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

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Please Rate Your Pain

No surgeries. No tattoos. No tattoo removals. No bar fights. No accident trauma.

I'm largely devoid of physical damage or indications of such.

Half-inch white line just below middle toe on right foot— stepped on nail on board around age 10. Lots of bleeding on that one. Tetanus shot. Healed cleanly with only minor visible damage.

Three-quarter-long mottled blemish on bottom middle of right arm — leaned into hot toaster. Age 12 or 13. Stung like hell. Topical ointments for 2 weeks. Visible under some lighting and angles. Good evolutionary reminder: heat good at distance, heat bad in direct contact.

Internal and emotional impacts? Those are the scars that don't easily fade. The ones with deep pain, phantom or physical, radiating and/or resonating.

Patient's self-reported data and history:

Age: 21. Type of injury(ies): Mistaken interpretation, non-self-inflicted; loss of future kinship and budding potential love interest. Origin: external. Scale of pain then: 8. Scale of pain now: 2. Residual scarring: permanent, regrets-variety.

Age: 23. Type of injury(ies): crossed wires; missed opportunities; high insensitivity. Origin: best friend slept with known love interest. Scale of pain then: 10. Scale of pain now: 1. Residual scarring: yes, but fading with time.

Age: 36. Type of injury(ies): marital dissolution. Origin: multiple failures of communication; divergent ambitions. Scale of pain then: 9. Scale of pain now: 1. Residual scarring: deep, Harry Potter or Frodo type of searing. Mitigated by life experience.

Age: 48. Type of injury(ies): Blunt-force job loss; blow to identity; shame; diminished career and life trajectories. Origin: change in corporate ownership, internal management. Scale of pain then: 10. Scale of pain now: 4. Residual scarring: once believed permanent; now fading due to multiple therapeutic forms.

Age: 50. Type of injury(ies): Wrenching loss of primary romantic relationship. Origin: unclear or inferred via conjecture and interpretation of secondary signs; additional exploration ongoing. Scale of pain then: 11. Scale of pain now: varies, 7 to 9. Residual scarring: deep, sometimes open wounds; often visible under particular conditions; evident to close friends.

Overall prognosis?

Monitoring.

Tip of an iceberg

Reminders we have healed