Itch

When I was a little girl, maybe no more than five or six, I woke up in the morning with a spiderbite on one hip. Red and angry and wild, it flared to the size of my palm, disturbed by a youngster’s ill-fated attempts to obey the mandate of “Don’t touch it.”

Afraid I’d give myself some sort of skin-eating infection, my mother tried everything to get me to stop. She used calamine, benadryl, bandages, mittens, lotions, potions, punishments, bribes. No matter the admonishment, the reward for being good, the attempts at soothing, I would be found curled up, half-mad with itching, bitten fingernails scrabbling at once-pink skin turning a fierce red.

Finally, in frustration, she told me that the spider had probably lain eggs under my skin, and if I didn’t stop, they’d break open and spill hundreds of thousands of spiders, all over me, in me, through me.

You shouldn’t ever say things like that to an impressionable, overimaginative child.

It’s thirty years later and I swear I can still feel them squirming.

Thirty years, and I’ve got an itch to scratch.

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