By Calissa Treat
Bumpy, pink flesh.
Faded from time draining the crimson blood out of it.
The lines bend left and right, climbing up to the forehead like a strand of stray hair.
I notice the woman behind the counter at the post office. Her faded, gray uniform matches the milky tone of her skin. The only thing that has any color on her face is the long, banana-shaped scar on her right cheek. She avoids turning her face too far to the left when she slaps a stamp onto the envelope I slide over to her.
“Your mail will be sent out right away ma’am.”
I spot the four flaky scars that lie on top of one another like a ladder; they make their way up the girl’s arm. She’s in my art class and she tucks her dark hair behind her ear, stares intently at the orange tiger drawing she just created. She tries to roll her yellow sleeve over her scars. I think my staring has made her self-conscious. I look away, wondering if she wishes the tiger from her painting had been the one who left those scars, its crescent moon-shaped claws tearing into her innocent skin instead of her own hand. Maybe it’s easier to admit she wasn’t the one responsible.
The old man watches me every morning at the coffee shop. His skin looks like it has been washed too many times, and I see the scars that track down his leg like a tear in a nylon. He peeks at me from under his veteran’s war hat. I think he watches me so intently because he is searching for my scar.
My skin is soft and white, without a single permanent mark. It’s like a brand new window: no fingerprints, or even scratches as small as an ant’s leg, can be seen.
My scars dig a little deeper than that.
Mine wrap around my heart like black shoelaces that have been tied too tight. The hard fabric cuts deep, leaving marks that I think might last forever. My heart still beats fine, but I put my hand to my chest daily just to make sure. Just like the scars I see around me, mine are kept a secret, too.
Maybe they’re more noticeable than I think.
Maybe the woman at the post office turns her head so that she can try and see behind my rib cage. Maybe the girl in my art class wonders if the tiger left the scars inside me, too. Maybe the old man can tell I’ve been through a war also.
A war within myself, to give my torn heart permission to continue beating.
By Ashley Juenemann
“Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof
of the fact that there is healing.” — Linda Hogan
It’s two layers of scar tissue accumulated over eight years of my life. A road map of pain, confusion and the question, “why?” You can’t see my scars. You’d never even know they were there unless you pulled a trigger—told a joke that came too close, somehow got behind my back without me knowing, gave me a harmless compliment or a hug friends give in greeting. Then you might catch a glimpse.
The scars cover three different regions—heart, mind and soul—but the marks are similar in each: crushed, depraved and dirty. It started with a puppy kinda infatuation my freshman year that turned into a one-sided mess of control and jealousy that still hasn’t ended. Chapter two began where the first left off with a controlling “I want a ‘doll’ for a girlfriend,” type of guy. Together we went to my first hockey game and watched players run each other into the glass. That night after the game would leave the biggest scar.
Even now, almost two years later, it still is hard to say that he raped me. Took advantage of my fear to do the “hollow you out” deed. But he did. Because it wasn’t like “typical” rape cases you hear about in the news where the girl was beaten for sex, I didn’t consider it rape. It was only after I found out he’d been seeing another girl on the sly who fit his idea of a “doll” that I began to call it what it had been, and only after it was too late to smack the bastard with indecent conduct on university grounds.
I swore off dating. Never was I going to let some guy walk all over my thoughts and have my body as his toy. The amazing thing in this story is time. Although there are some things that can never heal, the right person over time can ease what pain lingers. By most male standards, the guy I’ve come to call “a saint” should have gotten bored with waiting for me to stop being afraid of men. When I bring up this topic, he chuckles and tells me he can wait.
From where I stand now, the shame of the initial act doesn’t bother me. It’s the fact that I’m still too much of a “chicken shit” to trust anything people say or do. I still can’t graciously take a compliment without wondering what I had to give in payment. But, you know, my atlas of scars only shows where I’ve been. It doesn’t show where I’m going.
So here. Take this atlas. I don’t need it anymore.
Slash and Burn
By Taylor Gustafson
I never told them I lost the finger. I just didn’t correct them when they reached that conclusion on their own.
I suppose it was a fairly logical assumption to make when all I said was that I caught a glancing blow while clearing brush with a machete. Really, I’d only cut down to the bone, something I marveled at in grotesque delight as the doctor stitched up the football-shaped gash before it could pool up with even more blood. The stitches left their marks in the scar tissue as well, giving it an almost cartoonish look. I can no longer look at my right index finger without thinking of the flat-headed, bolt-necked Frankenstein monster or Tim Burton.
On the very next finger (the one I love to show off) is another slash mark, running almost the entire length of the first segment, knuckle-to-knuckle. My Swiss Army Knife had been my pride and joy at age five, but it came with the promise of confiscation should it be used improperly. I felt my short life was guaranteed to end when I let the treasured blade slip while whittling.
Desperately I tried to cover up the accident, but my dad was quick to find out. A garbage can full of bloody tissues and my sudden interest in wearing a single mitten in the middle of July was something of a giveaway. He merely laughed at my pleas and explained there was a difference between honest accidents and willful stupidity. Leave it to Beaver would be hard-pressed to have a more touching bonding moment.
A series of small scars polka-dot all the knuckles on the same hand, testaments of various knicks and cuts. A recent close encounter with a hot lawn mower engine left a bright pink burn mark just below the elbow. As far as my upper limbs go, my right arm has taken the brunt of my bodily damage.
If one looks closely at the webbing between the thumb and index finger of my left hand, they can see a very faint scar that just barely begins to extend into my palm. It may be the least noticeable, but acquiring it was certainly the most painful. During a trip with friends through a corn maze, we noticed many signs throughout asking patrons not to rip the ears off the stalks. Being middle school students who had recently discovered the wonders of the female form, attracting the attention of girls was obviously at the forefront of our minds. So of course we ignored the postings, listening for ladies on the other side of the walls before lobbing the cobs over like grenades. I felt the sharp pain, but the darkness of a November night hid the damage.
It wasn’t until I stood beneath the lamp at the entrance of the labyrinth that I noticed my entire hand had turned crimson. Apparently corn leaves can give wicked paper cuts. While the scar is fairly small, the cut bridged the expanse of my entire palm.
Showering that night was hell.
Calissa Treat is a senior at BSU and likes to write and go for long runs in her spare time. Ashley Juenemann is a Bemidji State University student who uses life events to create her work. Taylor Gustafson loves nature in a non-hippy way and would be lost without Scotch and Tolkien.