• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 08
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"How's it looking?" she asks, as you slowly pull back the plaster.

Objectively speaking, you think, it looks fine. Like someone has wiped a faint smear of apricot jam across the back of her shoulder. Barely even a graze, really. There's a couple of thin threads where the skin has broken, but mainly it's just rubbed raw.

As you look at it though, as you peel the plaster back like a playschool painting – see the symmetrical imprint of the wound come away on the cotton pad – all you can think about is the yelp she made as she came off the bike.

How funny! you thought. How tremendously cute it would be! But you should know better.

Horseplay has never been your strong suit. Not when you bust your best friend's lip with that snowball that you’d packed too tightly. Not when you pushed your sister into the swimming pool and fractured her ankle. And not now, when you cycled up behind your girlfriend to pinch her bum and accidentally clipped her back wheel.

How times do you have to learn this lesson exactly? What will it take for you to understand that hi-jinx just isn’t your thing? How many people have to suffer before it becomes clear to you?

"Is it bad?" she asks, unsettled by your silence.

Your mother once told you how hard it was to put plasters on you as a child as you invariably scuffed up your knees or cut your fingers. She was a dental nurse, so she could cope with gore, but she says the toughest thing she ever had to do was to send you out to play after patching you up.



She had no choice though. She had to send you straight back out. She didn’t want you to catch her crying.

You tear open the paper packet of a fresh plaster and contemplate kissing the wet, sticky wound on her back. You decide against it though. You’ve done enough here already.