BOOKS IRELAND FLASH FICTION
The Scar that Runs Through Your Bottom Lip, by Alison Wassell
You have a nightmare. You’re in a Zoom meeting with another version of you, one with better hair and teeth, but with your name and the scar that runs through your bottom lip.
The scar from when you fell off your bike. You were ten. When you were ten you lived in a house with brown and orange flowered wallpaper. It was the seventies, although that was no excuse for the wallpaper.
The brown and orange flowered wallpaper is behind The Other You in her Zoom box, but she is not ten, nor is it the seventies. You know it is not the seventies because you are in a Zoom meeting, and in the seventies the only technology in the house with the brown and orange flowered wallpaper was a black and white television and a telephone with its own table in the hall.
The Other You laughs a lot and doesn’t cover her mouth with her hand to hide the scar that runs through her bottom lip the way you do. She writes witty comments in the chat box. You can’t think of anything to say.
You leave the meeting and return with a diminutive form of your name that nobody calls you by. Ever. You have piled your hair on top of your head, letting wispy bits frame your face. You wind one of them round your finger, trying to look thoughtful.
You are thoughtful. You are thinking about falling off your bike when you were ten, the double thud of your chin bouncing on concrete, your top teeth sinking into your bottom lip, the iron taste, the drip, drip, dripping of blood on the pavement as you pushed your bike home, your mum on the doorstep screaming, screaming, screaming.
The Other You has unmuted herself. She is talking about the thud, thud, teeth sinking, blood drip dripping, mum screaming time you fell off your bike. She is pointing at the scar that runs through her bottom lip. She says scars are what make us interesting, telling the stories of our lives. She is proud of the scar, she says. Everyone except you taps the clapping emoji. You cover your mouth with your hand.
The hostess puts you in a breakout room with The Other You. You ask her why she has stolen your scar and your story and made them into an inspirational anecdote. You ask what she is doing in the house that you lived in when you were ten, with the brown and orange flowered wallpaper, where your mum once stood on the doorstep screaming, screaming, screaming.
The Other You laughs. She says she is you, and you are The Other You, a version that didn’t quite work out. She laughs and laughs, showing her perfect teeth, and you realise that you have frozen, with your mouth open, and, although nobody else can hear, you are screaming, screaming, screaming.
Alison Wassell is a writer from North West England. She has been published by Reflex Press, Retreat West, Bath Flash Fiction Award, National Flash Fiction Day and The Cabinet of Heed.