Scars (rewrite of an older piece)

I was buying shampoo.  The stylist ringing me up was almost painfully petite and gothic-beautiful in all black with dark makeup and pierced everything.  In her hands was a pair of scissors which my eyes followed, to the bones of her fingers then along her hand to where they began—the scars—deep impressions of white, bloodless skin.

They went all the way from her bony wrist to her protruding elbows.  I looked to her other hand and found a dirty bandage, stained with blood, hanging loose around her most recent handy work.  Part horrified, part intrigued I stood there wondering how much pain you have to feel inside before it becomes so much to bear that you cut into your own flesh, creating a new pain—a physical pain strong enough to distract you from your inner anguish.

I would not wear my scars as she did–sleeves rolled up proudly, scissors waving.  I wear such scars beneath my skin, leaving only my smile and the marks of an adventuresome childhood to be seen on the outside.  Now, thinking back, I wonder which of us shows more strength:

Me, with my secrets and silence? Carefully keeping my pain to myself?

Or her, unafraid of what others will see, wearing her pain on her sleeve . . .

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