The Itch – A Flash Fiction Short by Gillian Zane

The Itch – A Flash Fiction Short by Gillian Zane

It’s been awhile since our last Flash Tale, so I thought to bring it back with something dark. This one has been stuck in my head for awhile and needed to get out. It’s a little bit horror, it’s a sort of sad. It’s all itchy.

This is an unedited Gillian Zane short. All content © 2017 by Gillian Zane.

The Itch by Gillian Zane

The itching began about a month ago. A terrible itch that burned and bothered the girl from sun up to sunset. At first, it was just a light itch, she scratched at it haphazardly, leaving bright red marks on her skin. People asked if she had an allergy, she was unaccustomed to allergies, so she shrugged and itched more.

She took a little pink pill when someone handed it to her, but it made her drunk and didn’t stop the itching. So, the allergy diagnosis was false.

The itching increased.

After a week the itching in the night got worse. It began at the balls of her feet, traveled up her legs, behind her knees, at her panty line, and even across her small breasts. She scratched and couldn’t fall asleep.

She woke up scratching at her skin until the bright red marks turned into darker red marks and there was blood underneath her fingernails. When her scalp began to itch, and she couldn’t control her scratching, people began to look at her funny. They stepped away from her, the made pinching lip faces at her and whispered things like infection.

She went online and looked up itch, scalp, and other words. They all came back with bugs and allergies. She didn’t think she had bugs.

Two weeks into the itch she began to consult doctors. Dermatologist after dermatologist. She got a variety of diagnoses. Psoriasis, lice, dermatitis, and even kidney disease. She left each appointment dejected and losing faith in the American medical community.

One month of non-stop itching, and now the itch had begun to creep into the inside of her. Her eyes, her belly button, even her vagina. She hadn’t been exactly pampered in her life, but nothing in Melly Lantern’s life had been this hard and unbearable. Until today. Now, with little rest, constant aggravation, and no end in sight, thoughts of ending her life kept flitting into her head. If it would end the itching, how could it be bad? It would pop up like a commercial, blowing all other thoughts from her brain. Death. Good. Done. And she would shake it away, swat at it like a mosquito, but like a pest it returned.

She couldn’t work, she couldn’t sleep, she wasn’t eating, her skin burned when the sun touched it. She wasn’t functioning as a normal human being, what was the point of it all? The commercial played over and over again.

She picked up the lotion that she was constantly coating on her skin, the lotion that gave her a modicum of relief, and groaned in horror when she realized it was nearly empty. She would have to go to the store and use her dwindling savings to purchase this overpriced lotion that didn’t even do much, but relieve the itch for a few minutes.

But, any relief was better than nothing at all, so she donned a long-sleeved cotton shirt, and baggy cotton pants, since she couldn’t wear underwear, the elastic bands irritated things further, and went out into the day. As soon as the sun hit her face she hissed and shielded her eyes, which were covered by dark glasses.

She didn’t notice the man leaning against the tree rooted in her front walk. She had too much on her mind to pay attention to the world around her. Everything was focused on getting to the drug store and buying the lotion. A short walk, three blocks, and then back again. She might even sneak into the bathroom at the drug store to apply the lotion.

Nothing drew her attention to him until he called her name.

“Melly.”

The word was quiet but packed a punch. She recognized the voice and it halted her in her tracks. A million seconds of yesterday filtered through her brain, all the things that voice conjured up, most of all sadness.

She didn’t stop. She couldn’t stop. She walked faster. Away from that voice. There was no reason he should be here. She had left him in a different state, in a different world. She was a new person and he was not allowed in her new person world. Not that new person world meant much now.

The sound of his footsteps on the cement behind her had the blood in her veins shooting through their tiny passages, her heart was jackhammering in her chest. She felt him, at her back, the brush of air against the back of her arm. Then his touch, his fingers, gripping, stopping, spinning. She faced him, her eyes closed tight, her head hanging, her entire body clenched in denial.

“Melly.”

“Go away.” She hissed, her eyes still closed so she wouldn’t have to look at him.

“Is that the way you greet an old friend?” His voice was like a warm chocolate croissant, enticing, but full of unwanted calories.

“You are not a friend.” He was a liar. He was a manipulator. He was her past.

“That hurts,” she didn’t open her eyes so she couldn’t see him. If she didn’t see him he wasn’t there. He wouldn’t see her like this. It was all a bad dream, a very itchy bad dream.

Her itch?

Nothing.

It wasn’t there anymore.

Nothing itched. Blessed relief.

Her eyes popped open. She saw his face. A face she had kissed a thousand times. A face she had memorized as it grew from a child to a boy to a man. She frowned, there were a few more lines that had formed, lines that hadn’t been there when she had left. His jaw was a little wider too, his lips a little tighter. He had aged, so had she. But, he was still so jaw-droppingly handsome, so tempting. She wanted to touch him, she wanted to let him back in. She wanted to scream and run.

