Learning To Love You More




Assignment #11
Photograph a scar and write about it.

Niles Armstrong
Portland, Oregon USA



I dont know if it was just coincidental, but jess had a violent outburst around each time my father was coming to visit. The last time her behaviors were about as bazaar as i had ever seen.
It was near the end of the summer, but you wouldn't have known it because it was still so hot. Jess and I had positioned the air mattress we were using for a bed in the living room of our apartment since there was a cross breeze between the two windows in that room. This was the first year I had ever lived in a place without any air conditioning and I think the same held true for jess.
She laid down first to go to sleep for the night. When I laid down next to her, she told me to get off of the bed because she was hot. I could not understand her logic. Me lying next to her was not going to make a difference in how hot she was. It is not like I was lying close to her. I was hot too. I lay there and refused to obey her commands. "Get the fuck off!" she shouted and began to try to kick and push me off of the air mattress and onto the floor.
"Jess, I do not see why I have to sleep on the floor, it's not going to make any difference in the temperature in this room. We're both hot, but there is nothing we can do about it right now. " I didn't understand why i needed to sleep on the floor. I would often not make a fuss about such a situation but something similar had come up already and i guess I was tired of being the one to get the raw deal each time.
Jess eventually got up when she realized I wasn't going anywhere and went into the kitchen. I had no idea what she was doing. I heard the drawer open and close and she came in with a large knife. Not a knife you would use while eating dinner, even a steak, but one you might use when preparing a meal (a culinary knife). The next series of event still confuses and frightens me as i think about it. She straddled me on the bed and began to hold the knife close to me over my chest. I guess I didn't really think she would do anything so I just laid there, as I had been doing, and looked at her. It's hard to remember exactly what was going through my head at that time but I know I was confused, scared, sad and angry. I couldn't imagine that this was my reality. Something that was actually happening in my life and not on TV or something I was reading about. My unresponsiveness must have irritated her more. I still had not said anything but instead I sat there with my arms to my sides and looked her in the eye. She began the graze the skin on my bare chest with the blade and progressed down to my stomach. She was saying stuff like "I'll do it" and after a few minutes of her not snapping out of it, I was through.
"You've fucked up now," I said to her. My intention was not to do anything in response to her, but to just get the knife from her and get away. I'm sure she thought I was going to do something back to her with a statement like that. I tried to grab the knife from her but all I could get was a portion of the blade. In the process I cut the palm of my left hand right under my ring finger. Blood began to pour. I eventually got the knife from her and went into the kitchen. I washed my hand off and noticed that, though only about half an inch long, the wound was deep. "Damn, i cut my hand really bad".
Almost instantaneously her demeanor changed. "You did, let me see". I was hesitant because I felt the wound was primarily her fault, since she is the one who thought to bring a knife into all of this in the first place. Yet, with her, sincerity was a weakness for me. Maybe it was because that was side of her that rarely exposed itself to me in the recent past. "I will take you to get something to take care of it". It was late and not many places were open. The only place I could think of was a Walgreen's a good 4 miles away. I agreed and wrapped my hand up before we left.
After that night, not much else was said about the situation. She apologized as usual, but wanted to forgive and forget. My dad arrived the next week and my hand was far from healed. He told me a story about my cousin, Jeffrey, and his current girlfriend. They moved in with one another after a short period noncohabitive dating. My cousin had just ended his second marriage at the age of 26 when he met this particular woman. They had gotten into an argument that erupted into something more. My cousin was arrested. From what Jeffrey had told my dad, this woman had been diagnosed bi-polar, but was going unmedicated. Instead she was self medicating with cocaine. My cousin was no stranger to the misuse of substances himself. From what he told my dad, at times he used a bottle of Jim Beam to jump-start his mornings. Apparently my cousin's girlfriend had become violent and came at him with a knife as well. My father talked about how scared he was for Jeffrey and this girl. It was all I could do to not tell him about situation that had unfolded only days before he came to town. I wanted to protect jess, and probably myself. My dad was not a judgmental character and would usually have hope in even the darkest times. Yet, i knew if i were to tell him about the knife, he would worry himself sick and probably tell me what I already knew, I was an idiot to stay involved.
When my dad and I were out on a hiking trip he noticed my bandage on my hand. I had held the wound together with some steri-strips we picked up that night at Walgreen's. "What happened to your hand?" he asked as would be expected.
"Oh i just cut it". I told him how, but I dont remember exactly what I said about it. I felt horrible for the lie. I felt that I was lying to myself as well. Why shouldn't the truth be told of her actions? It seems she had included me in her surroundings of people who just couldn't hold her accountable. I was feeding that pattern. I can only wonder what he would have done had I told him that not only his nephew, but his son was also involved with a violent person.