The red angry marks lay rigid and out of place on my forearms next to my white dress. I grab my elbow length bridal gloves and let the scars disappear under the fabric. Those are twenty-three years of scars that nobody needs to see. My whole family is here, they don’t need to be reminded of all the trauma on my wedding day. Wrapped in ribbon and a silver ball chain, my scarlet and white bouquet lay on the table next to me. I glance at the silver chain and my eyes focus on the rectangular tag. A memory of my Dad suddenly flashes through my head.
Dad was scheduled to come home in a week for the holidays. I hadn’t seen him since my thirteenth birthday, earlier that year. It’s the only birthday I spent with him since I turned six. The whole house was ready for dad to come home. Mom neatly stacked all the groceries in the pantry. Everything from spaghetti noodles to A.1. Steak sauce. Even the grease stain on the gas stove had been vigorously scrubbed.
The doorbell rang, breaking the silence. Mom walked to the front door and opened it. As I approached the door, I heard muffled sobs. A figure of a man stood outside the door with his hat tucked under his arm. His uniform was pressed and streaked with rain. Everything about the man reminded me of my dad.
Mom wearily said thank you then closed the door with a small click. She went directly to her room and didn’t come out all night. After a few hours, I snuck in when she had fallen asleep. Her eyes were puffy, her nose red, and her hands clutched a military dog tag with my dad’s name. I fell to my knees as tears streamed down my cheeks. I felt mom’s warm arms wrap around my waist as I wept.
I yanked my gloves up as they started to slip down my forearm. After my dad had died I was never the same. It had broke me and I still feel broken today thinking about it. He was supposed to be here, waiting and ready to walk me down the aisle. He had always been there for me. Though my hands are fully covered I can see the little white scar on the bottom of my hand near my wrist. He had come home that week and I was playing out in our yard with the neighbor boy, Ethan. Dad had been inside relaxing while Ethan and I had been climbing trees. We were trying to see who could reach the top first. We had raced to the trees base grabbing at the lowest branches and pulling ourselves up.
When I had reached for a branch, it snapped and I fell hitting branch after branch until I finally hit the ground. Ethan had jumped down from the tree and took my hand, looking at my little cut. The dirt from my hands mixed in with the blood coming from the cut. The cut was barely 2 inches, a straight angry red mark that went diagonal starting from the line of my wrist. Ethan brushed off the dirt and tears. Ethan took us inside to my dad and he made it all better. He cleaned and put a band aid over the wound. Dad told me it would go away soon, but after two months I was left with the little white scar that was barely noticeable. He told me that a scar gives a person character.
That had been the first of many scars and dad had been the first person I had lost. Tears prick my eyes. The door creaks open and mom pokes her head in. She comes over to me looking at my dress. Her wide eyes shining with something unknown. She wipes a silent tear from the corner of my eye.
“You look so beautiful”, she says “he’s a lucky man.” I give a soft smile and hug her close to me. I may not have my dad here but I’ve always had mom by my side.
Four years I spent my life devoted to a disrespectful man. He had another woman at the apartment when I came home, from work. When I had asked him about it he hadn’t even tried to cover for himself. He accused me of being with someone else for years when he was the one being unfaithful. How did I not see it before? How he scorned me and thought it was funny when it got me mad. How he pushed people away from me until there was no one, but him. Always the show off. Thinking it’s funny to say sexist and insulting things. Was I blind? Being with him wasn’t bad enough I was about to give my life and heart to him before this. It’s both a blessing and a blade to the chest.
“Are you okay?” Ethan’s sitting in the driver’s seat taking me away from him.
“Yes,” my voice cracked and quiet. “Just take me home please.”
After the fight I didn’t want to stay in the apartment any longer and I didn’t want to drive in my emotional state. It takes a few minutes in a comfortable silence to finally reach my mom’s house. I’d stay here until I can move my stuff out of my apartment.
I went inside to the dark living room. I crash down onto the couch and a few sobs are silenced into the soft pillow. I wake up to the blinding light cutting through the window into my eyes. My face feels sunk in and tear stained from crying all night. I’m still on the couch in my mother’s living room, a blanket has been placed across my body. The gentle fabric keeping me warm during the night. Sitting on the coffee table is a steaming cup of hot chocolate just how I like it with whipped cream and three marshmallows. The burning liquid runs down my throat giving a warm feeling throughout my body.
I get up with the cup and head to the kitchen where light clanks of pans can be heard. There was mom standing over the stove with the smell of breakfast omelets waft up my nose. I sit on the counter watching her cook breakfast for the two of us. She walks around the room grabbing ingredients from the fridge and the pantry. Once the food is done, she give me a sad smile and puts a plate of food in front of me. Sitting next to me we eat in silence. She’s just like a counselor always wanting to know what's going on but allows us to sit in the killing quietness waiting for me to talk. She puts her hand on my shoulder. I hadn’t realized I had been shaking from the tears that stream down my cheeks. Mom grabs hold of my shoulders pulling me into one of her crushing bear hugs. I hold on to her tightly and let all the pain out.
The blood flows down my hand to drip off my fingertips. It had been a month since everything happened and I still feel the pain. The crushing pain of years that's been building inside of me. One cut for the suffering I went through after losing my father. One cut for the torture of every humiliating memory. One cut for every person that has betrayed me. More and more until all the misery finally spills out in rapid streams of red. Dizziness overwhelms my mind. The bathroom walls go hazy and my reflection in the mirror blurs. Gripping the slippery sink, I try to keep on my feet but I couldn’t hold myself together for long. I slump to the floor lying, unmoving. The blood coats the polished tile floors in thick red. My vision growing darker from the blood loss. I stay on the floor feeling an overwhelming amount of agony and depression. How could my life come to be this bad?
I blacked out and woke in a hospital room. In my blurred vision I saw my arm had been cleaned and bandaged. The blinding light makes me cringe and want to close my eyes again, but I can still see two figures of a man and woman standing beside my bed.
My mom had found me and got me to the hospital before the blood loss became too severe. After that she and my closest friends had helped me through my crippling depression. They all had helped me through the hardest time of my life. I probably wouldn’t be here without them.
“It’s time honey.” Mom says gently from the door. “You wouldn’t want to keep Ethan waiting.”
I turn to give myself one final look all over. The white dress is wrinkle free and my hair is perfectly curled and pinned. My eyes focus on the gloves that cover my forearms, so much pain and memories lie beneath them. Every memory that has lead me to this moment. The gloves itch, feeling scratchy on my skin. My hands sweats leaving small water marks on the gloves. I gently peel the silk gloves off my arms uncovering everything beneath. My eyes narrow at the scars. They look less intense since the last time I looked closely at them. The red angry scars I had seen before now look like a powder pink. The jagged marks that had stood out earlier looked smooth to the touch. I never noticed the white new skin around each mark and the older scars hide completely underneath a thin white layer.
“I’m ready”, I softly say to myself. I grab my bouquet and head for the doors. The doors are closed but I can hear the pianist playing soft melodies and the faintest of whispers from the crowd. Mom comes to my side, gently taking my arm just like how dad would have if he was here. She smiles at me, I smile back l looking into her eyes seeing so much pride for her daughter on her wedding day. We both look straight ahead as the music changes and the doors are pulled open.