Scars and Memories
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of a parent with terminal illness, loss of a sibling, loss of a child, self-harm, and a panic attack.
Scars and Memories
It’s called Scars, which at first made no sense. With the amount of skin it displayed (A lot. Scars didn’t seem to care for the human concept of clothing.), you were well aware that everything was smooth, completely unblemished.
Then you got desperate, and you found out why people referred to it that way.
Scars was known for making a very specific bargain. One hardass professor, one impossible final. Some people were prepared, or warned. They listened for the teacher to drop hints and studied until they could recite the course work backwards.
Most students didn’t pay enough attention and weren’t ready. You were one of them. And you needed to not only finish the final, but ace it. You needed the points to pass the class so you would have just enough credits to graduate.
(Four years at this crazy school, and you should have known better.)
It was the last day to take the test when you went to the back of the building that held the professor’s lecture hall. You had a bowl of chocolate pudding, a nutter butter bar, and a cheap, screen-printed hand fan.
When Scars was suddenly there, hands already outstretched for the offerings, you flinched. Arms with attached membranes, like a bat. Hairless legs that curved back, like a goat. An elongated face, like a deer, but with eyes that faced forward, predatory. A brief, crocheted skirt of pale green covered whatever genitals it might have, and six teats ran in two rows down the torso. The bald, earless head was covered in indigo designs, and all the flesh on display faded from the extremities, orange to pink to light purple inward, similar to the sky at dawn.
When it spoke, the noise was a choked gurgle, as though speaking underwater. “Would you bargain?”
It laid out the deal in simple terms, and you finally understood the name. You would reveal a scar, with a story attached. It would take the scar and the tale, and you would have all the necessary knowledge to get an A on the final.
You thought it was a good deal. Who would want to keep their ugly scars, given the opportunity to get rid of them?
You missed the loophole in the wording.
(Later, you would find out about Pear, who used to have a little scar on her finger and the memory of the day her parents told her that her mother had six months to live. Or Omnibus, he couldn’t remember when he cut too deep, and scared himself enough to stop. Or Ember, and the slice on their ear from the day they shaved their head and finally told their uncle they weren’t a “her”. Or Deep Dish, the gruesome gash on his arm that had nearly killed him and the memory of his sister dying in the crash, both gone. Or Pepper, falling off the playground and falling in love with her future wife, who had kissed the bleeding knee and declared it “all better!” None of them could remember the day, or how they got the scars, or even that they’d had a scar.)
It touched your stomach as you told the story, and for a moment the line of raised flesh appeared on Scars in the same spot, only to sink beneath the skin.
You left feeling dazed, lightheaded. You went straight to the testing center and walked away with a score of 98 out of a total of 100. You celebrated your graduation, then got ready to move home and start searching for a job, relieved to put Elsewhere behind you.
You found it when you were packing, inside a book called Mama, Do You Love Me? Sitting down, you felt compelled to read the book and fought off a panic attack all the way through, although you didn’t know why. It was folded over and tucked into the last page. A combined birth and death certificate that identified a baby girl, named Celia. She had been born premature. The line for a father’s name read “unknown”.
Your name was on the line for the mother. You had been seventeen.
You curled into a ball around your smooth stomach, clawing at the skin until it bled, and broke down crying.
Note: Seriously, my brain won’t shut up. I love this terrifying, gorgeous, traumatizing school.