Scar Tissue (Excerpt)

Lynne Barrett

I flip the pillow and press my cheek against it. At the back of my scalp, my hair hides a brown stain that showed up in infancy. Or at least I was told it was there. I’ve never seen it. My mother swore it was identical to—and obviously caused by— the burn she got as a child from a permanent, for she believed in the inheritance of acquired characteristics and no amount of Mendelian genetics could dissuade her. Wasn’t the proof clear as the marks on our scalps? She would pull up her hair, fairer than mine, and show me hers. My father said it was the shape of a faint lipstick kiss. My mother said I should take it as a lesson never to get a permanent, which I never have. They’d be old now if they’d lived, though not as old as the old couple, but still they travel around with me, fondly bickering.


I rub my wrist and tell myself to sleep. I hear the woman in the jury room advising calendula cream, and I promise her I’ll get some later today and use it. And I remember that my first scar, or the first that I know about, must be in my belly button, where I was severed from my mother and knotted off, as were we all, once connected, then apart, starting life as it will go on, with necessary damages.

(Read the whole story in The Hong Kong Review, Vol. I, No. 3)


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