I was confronted by two wrist-vignettes the other day that I have been unable to get out of my mind.
Early on Thursday morning I went to the gym at Victoria Park Pool and afterwards, heading into the showers, I ran into a group of three women in their late 20s/early 30s who were heading out. The last of the trio held the door for me – she had beautiful chestnut hair that hung wet around her shoulders and she was laughing loudly at the other two, her face turned away from me. I looked down to take the door handle from her and saw a latticework of white scars all of the way up her arm. On the soft pale skin under her forearm there was a mess of scar tissue – there must have been more than fifty healed cuts, or more. And yet she was laughing.
The second moment happened that evening on the train back from St Peters to Redfern. An old withered man held himself up by one of the carriage-poles as we jolted out of the station. He looked like a drunk – mismatched clothes, swaying beyond the push-pull of the train, a plastic bag with not much in it. But then I saw on his right wrist a hospital tag and noticed his too-thinness. As I stood beside him to get out I realised he was a young man – something was forcing him to stoop, pushing his spine over like a blade of grass in the wind.