I lift my arms and lean them back overhead, luxuriating in a standing version of a pose I woke up in this morning, soft and stretchy. I close my eyes, enjoying the moment until something signaling PAIN! BLINDING PAIN! wakes me from my lazy yawn. As I pull my arm down to get a better look, I remember what I have so inconveniently forgotten just a moment ago: there is a giant, exposed light bulb on the wall – the kind with the silver dome on the outside, which, in addition to providing an interesting light quality to a room, also has the ability to burn your flesh quite badly, it would appear.
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from my hand’s brief visit with the bulb, being as it isn’t often I throw my body willy-nilly into extremely hot objects, but when I bring my left hand to my line of sight, I notice how my skin has formed its very own bald spot, white in the center surrounded by a circle of brown – neither of which represent my true pigmentation.
“Oh. Hmm. I think I just really burned myself,” I muse out loud to my client as I stare down at the wound and note the way my skin has effectively melted away, pushing itself around like a gob of drying paint or a newly freshened pedicure thrust prematurely into a pair of shoes. “What should I do?” Calmly, I hold my left wrist so as to not harm myself any further.
It is interesting how time slows down in instances such as this. Time moved at a glacial pace when I was about to be T-boned by a Jeep Grand Cherokee on my driver’s side door – a real stupid ass deer-in-the-headlights moment for me. Time also paused at great length when my brother sent a bar glass flying into the side of my hand once. It took me quite a few moments of dumbly observing the deep white gash on my hand that slowly began to flood with fresh blood to realize that I was going to need to go to the emergency room. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
We rush into the kitchen where Craig hands me a paper towel filled with ice cubes. I feel nothing, surprisingly. Only when I think about the massive scar I have created for myself do I regret my negligence and when I think about the white patch of skin never meant to be seen am I overwhelmed with waves of nausea.
This reaction is typical of me. When I was in kindergarten I thought it would be a swell idea to go boogie boarding on cement. Yes, I remember the moment when I picked up the light foamy board and took off running through the birthday party. I don’t, however, remember actually eating shit, though I do recall thinking that on water I would have traveled much further; my chin had provided an unwelcome brake for any momentum over the pebbly ground. I did not cry or make a fuss and when I looked at myself in the mirror while my friend’s mother assessed the damage. What went through my head was the child’s equivalent of, “Holy fuck. That looks weird.”
I keep pressing down on my hand, keeping it covered with a towel, praying that if I keep it out of sight I won’t start screaming. Or throwing up. That would be a viable option at this point, too.