“What are you doing here?” She whispered, barely audible, but he heard her. “I left. I left you. I left them. You don’t understand.”

“I’m here to bring you back,” he said, his lips even tighter, his stare like rough bristles against her skin. They burned, but they didn’t itch.

“No.” She pulled away from him, a half-way jerk from his touch. The itch began again in earnest, nearly dropping her to her knees. She glanced up at him with tears in her eyes and he just shook her head.

“You’re not happy here. It’s been bad, hasn’t it, baby?”

“I’m fine,” she managed to gasp out. “Did you do this to me?”

“It’s been three years, it’s time to go home.”

“Never,” she stood up straight and tried to stare him down even though all she wanted to do was scratch at the unbelievable itch which had returned.

“It’ll all go away, you’ll be back to normal,” he whispered, his voice reverberating through her skull. “If you come back.”

“You did this?” She moaned, tears pooling in her eyes even though she promised herself she was done with those salty pests.

He pulled something out of his pocket, a small effigy of a female, stitched and stuffed. There was white powder clinging to the doll’s skin. He had hexed her. She shouldn’t be surprised, but she had done everything she could to remove any trace of herself when she had fled years ago.

“It’s time to come home,” he said.

“No,” she howled and ran. Back to her apartment, back to the dark. Away from him. Away from the past that she had tried too hard to shed. Like the skin that peeled away from her body as she scratched at it.

The itch increased as the darkness lengthened, as seconds turned to minutes and minutes to hours. The pain of the itch took over every moment, making each passing tick of the clock like an eternity. Her skin burned, her mind was chaotic, throwing up all of the terrible moments of her past. All of them revolving around him. And then the commercials. The endless commercials. Death. Done. Good.

The pain was too much and she knew with each moment that it would increase. Unless….No. She knew him, she knew him better than herself. She knew how controlling he was, how he had to have his way. She had thought after all this time he would have moved on, but he hadn’t, he had left her alone for awhile, hoping for her to return on her own. When she hadn’t, he had come to her. He had done this to her. What more would he do?

She wouldn’t go back.

The commercial began to play on repeat. She forced herself up and staggered down the hall to the bathroom. But what she wanted wasn’t there, that was the final destination. She forced open a drawer in the kitchen and dug around, knocking things on the floor in her haste. She found what she was looking for, but the itch was so bad she had to brace herself on the drawer to withstand the pain. The droor, overextended,  gave way and crashed down under her weight, forcing her down to her knees in a clump of odds and ends and loose papers. The pain flared and she cried out, tears streaming down her cheeks.

But, it would be over soon. Very, soon.

She gripped the metal tool in her hand as she pulled herself up. The itching had subsided, or her mind had blocked it out when the reality of what she was doing finally clicked in. It would be over soon.

Knocking began on her door as she turned the faucets on in the tub. She heard the loud banging over the sound of the flowing water and tried her best to ignore it. She thought of all those terrible moments. The fights. The tears. The fact that he had created a voodoo doll and was doing this to her.

She slipped into the water, not bothering to take her clothes off, gripping the little metal tool in her hand. The moments flooded her head, the tears pouring out of her now. The itching had stopped, sweet relief, but she knew it would be back. She knew if she didn’t go back with him, if she didn’t go home it would come back until she gave in.

Gave in to him.

Was that so bad?

She held the tool up to her wrist. It would only take a second. A second and it would all go away, all of those moments done. All of those moments not meaning a thing anymore. It would end like this, in a tub, no one to find her, because she had no one in this lonely town, but it would be over.

Her hand shook. Her tears dripped into her mouth, her chest shivered through the sobs. The banging on the door was so loud now. So, so loud.

The moments spun into each other, and small happy ones floated to the top, spinning around the bad ones and trying to take over. But, they weren’t enough. Not nearly enough.

A loud crashing from the front room had her hastening her task, but her hands were shaking too much.

She really didn’t want to do this.

She did want to do this.

She wanted it to end.

She didn’t want him to bring her home.

His shape filled the door. His words were meaningless, she couldn’t hear him over her sobs. Her hands shook harder, she didn’t care, she didn’t want to go. She didn’t want…but, there were only small tiny choices left on her path. And those really weren’t choices at all.

“I’m sorry.” His words fell large on her ears. He let something drop into the water with her, it swirled white, with the black and red of the water.

There was no more itching.

There would be no more itching.

Like what you read?

Check out  more books by Gillian Zane, you can read all of her  series FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

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About The Author

Parajunkee

Rachel, whom you might know as Parajunkee, is the blog owner of parajunkee.com and the design blog parajunkee.net. To make matters even more confusing she is now a published author under the pen name of Gillian Zane. Rachel has been blogging for over eight years, designing / web programming for over fifteen, but her real love, reading, has been her favorite hobby since childhood. Rachel has won numerous awards for her writing, the blogs she has created and her design work. If you want to check out more about her books click "The Books" on the navigation bar at the top of the page.