There were, if I remember correctly, four of us on our way to lunch that day. The back seat of a car was never more companionable, and as we sat there we discussed, among other things, what helped distinguish us from the rest of humanity. What, if anything, made us unique, and gave us some reason to feel special. It was while the conversation was still in this vein that someone saw the scar on Ishaan’s arm.
As scars go it was quite impressive. A broad, jagged white stroke across the brown of his forearm; slightly puckered at the edges. At least four inches long, whatever had caused it had taken with it a large chunk of flesh. Definitely something that made my friend unique, and of course someone had to ask how it had happened.
Ishaan opened his mouth, as if to speak, shook his head and then closed it again. By then, however, I had already begun weaving my words into the silence that followed the question in my best story-telling voice.
“It was a long time ago, but I remember it well. I remember how the sea looked that evening; glass-like, set alight where the rays of the rapidly setting sun struck it. It was a quiet evening, and only a few people could be seen walking or standing along the beach. The beach itself glittered, catching the light in a million unexpected ways.”
“One solitary figure could be seen in the water. Far off in the distance one could see him grimly swimming towards the shore. The lines his figure made against the otherwise unbroken smoothness, and the speed at which he seemed to be approaching both clearly showed how eager he was to return to dry land. A black mop of hair among the crimson waters is the image I will always carry of that day.”
“It was only when he finally reached the shore that I noticed that he was bleeding. His arm hung limply by his side, and a jagged weal ran diagonally across it, still seeping red. The sand turned black where his blood touched it, and even as I ran towards him I could see him crumple and hit the ground.”
“A few frantic moments later I had managed to revive him, and as we waited for the paramedics he told me stories of the deep. He told me stories of sharks, of other things far more deadly; and of the places in the deep where only the bravest may go. As we waited for the ambulance he told me of the abyss and of the monsters in the darkness that had forever scarred him; scarred him in more ways than one.”
Here I paused for breath, and a little polite laughter hung in the air. Ishaan, who has never been anywhere near the sea, laughed as well. The conversation moved on but I realised that something had changed even if only within me. Until this day no one knows exactly where that scar on his arm had come from, and the more I think about it the less important it seems. In the telling of the story we can make the imagined real. To all of us who were in the car that day Ishaan’s scar is linked to my stories; perhaps more closely linked to them, even in Ishaan’s mind, than it is to the real source of the scar. Reality is never much competition to human imagination, and our desire to find beauty and poetry even in the most mundane. By telling the story we crystallise a thought, an idea, and make it in some way tangible; ours to treasure and carry with us for as long as we might want. Words, just by having been spoken or written down, take on an existence of their own. They become permanent, unalterable; I find I enjoy writing in the hearts of those around me.
For more information than you need, however, see Web's definition below. Specifically 3.
Also, many thanks to squeezie and TenMinJoe for dealing with my obsessiveness and helping with the HTML.