2

5

II

There are two vertical lines on my forehead - a set of uprights fixed upon my brow, begging someone to kick a field goal.

Problem is, I don't remember why. I’ve always wondered how many times my dad had to explain the lines to me before it clicked. I picture myself in first grade brushing my teeth one morning, looking in the mirror and recoiling in horror as I notice the ‘11’ inexplicably carved into my forehead. Most people can’t pinpoint the moment in their lives where everything took a horrible turn for the worse. I’ve got two.

I'm told that the first line made its debut before I was two. I came tearing into our kitchen one evening, only to find my sister blocking the entryway. I darted around her, lost my balance and charged headfirst into a corner of the wall. I fell straight back, landing with a thud and a face full of tears and blood. Mom rushed over to pick me up. Dad was petrified. My sister was annoyed that dinner was cancelled.

I was stitched up and back in commission within a day, but the damage was done. I can see now why my grandmother never visited the U.S. again. No one wants to travel halfway around the globe to watch their descendants crash into inanimate objects. It doesn’t bode well for the future.

Some families might remain tight-lipped about a story like this, or tell it very soberly. Instead, everyone in my family just laughs - except Dad. Years ago, the doctors assured him that the lines wouldn’t be visible when I grew up. Well, I grew up. And they're still here, two constant reminders that the family name is doomed.

It bothers him even more when other people ask me about the scars, which they inevitably do. The person usually asks the question hesitantly, anxiously – as if it could be a touchy subject. I sigh heavily through my nose − not because I’m exasperated, but because there aren’t many moments when sighing through one’s nose is socially acceptable. If they don't withdraw the question immediately, I usually dig for a dramatic explanation: knife fight, staple-gun, Lord Voldemort.

Sometimes I just tell the truth, but that’s fairly anticlimactic.

"Oh. I ran into the corner of a wall when I was one." The person half-chuckles and starts scanning the room for someone else to chat with. "Then I did it again six months later."

"I see…"

My forehead's subconscious cry for symmetry was realized as I chased my sister around the house. She sprinted through the basement, darted up the stairs, wrapped around the banister at the top and made a sharp left turn. I sprinted, darted, wrapped and made a not-so-sharp left. Directly into another corner. Walls 2, Disoriented Toddler 0.

They say that you learn more in your early developmental years than you do during any other stage of life. I was a bit behind the curve. Hell, I probably ran into the curve.

For a short while, I had been considered a smart little kid in the same vague way that all parents let love deceive reason as their friends feed them beautiful lies. After the first crash, the compliments downgraded to, "He’s still running? What a trooper." After the second crash, conversation shifted towards Mom and Dad’s fifty percent success rate: "Your daughter is very pretty."

It's important that we believe our memory is honest, that it’s feeding us facts, that the things we remember really did happen. It's our only anchor to the past, keeping our present from wandering off course or crashing into things. Two siblings looking back at their childhood know that their memories are accurate; yet, their accounts inevitably differ. I remember being suave and sophisticated. My sister remembers a goofy kid with short shorts and balance issues. She is clearly delusional.

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