Picking, scratching, picking, scratching. Pick just once. Once more. Last time. My little sister used to pick at her smooth, caramel skin with long fingernails until it bled. A nervous habit, frenzied energy that trapped personality of a 16-year-old inside body of an 11-year-old and intelligence of child, when in fact she is 21. Genes determined that her age would never be guessed by strangers who did not know what Prader Willi Syndrome looks like, what kind of life stunted growth, scoliosis, and dozens of surgeries could produce. Strangers who speak of normality when in fact the idea of normal is a pleasant dream some twit refuses to awake from. Under the eyes of such strangers, my little sister picked until she bled.
And yet I am her blood. I pick and scratch in my own way. I know when to hide the blood away for strangers and guests, wiping it off the table and covering it with beautiful cloths. And when they leave, the urges return, to seek at any price that which was denied me in my youth, that aromatic aphrodisiac fed me by flickering screens of happy families and child’s play and teens with cars and movies and dollar
bills given by parents who laugh and smile indefinitely, who dote and bake and love and congratulate. Of beautiful skin and silky hair and days void of tears, of inside voices and Christmas toys and days at the park with a dog named Lassie. Of ease. Of comfort. Where each day meant one step closer to your goals. Flickering screens that told of realities I didn’t understand, yet were imprinted deeply inside me. Where they remain today. Where I continue to pick and scratch, reaching and twisting myself into the shadows they cast. Crushing bones, flattening veins, smothering heart beat. Exuberant when I nearly fit. Picking and scratching, and wiping the blood for strangers and guests when they come. They should be so happy to see me, fitting neatly inside screen shadows of beauty.