Saturday, February 16, 2013

In The Name of Love: A Twisted (& Belated) Valentine To Unrequited Love

I have a scar on the inside of my left wrist, just to the right of center, a tiny oval divot of missing flesh. It's been there since the day in fifth grade when Ricky Doud challenged me to a race--first one to the top of the monkey bars wins!

It turned out Ricky had ulterior motives. Once we were both at the top of the monkey bars perched on opposite rungs with the top bar between us, we spent a few minutes bickering about who had reached the top first (hint: it was me), but then he grabbed my wrist and pinned my hand down to the top bar.

"I love you," he said. "Do you love me?"

Now, Ricky was cute enough--dark, bowl-cut hair framing deep dimples and soulful brown puppy-dog eyes--but he was no Tony Cimino. And though I expended considerable effort covering my true emotions with nonchalance and fake hatred, Tony Cimino owned my ten-year-old heart--as he had owned my nine-year-old heart. In top secret declaration of my nearly two years' worth of undying love, I had even carved Tony's initials high on the trunk of the maple tree beside the chicken coop at our house. My heart was a loyal and stubborn thing, even then.

As far as I was concerned, Tony was the love of my life. I did not want to hurt Ricky's feelings nor did I want to profess a love I didn't feel--not even to get out of the hostage situation I suddenly found myself in. So, I said, "I don't know."

My attempt to dodge Ricky's question unleashed a dark side of Ricky I'd never seen before. He squeezed my wrist tighter and said, "Do you love me or not?"

I squirmed, as much from emotional discomfort as from any physical pain, and tried again, "I don't know. I'll tell you tomorrow."

Ricky pressed the nail of his index finger into the skin of my wrist, the glint of a threat in his eyes. Those eyes had gone from puppy-dog to Cujo in an instant. "Say you love me."

"I won't say it," I said. I looked him straight in the eye, daring him to carry through with his implied threat. Though he claimed to love me, he clearly did not know me at all. I was not the sort of girl to cower and squeal at bugs or snakes or mud puddles or fingernails pressed into my flesh. Not only was I not that kind of girl, I was ever-ready for the opportunity to prove how much not that kind of girl I was.

"Last chance," he said. "Say you love me."

I vigorously shook my head, my lips pressed tightly together to dramatically illustrate my resolve.

My skin gave way beneath Ricky's nail with a barely perceptible pop. When this failed to elicit either a whimper or a proclamation of love, Ricky's eyes met mine as his nail dug deeper and twisted, carving away a little piece of me. I pushed Ricky hard then, pulled my arm free and climbed down from the monkey bars without a word or glance in his direction.

That lifelong indentation on the inside of my wrist was the first scar I got in the name of love. It would not, of course, be the last.

20 comments:

  1. Domestic violence in its youth. Ricky thought he could force his case and hats off to you for not being manipulated or coerced. Even as a ten year old you held your ground. I'm impressed.
    (and delighted to see you here!)

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    1. It's funny the things we know how to do at 10 that we sometimes don't know how to do at 40. ;)

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  2. "I don't know" speaks volumes in and of itself. You either love someone or you don't. Ricky should have taken a long walk off a short pier, or a set of monkey bars, whichever applies. Awesome post, MM!

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    1. Thanks, Mark. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. What a fantastic, twisted little "love" story. It's all in the telling, really.
    These divots we acquire in the randomest of ways...
    Send this piece somewhere.

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  4. Hmm, I'm very afraid for any of Ricky's future victims, I mean loves.
    I had a Ricky in my life too. He used to chase me with spiders and snakes. Oh, those Rickies.

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    1. I know what you mean about his future victims...I've sometimes wondered how his life turned out. Not to mention wondering what sort of home life he had as a child. But, then, sometimes kids just do random weird things in weird moments (I can certainly vouch for that personally). I can say for certain that childhood would've been much less "exciting" without the Ricky types.

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  5. Ah...this brings me back. My scar is on my knee. His name was Andy...

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    1. What's weird to me is how close to the surface some of that thirty-plus-year-old stuff can be.

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  6. Wow. Not just the story, but the way you tell it. I miss reading your stuff, MM! Is is weird that I think it's kind of cool that you have an outward scar to show your strength and fortitude? Because that's what it says to me.

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    1. Thanks, Jewels. And no I don't think that's weird at all--but then I'm a little flattered by it, so I'm maybe not the best judge.

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  7. Love has many scars, some visible and some not. I'm with Jewels on this one, an outward sign of your strength!

    PS Bloggy Award

    http://sleepyjoes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/its-awards-time.html

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    1. Thanks, Joe. Off work all this week, hope to get to the post in the next few days.

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  8. Wow, what an awesome story. I love your writing. You have promising talent. Anyway, I'm A to Z-ing it this April and wanted to wish you lots of fun and new friendships forged along the way. I've also chosen you for the Liebster Award. Come to my site and check it out. It's a great way to meet other writers and get the chance to really know them. See you around the Blogosphere. http://kscollier1.blogspot.com

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    1. Nice to "meet" you, Kathy. I'm looking forward to the A-Z challenge. I've been floundering a bit, so hopefully it will be a nice jump start. Looking forward to meeting new bloggers and reconnecting with old friends. Will pop over and check out the award on your page soon.

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  9. Geez that's really scary....I wonder if he turned out to be a wife beater when he grew up. Acting like that at the tender age of 11 is not good!

    I, too, am A-Z'ing in April and thought I'd pop in to say Hi! :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, JoJo. Looking forward to A-Z challenge and meeting new folks. :)

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  10. Whoa. This gave me considerable goosebumps.

    I had a Ricky too but he didn't give me scars, he gave me chapstick and hoop earrings (I was 7).

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    1. Ah, those Rickys...Despite (or maybe because of) the scar, Ricky's always held a weirdly special place in my memory/heart. I have Facebook stalked him to no avail. I had no trouble finding Tony, though, but, of course, he's not as interesting to me.

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