(Writing from a seaside villa in France. Life is grand, for you kind and hardy souls still reading. A break was called for, and a break this is. The story from before, however, continues...)
"I think I might've cracked a tooth," I say from the bathroom. I'm inspecting the damage to my face in the mirror. Not too bad. A scrape from the tip of my nose to my mouth. It jogs a bit to the right as it courses over my top lip. My boss will tell me later today it looks like the scar after harelip surgery.
Right now it just looks like I have a nosebleed.
A goose-egg is growing on my chin. It's already starting to bruise up.
I go back to the living room, where Mr. Billy is icing his foot with a bag of frozen peas. I get another bag and hold it to my face. I look over at Mr. Billy. "We're the disaster twins."
He tells me I shouldn't go in to work. I don't answer that. In only a few days, we'll be leaving the country for a three week vacation. There's just too much to do to miss a day.
I do, however, take time out to see the dentist.
"That's not a crack," she says, peering in (while I breathe out, relieved). "That's bits of sidewalk. I'll just buff it out."
My teeth appear to be intact, but there may be other damage. She can't tell - not even with x-rays - because of the swelling. I may have fractured my jaw.
"Soft food for a month," she says. Soft food? Is she crazy? I'm going to France! No crusty French bread?
"Just the soft, inside part."
On the bus back to work, I think of all the delicious soft French foods I can eat, while people's eyes slide off me. The bruise is in full bloom already. I feel like I'm wearing blinking lights on my face.
Eclairs, pot de creme, onion soup, pate.
Nobody wants to look at me. This isn't an insouciant, adventurous bruise. Something along the cheekbone, maybe, would speak of a branch in my way as I snowboarded down a pristine mountain.
Brie, chocolate mousse.
A bruise on the chin, a scrape on the mouth - on a woman's mouth - these are ugly. People see only bad crazy things that end up here. Somewhere out on the edge of sweaty half-dreams, where the money runs out, the addictions take over, that thing lives. That thing that most never ask themselves - How far can I fall and still live? A face like mine answers, Farther than you dare imagine.
Cafe au lait, I think. Ratatouille.