I have a number of minor scars, so I’m going to describe three of them and where I got them.
1: This scar is on the knuckle of my right middle finger. It is thick, about a centimeter wide, and remains a paler shade than the skin around it. It is shaped like a butterfly. I got this one when I was nine. I had just seen The Dark Crystal for the first time, and I was completely obsessed, especially with the huge, hoary, stilt-legged, catfish-faced creatures that the Gelflings ride around on. I really wanted one. So when I discovered a pair of old crutches while rummaging through my parents pile of stuff in the basement, their immediate use seemed clear. I took them upstairs and spent the afternoon vaulting myself around the house and yard, pretending I was being chased by Skeksis (drooling vulture/ warthog types, for those who haven’t seen the movie). The crutches were way too tall for me, so in order to get anywhere I had to point them straight out, get a good run going, slam the rubber ends down and kick my legs forward through the air. When I finally got tired, standing at the top of the basement stairs, I figured I’d have one more go. I slanted the ends down beside my feet and fucking launched myself down the stairs. When I landed, I lay dazed on the ground for a moment, trying to breathe and figure out if I was paralyzed. Things mostly felt fine, except for a searing pain in my finger where a hunk of flesh had been torn away.
2: The next one is on my left forearm. It’s about the size of a piece of long grain rice, though it has shrunk and faded substantially over time. It still looks shiny under the light, but otherwise you might not know it’s there. I got this one trying to break up a dogfight when I was thirteen. Good decision, I know. My family had a dog called Murphy. We loved him, and he loved us, but he lusted to dismember every other living animal that crossed his path. When a random stray dog trundled out of the woods behind our house – I was sitting out back with Murphy and a friend of mine – it was on. Murphy and the stray locked eyes for about half a second then went for each other like rabid hyenas. My friend and I were home alone, shrieking, and I was certain that the other dog would kill our Murph. It was bigger than he was and looked to have the head of a golden retriever stuck on the body of a huge pit bull. Without thinking (oh, really?) I ran over to the writhing bulk of slobbering fur, grabbed the stray’s tail, and yanked as hard as I could. He swung his massive, anvil head and closed his jaw around my arm.
3. The third scar is from about five years later. It is on the inside of my right calf and it was, for a long time, my biggest scar. It used to be the size of a half dollar and kind of a fetid yellow color, but it, too, has faded over time and now looks like a burnished smear about the size of a quarter. I was eighteen and had just started college. I had a shambling old black bike that was my only real source of transportation, and I rode it everywhere. One evening I was flying back to my dorm from some forgotten place, when I saw a girl from my hallway coming out of the library. She saw me too and shouted something that I couldn’t quite hear. I looked back at her and shouted, What? She shouted again (I still don’t know what she said) and waved. Still looking back at her, I nodded, waved, and at the same time tried to maneuver the bike around a corner. It skidded out on a patch of dusty gravel, and I went down waving and grinning like that cartoon character you just know is about to walk into a telephone pole. The girl from my hall raced over, looking at once worried and on the verge of cracking up, and helped me pull the metal claws of the bike pedal out of my leg.