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WEDNESDAY 09 JULY 2003
BRUISES THREE

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I'm bruised again. It's been a while. It's the kind of thing I tried to stop, and I succeeded and all. It's not pretty and it's not cool to have a giant bruise on your right arm, up at the top. I mean… I suppose, if you were gonna get all nu-hickey about it, you'd slant your head to your right and incline the arm up a little, feeling the tricep stretch, and you'd admire the aesthetics of it; the brown tinge on the whole arm from cycling around in t-shirts and the smattering of freckles that that engenders, and then you'd look at the bruise itself, examine the way it's turning yellow at the edges but still purple in the centre, the way the freckles caught in the bruise have themselves darkened, but, y'know, I'm not a goth.

You could slide a finger down your arm and notice how the swelling underneath has gone down since Saturday, when the bruise reared its head like a reproach. You could ponder the body's ability to heal, for all that you continued to pump it full of vodka and nicotine and wine and pasta and carnal fug: no exercise, no vitamin pills, no water, just vileness and slime and so-called 'fun'. I guess the ripples calm down on a polluted pond exactly the same as they do on one that's clean.

I remember a party a few years ago. It was Christmas-time, and I wore these long gloves, fingerless gloves that reached up to the shoulders, and I kept hitching them up, but the bruises always peeped through. People always notice; their eyes dart down and a question appears, but how many ways are there for you to get a huge bruise on your arm, really? You get punched. You get punched, you bite your lip, you pretend it doesn't hurt, then you punch back, and they sit there stoic the same way. You take turns. It's some macho shit. Drunk macho sluts.

I have a carefully formulated excuse for when the question appears. Men and women react differently to pain, apparently. Men get angry and women smile. Smile, squeal, go 'Ow! Stop that!' Girly. Flapping hands. So, my excuse goes, I Have Read A Theory, and I am Testing It Out. I am a person with a mission. The bruise ain't a mark of pain or shame. It's research. This ain't about the body. It's about the mind. I'm not a goth.


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