01 – The Scars We Wear

During a dark and stormy night in Paris, Sara meditates on life, love and the choices she’s made.

Takes place post episode 1107 “Bump and Grind,” circa mid-November 2011.

For M – with all the hope I possess for us both.

*******

“Experience is not what happens to a man.

It’s what a man does with what happens to him,”

Aldus Huxley

*******

One: The Scars We Wear

SARA:

You hardly notice them.

RAY:

Scars?

SARA:

Hmm. Of course some scars heal faster than others.

– Episode 1107: Bump and Grind

*******

Sara

Awake.

I am awake. Abrupt. Wide-eyed. Breathless.

Dream, is my first thought. Or more precisely, nightmare. Just another bad dream. It wouldn’t be the first — or the last.

But no, not this time.

Only after my heart stops thudding in my ears and my ragged breath quiets, do I hear it and know.

That rapid rattle ricocheting against the slate overhead, that’s what’s roused me: rain, pure and simple.

Though this is not some simple little fall of rain, an ordinary autumn shower.  It is rage and roar, blow and crack, thunder and boom, full of a sound and fury certainly not signifying nothing.

At least this time it only takes a moment for me to locate where I am. That I am not struggling to get out from under that damn car. That I am safe. Home. Home being for the last several days at least, not that Vegas condo of yours which we now share, but our Latin Quarter appartement parisien.

And with you here asleep in the bed beside me and Hank snoring at our feet, there’s no reason to be afraid. I know this. None at all. Except that doesn’t seem to keep that not so distant rumble of thunder from waking me from a dead sleep.

At least it’s only at night. It can rain all it wants during the day and nothing. Well, apart from that aching twinge where the bones refused.

But there is just something about the dark and the rat-a-tat-tat and the rush of water in the gutters and the shattering crash and resultant roll which wake me into that struggling suffocating chest-tightening heart-pounding mind-whirling paralyzing breathlessness.

Turns out I am not the only one disquieted by the weather. You may not wake, but I feel you shift in your sleep, rolling over to snuggle up against me; your arm close around my waist.

It’s a well-welcomed embrace. For one, you have in the course of the night managed per usual to commandeer and then abscond with pretty much most of the covers and Paris in November est définitivement froide. That and I hadn’t realized just how painfully tight I had drawn myself up or even that I was holding my breath until I relaxed into you.

And at this, your grasp tightens in a way I know from all our years together is equal measures gentle, tender protectiveness; a seeking and not just giving of comfort. And despite the weather and the weariness, I cannot suppress a slight smile. One which only grows as I feel your fingers edge beneath my shirt.

Your thumb absently grazes along an old scar, a childhood artifact from so far back I honestly mostly forget it’s even there. Like I told Ray not even a week before, you really do hardly notice them after a while — scars. At least the outside ones.

In the beginning they hurt. They itch. They ache. Stand out. Or you think they do. So much so sometimes you’re certain everyone can see them no matter how well you try to keep them covered. But after a while, they hurt a little less. Itch a little less. Ache a little less. Stand out a little less. At some point, sooner or later, which always feels way more later than sooner, you stop thinking of them. There’s only the mirror to remind you. And only when you look.

But like their bearers, scars have secrets and stories of their own. Except unlike that tattoo of mine which you often ask about, you never did about that scar or the others, even if there was no way they would or could have escaped your notice. Your eyes, your fingers took them in well enough. It wasn’t disinterest though, this lapse in your usual inquisitiveness. Still your questions you kept to yourself, waiting with all that sometimes-infuriating patience of yours, for me to tell you in my own time. When I was ready. Which turned out to be mid-afternoon one day in the middle of that first winter after we’d started sleeping together.

I remember us all curled up, content in enjoying the quiet and the company when your fingers momentarily lingered there and I just blurted it all out, as if it were the most natural and normal thing in the world for me to do, to talk about what and how it happened.

Not that it was all that long a tale to tell. Mostly a matter of wrong place, wrong time, wrong end of an argument and a broken beer bottle. Accident or no, didn’t keep me from needing more than a dozen stitches. Though not a big deal really and certainly not my first — or last — trip to the emergency room either. But c’est la vie, right?

And it wasn’t as if you weren’t without ones of your own — scars — the inside as well as the outside ones.  The latter frequently proving, as they usually did, far easier to dissect and discuss and dismiss. But over the last six years or so, I suppose we’ve swapped our share of stories and secrets and scars. And it’s helped, that sharing, however strange it was at the start for both of us after near lifetimes of keeping them like most things, so close to the chest.

What I remember most about that day though was you telling me When you love someone, you have to love all of them, accept all of them, scars and fears —

And bugs, I laughed.

And all, you finished.

And they weren’t just words. I’ve had plenty of well-meant ones from well-meaning people over the years. But you, you meant them.

Scars and fears and all. Took me too long to realize just how much you meant it. But then I was too busy dodging ghosts and fighting my own demons and being afraid. Afraid of self-destructing, of repeating history, of all that had happened and all that could have.

That’s no way to live.

Nearly took me too long to realize that, too.

*******

Continued in A (not so) Little Fall of Rain

 

 

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