He had a scar on his chest, his narrow chest. He was a small-framed guy
. The scar ran diagonally across his sternum for about four inches. Whatever it was went deep.
When we were first dating, I was taking a photography class. He was the first subject of my first photo shoot, in my dorm room at night. Him, barechested, in black parachute pants with the logo VISION stenciled on one leg in white, draped in Christmas lights. Him with his arms outstretched in the dark against a white sheet draped over my loft, a candle in each hand. Him staring off into some corner, his long eyelashes and curly blonde-brown hair hinting to his youth, his chest with hair in only a small V under his beard, the scar a grey line in the black and white prints.
When I did finally ask him where he got it, it was one of those nights where we were drinking. He and this high school girlfriend went into the woods and had some strange daring session with a knife. They cut into each other like blood brothers. Only she cut too deep. He should have had stitches and after meeting his parents, I can't imagine how he'd hid it from them, all the bleeding. He cried when he told me, but I wasn't sure why.
He will always have a small chest and this big scar. He has always felt inadequate because he was small and unintimidating, so he compensated with his big brain. He was a member of Mensa and Who's Who and Westover Honors. And people were impressed and submissive, even myself. I felt lucky to have such an intelligent guy fall in love with me. Even in his childhood photos, his head was too big for his body. It loomed like a balloon strung from the hand of small child at the circus.
It wasn't enough that I liked his body the way it was, liked it as my ideal, even. I couldn't be expected to support his sagging self image anyway. I just thought it was a shame he couldn't like himself the way he was, because I did. I wish he hadn't been such a prick about it.