The Story, as you may have guessed, is called Scars. If you would like to read the full story, not just chapter one then go here.
For the first fifteen years
For ten years I lived a perfectly normal life… Then on my eleventh birthday I woke up feeling solemn. I couldn’t help it. On my wrists I found two clear and deadly looking scars which I had no recollection of having, but they looked years old. I ran to my parents crying but they were unable to see the scars. They must of thought I was crazy. My father looked at me and shook his head while my mother held me, waiting for me to stop crying. For me though, the scars were real. I felt sad, unstoppably sad. I couldn’t help my feelings anymore then I could help the need for food. That was just the start.
For the next 2 years I grew more and more distant from my family and friends. I spent school alone. If I went to class, it wasn’t a given, I would sit at the back, unnoticed. I was smart and taught myself. Soon I was eating early in the evening before going out. I would run around the nearby area. At 8pm I would come home unchallenged. I be asleep in my bed by 9pm. I was alone, a devastating loneliness that was unstoppable, no one understood the pain that I felt or the unstoppable sadness that consumed me. Then, on my 13th birthday I was happy. I don’t know why. I felt a euphoria that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I ignored the scars that covered my arms and legs, the scars that hurt, they ached like always. None the less, I was happy. Then IT happened, I was running with my younger brother who was loving the game of tag I was letting him win. Suddenly I was hit by overwhelming exhaustion. I passed out from the power of the shock, I think.
I woke up in the hospital where I lay, undiagnosed for 6 months. I was still the only one who saw the scars. They said they had never seen anything else like it whenever they referred to my attacks of exhaustion. I was the victim of hundreds of useless tests. Needles regularly pierced my skin. I became pale from being indoors. I refused to succumb to the illness though. I exercised daily, it kept me present, alive even. I kept healthy even though I couldn’t leave the hospital. But it was all for nothing, I would be fine one minute, the next I was unexplainably tired. So tired that I would lay down, where ever I was, the hall, the gym, the cafe. I would sleep and wake up in my bed.
After these first 6 months I had been removed from school, which I didn’t mind, it’s not like I had any friends. I continued to learn via computers and books I ordered from the library. I started traveling in a wheelchair at the insistence of my nurse so when I got an “attack” all I had to do was push the button on my wheelchair and my nurse would come and get me if she wasn’t with me. I became weak. I think that hurt more than anything else. I had always prided myself on my strength and ability to cope. I was then moved to a different hospital which would be more “long term” as the nurses called it. Basically I was at too high a risk of getting hurt from my mysterious illness to go home so I would be going into a hospital for the rest of my life. At this point I could barely find it in myself to care at all.
I had felt myself slipping. I would wake up and stand up and by the time I got to my chair I was tired from the ‘exercise’. There was nothing I could do without risking injury. I had become distant, at least that’s how to doctor explained it to my worried parents. My ‘worried’ parents who came less and less often. Usually they were alone and they both seemed unhappy. The scars started hurting more, like they were tired of waiting for something. Like they were telling me to get a move on. I got visitors less and less. Teachers had long since forgotten about me. I had no friends. Only my family came to see me. Soon my brother was the only one who visited me. He told me about how are family started falling apart. My parents divorced, my brother lived with my father. I was officially in my mothers custody. Then when I pointed out that he wasn’t looking so good, he left and he never came back. I still remember the look of determination on his face.
After that I retreated into my head. I turned off. I lived in a box in my head. It was warm, fuzzy, and unmemorable. I didn’t notice the world around me. This was something the doctors had encountered before. My nurse walked me around the hospital while I was ‘away’. She would talk to me and tell me about her sister’s children. She told me about her dog. She told me that I had gotten a letter (usually from my mother or father who were “too busy” but “loved me” anyway). I wasn’t really listening but I could still hear it. I didn’t care. I was gone. The world wasn’t important to me any more. I was determine to stay where I was safe and strong. My nurse continued anyway. On and on. One day after another. Each like the last.
That is… until one day my nurse was walking me through the halls like always, not that I had noticed. That was when a voice from a different room called to my nurse. The nurse obliged as the boy who had called her hadn’t said a word until then and she hoped some variety would help me. The moment she brought me in he asked her to leave, at least that’s what I’ve been told. She was reluctant, but agreed. She hoped that maybe, just maybe I would surface thanks to the man.
