I have many scars on my body. After 40 years of life it isn’t unusual. I have a scar from a motorcycle burn when I wore shorts and didn’t pay attention to where I was putting my leg. I have a thin scar on a knuckle from where I cut myself as a child. I have a big dent in my forehead from chickenpox, and a scar on my elbow from running into a door frame.
But there are two scars that are unusual. One; a large scar on the back of my hand that is sharp at the tip, and blunt at the bottom. The perfect shape of a knife blade. Two; a cigarette burn on my neck.
When I was fifteen I had to ride the bus to school. It was an hour long bus trip each way with a lot of kids, most of which really didn’t care about me. We lived far from town because land was cheaper out there, and there were no cops to but into anyone’s business. And many of the families took advantage of that. Not all of them, mind you, but there were a few.
Not long before summer we were on our way home. The day was hot, and all the windows were down letting in a constant blast of wind and noise. I was sitting with my hand on the seat in front of me, leaning forward to see something.
I did not notice the boy behind me lean over the back of my seat, I just felt my hand erupt into searing pain. I screamed, yanking my hand away, and saw him jerk a knife back over the seat.
On the back of my hand was a burn the exact same of a knife tip. The skin had been burned away. Third degree burns, and I still carry the scar. I suspect he was lighting the tip with a lighter. It didn’t really matter. My hand was already damaged.
Worse, I didn’t say a thing. The bus driver assumed it was just normal teenage shenanigans, and I didn’t want to get someone else in trouble so I didn’t say anything. It took me a long time to learn to stand up for myself.
My hand healed, but it’s a reminder to me. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t sit back and just let people hurt you if you have a way of fighting back. One of the more painful lessons I’ve had.
And the other scar? I guess that’s a story for another time.