Remember Your Scars

The scars held his stories. Scattered across his body like signs on the highway, they told the tale of his long, tragic road. And what a fitting metaphor for his life. Having no true home since the age of four, the road had become the only place he truly belonged. He longed for the feel of the road beneath him and the hum of his beautiful Impala- to watch the nameless roads fly past his rearview, always moving, always going somewhere. Anywhere. Just to be moving. The highway was his sanctuary, his only reprieve from the cruel world that awaited just outside his windshield. The world that gave him his scars, handed them out so freely.

Small, intricate patterns decorated his knuckles, paying homage to the countless bar fights, the infinite punches that had hit their mark. Burns were seared into his skin, each with their own unique shape, but all reminding him of one horrific night more than twenty years ago. Fire would always terrify him. Then there were the myriad of symmetrical slashes, usually in pairs of three or four, that riddled his torso, his arms, his neck. These were the wounds of a warrior, administered to him in the heat of battle. They were a reminder of his sacrifice, of his never ending duty to save people; to protect them from the monsters that stalked the darkness and left nothing but death in their wake. Some of these scars were his souvenirs, a prize for making it out alive, getting to live another day. Others were lessons. And he took it upon himself to learn these lessons quickly, to go back to ignoring the marks they left behind. To move on.

But there were other scars, the more enduring ones, that he was not proud to bear. The ones he couldn't move on from. These marks brought back his worst nightmares, his deepest fears. The permanently puckered skin that graced the front of his left shoulder, a matching mark on his back- evidence of the bullet that had sliced cleanly through his skin. The small, shattered slivers that littered his chest, shards of rock salt that had lingered long after the physical pain had left him. These scars were reminders. Reminders he didn't want.

Not all of his scars came with such a tangible reminder. Some were hidden deep in the recesses of his heart, invisible to most, but these were the scars that still burned hot, angry red. These were the wounds that bubbled up and festered, reopening despite his clumsy attempts to stitch himself back together again. And these were the scars that threatened his sanity, made him cringe away from the darkened face in the mirror and ache desperately for some relief, for some kind of peace. He never stared at the mirror for too long anymore. He averted his eyes from the physicalconfirmations of his anguish, closing his eyes and breathing deeply, trying desperately to just forget.

And sometimes he could pretend that he really had forgotten, even if just for a moment. He could squeeze his eyes shut and remember the days before the darkness. Days filled with light and the booming laughter of his father and Sammy's smile and the soft, sweet scent of his mother's perfume as she kissed him good night and told him that angels were watching over him. He'd let the memory fill him, seeping into his weary bones and pushing past the intolerable emptiness of his broken soul. It was a much needed relief, but it was always short lived. The moments always passed, leaving him to grasp desperately for the sink to keep him from crashing to the cold floor as his knees gave out beneath him. Sometimes he'd find himself sprawled across the bathroom tiles, head in his hands as Sam knocked timidly on the door to ask if he was alright. Other times he managed to stay on his feet, only to catch sight of his own face in the mirror. He would trace the thin white scar that ran along his cheekbone, one among many, and he would remember.

But in the end, he was glad. Because as much as he hated to look at them, as much as he hated to remember, he knew that each scar was a part of him; an enduring and everlasting indication of who he was. And that was one thing he never wanted to forget.