The Itch

By

I really cannot remember when it started. Maybe it was the day after Mother left? Or was it my birthday…? Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. What I do remember very clearly is that I just woke up in the dead of the night. Everything was eerily silent. Except for the wind. The wind seemed to have a mind of its own, singing a wailing lament, shrill yet sweet. Just as it neared its crescendo, I felt it for the first time.

*****

I thought it was a momentary feeling but turns out, it wasn’t. It crept up on me at unprecedented hours. Sometimes, I’d go a whole day without even thinking about it, but then, all of a sudden, it’d jump right out and scare me like a demented jack-in-the-box.

*****

It was under my very skin

*****

See, it all started with an itch. I could feel it on my skin, so I scratched a little. I thought it was probably a bug bite. But it just wouldn’t go away. I went at it with my short, stubby nails, scratching my forearm till I finally drew blood. As I saw my bed-sheet slowly stain crimson, I almost laughed at how ridiculous I was acting. Staring vacantly at my arm, I finally arrived at the shocking realisation that the itch was not something corporeal. No. It was under my very skin. I know you probably think I’m making this up, but I swear I’m not lying.

*****

Sometimes, I’m just sitting and doing my homework or reading and my mind just makes it way to the itch. I wonder about life without it. I feel like the itch has been a constant part of my life. I cannot think of a day where I wasn’t pushing down my impulses, curling my hands tightly into fists and forcing my face into a smile. Yesterday, when I felt the urge, I rushed to the mirror to see how I looked when I put up my façade of normalcy. My face was fixed into a grotesque expression and my body seemed to be on the verge of a convulsion. Funnily enough, the only thought in my mind was that I looked so much like Mother. Baring my teeth, I acted as though I was a part of a conversation… just to see how it looked. I think if I position myself at a certain angle, I almost look like I’m normal.

*****

I have learnt to banish it to the deepest corners of my mind

I think I don’t even care about the itch that much now. I just think about it a regular amount. It crosses my mind once or twice a day, but I think that’s about it. I have learnt to banish it to the deepest corners of my mind. I have chained it up and put up huge padlocks and thrown the key far, far away ; I am its master now, it does not control me… And I’m starting to sound like a maniac now, but I promise I’m not one.  

*****

I wish I could tell someone. But I can’t. If I do, they might send me away like they sent Mother. And I don’t think Father can live with that. Anyway, I did look this up on the net. Every article just says it’s in my mind. But my itch is different. It feels like there is a purpose to it. I wonder if I kept scratching away, would my skin all fall off? Would it be like a snake shedding skin? What if underneath my skin is something beautiful, itching to come out?

*****

I’ve had enough now. I’ve been up all night and my entire body needs me to scratch at the itch. Every single cell in my body is screaming at me to just start scratching. I can feel it everywhere. I think if I start scratching away, everything is going to feel so good. I can almost sense the freedom I’m going to get. The itch will have no hold over me anymore. I’ll finally be in complete control. I’ll be normal again. My nails are long too now. I think I’ve been growing them out for this exact moment. I think it’s time now. What’s the worst that could happen?

Ruhee Parelkar resists resolution in this deliciously disturbing creative piece

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Illustration by

https://www.dunelm.org.uk/donations/palatinate

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