoes, then changed into some workout gear. Let's try this.
I bent down into a squat, just like I saw the freshman cheerleaders do on the sidelines. Then, my mind knew I had to throw myself up/back and adjust my gravity in the air all while remembering to put my hands down just right, to catch myself.
I put on some music so my mother wouldn't hear all the commotion from downstairs. It happened so quick. My biggest fear was blacking out if my head hit the floor. But my head didn't hit the floor. In fact, my body never made it halfway in the air, nor did I need to adjust my body's gravity.
In the first half-second of the act, the top of my left foot hit the bar at the bottom of the bed, the sharp piece of the bed frame, slicing the top of my foot a good 2-3 inches wide and at least a few centimeters deep. Deep enough for me to show my friends the next day how I could make my battle wound talk by splitting the flaps and moving them back and forth. I made it look like a mouth and was talking for it. Yes, I had issues.
Of course, I needed stitches. But never got any. Was too afraid to tell my mom I needed to go to the doctor and too embarrassed to admit what I was doing. Ouch!
The scar is still there today. Bright, pinkish-brown, and rough. Handsome devil. And just so you know, I never ended up auditioning for cheer or either dance team.
Sometimes, I wish I had the scar.
He threw a tape dispenser at my head,
the three-inch blade smashed my right temple.
I cried myself to sleep, hidden in my bed.
I wish my dad had could see
the long-term damage, the pain,
that he had invoked on me.
Even hidden scars don't heal,
that's just common sense.
Just because he can't see it,
it doesn't mean it isn't real.
It was a hot summer afternoon, mid-July, and the family reunion was going great. All the grandkids were having fun; some of them were hiking out in the words, and some were playing games, both video and board, inside the cabins or out on the park tables. Most of them were enjoying the pools and hot tub. There was a small kiddy pool and a big pool that went down to seven feet with a water slide at the deep end. It was hard to get an exact number of how many people were there; there were cousins, aunts, uncles, grandkids, and great grandkids, step sisters, and half brothers. Grandpa Ottinn, was taking a nap on one of the white wood and plastic mix pool side chairs. He had his chair set flat, and he was in his noidic white and black swim trunks, with raven and wolf designs, laying flat on his stocmach. His hands crossed under his head as he slightly snored. He was lean and fit with a reddish tint to his skin, but it was the scars that stood out. His entire body was covered with scars, they covered his back, legs, arms, and chest. They were also in distinct patterns so that it was clear they were not all accidental.
Thom, Finn, and Myrtle, three of his great grandkids were eating lunch in their swimsuits and towels two chairs down, the chair between them was empty and laying flat.
"I tell you, its the truth," Finn said with a mouthful of his second peanut butter and jelly sandwich. "He got the scars when he was fighting in the jungle during world war two. He was a prisoner and they tortured him with a knife."
"No, no, no. Don't be ridiculous." Myrtle said with a drastic shake of her head. "He is too young for world war two. It was the korean war, they tortured him, it was with a wood knife too. That is why the lines are not clear cut. That's what my dad says. He is the oldest, so its the truth." She started eating her cookies. They were girl scout cookies, and all five of her cookies were Samoas, her favorite.
Thom, the youngest of the three cousins at the age of seven, who had been listening to both Finn and Myrtle with his sandwich uneaten in his hand, sneaked another look at Grandpa Ottinn. Grandpa Ottinn's scars were the stuff of legend to him, Thom had a scar on the back of his hand from when he burned it on a camping stove three years back when he was helping mom cook breakfast, eggs and pancakes with strawberries and cream, his favorite. But, Thom's scar was just a blotch while Grandpa's was like the tattoos Thom had seen on the big guy in Moana. Moana was his favorite movie. "My mom says he did it to himself, that he was put of some kind of cult when he was younger, before he met grandma."
"No, that is ridiculous" said Mytle. Ridiculous was her favorite word since she learned how to spell it. "It was torture, what kind of person would do that themselves.
"The cookie people would," Thom said, pointing to Mytle's cookies.
Mytle stared at him. "The girls scouts do that?" She asked. "If that is case, I'm so so going to reconsider joining them."
"Lets go ask grandma! She should know!" Finn said excitedly, just finishing his sandwich. "I think she is making pancakes with strawbarries and cream!
All three of them went looking for her, and the pancakes.
In the first few seconds of seeing the blade coming towards me I saw a flash of silver. It was in that moment that I knew I would be judged forever. It was also in that moment that I knew my innocence was gone. That scar has been with me since that silver moment. That memory has never gone away. The heaviness of the blade, the warmth of the blood, and weight of the shame that I now had to carry on my shoulders. Everything was my fault and there was nothing I could about it now. It makes me wonder how a scar feels. When someone touches it or if they can feel the heaviness of a person's stares. Do scars also feel like a burden? Do they feel insecure? Do they feel fear in that silver moment when the blade begins to create them and start their life?
