Three weeks ago after lunching on a yummy thin-crust pizza smothered with cheese, onions, mushrooms and artichokes, I was trudging back up the hill in Lynchburg, Virginia, to my car parked on Main Street. With a framed magnolia print--all Southern gals need a magnolia picture hanging somewhere in their house--tucked under my left arm and a bag filled with treasures found at Estate Specialists hanging from my right hand, I pictured in my mind where I'd put these terrific bargain purchases.
The woman walking toward me on the sidewalk stopped and stared. Her eyes grew huge. She opened her mouth, but didn't speak. I shivered, felt as though Death had just walked past me. I continued my trek up the hill.
The attack came without warning. I heard her maniacal shriek from behind me only seconds before she grabbed my hair, yanked me backwards. The steel blade of her switchblade flashed in the early afternoon sunshine before she slashed my neck.
Did you know that the blade of a knife is as cold as many writers have portrayed? Somehow, though, those writers haven't described how sharp the blade is, how much it hurts when only a little pressure is applied. I learned then that the pain can worsen quickly, that the blood flows fast.
I fell to the sidewalk, kicked out at my attacker. Again she came at me with her knife. Remembering some of the judo my Marine daddy taught me when I was a child, I grabbed her wrist, flung her over my body. Seconds later I was on top of her, lashing out, screaming. I wanted to kill her before she killed me.
Eighteen stitches in my neck and five hours later, I awoke in the hospital, learned that my attacker had been released from prison only two days before she sliced me.
"Why me?" I asked the detective standing beside my bed. "What did I ever do to that woman that would cause her to attack me?"
"You didn't recognize her?" he asked.
"No. Should I?"
"Do you remember the night back in 1977 when you and your husband went out for dinner? A woman in the bar took an instant liking to your husband--and an instant disliking to you. She cut your throat with a broken beer bottle."
I gasped. My hand flew to my throat, touched the long scar. "No!" I said. "It couldn't be the same woman."
The detective held my hand. "Yes, it's the same woman. The woman who slit your throat in 1977 and went to prison for all those years is the very same person who slashed your neck today."
I gasped again. Actually, I gasp a lot. And sometimes my heart clinches. And if you believe what I just told you, I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona I could sell you cheap. Truthfully, I had a melanoma in situ. My doctor said it was superficial. Bless him; he got it all, even tucked the incision into one of my many wrinkles. And the old 1977 incision is from a thyroid lobectomy.
So why did I tell you this story? Because I have a vivid imagination. After all, I'm a fiction writer. And in this case, fiction is stranger than truth. And a whole lot more fun.
All fun aside, I issue a warning. Please take care of your skin. Plan yearly dermatology appointments. I grew up in the era where, as teenagers, we baked on the beach with no sunscreen, no hats, no cover of any kind. Sometimes we'd slop baby oil all over our exposed bodies to help us tan faster. Many times I fell asleep, burned so badly that blisters popped up. I'm surprised this was the first melanoma I've had. I pray it's my last.
How was the melanoma discovered? My husband and I visited the dermatologist for all-over examinations. Ron was fine. The couple of spots on me that looked suspect were--egad!--age. The brown spot on my neck wasn't. I'm glad I caught it early. And you can bet that next year my dermatologist will check me again.
Labels: Estate Specialists, imagination, Lynchburg, melanoma in situ