An Unexpected Scar: Tales from High School

Connor wasn’t an intentionally clumsy person. Bad luck just seemed to follow him around like his personal little rain cloud. Honestly, I should really blame myself for the scar on my right hand. Why would I ever trust that klutz with knives?

I remember the day I received the scar very clearly. It was a Thursday afternoon, and we were still in high school—sophomores maybe. Connor and I decided to pay a visit to our friend Sheffield. He went by Sheffield, but his real name was Brett. He had moved to Collin from Midland the year before with his parents and sister.

Sheffield was an interesting kid, to say the least. Back in high school, he was fascinated with weapons. He once claimed that he always kept a knife within reach—in every room of the house. Well, on that faithful Thursday afternoon in mid September, as rain pattered lightly against the windows, we put Sheffield’s claim to the test. When he answered the door, he could barely contain his excitement. He led us upstairs—away from his mother, who was watching Oprah downstairs—and explained to us the rules of the search.

“Okay, guys. Whatever you find, bring back here. I’ll put them back later. And only stay in the bedroom and living room; my mom doesn’t know about the knives we have knives downstairs.”

Connor and I protested at first, saying that it was unfair to us to only search the living room and bedroom. We should have access to the entirehouse to ensure that he wasn’t bullshitting us. But Sheffield held his ground, and eventually offered a compromise.

“You guys are such bastards. Fine! You can come and search the house again when my mom leaves for her haircut next week. But I think you guys will be impressed with what you find today.”

Then Connor, in an uncharacteristic display of leadership, turned to me and said, “Alright John, you look in the bedroom and I’ll look in the living room. He can’t have more than a few knives around here.”

I nodded, and I moved into Sheffield’s bedroom to look around. It wasn’t very difficult to find the knives: below the bed, under the pillow, beneath the seat cushion—fairly standard hiding spots.

Each of the three knives I managed to find had a unique size, color, and sharpness. There was the small, charcoal-colored Gerber; which was pretty sharp. We had the wooden-handled Buck, which was was dulled from lots of use. But the one that struck me the most was the last one I found, crammed beneath a seat cushion. The knife bore a wolf on the handle, and was blue and white. Moreover, it was sharp—much sharper than the others. The intricate patterns sprouting from the wolf—intertwining blue and white metals—leading to the blade made it look like like a small sword rather than a hunting knife. It was a beauty.

Excited with my new-found treasures, I hurried into the hallway to show the others. I turned the corner, knives in hands, and saw Connor showing something to Sheffield. Connor’s back was turned to me.

I feel like he must have sensed me coming, because he managed to turn the full 180 degrees before I managed to make it the full ten feet over to them. Thankfully, I because I was moving only at a hurried walk, the blade only impaled me a little bit.

The blade sank a quarter-inch into belly, right below where my hands were holding the knives I had found. I dropped the knives on the carpet in surprise. And, almost instinctively, my right fist lunged out and tried to connect with Connor’s mouth. Amazingly, Connor ducked. But my fist, driven by anger and momentum, found a home in the unsuspecting Brett Sheffield’s face—shattering his glasses.

We were all so surprised by what happened. Sheffield’s nose was bleeding, and so was my right fist, which had been cut by his glasses, Connor was laughing hysterically, and I was now a stab victim.

Connor—suddenly remembering himself— turned white and dropped his own knife—a wooden-handled Gerber that was painted jet-black. There was no visible blood on the blade.

Connor began to apologize profusely.

“Oh my God! I am so sorry, John! I had no idea you were behind me! Why did you sneak up on me? Is it bleeding? Shit, man. Why did you sneak up behind me?!”

I let him know that it wasn’t bleeding. This information was peppered in between some expletives about him, his mother, and his future children.

Sheffield—forgotten in all of this—was not so thrilled about having his glasses and possibly his nose broken. He politely escorted us out the door after checking to see that I wasn’t bleeding too much. Thankfully I wasn’t.

Somehow, Connor pierced my belly with such force, that my blood had yet to even register the blow. My muscles were holding it back, somehow. There was no flowing blood, but rather, a three-quarter inch gash across my upper abdomen with a slit of squishy pink muscle. It was either the coolest thing we’d ever seen, or the grossest thing we’d ever seen—it was hard to decide.

What was really bleeding was the cut on my hand. The cut on my right hand was nearly two inches long, and it was deep.

It took several weeks—and six stitches—for the cut to get smaller and months for it to eventually fade into a (clearly visible) pink scar. In contrast, the wound on my belly is almost invisible now.

But, on some days, whenever the lighting is right and the angle is just so, Connor’s shanking-induced scar becomes plainly visible to me. And on those days, I remember Connor, and Sheffield, and that knife with the wolves, and I laugh.

We never did finish the search for the knives. I saw that Connor managed to find three knives of his own in the living room. If that sample is any indication, I would say that Sheffield’s house has at least a dozen knives littered in unusual nooks and crannies. But I’m not going to bother checking—as beautiful as the knives may be.

I never used to pay attention to the old saying, “I know it like the back of my hand,” until after my incident. Well, I can say with confidence that I not only know the back of my hand, but I remember it.

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