Scars and Stories

The summer before kindergarten, I was living with my mom in a nice apartment on the bottom floor of a pretty big house. My sister wasn’t born yet and my future best friends had yet to move in upstairs, so I found alternative ways to occupy myself. A typical day included making my mom write the letters of the alphabet down the side of a sheet of paper and so I could copy each one across as many times as I could until my scribbles finally transformed into letters. I rode my bike around the swing set my grandpa had put up so many times there was a circular dirt path around it where grass no longer grew. I made sure to eat my daily serving of grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs, and for good measure, an apple. I jammed out to the coolest tunes and always hit the highest notes. I played with my kitties even as they lay like lumps on the couch. Needless to say, I was looking forward to kindergarten more than anything. I was counting down the days.

It was a typical August day when it happened.

The heat was hard to bear, so of course, I was inside dancing. Wearing turquoise stretchy pants and a Rugrats t-shirt I pranced around my living room to the tunes of Michael Jackson, my long tangled brown hair trailing behind me. Our living room was painted a light shade of a purple-blue and despite the sun shining outside, without the lights on indoors, the room was rather dark and gloomy. My mom had stepped outside to have a cigarette with her boyfriend at the time. Through our small front window I could see their backs pressed against the white lawn chairs absorbed in conversation about things much too boring for my overactive imagination.

Being that my only company was these two duds, I decided to spice up the afternoon. With my tunes blasting, my moves escalated in intensity as I jumped on top of our white marble coffee table and down again. My moves were definitely worth being put in a music video but  knew I needed to take it up a notch: I needed a prop.

Next to our stereo stood a giant cat house and laying on the top level was unfortunately, not a cat (there rarely ever was) but rather, a cat leash that I had borrowed from a neighbor a few days previously in a futile attempt to take one of my cats for a walk. (The leash had been put to rest in the cat house when my cats refused to follow my instruction when on the leash.)  Grabbing it, I started swinging it around my head and whipping it from side to side. Twirling and spinning, I released the leash in midair, letting it fall to the ground in front of the coffee table. Forgetting about the leash entirely and focusing solely on the art of dance, I continued twirling around in circles. Before I could even realize, my foot had been caught in the leash and down I went without a second to catch myself.


 Laying on my back and staring at the ceiling, I didn’t move. I felt no pain but knew I had hit my head pretty hard on the white marble table. All I could think was “I wonder if I’m bleeding?” as I rubbed my finger across my forehead to see if there was any sign of blood. But in the dimness of the room, I couldn’t quite tell. I didn’t move, however, and just laid there for a while until I heard screaming and knew my mom had finally come inside. I wondered what she was screaming about until her face was directly above mine, asking if I was okay. The obvious answer would have been “No, I am definitely not okay considering I just landed face first on a marble table, thank you very much,” but being that I was still in no pain and oblivious to the fact that I was bleeding profusely from between my eyes, I just nodded. She immediately wrapped a dish towel on my head and carried me out to the car in complete hysterics while her boyfriend started the car to race us to the hospital. I, however, was still completely clueless as to why.

Laying on my mom’s lap in the back seat of our car, she pressed the dish rag against my open head wound. (I’m guessing she wasn’t really thinking of the thousands of germs on that rag that were now finding a home inside of my fresh cut that were probably finding a cozy home inside my brain.) There was a lot of yelling and screaming about the fastest way to the hospital and about how long the drive was taking as my mom’s tears splattered on my cheeks.

Once at the hospital, my mom ran me inside and I was slid onto a gurney. A flurry of people suddenly swarmed around me and I was pushed into a dark room where out of the corner of my eye, I saw my dish-rag-of-a-wound-dressing get tossed in the garbage-once white, now stained in red. I don’t remember exactly what went on inside the room, but I know that I left it with gauze wrapped around my head about three hundred times, a complete embarrassment.

Sitting in the waiting room for the rest of the day, my mom’s boyfriend did not fail to comment multiple times on my head dressing and how all I needed was a feather in the back to look like a Native American. I was not amused. My grandparents arrived and demanded that a plastic surgeon sew me up even though I didn’t care if I had a scar or not. All I wanted to do was go home and have lunch.

After waiting an ungodly amount of time for the plastic surgeon, he finally arrived. I laid down on the bed and a nice female nurse instructed me to put my hands down the sides of my pants. I didn’t understand why until they took ace bandages and wrapped them around my whole body, trapping my hands to my sides. The nice nurse said she was going to give me a shot in my forehead and I remember being totally calm. But once the plastic surgeon arrived, I started screaming. Apparently louder than a newborn baby, as he told me. I did not appreciate his sass.

After being completely traumatized, I finally returned home and fell asleep immediately. The next day I awoke in a panic. I could only open one eye. The other had been swollen shut. This was very inconvenient to my daily routine. So in my invalid state, I lay on the couch with a wet wash cloth over my swollen eye and watched a movie about a man and a cartoon fish. *

About a week later, I was back to my old self-except maybe a little less wreckless- and examined the blood stain I had made on our marble table, that was now removed from the living room, never to return. I was convinced that it was the coolest thing ever and planned on telling my future friends at school that someone had been murdered in my house and that they’d just have to come over to see the evidence.

On the first day of kindergarten, I may have been the weirdest looking kid with black wire stitches (that I thought looked like a caterpillar) growing out from between my eyes, but it gave me the chance to become the best story teller in the class. Everyone wanted to know what happened and I made sure to go into every gory detail. I made sure to let them know I got seven stitches inside and seven stitches outside and that before they sewed me up, you could see right into my brain. Or so I thought.

After my stitches were removed I was left with a scar that cuts into my right eyebrow (I guess the plastic surgeon didn’t do a very good job). But I’ve always loved my scar and I always will. I would never want to erase it. Scars show how strong you are. Scars show that you lived through something. Scars are stories waiting to be told.

*After reading this, my mom told me the name of the movie: The Incredible Mr. Limpet.The Incredible Mr. Limpet