On the Nose

            Jenna had met Mellissa in College where they commiserated over test scores, good boys and bad boys, parents, and had been told on more than one occasion, “There go two peas in a pod.”       

            Now, she was sitting around the Café La Continental with her best friend forever, forever and a day. “I was imagining… what would it be like, if we didn’t know we were in love?” Jenna was a plump blueberry kind of woman who liked to wear scarfs and say things like, “AbsOoooo-tootly.”

            Melissa was a redhead and fit every stereotype, didn’t resent it, played into it. She was the instigator, the kinetic force pushing the rock, throwing the ball, jumping the rope, and for sure, kissing the boys. “I don’t get what you’re saying. It sounds stupid. You’re being stupid right now.”

            “Just hear me out!” Melissa loved being teased.

            “Okay, I’m listening.”

            Jenna continued, “Do you know how, sometimes you go into the store, and you see two pints of ice cream you like? But you don’t really want to eat two pints of ice cream?”

            “Ummm, you’re describing every day of my life? Only make it three pints.”

            Jenna tittered. “Do you know, how… when you see a boy, you’re not sure if you like him yet? And you’ve got to like… figure out? Figure out if you’ll call him back. What if love was like that? What if, instead of these cute scars we have, what if there was just nothing? What if you weren’t sure?”

science image
All images from Berkshire Community College Bioscience (Flickr)

            Melissa had fallen in love when she was fifteen. Olatunji was a basketball player. Tall, a book worm, wrote her poetry. She’d gone to kiss him, and he said, “Wait, not yet…” and that’s when it happened. A small white scar flicked across her right wrist. It hurt, like a prick from a rose’s thorn. Not subtle, but quick and if you sucked on it, the pain went away. He’d had a scar in the exact same place, only he’d gotten it a week prior. So her first kiss, was a kiss on the inside of her wrist that made the pain go away.

            They fell out of love when Melissa went to college in Vermont and he moved to Florida. The scar didn’t hurt when it turned black… it was just a little sad. She was twenty-three now, and it was the only scar she had.

            Jenna had three! And Melissa was a little Jealous. All three formed under her left cheek bone, just under her eye. Three thin little lines, as if she’d been in a brutal cat scratch incident, or almost like she had permanent whiskers. Just only on the left side of her face. They were cute, made her look permanently Anime.

            It wasn’t like that for everyone. Jenna was lucky, some people had hard breaks; some people fell in love a lot. And the scars wouldn’t be cute they’d be a kind of disastrous. There was a whole makeup industry built around hiding them. (Poorly.)

            But it was always and inevitable. You fell in love, a little white scar would appear. You fell out of love and that scar would go dark.


*         

            Mellissa and Jenna were being kids. They’d snuck into a hidden playground in the woods.


            Jenna was nervous but Mellissa had said, “YOU CAN’T CLOSE A WOODS!”


            They played at remembering a childhood they should have had together if the world were fair. “I should have known you forever!” Mellissa shouted as she jumped off the top of the jungle gym and ran to the swing set. Jenna followed with too much momentum and they crashed into each other and over the hardwood of the swing’s seat. Fell into a pile of kicked up woodchips.

            They laughed at how much it hurt. How silly they were.

            Jenna said, “What if we got to choose?”

            “That would be a stupid world. Any other world would be dumb. I want to know.” Melissa saw herself in Jenna’s eyes. She was suddenly out of breath, like – the power of the fall and tumble had just caught up with her.


            That’s when it happened for both of them, a small white scar appeared on their left wrists.

*

            Mellissa was on the phone with Olatunji. “I’m not gay. I’m kind of maybe a fag hag. But I am definitely not a homosexual. I’m not a lesbian. At all. AT ALL.”

            “Be careful, babe.” His voice always calmed her. “She’s your best friend.”

More Science image
Teasing Musculature

            “I’m just freaked out.”

            “Yeah, I get it. I’m just saying, safe space and all, I know you, Emm. I know you big time. And you go off the handle and you say some dumb shit, even to me, you’re going to be sad and guilty and regret it for a week. So just be careful with your words.”

            “It’s not like I don’t love, Jenna. I love Jenna. It’s just NOT LIKE THAT!” She let out a sigh. It wasn’t big enough, so she did it again. Still didn’t feel right, she tried a third time. But now it had lost all effect.

            “I feel like… sometimes I miss you. Hear me out.”

            “You pre-emptively said hear me out. You didn’t even give me a chance to,” She moved the phone from her ear to her mouth and proclaimed, “Ugh!”

            Olatunji laughed. “What if we put too much – what if, fuck love?”

            “What?”

            “What if it’s not about love. What if it’s about fast cars, or having kids, or money, or anything else. What if you – there are people who should be together, even if their scars fade away. Sometimes I think that about us. Like, I love Marie, I’m not trying to step out of line. But we could have made it work.”

            “What are you saying? Also, ewww, no.”

            “I’m just giving you an example. I’m not saying it’s not true love. I’m just saying. You can choose some of it. You don’t have to be with someone just because you love them.”

            “I don’t think I can choose. I’ve never chosen. Not about love. Everything else, sure. But not about love.”

*

            Three years later, Jenna was in San Francisco for a meeting.

            Melissa was at a bar, missing her, but in a social setting so the missing didn’t hurt so much.

            There was a bell attached to the door so that everyone knew when a new patron came in. It was obnoxiously loud, it clanked and jangled. It forced you to turn your head, even if you weren’t the type to stare, to look at every passerby.

            A couple people shouted. “Hey!”

            Mellissa tried not to look. But when the door slammed shut behind this dude, the bell rang again, and the thud of the door was just a thunderclap. He must have kicked the door backwards when he came in. What was he doing?

            She turned to see…

            “Hey, heartbreaker!” The tender called out.

            She turned to see something she’d never seen before…

            His name was Rick. And he was covered in scars. All of them turned black as night. Vicious scars. He looked like a super villain. Dark black hair, a little too long, too shaggy. Why would he wear short sleeves? But why would he think it’d matter, given the gashes all across his face. Exes through his eyes. His nose was wounded! That almost never happens. His neck looked like a mobster had tried to murder him with razor wire. He’d been to war and back. An emotional war.

            In San Francisco Jenna was pointing up and to the left at financial projections – quite good ones. When her boss said, “I’m so sorry. Let’s take a break. I’m sorry, Jenna. That sucks.”                

                Melissa couldn’t take her eyes off him. And a small tear drop of a scar formed just under the one that had been created three years prior… one that would – for whatever reason, never turn black – never go away.

tendons microscopic image
The connective tissue that is tendon

[WP] You live in a world where you get a scar every time you’ve fallen in love. The scar blackens if you fall out of it. You have a few black scars, but the next person you happen to fall for has what seems to be thousands. Prompt created by u/Laur-and-Sorrel

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