I’m bored so I decide to stare at the texture of the wall. A wall is not as finite as one might think. Imagining every particle that is enslaved to its function, this wall, this unimportant and highly unexciting wall now is a vast and soulless white sea. But it is just a wall and I just haven’t slept for two days and I have to survive through this, whatever this is, certainly not a decent conversation though because no one is really talking; some heads nodding along, some others probably occupied with even more insignificant thoughts than mine, and the tutor just sighing at our mental incompetence. It’s a big table, we are a generous crowd, and I can almost block the sight of the tutor’s figure with the head of the girl sitting next to me. Her hair is magnificent, black and straight, shiny enough to appear colorless in the light of the sun. She is remarkably pale, even for this climate, and I now remember that she’s from Scandinavia. But that’s not remotely intriguing right now. I experiment with the balance of my head. Yes. I am bored. I turn to the left, right, left; slowly now, I stop. And I am having a tiny panic attack. Or not. I am completely unable to assess my reaction.
Naturally I would have quickly and very much awkwardly turned my head completely to the other direction. But she couldn’t see me staring so I thought I could ponder a little longer. This is rare. Three straight white lines; the two slightly longer than the third one, the one after the other, close together. Dead cold white, like freshly painted wall. White is the color of the dead, the color of the absolute, the color of terror and the color that swallows the sunlight. And quite frankly, the history of those lines makes it disgusting. Her skin wasn’t tan at all but the parts where skinless flesh poured through declared their existence just as effortlessly. In my head, I was screaming; those were cuts. During the following seconds I must have suffered a stroke and several of my brain neurons must have imploded instantly as I couldn’t even decide which of the multiple thoughts that were scratching the insides of my brains for attention I should pursue to shape into logically constructed mental discourses. Did she look like someone who would do that? She was calmly gazing towards the tutor and she was awfully still, her hands resting in front of her on her crossed legs, her left hand gently sinking in the palm of her right hand. I searched her face, urgently, and I could not imagine what she could be hiding. She was hiding something, whether that was herself or her forearm, but she was doing it so well that I never would have guessed what lay under her sleeve and I still could not guess why. They were old though, the lines. Some time must have passed since they were impressed on her skin; the fresh ones have the color of a stale crimson apple. In a twisted way that made it alright. I waited for a twitch, a press of the lips, a look down on the floor. She readjusted her posture and in a movement my eyes missed, her sleeve was all that was there to see once more. The last four minutes or so never happened; they were warped in a whirlwind of too much caffeine, no sleep, and other less noble substances, and I was just seeing what I wanted to see. But no, it was there. They were there.
Throughout the rest of the seminar I kept chasing the end of her sleeve, trying to get a second look at the extraordinary white lines, but as I couldn’t find them I kept thinking, is this what we are? Self-mutilating individuals without convictions? Is this all we are? I doubt this was all we ever wanted to be.
I left that room and didn’t think of it again.