For years Thomas Mannella observed the intrigue of people who believed him when he said the scars across his chest were from an alley knifing. This was a lie, but the more scarred by surgeries he felt, the greater his denial. He detached himself from the deteriorating valve in his heart, which he hoped would make him feel normal, and appear that way to others, but living this way, he didn’t own the marks; the marks owned him. With every beat, blood leaked back into his left ventricle. His heart ballooned. Finally, his time ran out: he collected his college diploma and walked off campus straight into the OR. He had long been a member of the zipper club.
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