The Rash
A Short Story by Alice Clark
Written using the suggestion "Lugubrious"
Originally featured on 09-07-2009
As part of our series "Falling Into the Abyss of Wordiness"


After the eighth doctor’s appointment I started getting desperate. The rash on my leg was getting bigger; its redness pulsing. They kept saying allergy, it’s an allergy to something in your environment. But the prescription strength Benadryl didn’t shake it and I couldn’t keep my hand from resting on it, to calm the overwhelming crawling feeling that made me want to leave my body. I bought the creams I couldn’t afford from the pharmacy on desperate three am treks. I’d googled the symptoms, and had been referred to specialists who were bewildered at the heat of the rash and the way it pulsed. It was sallow red in such an obvious way. The only thing left I knew to try was to call my mom. I didn’t want to do it because it was like losing. The fight with this thing that had invaded my life and my fight with her. Like admitting she was my keeper, of the most concrete parts of me. It would be admitting she knew what I needed. I pretended to have her number, pushing random ten digit numbers into my phone and slowly deleting them.

At night I sit with pillows on my leg with objects weighing them down, because somehow the pressure makes the itch less and I can keep my leg still enough to sleep for a few minutes at a time. In the day, I’m in constant motion, pulsing, the beat deep in my ears, smothering out what others say and my own thoughts of logic.

I keep thinking that maybe my mom knows what I’m allergic to because this never happened when I was younger. When she owned my skin and cared for it. She must have used hypoallergenic soaps and given me a restricted diet. Maybe bought Epsom salts and soaked me in them. Fighting tears, I imagine having her phone number and calling it and I would forget all the rest and just ask her, if my leg had ever done this before, before my memory, and just hope that she knew. I would skip all that was wrong between us and why I hadn’t called and just ask her, ask her for help. To tell me what I was like and what I needed.

Read More By Alice Clark

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