When I was three years old, I smashed the edge of a plate into my face, right below my eyebrow. I had to be tied down with restraints so a doctor could stitch up the gash – ten stitches in all. I remember everything about that night aside from the drive to the hospital.
I still have a scar; a tiny slash that’s barely noticeable. My dad still apologizes to me, his voice laden with guilt and sincerity, twenty five years later. He had yelled at us, me and my two older siblings, to hurry to the table for dinner, you see. We were all terrified of my father’s yelling, so we obeyed in a hurry, and in the process of climbing into my booster seat, my arm tipped the edge of my plate, causing the opposite end to whack me right in the face. My father has never forgiven himself for this.
I was 14 years old and in the midst of an all-out rebellious stage. I had a curfew that was put into use almost as infrequently as my conscience was. After my older sister and her boyfriend dropped me off at the bowling alley (a popular hang-out back then), someone stuck a tab of acid on my tongue, and my night began.
A couple hours later, the night began for my family, as well. Me not coming home, without a phone call notifying them to this fact, they were left to worry. As I wandered around University Park with a band of flight jacket, Doc Martined, mohawked friends, laughing as the trees morphed into characters straight out of a cartoon, my parents called the police to report me missing. When I finally collapsed in a tired heap on the bedroom floor of one of the aforementioned friends, in a pile of equally nefarious teenagers and whatever blankets we could quietly scavenge from the linen closet at three in the morning, my family sat awake across town, sure that my lifeless body had been tossed into a ditch somewhere, left to rot.
When I finally came home the next morning, and I had been sent to my room to be dealt with later, my room entertained me from my cozy bed as it danced in and out of focus, my tired and drugged eyes having a kaleidoscope affect on everything I saw. My brother told me later that day that he had heard my father weeping in his bedroom throughout the night, praying to God that I was alright. Offering himself in return for my safe return. I’ve never stopped imagining him that way. I’ve never forgiven myself for putting him through that.