Thursday, May 1, 2008

Day Eight: Better Stories

At the gym, in a moment between sets, Power Girl notices my elbow. “You have a bump – do I have that bump?”

I hold my elbows side by side to show her the white, raised, dime-sized swelling. Right elbow only. No, she doesn’t have one.
“How’d you get that?”

“Early in our marriage, Husband pegged me with a Coke bottle.”

Power Girl pauses.

“I bet you got a lot of mileage out of that.”

I laugh. “Yep, with the guy I was dating at the time.”

* * *

* * *

If you see me, Mandy, in the street, here is how you will know me. I have a scar across my upper chest, in the shape of a chain, 5 ½ links burned into me. The raised flesh does not tan. It is no longer the first thing people notice about me, but it’s still fairly conspicuous. If we meet in conducive circumstances, I will tell you how I got that scar.



It’s a good story.

* * *

* * *

Not the first time I ran away, but the first time I ran away at night, on my bicycle, past my middle school, hiding in the bushes at a church where two nice young women found me and took me home. I remember eating a sandwich I had either saved from lunch or made for the next day’s lunch. Probably ham salad on white. My bike in the back of their minivan – minivans were new. My father coming in through the front door, back from looking for me, throwing his car keys hard to the tile floor.

I got better at running away. Ditch anything with your name on it, rip out the inscribed page of Richard Bach’s Illusions, hand over the first grown-up present from my parents to the friend’s mom who drove me to the shelter, “I heard you liked earrings.” Gold ones, bought retail (never pay retail for jewelry), still in the blue velvet case.

* * *

* * *

“Scars are tattoos with better stories,” I saw on a t-shirt. I have good stories. I have good scars. I like where I am and so I must be at peace with what I’ve come from. It’s not your problem, Gentle Reader, that I’m white, middle class, “misunderstood.” It’s not your job to rescue me, solve me, open me up and reassemble the machinery, get rid of the knock, the ping, the way I shake over 75mph, start slowly on cold mornings, overheat too easily on a Texas back road. Something drives me to the iron, the razor, the hot edge of the oven door. Thank God it’s the same thing that drives me to words, to tell, tell, tell and not be silenced.

What will that feel like?

Only one way to find out.


Autumn said...

*sends love*

Because even though it's intangible and composed of a typed sentiment, it's still there.

Anonymous said...

And you're still running away! That's what most of your life has been about.

Mandy said...

Autumn - love back. Truly.

Anonymous - yes.