I'm sorry. For all of us. Sorry for all the little ways the people who were supposed to love us most could hurt us so deeply, despite their shared heritage and blood, as thought their knowledge of our pasts gave them unlimited access to all the most tender places, the old wounds that could be so easily reopened with no more than a glance, a comment, a passing reminder of all the ways in which we failed to live up to their expectations.
I have a scar on my forehead. I was three years old, jumping on the bed with my brothers, and I fell off and hit my head on the dresser and cut it open, went to the hospital, got stitches, came home, went back on the bed, jumped with my brothers, fell again, and reopened the stitches.
I knew something as I watched: almost everyone was saying goodbye to me. I was becoming one of the many little-girl-losts. They would go back to their homes and put me to rest, a letter from the past never to be reopened or reread. And I could say goodbye to them, wish them well, bless them somehow for their good thoughts. A handshake in the street, a dropped item picked up and retrieved and handed back, or a friendly wave from the distant window, a nod, a smile, a moment when the eyes lock over the antics of a child.
Can I touch you?' His lashes closed, resting on the tops of his tanned, sculpted cheeks as his smile grew broad. 'You don't have to ask.' I reached out immediately but paused within inches of contact. He must've sensed my hesitation because he reopened his eyes. 'What's wrong?' I swallowed, utterly overwhelmed. 'I don't know where to start.' Mason's gaze warmed. He wrapped strong warm fingers around my wrist and drew my palm forward, leading me where he wanted my hand to follow. When he set it on the center of his chest, right over his heart and pressed my flesh to his as if fingerprinting my soul to his. I blinked back gratified tears. 'Start here. No one's ever touched me here before.
The terror of being judged sharpens the memory: it sends an inevitable glare over that long-unvisited past which has been habitually recalled only in general phrases. Even without memory, the life is bound into one by a zone of dependence in growth and decay; but intense memory forces a man to own his blameworthy past. With memory set smarting like a reopened wound, a man's past is not simply a dead history, an outworn preparation of the present: it is not a repented error shaken loose from the life: it is a still quivering part of himself, bringing shudders and bitter flavors and the tinglings of a merited shame.