Battle Scar Fantastica

April 10, 365 Days of Writing

Prompt: Imperfections — in things, in people, in places — add character to life. Tell us about an imperfection that you cherish.

This is a representation of the scars on my legs. Most of them.

This is a representation of the scars on my legs. Most of them.

Every picture tells a story, as does every scar, and I have a few of those. My scars do not bother me. I rarely even see them when I look in the mirror. Sometimes I will think about one of these marks, and raise a mirror to look for it. They are such a part of me that I look past them most of the time. Occasionally, someone will ask me how I got one of the two scars on my face, and I am always surprised that they even notice them.

I acquired the one on my forehead, very close to my hairline, as a young child. I was asleep in the floor of the car’s backseat (yes, that was in those days when we didn’t really wear seatbelts or have carseats); when we arrived at home, my mother was going to pick me up, and I bumped my face on the latch that released the front seat so it would lean forward. I don’t remember this, but the story is forever on display, right there, in the middle of my forehead. My other facial scar is from having chicken pox. I don’t remember how old I was, just how miserable I was, slathered head-to-toe with Calamine lotion. I could mostly keep from scratching, but there was one place on the side of my nose that I just couldn’t leave alone. I have a perfectly round scar there, on the side of the bridge of my nose. I hardly ever notice it, but again, occasionally someone asks about it.

I also have scars on my legs from an accident I had the day before third grade began. My mother had just come home from a wedding shower.  I wanted to tell her, before my sister did, of the grand day we’d had at the “Glide Slide,” which was a pretty big waterslide built into the side of a hill only a town away.  My dad had taken us, and we had several levels of fun. When we heard her pull into our pea-gravel driveway that Sunday afternoon, my sister ran for the front door, and I for the side door.  My sister undoubtedly opened the front door, but I didn’t notice as I sped toward my planned exit, my competitive nature driving my feet ever faster, that the sliding glass door was not open, but closed. I even pulled my elbows in so I wouldn’t hit them on either side of the door frame. There was a spectacular crash, and I didn’t immediately realize what happened.  Until I saw the huge pieces of glass placed haphazardly around our screened-in porch, and then the blood covering the tile floor, gushing from my legs.

My aunt who was visiting called an ambulance, but my Dad grabbed a towel, scooped me up, put me in the front seat of the car in my mother’s lap, and drove like a mad man to the hospital. During what was, to this day, the scariest car ride of my life (except for one experience in a taxi in New York), I asked repeatedly for two things – for my dad to slow down, and for my mom to not let them give me stitches.

It took 54 stitches to mend the cuts – two gashes on my right thigh, one v-shaped cut on my right calf, and then a golf-divot-shaped chunk from the front of my left leg, just where my leg meets my ankle. That last cut didn’t heal well, so since then, I’ve had not only a scar, but also a dent.

But these scars do not bother me. My dad asked me more than once if I might want to have additional surgery on my biggest scar to make it less noticeable, but I never understood why. They are simply part of who I am, but also a testament to the fact that I lived through what could have easily been a fatal accident. I don’t even mind if people ask me about the scars; it’s a good story. It was the only time we ever went to the Glide Side, it was the worst injury I ever got when competing with my sister for something, my dad walked barefoot through broken glass, and he drove really, really fast on every road between our house and the hospital without getting a ticket.  I’m guessing that he ran some redlights too.

Our scars and imperfections are what makes us interesting. Who wants to be perfect anyway? A perfectly symmetrical face is nice to look at, but also a little boring. I like quirks and crooked smiles. I like seeing the crow’s feet on a friend’s face when she smiles at me, because I know she is genuinely happy. I like an uncensored laugh – the kind that might even contain a snort – because then I know that the laugh was not manufactured. I like things that are real and imperfect. One of the most spectacular sights in our country (the Grand Canyon) is nothing more than a really long, deep crack. It is so unusual and imperfect, that millions of people have traveled from their homes at great distance and expense just to stare into it.

But there are also scars that cannot be seen, only felt. These scars can be superficial or deep, either just scratching or morbidly wounding our very souls. We all have these. Sometimes we can share them for others who have had similar experiences, and this process is cleansing for both. Sometimes, however, we may share a scar that others find repulsive, but only because they are unwilling to see how this scar is only a part of us, and not who we are.

Each scar begins as a wound. After enough time passes, though, the pain subsides, the flesh heals, and we may even forget about these marks until they are but shadows of our past. Each scar has a story, so wear them proudly, and never turn down an opportunity to tell the story.