Monday, January 24, 2011

How To Heal Everything

He looked doubtfully at his wrist, eyes veiled slightly by tears- watery babies conceived in the hurt and ready to slither out onto his fat red cheeks in a messy unnatural display of waterbirth. He wasn’t sure if it would profit him to cry- it always seemed to create a bigger problem- a runny nose, no tissues, damp sleeves and a hoarse throat. Whenever he lost control like that, the panic that someone would see him and he’d be forced to confess that he lacked the ability to tough it out would take away any feeling of satisfaction from opening the emotional floodgates.

So, instead, he watched. Looked at the small frayed cut that split open his skin and had the tiniest of ruby necklaces at its perimeter. Delayed the inevitable- the sting of the cold water that he had imprinted on his mind as a reaction to hurting himself- \Wash it off, make sure you get all the dirt out… His mother’s voice. It’s not so bad. Do you want a plaster? She’d say, keeping her voice calm and moderated, perhaps as a forced measure to calm him, or maybe she really didn’t think it was that serious. No, he’d not wash it just yet- the boy in him wanted to see if he’s bleed to death. Unlikely- it wasn’t nearly deep enough- not like that time at school when bigger kids had tripped Justin Willcox on the stairs, and the cut in his belly had been so deep you could see the yellow fat below the skin glistening like the custard inside the Danish pastries they sold in the tuck shop.

He could feel the breeze tugging at the ragged sides of the cut, the pain made slightly more intense by the cold and he shuddered. No, he certainly wouldn’t die, but if he had, well, that would have served them right. As his ghost, or soul (he hadn’t really decided how those things worked) hovered above his dead body, he’d have had the last laugh as his friends and family gathered around to see the proof that his heart was finally empty, and there was nothing they could do to bring back all the times when they’d told him off or teased him. That’d serve them right. He wanted to say something rude, so he experimented. Dammit, he whispered. The rudest word he could bring himself to say. Dammit, he said again, more loudly, but his dry lips made the word seem foolish and empty.

It wasn’t bleeding. So no arteries. Well, that was good. Granted, he’d just snagged it when sliding out of the tree, heading home to bath, so it was hardly a potentially fatal injury, but boys usually took the most fantastically circuitous route home in their heads, and he was no different.

Do you want a plaster? She said again, in his mind.

He didn’t think so. He was so active that a sticking plaster seemed to have a very short lifespan on his body. Within hours of being smoothed over a cut, flesh-coloured and stretchy, the thing would be peeling back over itself, dirt ingrained into the twists, and even the cut would be black with dirt. He’d pull off the last remaining sticky bits, which tugged at his downy body hair, leaving exposed a small patch a little whiter and oddly damper than the rest of him.

No, he didn’t want that. He wanted to see the blood turn black. Later, in bed, he’d worry at the scabs until they came loose, and hopefully, in time, he’d have a scar. He’d wait for people to ask him where it came from, and the story would gather density like a snowball- it would start something like the truth- a tall tree, a dangerous slip- and end up being a death-defying dive through the canopy of the rainforest, huge tropical spiders and snakes scattering to either side as he plummeted to the safety net of the dank forest floor.

If he was really honest, though, he wanted her to come back. He wanted to hear the words which seemed to undo pain, darn up holes in his soul.

Mummy kiss it better?

He was growing up, now, and he knew that those words were just words, and not some charm handed down in the maternity wards of hospitals, but he still wanted to hear them- knew, deep inside, that unless he did, the hurt would never truly heal.

He wished he could hear them. Just one more time.


  1. Great piece. Resonated with me, just last week my 15 yro skinned his thumb at cricket and was showing it to me in the car on the way home, quite icky it was too, then he asked me - "mom will you kiss it better?"
    As parents we are never to old to kiss our children's wounds better, what ever they are! ;)

  2. Great Scott! =)

    Seriously. Amazing. Thank you.


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