Did I ever tell you the story of the scar on my right knee? I am sitting on the floor Gut’s foyer, bedecked in old cut off shorts and I find myself mesmerized by that mottled patch of skin streaked with tough white lines. You might be wondering why I might find myself in shorts for the first time in years. The simple explanation is such: the day was unseasonably hot, the house stuffy and constricting, and for the first time in months I decided that today would be the day I would step outside in the dress of my youth. With all the resolve I could muster, I opened the door without hesitation and exited with resolve, head held high. I had stepped exactly 5 feet away from the door onto the open deck when my lungs spasmed and my heart seized. So here I sit in defeat at the precipice of a memory, the portal to this memory being my own skin. The story of the scar spins around my mind.
I was about 11 years old; we were living in Midland at the time, Toronto but a distant memory. Gut had yet to leave for university and news of father’s death had yet to reach us but his absence felt just as final. It was a beautiful day, crisp blue skies with tiny puffs of cloud. As such, I had decided to walk near the harbour in order to spy some gulls and any other creature of the sea, sky, or land I might observe in the process. With each new creature I spied, I attempted to conjure the latin name for these little beings. As you can imagine, I was a lonely child. There was also the allure of the shipping vessels, symbols of escape and adventure that I’d likely never know. I was lost in a youth-like reveries (probably one involving pirates, swashbuckling and the like) when I saw him a few meters ahead accompanied by his usual group. Liam.
Simply put, Liam Lastname Witheld was in many ways everything I wished I could be. Quick to laugh, capable at sport, passable at his studies, clever...He did not appear to angst over and analyze his every interaction with friends and strangers. Liam had an ease about him. Those in his favor seemed to glow and grow, feeding off the rays of his persona. When you were were laughing with Liam, it was as if all was right with the world. I had experienced this affect just once in passing. More than anything, I had longed to be a part of Liam’s group. I too wanted to flourish by association. Of course, I did not know all the reasons why I had wanted to be close to Liam at the time. All I knew was I longed to be both accepted and near. To be on the receiving end of his playful affections and affectation. However, those on the outside were fair game where torment and teasing was concerned. That day I was reminded of my position. As I caught up to Liam and the others, I mumbled a greeting and sought to pass unnoticed.
For a moment, I thought I had succeeded. Braced for any sort of response (i.e. flung insults, a sing song epithet), I found none. Relaxing slightly, I continued on my merry way. It was then I felt two hands at my back, pushing me down. Liam’s hands. Hands I wished to shake and hold. Though I knew this moment was coming, had to be coming, I was taken by surprise all the same. As a result, I did not catch my own fall, coming down hard on my knee and elbow. As the thin flesh along each joint ripped open, so did my heart. Once more I was reminded of my status as a wretched creature, undeserving of the greater things life has to offer. Comfort? Care? These were for some other 11 year old on some other dock. I knew that Liam must be looking down at me but I refused to return his gaze, I did not want to meet those hard eyes. One capable of so much warmth, now the spigot had turned and charity and dried. Small feet ran towards me and I thought the wolves had sniffed my blood and were rushing at the chance to tear away another small piece of me. I had tightened my body into an egg, prepared for additional rounds. But the feet passed and it was then I heard my name on my brother’s lips.
Gut had shooed my assailants and I was rescued once again. But my dreams of Liam and the possibility he represented had been dashed. I remained on the ground, unwanting to move, in a state of grief. Gut’s capable hands lifted my body up and he carried me away from the harbour in silence. But one hand managed to stroke my hair in intervals, an act that spoke volumes. And here I’m left with the scar as remembrance of hopes thwarted and my brother’s arms that will carry me no more.
Who will help me to move now?