This story is about cutting, so if mentions of that serves as a trigger to you, you probably shouldn’t read this.
Inspired by Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women
What the Scarred Woman Knows
Scarred Women are very familiar with blood. How bright and shiny it is when it first appears, but dries a nasty shade of brown on her jeans, her nice white skirts, the hem of her new t-shirts. She knows that cold water gets out the stains better than hot and that when blood dries on her skin it comes off easily in flakes.
She knows the parts of her body (for example: the innermost part of her thighs, underneath her breasts, the heels of her feet) that no one will likely see the lines of scars drawn like roads on a map in her skin. But sometimes her scars poke out from behind her clothing: the shorts that cut a little too short, crop tops, bikinis. Sometimes she notices the stares. When she does, embarrassed, she covers herself back up.
She knows that the curved edges of broken mason jars cut deeper than any knife she has used before and how to store them neatly in a cardboard box in the shoe closet so that her daughter doesn’t find them. She knows that everyday objects work too: keys, a package openers, the jagged edge of a tape dispenser. They do the trick just fine.
But most of all Scarred Women know how much it stings when the glass breaks her skin and how even though she hates every horrendous moment of it, she needs it.
What the Scarred Woman Loves
A Scarred Woman loves art, especially the abstract kind. Sometimes, when it is a rainy day, Scarred Women call in sick, go buy a coffee from the little shop on the corner, and spend the day in an art gallery. Coffee in one hand and purse strung across her other shoulder, she spends hours staring at the canvases, all the lines, colors, shapes jumbled up and put together like they’re suppose to make sense. But still, within all the chaos, the art still manages to tell a story. All you have to do is trace the lines.
But, of course, Scarred Women already know that.
Who the Scarred Woman Loves
A Scarred Woman, at the end of the day, starts to take off the sweatshirts and turtlenecks, begins to trace her scars and bruises. She still remembers how each one hurt and how they got there. She doesn’t think she will ever manage to forget. But still, she can’t help but hold an overwhelming sense of pride knowing how much she is able to survive even with all the blood and tears she has lost. Yes, a scarred woman is in love with herself, her endurance, her body, her stamina. And she hates it just as much.
The Scarred Woman’s Daughter
Sometimes, when the Scarred Woman is not careful enough, her daughter walks in on her changing. When she asks her mother why her skin is different from her own, the Scarred Woman shoos away the question and avoids answering till, one day, she notices scars forming on her own daughter’s skin, like a disease passed through her blood to her child’s. The Scarred Woman gets down on her knees and looks into her daughter’s eyes already welling with tears, her words ringing in her ears, Please, Mommy , I don’t know how to stop.