TINGE Magazine - http://www.tingemagazine.org

Issue 0

7 Stories About Girl Scars

 · Fiction

1. The Left Eyebrow Suture Marks

Ellen was bewildered — as if the impossible melodrama of reality TV had bungled into her dining room and found a way to pilfer almonds from the pink ceramic tray. Ellen stood stunned, the face of which is unbecoming to a perfect wife who kept her figure through three deliveries. She didn’t remember leaving the cabinet door open and the bewilderment deepened when she reached up to touch the aching eyebrow only to find a smudge of blood like long-ago lipstick.

It wasn’t likely her husband would cheat. Unless maybe she hadn’t watered him enough. Unless maybe she’d let his soil get dry; an untended man ungrew into an angry little boy ready to destroy the castle that wasn’t his to enjoy.

Of course there were arguments that sounded like home-game tailgating so she put them out of her mind because what sounded like every living room wasn’t abnormal. Ellen adapted to the way in which times had changed, the new trend being one where women watched football with their husbands and yelled “asshole” in unison. The new did not replace the old. Bean dip recipes were still slipped into purses.

Ellen’s husband left a whatnot in the glove compartment that Ellen found and asked him to explain. He’d gotten very angry — pointed to all her whatnots, including the ones on the glass shelves and even some whatnots she’d given away.

Those are antiques, Ellen enunciated carefully. But he was a dentist — he was used to financial liquidity — so she didn’t try much harder. How long had she defended the old things only to find herself classed among them? Family heirlooms didn’t make sense. Not if you thought about it.

 

2. The Bolt-Mark Inside the Inner Right Thigh

Isaac interviewed Asylum Candidate #751 for hours. It was impossible to trace her country of origin. He settled for “Middle East.”

When his son asked why he never felt like throwing the football anymore, Isaac said his work was taxing, which led to a misunderstanding about the nature of his job. I don’t take taxes, Isaac explained, I interview political refugees who are seeking asylum.

What’s a refugee? his son asked.

A refugee is a woman whose country doesn’t exist anymore. A woman who has no place to go.

His son suggested there was space in the guest bedroom.

Asylum Candidate #751 refused to go into detail about her experiences in various refugee camps. He flipped through health documents. When he asked her about the bolt-mark scar inside her inner right thigh, she said, Lebanon was nice.

Did they hurt you? he demanded more aggressively than usual. I can’t help you if you don’t answer questions, he said.

The men in the refugee camps say that too. The woman shrugged as if the scene was familiar.

He asked her again and again — How did you get that scar? Where are you from? Where is your family?

The refugee stared straight ahead without saying a word, a talking head whose teleprompter had frozen.

 

3. The Letter On the Left Hand

She was careful with her allegiances. Determined to be no one but Herself. A girl who sees the world through the prism of Fleurs du Mal would not consider wearing the book’s t-shirt version. She would not be like Those Churchgoers in their Jesus blazers. The god on their shirts was the god missing from their hearts and minds.

She fell in love with a linotypist. He tried to teach her about ink and how to operate his letterpress. When she printed her first book, she understood she could say anything. The power of the press was a form of aesthetic liberation.

After things ended with the linotypist, The Girl was left with a glaring indentation on the skin between her thumb and forefinger. Coincidentally, the letter soldered into her skin happened to be the first letter of the linotypist’s name. The Girl wore white kid leather gloves to hide the way she had been disenfranchised by his brand.

 

4. The Four Pock Marks On the Upper Arm

She wore short sleeves but never tank tops in the summer. She never explained the scars. She was born in Bulgaria and it was none of their business anyway.

 

5. The Long, Thin Scar On the Instep

Walter turned down the Mahler symphony before addressing his son. He also took a deep breath and imagined a blonde waving from a doublewide float in the waters of southern Bermuda.

Every time you say butt or dang or heck or words like that, you will have soap in your mouth. Have I made myself clear, Evan?

But Dad! Those aren’t curse words!

Those are words expressed in the Spirit of Cursing. It’s a slippery slope, Evan. Once you say those words you’ll slip into other ones.

Evan stomped into the bathroom as Walter tried to avoid his wife standing arms crossed over her chest in the doorway.

That’s fucking absurd and you know it, she hissed.

Walter smiled sarcastically and bid her let him pass, having dishes to do.

I can’t enforce that! she said too loudly. His homeschool co-op friends all use words like dang and butt! What’s the big deal?

The big deal is self-control, honeybun. Not using bad language.

He isn’t using those words against anyone — just to express frustration.

It’s not appropriate. When I was young, we got in trouble for saying “fart.”

And it made you a better person?

She wanted a fight — Walter could feel it. But he wouldn’t participate.

You think being a Puritan works? You think repressing every frustration teaches people not to be frustrated? Where have you seen that, Walter? The reason there are curse words is to set a limit — but you can’t outlaw frustration! You can’t torture us like that.

