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The Scab


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post #23
bio: mizalmond
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4/3/2007
23:21

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· elliott smith







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He'd given me a book before I left. It was blank, and he'd pasted pieces of handmade paper into it for decoration. There was a pocket in it, too. It held tracing paper. I wasn't sure what I would trace or draw but the gift seemed to imply that he thought of me as someone urbane, which was nice, I guess. There was more than a little whiff of cliché about it, too, but I made a conscious choice to leave that out of my luggage.

I carried the blank book around with me everywhere: the blank book and a copy of an enormous novel that I was determined to finish. I didn't write much. It was summer in Paris and it stayed light until almost 11. I think it would have been romantic if I hadn't of been with my father and if my leg hadn't hurt so bad.

Figuring out the right thing to wear was tough, because of the scab. It ran the length of my calf in the shape of Florida and was raised and scaly and caught on everything. The scab was sharp enough to put holes in my tights. Pants grazed against the scab and exacerbated the cracks and made it weep. I was bloated from all the wine and the airline travel but while my skin stretched with fluid the scab stayed the same size, delicately hovering in my skin like an island. I wanted to pick it but I knew that was a bad idea.

I'd gotten the scab on the first date, if you could call it that, before the night when he'd come over with pills and we'd ridden our bikes through the parking lots on Merrimon and also before the day when we ate falafel. That first time, I'd met him at an abandoned car garage on Riverside Drive. Wesley Willis was playing there. I was drunk and Wesley Willis headbutted me. I fell over, laughing, the engine oil slick and shiny on my new black pants.

I was dirty and drunk and I reveled in it. We drove out to the parkway and parked in a siding and he led me through the woods to a flat ledge with a rope swing.

"You should try it," he said. He showed me how to stand on the log and put my feet in the loop at the bottom of the rope. "Hold it here," he said, and put his hands around my hands to help me grasp the knot.

When I stepped off the log, everything came rushing up to me at once. It was as if I'd tipped forward and poured out of myself. The night was black and I rushed into it. Whereas before I'd been pretending, contained by my knowledge of his gaze into assuming some kind of improvised role, on the rope I was alone and the sky was invisible and limitless.

The pendulum slowed and I hobbled off of the rope, awkward again. "Out where you were?" he said, pointing into the empty space, "It's a three hundred foot drop."

I was scared of the rope after that. We lay against the log for a long time, talking and smoking. I wondered when he was going to kiss me. "One more time," he said.

And I did. He didn't help me. I fumbled with the rope. He hadn't kissed me yet. My body shuddered as I sailed out over that vast and empty space. I swung back towards land but my foot would not come unstuck from the rope. I dangled in the air. It felt like hours. Neither of us spoke.

Eventually I pitched forward in the direction of the ground, hoping that the impact would disentangle me. The gravel bit sharp into my palms and I was dragged backwards, towards the sparse bushes that grew around the edge. Finally I slowed. The relief was greater than the pain. I laughed then, unsure.

He kissed me after that. When I woke up beside him the next morning my calf stuck to the sheets.

I sent him a postcard from Paris. By the time he'd got it, we'd already had our last conversation and I'd put the blank book on a high shelf. The scab, though, lasted the whole summer, gradually shrinking like a memory from far away.




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