Of a ceaseless itching of the skin and a familiar friend.
There were no visible symptoms, no red markings or vibrant rashes. No signs of inflammation or infection. Just the strange itching sensation that seemed to grow with each scratch and rub of my fingers. Not until a few hours ago, at least.
And now here I am in my bathroom, in the dead of the night. I figured that perhaps a warm bath might soothe my skin. Might as well check on my skin condition while I’m at it. Sure, there aren’t any visible signs on my limbs other than the fresh scratches from my own fingernails, but those aren’t where the brunt of my itches are. It’s mostly all at my chest and belly.
Bleary eyed under the white electric lights, I lift up my shirt bracing myself for the worst.
I could not have braced myself for this.
The mottled red skin and the scratches covered my torso. But those are nothing compared to what was really standing out - the thin brown vein-like lines that have formed under my skin.
And those lines curved into the likeness of a face.
A very familiar face.
She was someone who called herself my friend back in highschool. I never felt the same way about her. She wasn’t a bad person. No, no. It was the little things about her that got on my nerves - the way she chewed her food a bit too loudly, her lack of tact, the way she’d lisp out my name, and the fact that she was just a little better than me at almost everything academically. It was petty. And to deny her friendship for such petty reasons would have made me seem the bad guy.
So, with fake smiles and hollow words, I played along.
I grew to dislike her. But she, on the other hand, grew more attached to me. I had always questioned, of all people, why me ? What was it that drew her to me so much?
I still don’t know.
I never got to ask.
I had distanced myself from her since the day we graduated. She had tried to contact me and most of the time I pretended not to notice. She didn’t seem to get the hint. No, she grew even more insistent. I thought she’d never leave me alone.
But now she’s gone.
A car accident, from what I’ve heard, was what took her. I went to her funeral last month. I cried. Not out of mourning, but out of an inexplicable sense of guilt. And, perhaps, relief.
She was going to leave me alone now.
That was what I thought.
I was wrong.
She’s latching onto my very skin, smiling back at me from my own body with her ever cheerful grin.
Get away from me!
I want to scream those words but instead my tongue is frozen in place. My hands move. They move to scratch an itch.
They move to remove the blemish.
A blemish named Julia.
Fingernails dig in to draw red beads of blood. Without a second thought, I scrape a line down my belly. Then another.
More and more, the itch grows. It stings. Julia smiles, almost taunting. I scratch, not just to relief the itches but to mar her face. Bit by bit. I want her gone.
Why won’t she leave me alone?
Does she want me to apologise ? Make up and become “friends” again ? Or does she think we were still friends ?
Why won’t she let go?
Just let go.
It’s been almost an hour. I have done away at my skin. My nails now dig into raw flesh. She’s still there. I can’t see her, but I can feel her. Somewhere inside me, she remains. I want her gone. I need her gone.
I need a knife.