The adagio was next. Walter was counting on it.

When Irma cut her foot on the screen door, Walter wondered why his wife always managed to out-think him. They drove to the emergency room with sirens in their heads, Mahler still working his way towards something soft back at the house. The dynamics of his family life came out forte. Forte til finale.

 

6. The Horizontal Calf Scar

At the academic roundtable on recent pop culture trends, the discussion centered on songstress Lana del Ray. Gretel, the only sandy-blonde of the bunch, held her own. The lyrics suggested a possible fourth wave of feminism, which the token male on the panel found to be highly implausible. Truly unlikely.

I don’t want to like her, Gretel explained to a Sister during coffee hour, but the transgressive part intrigues me. Lana is a new avatar — the sex object gone wrong, the fuckable female who embodies all the maskuline fears about money, rage, moodiness, infidelity, and ulterior motives. I want to extend my research to answer the question of why men enjoy her. Why don’t they feel threatened?

The panel is great, Jenny said, resting a hand on Gretel’s arm. You are doing a great job of representing us.

Gretel shrugged. One could never be sure.

Men like Lana because her position is still dependent on their lust. She is only as popular as she can be sexy.

Jenny was right. Melancholy was the New Naughty. Gretel topped off her coffee and reconsidered the full-fat creamer.

You’re right, Jenny. They own their automaton-gone-awry. She can never become undesirable and still matter. I’m attracted to the sad, plaintive moan of the noir-ish sexpot who knows her expiration date.

It took twenty-four stitches to suture the stab wound on Gretel’s calf. The Lana del Ray acolyte had been arrested after tripping over a wheelchair ramp as he ran towards the parking garage door. He told the police the panel disturbed him — how Gretel represented all that was ugly and awful about female jealousy these days. That girl was just jealous of Lana. Of course there were others whom he found guilty of the same. It bothered him that these women didn’t believe in beauty. How could they get through life without holding anything sacred?

 

7. The Fingernail Scar on the Right Elbow

Vivi wants it to be special but there aren’t many holidays coming up except Halloween and who wants to miss out on the costume parties?

We can go to the parties and then lose our virginity to each other afterwards, Marcus says brightly. His eyes are the color of Indian arrowheads. They strike a chord loose in her.

But the parties will end late and then we’ll be tired, Vivi sighs. She doesn’t want to explain how the first time should be special and unhurried — not the last breaths of a night but the air of the night itself. A whole thing.

That’s it! What about the hunter’s moon?

Marcus laughs — What about it?

The first full moon in October when the hunters can see all the deer perfectly because the moon lights up the landscape.

She didn’t tell Marcus this was perfect because a full moon could only be a whole moon. An unblemished pie, intact. An entire circle.

Whatever you want, baby. I can wait until you’re ready. I mean, I can’t wait but I can. For you.

On the night of the hunter’s moon, they drove out to the oilfields near the county airport. Nodding donkeys moved up and down, up and down, their lazy metal heads offering their assent.

Those donkeys are pretty suggestive, Marcus joked.

Yes, they are, Vivi blushed. But he couldn’t see the pink creep across her cheeks because the light didn’t reach into the car. Vivi hadn’t considered the moon might somehow be limited.

He kissed her and began to unbutton the blouse she had chosen with tiny green buttons intended to increase the excitement of what was to come.

Shouldn’t we go outside and lie on the blanket? she asked, surprised to find herself restless, impatient, somehow distracted.

Hmmmmm, I don’t know baby. What if a truck drives by and sees us? I mean, we’ll be out in the open, exposed for all the world to see.

Vivi sighed — there were no trees nearby. Only the silver field dotted by derricks and donkeys. It was quiet inside the car. She’d forgotten to bring the special CD they made for the occasion. Each had chosen six songs, and Vivi had placed Marcus’ songs at the end because she couldn’t quite envision making love with Trent Reznor braying in the background.

Maybe we should move to the backseat, Marcus murmured, his lips running along her collarbone. It felt nice but his breath sounded labored, like the heavy percussion that sometimes ruins a jazz set. Vivi clambered through the space between seats and stretched across the back where her head butted firmly against the door and one knee bent upward, jammed against the seat cushion. It didn’t hurt when he went in but she could hardly make out his face from the car’s sudden shadows. The old Buick rocked back and forth as Vivi’s head pressed hard into the door and one arm fell asleep under the weight of Marcus’ torso.

There were so many things she hadn’t anticipated. Like the old metal ashtrays built into the back doors of the aged sedan. Like the sharpness of metal — and the way everything grows an edge where sex is concerned.

Marcus called the half-moon scar on her elbow a Keepsake. But it wasn’t an honest keepsake. It wasn’t even a full circle. Just some half-etched fingernail moon, worthless and hard to remember.


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