The scar ran like spilt wax down her shoulder and arm. Her face changed as she spread lotion over the ruined flesh, eyes pooling with something he did not understand or ask about. Even dressed, her hand would move to the place where the scar was hidden beneath the cloth, covering it like a bandage.
Once when they were naked he put his mouth against this wounding and she shuddered as though something seismic was stirring deep inside.
I’m sorry, he said.
She said nothing.
He was drawn to the scar, this Braille with which to read her past, to know her beyond language. The story of her body that she would not tell.
He too had a scar, his lip stitched like the seams of a mended cloth, a tension where the pieces came together.
Immediately she wanted to know.
My brother, he said. His head turned slightly as if listening to a sound that only he could hear. He gashed me with a rock when we were boys. He wanted to kill me.
Then she possessed his secret, but she would not tell hers.
That night she pressed her mouth against his mouth and moved down the muscles of his neck, his chest, and at the hip she stopped and spoke something into his body, something Russian that he did not understand, untranslated sound entering his flesh.
Later they sat on the sheetless bed like dazed survivors on a raft. They drank beer from a bottle, she skinning a boiled potato then bringing pieces to his lips on the blade of a knife.
His face was grave and scrawled with thought.
I don’t know how I got here, he said.
By car, she said.
His smile was incongruous.
No, I mean I don’t understand how I’m in this room with you. How chance delivered me here.
Not about chance, she said.
With the blade she brought a slice of potato to his mouth.
A scar will always find another scar.