She would cut herself so that she could feel something, so that she could feel anything at all. On the surface she was lovely, innocent, and sweet…but the incisions and scars she marked herself with, in places she knew that no one would ever see, made her feel like she looked the same on the outside as she did within.
Beneath the surface she felt only scar tissue remaining, scars layered over scars, reapplied year after painful year.
Each time she felt the fine line of the razor slicing through the skin of her chest or upper arm, she felt something other than numb, which was the only thing she’d felt for years, until she learned the trick of forcing herself to feel.
No one would ever see her wounds, because she never let anyone close enough to see her exposed.
The only men to ever see the unblemished flesh now turned to a lacerated patchwork were the horrible men her drunken father had let into her room at night to pay off his debts.
Those men were all gone now, many of them dead she knew, all erased from her life but for fragmentary recollections of their leering faces and cruel smiles embedded in her tangled psychology.
But the scars remained.
She dreamed of a day when a man might come along who she could trust enough to lay herself bare, but she knew that there was no one out there who would look at her and accept her, the broken thing she had become.
The scars on the outside served as a reminder for her, that she could never be naked or comfortable with anyone again.
But she was wrong.
One day she met a strange man who wouldn’t look away from her. It wasn’t unusual for men to stare, she knew that she was pretty and appealing to men. The prolonged gazes turning her stomach with reminders of the things that had been done to her in the past.
But there was something in this man’s gaze that drew her attention in a way that no one else ever had. He didn’t look at her with the same vacuous hunger that she saw so often.
There was hunger in his eyes, no doubt, but there was something more.
He looked sad, as he took her in, like he could see right through her and it pained him to see whatever it was that he saw. She felt like he was seeing right through the sleeved dress she was wearing, to the scars that littered her pale skin and deeper still, into the old wounds within.
She noticed him again, time after time, as he seemed to reappear wherever she happened to be.
And always that same look in his eyes.
Finally, after weeks of this, she walked over to him, angry and curious, nervous and intrigued.
Before she could get to him, he reached to the front of his shirt and peeled it open, buttons popping as he exposed a chest crisscrossed with scars that rivaled her own.
He grabbed her hand in silence and placed her palm over his chest where she could feel the textured ridges and he placed his hand over her own.
Beneath her touch his scars began to fade.
He took his other hand and placed it over her chest…where her own scars were able to be felt through the cotton of her blouse and she instinctively placed her hand over his.
She could feel an itching and burning where his hand met her flesh, only the thin layer of cloth in between.
Her own flesh was mending, and the heat of the touch was almost painful, but a different sort of pain from what she’d experienced when inflicting the damage.
A strange man with horrific scars of his own had found her and seen her for what she was…and recognized the shared pain.
He had shown her that they could heal one another. If she could heal him with her touch, then he could heal her. She could feel something changing deeper inside, beneath the mending flesh. The scars within were being erased as well.
The broken mend the broken and the scars fade.
Those on the inside as well as those on the surface.


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