I was addicted to Band-Aids. Small ones. I’d stick them to my arms, toes, knees—anywhere they’d fit. My family assumed I was accident-prone. I played along. I’d scream in the kitchen while chopping Bok Choi; by the time they arrived, I’d already have my finger wrapped in a little brown bandage.
It was a healthy addiction.
My husband’s addiction to 18/19-year-old college girls was not.
In time, I graduated to bigger bandages. The stretch kind. I loved the fabric on my skin—the soft application of pressure. The stories behind these bandages were elaborate. I’d trip and graze my arm on the concrete gazebo while talking on the phone with our Family Guidance Counselor. I’d twist my ankle doing Pilates and then I’d re-injure it in a scuffle with my mother over money. My husband lapped up each lie; he made all the right noises.
When I suffered a whiplash injury and had to wear a foam neck brace, my husband had already half-moved out of the apartment. The few bags he had left were propped against the hall radiator for days.
Go fuck off then, I told him.
I was constantly readjusting that neck brace. It itched and made my skin clammy. It interfered with the collars of my shirts and sweaters. Sometimes, I’d forget I was wearing the brace and I’d step right into the shower or ease my toes into the local pool with it still on.
Despite these inconveniences, it felt good to have my neck secured.
Years later, I took off the neck brace. I was in the kitchen, looking out at the lawn. I unstrapped the Velcro, peeling the foam ring from my neck. The skin under the brace was pale and devoid of wrinkles. It was smooth and supple—as soft as my daughter’s skin.
I touched it with a Band-Aid wrapped fingertip. It felt like water.