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  • Writer's pictureAlan Allinger

No Simple Answer

No Simple Answer

“Tell me,” I ask softly, “why they say that time heals all wounds.” Chalse’s expression is thoughtful as she regards me from the window. I am sitting up, my back against pillows, feeling their warmth and listening to my wife’s soft, sleeping breaths a few feet away from the other side of the bed. Chalse and I have been having these conversations since my childhood, but somehow, we have never awakened anyone else with our speech. She might just appear to be lights and reflections in a photo, but I see her clearly. Her eyes could never pass for human. Her teeth are very sharp, like an eel’s or a barracuda’s.

“That is a lie,” she says in her soft, raspy voice. Chalse sounds like a working beehive- it needn’t be loud to be understood. Her mobile face changes into something that is almost kindly. “Obviously, some wounds never heal, and death is the result.” She shrugs, wondering at that aspect of the human condition, but this is why she and I remain fascinated with one another. Sometimes she has a question about us, sometimes I have one for her. “We have a saying, scabs become scars with time. That is more accurate.” I thought about it.

“We call it a ‘platitude’, rather than a lie,” I said mildly. Her meaning was too clear, and I didn’t want to dwell on it.

“Think about it,” she said, so that I had to, and the humming pitch of her voice rose slightly. “Scabs break easily and bleed freely. Imagine putting a healing lotion on the scab, one that lowers its height, perhaps spreading it out over a larger area. It no longer snags and gets torn off, although the scar tissue is tender. The pain is distributed over a larger field of skin. It still hurts, but not as intensely, and over time if you keep opening it up, it forms a protective surface. Ideally you have to dig into the scar with a knife if you want it to bleed again.”

“And do you?”

She looked at me, and smiled with those terrible, bright teeth.

“Some days, yes,” she said, “when I think I have no choice but to do so. Scars are there for a reason, to remind us of those days when we could still feel pain.”

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