I remember the date well–my sister was getting married a few days later, and what happened on date #3 resulted in bandages, a lot of vodka, and a frantic shopping trip for a new formal outfit, one that would cover all the bruises and scabs.
As we sped downhill, you said, “Just keep riding like nothing is happening!”
“Like what?!” I shouted, turning to look over my shoulder. Really, this was like being instructed to not look over there–of course you look; everyone does.
I saw your arm outstretched, your right hand unzipping the knapsack stuffed in the basket at the rear of my bike. I flinched just enough to alter my path an inch or so. You rode into my wheel but somehow kept going.
I went down like a sack of stones, no time to stretch my foot out and break my fall. Elbow-first, I smacked into the pavement, thinking in slow motion, “Remember Karen! Don’t hit with the bone!” My mother’s neighbour had fallen the previous summer, tripped over a broken section of sidewalk, landed elbows first and spent the rest of the year in double casts, asking her husband to pull up her pants, wipe her bum, tuck her hair behind her ears to keep it out of her eyes.
I remember lying poised, still clutching the handlebars, then jumping up and brushing myself off. Insisting I was fine. Blood dribbled into my sock. My left elbow was scraped so cleanly it glowed white, pin-pricks of red peppering the cut. You doused me in vodka–arm, knee, ankle, shin–then insisted I take a swig.
In this photo, you can see the scar slashing from right to left, dipping behind the pinnacle of the “h”. Until I took the picture, I didn’t realise how many freckles I have! And all those wispy, dark hairs.
Last night, I was drinking bourbon with a girlfriend. When she excused herself to the ladies’, a man stepped up to the bar and leaned in to order a pint of beer. He smiled. He had lanky brown hair and an out of season coat. He looked, looked away, looked back again. Asked if I would mind tilting my arm so he could read my elbow. Remarked, “‘Ouch’? Well. I bet it was pretty ouchy, getting that spot tattooed.”
“Not so much,” I replied, giving him what I thought was a nice smile. “That part took five minutes and was the least ouchy part of the story.”
He cocked his head like I was just plain strange, slid a dollar tip to the bartender, nodded and walked away.