My Own Fault
I was enjoying a nice summer day with my mom and older brother. We had gone to our favorite park to take a nice stroll. The breeze on my face as we walked near the river was unparalleled to anything else. I wished I could stay in the moment forever, but sadly time just keeps on moving. As we approached the end of our walk, I could see our car from a distance.
What separated me from just walking up to my car was this low fence that barely went up to my knees. The common response would be to either walk over it or go around it. I had other plans. I thought I was a pretty good hurdler, after all I had done track not even two months prior. I took long strides and with one jump I put one leg forward and my other leg backward as one would do. In the air, I thought nothing much other than how close I was to the car. The seats looked amazing after a long day of walking. Landing, my right knee felt weird. Nothing out of the ordinary, I thought. All felt well until I decided to just take a look.
My knee was open! I just froze up at the sight of a big gaping hole in my knee. I screamed for help, and my brother who was walking in front of me immediately noticed. He rushed to me, applying pressure to my injury to try and stop the blood. The blood trickling down my leg reached my shoes and stained them red. The concrete surrounding me was also given a paint job. We didn’t know what to do so we called an ambulance to escort me. As I sat on the hard concrete waiting for them to arrive, I didn’t process what was going on. I just tried to calm down from the initial shock. The ambulance arrived eventually and by then, the bleeding had stopped a lot. I got my first view of an ambulance’s interior. The ambulance operator asked me some questions, but I couldn’t really focus. That same feeling continued as I was sent into the emergency room to wait for hours. Hours passed by with my knee still wide open for me to see. I got stitches and was checked for any possible infections, but it all felt like a blur.
Scars Among the Stars
Most would think that being blind would disable one from being able to truly view the beautiful spectacles of the nature of life. And in a sense that can be true. While she laid in the brig of a ship hurtling through space toward where, she was nearly certain she knew, she could not see out of the small porthole windows and see the wonders of the universe the way that he could. The son of the Mourning Star, the dejected and rejected former general of the very crew that now captained them toward certain painful death saw the faintly flickering stars, whose light hit them from millions if not billions of years ago, sending an oddly cold feeling spreading throughout his chest. The beauty of twirling planets, streaking comets, swirling galaxies, the universe in all its miraculous splendor, send the man deep inside himself. His heart was frozen. He felt nothing.
Meanwhile, the young woman in the cell across from him, feeling the pain of yet again being separated from the people she had learned to call her family, had a heart that was still aglow. Her eyes left her in perpetual darkness, nothing but a black abyss in front of her and around her. Yet, after many a year, she had learned that there is so much left to be perceived with her other senses. This kept her warm while the man, the monster responsible for her blindness, grew colder still.
Her hope resided in the faint warmth of the astronomical bodies, stellar, planetoid, and other, that silently remained in place around them as their ship dove through the vast emptiness. Her hope rested in the life that surrounded her and her worst enemy. And most importantly, her hope resided in the fact that her friends always found a way to reach her, no matter how long it would take, no matter what the cost. And that even if they did not reach her in time, she could accept her own death whole heartedly. She would die for her people in a heartbeat.
In this instance, they would have to traverse the large stretch of emptiness between Earth and wherever they were going. She had a few guesses, but the largest guess was not the one that most would have ventured.
All was silent and still around them, the only sound, the faint buzzing of the ship’s thrusters and an occasional footstep above their heads. Their cells were surrounded in a very much impenetrable glass as well as a cacophony of other violent countermeasures should either of them get the idea to attempt escape. Even if they could, there was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, nothing to do but wait. And that they each did, backs against the bulkhead of the ship, her staring blankly at nothing, he staring blankly through the porthole over her head.
They hadn’t spoken one word to each other since being put on the ship. In fact, neither had spoken a word since their respective capture: she out of self-preservation and duty, he out of heart-brokenness and defeat.
It had been several days since their departure. They had no means of telling the time, whether it was night or day relative to where they had once lived. They each took naps on and off, as that was the only thing to do and each were in dire need of a heavy sleep.
“Do you remember?” The man nearly peed himself, jumping to his feet at the sudden sound after not hearing anything for days. He glared at the young woman, and then realized she had not opened her mouth to speak, but had spoken telepathically to him.
“Remember what!?” He screamed at her. She didn’t even flinch, her eyes remaining in the same spot affixed to the back wall of his cell.
A voice resonated down the hallway, screaming angrily in his native language. The woman didn’t understand the words, but she got the message. She felt the man writhe angrily at the order. He didn’t enjoy being told what to do by someone who used to be way beneath him. She could feel the anger further ignite when she didn’t answer him. He very much didn’t like repeating himself either.
