Unlike a tattoo or an elaborate piercing
The bruise on Alice’s shoulders was special

Unique in both inception and symbolism
A long scarlet line from just left of her neckline
down to her shoulder
It tracked southward in a gradual arc

ER staff had thought it was the result of a car accident
But her boyfriend had not been driving
That irrational evening
All the damage came from his aluminum softball bat

Surgery had been a success
She regained range of motion
In a relatively short time

Emotions were regained
At a slower rate

One soft morning I asked her how it felt
As my nervous index finger traced across her back.
She paused, eyes closed, before answering

It feels like courage.