itch

I woke in the dark, strangled with damp bedding, itchy and sick. I couldn’t breathe properly, like I was beginning to drown in the air. I sat up among the discarded clothes, the skidmarked boxers and spunk stiffend socks, lunar landscapes of ashpiles and crashed roaches, spillages, empty things, torn open. I rubbed the old man’s face, the lines like valleys hewn from the spring beds of youth, the sandy eyes, the tender jaw. Itchy. I scratched my pits and pubes, lazily sniffed my fingers and yawned before burrowing back to sleep. Moments later I woke again, breathing shallow, something on my face, dust or a trailing cobweb. I knuckled the itch. Still dark, lost in time, I squinted at my wrist but the watch face was empty, a blank face. I rubbed my face. The itch trickled to my hairline, beneath my ear, on the reddened sandpaper turkey skin at my throat, across my scalp. I rubbed harder, scratched like a dog worrying a flea, flicking at my crawling skin, whining. When I got up to go piss I walked past the mirror and in the grey, fizzing darkness saw that half my face had gone missing, eaten by the darkness while I slept.

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