Fiction: Memories Inscribed in Skin

2018 Fiction, 2018 Issue

By: Caitlyn Johnston

It’s shaped like a crescent moon, no more than an inch in diameter. It’s slightly raised, and tinted pink against the rest of pale ivory skin. The little lines running through and over it are indication of how much I picked, pulled, and tugged at the scabs. This is the first scar I remember getting. I was on my bike riding along the gravel drives of the camping grounds. We each were holding fresh ice cream in one hand and riding with the other. He made a joke and I laughed, looking to him for only a moment, and found myself flying face first into the pebbles and dirt. It wasn’t deep enough to need stitches, and I hated the sensation of a band-aid on my jaw, so I allowed the scabbing to be visible. That didn’t help though, because like I said, all I did was pick at it.

This one’s a smooth line of white along my thigh. It’s barely raised and is very noticeable. I’d been playing with my childhood cat when he stopped by, he didn’t know I was holding her, otherwise he wouldn’t have jumped out to scare me. The cat jumped and slid, her nail catching my flesh and dragging down as she fell.

They’re pink and purple, smooth fleshy tiger stripes along my hips and the sides of my stomach. They zig-zag in miraculous patternsindications of my growth. I got them as a preteen, hitting puberty and quickly starting the transition into adulthood. A few weeks later I started my period, which for some may be hell, but I was excited.

This one’s my favorite. It’s a tiny white line, placed at a horizontal angle on the left of my inner wrist. I don’t think anyone notices it except me. I was on swim team through high school, and during a meet I stretched too far to catch the wall to take my place in first. My wrist bashed the edge of the wall, and opened just enough for me to be out the rest of the match. It hadn’t mattered though, I’d already placed myself in first in my stroke.

The polka dots you always ask about? I was starting college, and I was excited for what was in store. This guy in my dorm helped himself into my room one night. He tried to act like we were friends, like he was welcome. He came after me and I used a lamp to get him off. The glass bulb shattered, pelting my shoulder blade with tiny shards, but most importantly his face. The cracked door and the noise provoked the RA and his friend to check on me. They pulled him off and the rest was up to campus security. That’s where these white polka dots on my shoulder came from; it’s why I’m so careful about you being alone.

This white blotch on the back of my ankle is from him. We were dancing at your aunt’s wedding, and we sucked. He turned at the same time I did and rammed me in the ankle. He felt so bad that he took care of me the rest of the night, carrying me around so I didn’t have to walk on it.

This one, the long pink line down my chest and stomach, is from surgery. I was in a car accident shortly after graduation, and they didn’t think I was going to make it. The driver veered from his lane, he was drunk, and he rammed the front of my old car. I was in recovery for a while, and even after it still took some time for me to get in a car again.

This sagging, loose fleshright here, on my tummy. It’s discolored, and it’s vastly different from the rest of my flesh. This is from having you. I take it back, this is my favorite. He and I, your father, we didn’t have a plan. We never had plans. We took life one step at a time. Through all of the happiness, and all of the pain, we found ourselves with each other, and with you.

I’m telling you all of this because I want you to know that these little tiger stripes on your thighs that you’re so upset about? They’re important. They’re good. They show who you are, and what you’ve been through.

I know they may seem unattractive, and your peers may think they’re embarrassing, but you need to know that they’re a normal and natural part of life. Life is messy, and not always good, and mysterious, but it’s worth it. And these marks, these are just memories of the journey. They’re writing in your own life story. They’re beautiful, and rather than resent them, you should embrace them. Be glad you’re around and you’re able to look down and see every important thing you’ve been through embedded on you forever. I love you, my girl. And I love every blemish my body has. From childhood, to horrible events, to memories with your father, to having you.

I hope one day you can look down, see these marks, and smile at the memories they hold.

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