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Essay: Old Injuries

I feel some pain in the ring finger of my right hand and wonder why. I haven’t hurt it lately but I notice a slight irregularity in the middle joint.

Then I remember.

I was riding my bike and fell against a parked car, smashing that finger. That was thirty years ago.

An X-ray said nothing was broken and in a few weeks it felt fine. At least I thought it was fine. I thought that once an injury was healed, I was done with it. Now I’m not so sure.

They say that the mind retains everything that ever happens to us, whether we can retrieve it or not. Maybe the body is the same.

Maybe it remembers all the skinned knees and rapped knuckles, the falls and fevers, the bumps and breaks—even if we forget.

Long after I had surgery to remove my appendix, I still felt twinges in my lower abdomen. The doctor shrugged.

“Adhesions,” he said. “Scar tissue.”

Visible and invisible, inside and out, I am wearing the scars of a lifetime. It is said that when broken bones heal, they are often stronger than before.

Broken hearts, too.

But sometimes they still ache.