When I was three, I fell on a craggy ground and cut my chin on the sharp edge of a protruding stone. An older friend took me home, where my father, a newly qualified doctor, ran a surgery for everything and everyone living in that small provincial town and the large surrounding area. He stitched the gaping wound and when he had finished – apparently, I didn’t utter a single cry – he called my mother. Seeing me lying on the operating table, my mother almost fainted.
When I was fourteen, I fell into snow while throwing snowballs with my friends during a lunch break at school. I cut my knee on some broken glass. The school nurse stuck a plaster on the wound. At home, my father said the cut was too dip to heal neatly and it was bad for a woman to have an unsightly scar on her leg. In those days, people said such things and no one thought them incorrect. He took me to the hospital to have the wound stitched.
When I reached late middle age – old age? Late middle age? Hang on, if I am not kind to myself, who will be? – I had to have a laparoscopic appendectomy. One of the three keyholes healed badly and it created a second navel directly under the first. At the post-operative check, I told the surgeon I looked like a freak: a woman with two navels to be exhibited at a fair. I pictured myself sitting in a tent, my tummy on display to anyone who paid the required fee. The surgeon laughed.
Those are my visible scars. The invisible ones would take too long to describe.
Vesna Main lives in London. Her stories have appeared in journals and two have been selected for the anthology Best British Short Stories (Salt 2017 and 2019).
Among her publications are a collection of short stories, Temptation: A User's Guide (Salt 2018) and a novel, Good Day? (Salt 2019), which was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2019. Main’s autofiction Only a Lodger … And Hardly That was published by Seagull Books in March 2020.