Scars We Don’t See by Cassa Bassa

A woman with her face painted as a ghostly skeleton
Image Source: Snappa

Morning ma’am what can I offer you today? I paused, you looked familiar. I recognised the scar across your forehead and the missing front tooth when you squeezed out a smile.

You don’t recognise me? Cindy! My name is Cindy. The Neighbourhood Centre found us a unit and I scrubbed up. 

Oh Cin! O-M-G! I couldn’t recognise you. You… you look good Cin. It dawned on me that you were the homeless lady who hung around my cafe with two kids, a boy and a girl. 

Let me make you a coffee. What would you like? My shout to celebrate, you got a home now. That’s a big deal.

Oh no Patricia, thanks for the offer. I won’t take up your time. Just wanna see do you need a helper in the kitchen? Like unloading deliveries, washing dishes, taking the trash out? I, ah, I can’t do the front house duties cos my tooth… My kids are going to school now just around the corner. They can walk to school by themselves. I got free time to work, and I can do with some money to get some stuff for the unit. 

Uhm, look Cin, I don’t really need any helper cos my older boy is doing the kitchen hand stuff. But he got into uni, it’s starting soon. How about you come in tomorrow at noon to do a work trial, and I’ll cut him a bit slack. I’m sure he’d be happy to hang out with his mates. 

Oh, sure sure…thank you sooo much. I’ll be here before twelve tomorrow. You’re an angel Patricia. You cupped your hands to your face, almost shouting.

That’s alright Cin…and call me Trish. Patricia is just a bit troubling…you know, I laughed and winked. 

Ok, ok Trish, boss lady! You chuckled with your hand covering your mouth to hide the missing tooth.

You came almost half an hour before midday in the same white shirt and black pants you wore yesterday. The cafe was quite busy with almost all tables needing clearing from the mid-morning rush. You had dived straight in taking empty plates, cups and cutleries to the kitchen and came back with an apron on to spray and wipe down the tables. You kept your head down avoiding eye contact with the customers leaving the cafe. You worked pretty swiftly, and I was thankful that you turned up early.

First day of work trial, you did good, only with a moment or two spacing out. I attributed it to the fact that you had been out of work for a long time, it might take some time to readjust. I asked you to come back the next day but not promising a job. Being a small business owner and a single mother, I had learned to put my little family first and not make promises that I couldn’t keep.

That day was the third day of the work trial. In reality, I needed someone who could do the front and the back of the cafe. But I knew what this job would mean to you as a mother, and to your finances. I was contemplating to offer you 11am to 2pm shifts on weekdays. That would cover some food prep and cleaning up for the lunch rush which would free me and the two girls for customer service and the till. I was going to tell you at the end of the day. 

Then that happened. I saw you spacing out in the middle of slicing mushrooms, then you were pacing around the kitchen while the chef had to stop in the middle of cooking some sauce to ask if you were okay. It took you a while to snap back to reality. You walked back to the bench and kept slicing mushrooms. I was taken aback by what I saw. Call it a woman’s instinct, I knew something was wrong with you neurologically.

I took you outside to have some fresh air. I wasn’t going to give you some lame excuse for not offering you a job. I told you straight about my concerns. I figured I owed you that decency. You opened up to me and told me drugs and alcohol abuse damaged your brain. And that you had been drug and alcohol free for a while, but the damage was done from teenage years and it’s irrevocable.

 I hugged you and cried. The scar you carried on your forehead, or the missing tooth were just damages people saw, the damage inside was a lot more profound.


China born Australian Poet Jia-Li Yang (Cassa Bassa) works with the disadvantaged people in the community which gives her a special insight into those who suffer. She is constantly inspired by their resilience and strength. Please visit her writing blog Flicker of Thoughts to read more of her lovely work.

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Terveen Gill says:

    Cassa’s touching and heartwarming story reveals a reality that many live. It’s so easy to see the scars that reside on our skins, but what about the damage that looms inside? Mental and psychological trauma is a difficult fight and many have no one to reach out to or help them deal with their problems. Compassion and understanding are two gifts that cost nothing but can make a world of a difference to those who suffer.
    Congratulations Cassa!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cassa Bassa says:

      Thank you for posting this piece, I sincerely hope that this gives a voice.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jonicaggiano says:

    Cassa so nice to see you here, congratulations on this publication. What a great story, sad but also something that many people deal with every day. Very nicely written. The woman had great compassion. Sending you my love, Joni

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Terveen Gill says:

      Thank you so much, Joni, for all your lovely words and beautiful reflections on the writing published here at MasticadoresIndia. Your support and encouragement means a lot to me and is a great inspiration for all the writers. Thank you for joining us here. Much peace, joy, and love to you.


    2. Cassa Bassa says:

      Thank you Joni for your support and kind words. I am grateful!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jonicaggiano says:

        You are so incredibly welcome. Beautiful work Cassa. Sending you giant hugs and love. ❤️🤗🥰


  3. You kept me wondering when things would start to unravel. You left it right to the very end. Sad but very well written Cassa…..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cassa Bassa says:

      Thank you Don for reading this rather long piece. I appreciate you.


      1. While long. you wrote it in an easy relaxed style which kept my interest. I was waiting to see what would happen in the end which you handled very well. I wasn’t aware you worked with disadvantaged…….

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Cassa Bassa says:

          Ha now you know a bit more about me 😀

          Liked by 2 people

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