She waited outside the door anxiously. The boy was quiet for a long time, long enough for what was left of me noticed. Usually people did anything to fill the silence. If I was with my nurse she was always talking. She left the TV on when she felt. She put on music when I went to sleep. It was never silent. He was silent though. Something about him said: I am different. So I came of my box. I remember the moment, everything seemed very bright, I felt like I had been almost asleep until something woke me up. Like I had been just under the surface. I was a little cold because my arms were uncovered. Perhaps you know that moment sometimes just before you wake up when your eyes are closed but you can hear what’s going on. That’s how it felt. I couldn’t really remember my time “under” it felt like nothing but a distance memory. I felt surprised. So I said,
“My name is…” I stopped because I found myself surprised to find I hated my name and I wanted a new one. My old name had too many bad or sad memories. Memories of what I was not. Memories of people who were not. So I said, “Jane, for now.” He noticed my hesitation. He didn’t care. He was different. That thought ran through my head again and again.
“Todd.” He said. I blinked a lot. I wasn’t used to the feeling that I had at that moment. The feeling that maybe instead of being different from everyone else he was the same as me. The feeling that he could read my mind and soul without a second thought.
So I looked at him. I looked at his muscles like coiled, bunched rope. I looked at the scars that covered all of what him I could see. The scars felt familiar. The scars were like ghosts. I looked at his rich blue eyes, eyes that had traveled the world and seen every ocean, every lake, and every river. Then, for just a moment, I felt his pain. The pain of the countless broken ribs he had suffered. The pain of falling, and landing. The pain of the near deaths he suffered. The emotional loss of everyone he loved leaving him. The pain of the worst types of torture. The pain of bullets piercing his arm. Bruises and cuts. Pain that made you wince. Pain that made you scream. All in a moment. Then I screamed a pain filled scream that caused my nurse to burst in.
She was conflicted. He obviously hadn’t touched me. And she was happy to have a response from me even if it was a scream which continued to tear though my lungs. But, this she decided could not be good for my health. So she decided that no matter what either of us said we were not to see each other again. Even after he said, “Let me see her again tomorrow… please.” I stopped screaming, my whole body heaved with the urge to die, it couldn’t hurt more than the pain I had just felt. I pushed the thought away with disgust. I had to see this man again. The thought rang in my head.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said in voice that groaned and creaked from lack of use. The pain was gone, like it had never been. My nurse pushed my wheel chair away quietly, not objecting, just planing.
The next day, to my anger the nurse refused to let me go. So I asked for her to go while I had a nap. She was just happy that I was improving. The moment I could no longer hear her feet I sat up and moved my legs out of the bed. My legs were painfully thin after being unused for so long. I had ignored my body and so it punished me, My legs were too thin, my arms were too thin, I looked anorexic despite the fact that I had been given food. I had eaten unconsciously, almost robot like. Much to my disgrace I couldn’t stand alone. So I practiced for the next hour until I was exhausted. Then I took my wheelchair and wheeled myself the (exhausting) distance to the general area of Todd’s room, this took a while as I didn’t really know which room he was in. Unknown to me at the time while I was looking for that familiar face a different nurse ran to mine to congratulate my nurse on my improvement. My nurse was furious.
I was completely lost 15 minutes later when my nurse found me and took me back to my room. She expressly forbid me from leaving the room without her. I didn’t say anything but I did think, “Good luck with that.” The thing is, she had known me when I was still a strong willed girl who ran through the halls for exercise before my mystery ailment grew too strong. I think, I think she knew all along that I would do whatever it took to see Todd again. I think that secret, even to herself was the hope that I would, that I was actually getting better.
My nurse was like my mother. She wanted what was best, like all teenagers with their parents I disagreed. It became routine I would either wait for her to leave for find an excuse for her to leave before walking to my wheelchair. Then I would explore the hospital. Then she would find me, scold me and take me to my room. I would read, write, get my brain working. I started pushing so hard that when bouts of exhaustion came I would just nap for 10 minutes before rousing myself for some more work. My nurse worried about the effect of pushing myself so hard, but I seemed to be all improvement. I still hadn’t seen Todd again though.
My nurse took to putting a “bodyguard” (nurse) outside my door day and night. It didn’t matter, it was too late. The beast within me had awoken and there was no going to sleep again. I was ready to face the world again. It felt like even my scars hurt less, which of course was utter rubbish. I started going to the gym with my nurse. I would walk in the gym, never did I go around in my wheelchair. The exhaustion would hit me, randomly and she would rush over help me into my wheelchair and we would leave. But, we always returned. Some times she insisted that I rested but I was adamant. I tried push ups, pull ups, stretches, weights, everything but bench presses since they poised too much of a risk if I had an ‘attack’. Much to my surprise my 15th birthday approached, and I grew stronger.