There’s Mosquitoes on the River

Have I mentioned that I despise the summer? Setting aside the heat and the sweat, the exhaustion and the odors; a constant interference with my well-being in these long months that stretch till forever are the insects.

I have always been plagued by mosquito bites. Much more than my family members and peers, it would appear. Just a few seconds of an opened and closed screen door and I will wake in the middle of the night after having been eaten alive. My white legs flower with red hilly welts that sting like all hell, and they speckle my already freckled arms, trying to join the party, though wholly unwelcomed.

I’ll hear the buzzing culprit, dining on my skin and blood, but by the time I’m alert enough to attempt swatting it away, it’ll have disappeared. A cruel phantom, lurking in a secret hiding spot.

“It’s because you’re so sweet,” Mom says. I roll my eyes.

I don’t really know if this warrants a whole blog post, or if it can really serve as an excuse for me to wax philosophic or anything, but only this summer I noticed a personal triumph. And I’m not sure when it dates back to. Maybe some three years at this point.

When I was a kid, and all through my youth, I would itch at those seasonal nuisances relentlessly. I’d scratch at my mosquito bites to the point of denting my skin, puncturing it and releasing blood. May through September, I’d cultivate these scabs, scratching, picking, reopening, never quite letting them heal. I’d marvel at the red gushing from my arms and legs, sometimes letting it trickle in curvy streams before wiping at it with a tissue, then watching it flow out again. Those scabs that were nearing to a scar particularly fascinated me. I’d open them with my sticky fingernails and look at the small tender hollow that formed pink and whitish-greenish beneath. Then I’d squeeze, if the blood didn’t fill up the cavern fast enough.

Was it a compulsion? A sickness? I do not know. But interspersed between my arms’ freckles are tiny whiter specks and dots, constant reminders of my gory fascination with my own ability to make myself bleed.

This summer, as I dab myself with calamine time and time again, I noticed how I’ve stopped my process of perpetuating the purple-red polka dots on my limbs. And I realized that I haven’t done it in quite some time.

Is it just maturity? I will not dare compare this strange habit I had with cutting behavior, but it’s nice to realize that a part of me has stopped scratching that itch of wanting to scar myself.