birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

That Scar by My Eye

I have a scar on my face, like a parenthesis that curves to mark off the outer side of my left eye. I got it when I was four and I don't much think of it anymore, but the getting of it encompasses some of my most vivid childhood memories.

I was waiting for my friend to come over for a playdate, standing in the lobby of our apartment building and peering out through the glass security doors as I hopped impatiently from one foot to another. My mother was just a few yards away in the mailbox area, seated on a shelf of marble that jutted out under the rows of mailboxes.

Then I saw my friend. Excited, I turned and raced to my mother -- and caught my foot on the rug. I fell and struck my head on that marble bench.

From there, my memories are a bit jumbled. A man picked me up and carried me to the hospital, which fortunately was just across the street (I had been born there). I had never seen him before and don't remember ever seeing him after that incident.

In the hospital, I was taken to what seemed like a small chamber -- but it wasn't a real room, it felt like a large version of a public toilet stall because you could see people's feet walking by. Now that I think of it, it might have been merely screened off. My head was doused in something that burned like fire, and I howled. I suppose I had already been howling, so I just howled louder, and I remember that one of those pairs of feet stopped and a voice said, "Now come on, it can't hurt THAT bad." I felt bitterly that this person had no idea what pain was.

Eventually, the pain subsided (because I had been given an anesthetic) and a doctor began sewing up the wound. I couldn't see or feel much, but the motion of the needle swooping down and out, trailing its thread, was familiar to me from watching my mother sew.

When the doctor was done, I was transferred to another area and given a large stuffed animal to hold. My parents came to see me, and they brought banana chips. I had never had banana chips before, and I was fascinated. Fresh bananas were something that I sometimes liked, and sometimes did not. They had an appealing flavor, but the slimy texture sometimes put me off. But these banana chips had that distinctive flavor while crunching between my teeth. To this day, I always think of that experience when I eat a banana chip.

Eventually, we left the hospital -- to my disappointment, I wasn't allowed to bring the stuffed animal with me. As my injury healed, though, my mother grew concerned about the scar. I guess she thought I would be disfigured, although it really didn't affect my eye.

One of the men who worked in the apartment building garage told her that if she rubbed cocoa butter on it every day, the scar would go away. So she did, every night at bedtime, for months. Finally, I told her that I didn't care if I had a scar, and she stopped.


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