Not Stigmata Girl

Summers used to be made of an endless string of days separated by a few different markers: trips “up north” to the mall, bible school, mushroom hunting, girl scout camp, and days in Susie’s pool. The early weeks of summer would be spent in the woods mushroom hunting as much as possible, and then the weather would get hotter and we would sweat in the pews while singing “Father Abraham” for the fifth time and we would sweat some more in a tent in the middle of a farm surrounded by hundreds of girls. But in between and after those moments, there was always the mall and the pool.

Tales from the mall with your mom and sisters do not make for that exciting of a tale. (Although the mall with my dad and my sisters often made for memorable stories–aka “YOU JUST PISSED ON A MEMBER OF THE US ARMY!”)

But tales from the pool . . . those seem . . . equally as boring.

But back then, during those endless summers of my youth, something weird would happen. And to this day I cannot explain it. Except I know this happened.

We would go to the pool a few times a week before we got our own. We would stay in the pool for hours diving for rings and floating and having tea parties and playing 500 and swimming as fast as we could from our moms as they would say “PUBERTY!” to drive us away.

When we’d get out of the pool to take breaks, sometimes we would jump on the trampoline. Or go see the cows. Or, for us “big kids,” go for four-wheeler rides. I often leaned towards the four-wheeler.

Adam would drive. I don’t know if it’s because he was a boy or he was (7 months) older or it was his family’s four-wheeler (yup, that’s probably it), but we would go riding through the fields and down by the crick and back and back and back. And I would hold on and not fall off–at least as far as I would remember.

But something would happen.

No, it wasn’t the magic of summer love. Puh-lease. It was Adam and he was like my brother and I say that with utter and complete honesty.

No, what would happen was this: after we finished riding, after probably fifteen minutes (I can’t imagine it being much more than that), I would look down and see the running board covered in blood. Always. We’d have to take a hose and rinse it off.

The culprits were my toes. No cuts, no wounds, no blisters, no sores. But bleeding, apparently through the skin.

Now, one thing is certain: had the bible school I attended yearly been not a Presbyterian one but a catholic one I would have surely believed myself to be suffering from the stigmata. Fortunately, my catholic fascination phase did not hit until high school. I don’t think one could recover from being the “stigmata girl” in middle school. And like I needed any weirdness to add to my plate. Puh-lease.

So I would bleed from the tips of my toes as we darted through the fields, the hot air whipping against my toes that had been tenderized from hours in the pool. Right through the skin.

And we just washed it away and hopped back in the pool.

After all, it was summer.

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