Scar Memory

“You know, nobody even notices them, except for you.”

“If I didn’t know where to look, I’d never even see them.”

“I don’t notice them anymore.”

My scars.  The perfect example of the fine, fine line between love and hate.  The last tangible reminders of the day that will remain etched in my memory until I take my last breath.  The lynchpin moment of my entire existence, a seemingly normal, beautiful late summer afternoon, when a split second decision forever altered the course of my life.  And my face.

Nearly eight years and one surgical procedure later, they are all but invisible.  I coat my face with moisturizer and sunscreen year-round, in order to maintain my pale skin — not out of vanity that would put a Southern belle to shame, but because the slightest tan brings to life those long-forgotten weals, making them stand out a stark white contrast on my right cheekbone.

Gone are the days when I would catch my mother tipping her head sideways to examine them, her eyes sad, “I can’t believe I did that to you.”  My unspoken response, “It wasn’t your fault.  You didn’t see the other car.  I don’t care.  I don’t care.”  Trying so hard to relieve that guilt, but unable to do so, because it was my face.  It has been years since I wore my hair deliberately long, hanging over my face, so that coworkers didn’t ask about my “road burn” or try to reach out and touch them.  I didn’t want anybody touching them.  They were mine.

Like a tattoo you once noticed every single day, but now forget you have, the scars have faded from the forefront of my mind.  When I do my makeup in the morning, my primary concerns are correcting uneven skin tone and covering any pimples, not the delicate pattern on my upper right cheekbone, close to my eye.  Most of the time, it never crosses my mind.

But driving home late at night, turning up the volume on the stereo in order to drown out the thundering of the rain outside on my windshield, I am distracted by a faint itch. I reach up and scratch it, absently, and then, like a wall of water that suddenly washes over me and threatens to drown me in its depths, the memories return.  I can feel them under my fingers like the tiny white bumps, the traces in my flesh.  They’re there.  Eight years and one surgical procedure can’t eradicate them.  Nothing ever will.  They may not be visible, and nobody notices them anymore…but they’re still there.  The scars, and the memories.   Under my skin.