Wednesday, January 23, 2013

the scar is a fleck on my porcelain skin

You might not see it if you didn't know to look. If you did see it, you would think it an oil's splash, dog's tooth, cat's claw. You would think you knew it was an accident.

You would be wrong.

My hands shook as he handed me the pistol, small and comfortable in my hands. "I'm scared!" I shouted, not sure he could hear me over his ear protection. "Haven't you done this before?" "Only kind of! Not like..." I looked around at the ammo on the table, the target sailing its way to seven feet away, "not like this."

Last year I had shot a 9mm into the woods at a soda bottle on a tree stump in the mountains in West Virginia. They had laughed, said it'll be okay stop being scared. They stood back. I didn't come anywhere near the tree stump or the soda bottles. I could feel his critical glance through my bones. I shot and said I was done and shook alone for the next several hours.

When I was very young, my aunt the police officer was leaving for work, and I hugged her. I may have been about four or five, she a tall woman, so when my grasping arms reached for her they found her waist, her uniform belt, her holster. I don't know how it really happened, I only remember yelling, shouting, don't touch that, go to your room. I cried.

When I was a teenager, my brother and his friends played all over the house and one day left a fake pistol on my bed. I screamed and refused to go in my room until Tommy came and took it away.

When Sean came to my Christmas party and I realized he was carrying, I floored myself by asking, tipsily and honestly, if he would teach me how to shoot. He agreed, and we spent the next several weeks asking "This weekend work?" earnestly until finally one did. A beautiful Sunday. I resolved not to be scared, jumped in my car, and blasted Macklemore until I turned onto the road to the NRA Range.

I've been asking myself a lot lately, "Who the hell am I?" It's an exciting thing, and I felt a distinctly exciting who am I moment as I moved from the pistol to the rifle, a surprisingly light semi-automatic that felt unsure in my hands, cockeyed when I tried to aim. After the first clip, Sean sat me down and rested the barrel on a piece of beat-up red plastic aligned with the bullseye.

I pressed it into my shoulder, my body into it. Load. Trigger. Target.

The first flying casing bounced off the table, the second landed in my hair. The third grazed my shoulder, freshly exposed since I'd taken off my cardigan, white and striped, too delicate for the echoes of firing lessons and shots from the AR-15 two lanes over from us.

It was the fourth or fifth shot, when I was too consumed with these bullets powerfully, directly striking exactly my aim, when I was too focused, too relaxed, too firmly forgetting heartache, to notice the casings, that one landed in the crook of my arm. Inside my elbow, my right arm, the butt of a rifle in my shoulder at one end and the trigger solid in my finger at the other end. I let it sit for a moment, simmering, searing, then I swept my left hand back and flicked it away, a rifle sure in my right hand, a cockeyed smile on my face.

You would think you know where the accidental scar is from and what it means but you would be wrong, wrong.

This is my scar.

This is my take off my sweater and admire it scar. My might as well be on my heart scar. My I did something that terrified me scar. My confident scar. My I can tremble and be fine scar, my shake it off scar. My deep inside scar.

My know it's there and smile scar.

My I'll be okay scar.


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