Using a scalpel she cuts the first cut across my stomach. Without looking up she says;
“You don't drink a lot do you?”
“I did last night.” I reply.
“You must have a good diet then.”
“Not really, I ate a burger on the way here because I was so hungover.”
“You're actually the worse candidate for scarification ever.” She replies while cutting me with the scalpel.
This is probably a conversation we should have had before we started.
“ Yet, you're hardly bleeding at all.”
I sit up to look at the first cuts and in doing so blood starts to seep out of the bright red wounds.
“There it is.”
For those of you who don't know scarification is like a tattoo. But it's done with a scalpel. And instead of ink you get scars.
That's what I'm having done right now.
I'm being cut with a scalpel to create scars on my stomach.
It's taken me months to build up the courage to do this for your amusement. My head is forced back against the leather chair with fear. I'm staring at the light and trying to hold a conversation.
I can barely feel the blade as it first goes in. I'm pleasantly surprised. But as she drags the knife across my skin the pain increases becoming more and more painful rising to a point of unbearable agony the further she cuts.
It gets worse when she has to cut curved lines because that literally involves twisting the blade.
After I've been cut each line has to be opened up so it won't heal properly creating a better scar. This is done by retracing each line with a series of small jagged cuts, like sketching a line with a pencil — but in my skin, with a scalpel.
I can feel each tiny tug.
Somehow, we're still holding together a conversation throughout the whole thing. Although it's a little bit stop start as I'm in too much pain to form words while she's cutting. Sometimes I manage half a swearword. I'm almost getting used to it when the blade feels like it scratches across my hip bone.
I'm writhing in a silent agony, borne more out of the unnatural sensation than the acute pain. I try to tell her that I think she just touched a bone. But before I can form the sentence the knife goes back in and all that comes out my mouth is a small whimper.
Not for the first time today I consider the possibility that I've gone totally insane.
So much blood has built up now that she asks an assistant to pass her some water. Before spraying the water directly onto the fresh cuts on my stomach she smells the nozzle and passes it back to her assistant. “That's alcohol, I said water.”
We both look at each other and laugh at the near miss.
Once the wound has been cleaned, with water, she points out a fat deposit that she needs to cut out to ensure even scarring. It looks like a fleshy white knot within one of the bright red cuts. She tells to brace myself because it's going to hurt, which, within the context of what has gone before, worries me slightly.
She cuts the fat deposit out of me like you'd remove the bad bit from an apple, twisting and digging the blade underneath it to remove it.
I'm in my happy place, I'm in my happy place.
Except a grenade has just gone off and everything in my happy place is screaming.
Now that is done it's almost time to finish. Just the most intricate cuts left to do, which means a smaller blade. No problems, smaller blade, less pain, I mistakenly think. This blade is worse than anything that has gone before.
Because it's so small it feels like it's vibrating through my skin like wasp stings, on the end of a dentist's drill, being put inside my skin. The whole of the last bit takes everything I have not to scream or beg her to stop. I force myself to focus on my breathing and just take it. All the while thinking, it'll be over soon, it'll be over soon.
Then it is over.
I stand up wearily and look at the leather seat where I've spent half an hour being cut with a scalpel. It's covered in blood and sweat.
Now I just have to clean the wound with lemon juice three times a day for two weeks and it'll be finished.