But given that she would be his only company for some time, he eventually asked again, “Remember what?” this time at a much more reasonable volume.
“When we met. It’s strange, that of all the memories I have of you, all the unpleasantness, fighting you, trying to kill you, thinking you were dead, even hating you, that this one moment in time still persists to overwhelm me now. A soldier from either side, scouting out for the perimeter of each other’s armies, coming across one another on either side of a lone stream in the middle of the woods. We sat and talked for hours, forgetting we were enemies, forgetting we would likely never see each other alive again. It was a time in which I pitied you. A time in which I partially considered you a friend.”
The man felt the warmth and depth of her thoughts penetrate the wall of his mind, at first fighting it with every morsel of his being, but the further she persisted, painting the once beautiful picture of their past innocence, the less he attempted to force her out of his mind. He remained guarded, fearful she was trying to lure him into exposing his innermost mind for attack, but he allowed her mind to be figuratively at arm’s length.
“We were foolish children. Two young, stupid fools.” He said gruffly, glaring at wall next to her as he slumped back to his original position against his own wall, his long, unkempt hair making him appear an angry mop of black streaks and sadness.
“Perhaps. It is definitely difficult to remember how we used to see the world through those younger eyes. It makes one ponder how we will perceive the world now in older eyes. Perhaps we will say the same thing once more in the future.” The man thought he saw a smirk overcome her face, but upon closer inspection, convinced himself he imagined it. Her expression was stoic.
To him, his brig-mate seemed to have withdrawn inside herself, not looking at him when she spoke, refusing to change where her eyes looked, even refusing to use her own voice. In reality, she had spread her awareness far beyond the walls of her physical form. Being blind gave one that advantage, making it much easier to focus on things outside, up and around the corporeal form. Her ghost stayed put, but her mind stretched to the far reaches of her consciousness. While she focused on things floating in and around the ship, the bodies moving about in other rooms, the heartbeat of her fellow prisoner, she also envisioned the memory she had depicted so elegantly for her former friend, clear as day.
The man decided to say nothing. He didn’t want to think about that far into the past, and he had a sinking feeling that his future didn’t extend that far either. At the present moment, he was so far fixated on the recent past, the last week to be exact: his worst enemy taken captive, a palpable hit on her team resulting in the death of one of her companions, his immediate mutiny by his own people. What had he done wrong? Had he become so engrossed with his enemy’s defeat, by his obsession with causing her pain that he hadn’t seen the signs leading up to his being overthrown?
“Do you remember what it was like? Being that child all those years ago?” His enemy continued, unprompted. “It’s terrifying to think that every second that passes escapes to one of two places: either memory, or a forgotten void of nothingness. Even this very moment transforms into nothing but a memory even as I finish the sentence.”
She couldn’t let him at peace. Even after her capture, she tortured his every waking moment. “So what?” He said at a volume that was just quiet enough not to be humiliated again for being too loud. “What should I give a damn about anything going on in your head? You’ve been captured and you’re going to die in a matter of however long it takes us to get home. Then you’ll be nothing but a memory.”
“I could say the same thing about you old friend.” The feeling that she projected onto him in that moment was so unsettling that he was physically rocked. The amount of confidence behind her statement shook him to his core.
“I’ve come to terms with my fate!” He whispered harshly. Even as he said it he knew it was true of his enemy, but not of himself. He shivered as her gaze whipped to meet his and a humorless smile upturned her mouth. She didn’t have to say anything.
His heart fumed further at the realization. He lashed out, "I have a memory for you then dear," his whisper gravely and nearly painful in his throat. "A badly broken leg, and you bleeding out in the snow, thinking you just escaped the woeful, horrific fate of your comrades only to be dragged back by an observant tracker into the depths of a dank, dark, hell pit. There a year you faced the worst of your fears until they were surpassed by new ones greater than you could have ever imagined. Only to escape to find that the darkness that had you in its cruel tendrils will be with you for the remainder of your life, no matter how far you run." He couldn't help but sneer, his voice raising to the end of his description. This prompted another shout down the hall, followed by a violent banging on the bulkhead behind him.
The woman's gaze shifted and suddenly she caught his eye, seeming to stare deep into his soul. For a brief moment, he believed that she could see, believed that she had escaped the damnation he had condemned her to. Then she spoke the last words she would say to him until they had reached their destination, "And yet it compares not to the darkness that you've crafted around yourself and now must lay in, alone, and able to see it all with no reprieve."
While she was the one he had forever scarred, the man realized how much more deeply he had been scarred himself, and by his own hand. He drew his knees up to his chest and wept silently, thankful that she could not witness his true weakness.