Thursday, April 11, 2013

ITCHES ONE MUST NOT SCRATCH

Everyone with a pulse has a vice, and anyone with a pulse who denies it is a liar. Smoking, drinking, whoring, eating — inside each of us is a little demon or two (or four or eight) just churning to come out and play, kicking the inside of your skin and making it itch and sweet Jesus, it's hard not to scratch until you bleed.

I knew a chick who considers that Third Eye Blind song a sort of personal anthem because she believes doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break, and it doesn't take long for anyone in her orbit to start believing the sky is gold and rose. All it takes is a hot glass pipe and a little itch.

Another person I know scratches when she thinks about vodka — doesn't matter the flavor, it can be vanilla or toasted marshmallow or straight-up rotgut Burnett's, just the thought of the swallow and the wince and she's consumed by the itch, and even as she admits she's probably an alcoholic she's looking for enough change to buy a bottle.

Tonight I sit and stare at the inside of my eyeballs as that song by The Las goes racing through my brain and I remember what it felt like to have her pulsing through my vein — like kissing the face of God, if she had one, and that's when I start to itch.

No scratching, I tell myself. My fingernails are long enough; it wouldn't take much to start the blood flowing.

Don't you dare fucking scratch, I tell myself. It's what ruined everything in the first place. I look at my fingernails some more and draw a thin line on the inside of my forearm, from the wrist to the crook of my right elbow, where a freckle sits atop an especially receptive vein.

If you scratch you won't stop this time, I tell myself, and I know this much is true. The demon that once seemed so easy to handle beat the shit out of me on more than one occasion, and she's got my number. If I scratch her back to life she'll keep kicking up an itch and pretty soon I'll be nothing but an unraveled mess.

Not this time, you little bitch, I say to the demon inside me. The fond feeling of misremembered sweetness remains, of course; I don't think that will ever go away. But I can contain it. I can contain her. I was wrong to ever think she healed my pain. She only made it worse, and that led me to ruin the best things that ever happened in my life. That's reason enough to hate her for the rest of my life.

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