The Calm

I enjoy picking my nose. It calms me. But I only do it when I'm stressed, and that's pretty much every day.


Sometimes, I get carried away and give myself a nosebleed. But that only happens when I’m trying to remove a stubborn piece of crusty snot. The downside to this nasty habit of mine is, I have to give my nose the day off before I can start picking at it again.

When that happens, I move on to my backup: picking my navel. Now it's not as much fun as digging for boogers, but the funky cheese-like odor that rubs off on my index finger makes it worthwhile. I know it's nasty. But more importantly . . . it's calming.

Okay, I might as well confess to my last picking sin—my ears. Yes, I pick my ears. I got the idea from my dog, Dew.

He had a nasty ear infection. One day, after I got some money together, I took him to the vet. He gave me this blue syrup to put in Dew’s ear every night. After a few weeks I gave up. The medicine never worked. But I did discover something during his treatments: dark, brown ear wax that smelled like salami. I know how that sounds but it’s true. I even asked Carla, my mom’s friend, for a second opinion about Dew’s ears. She couldn’t believe it. She said, "Oh my God! It does smell like salami, not the good stuff, but it does smell like it." Then she gave me this strange look afterwards, like I was screwy or something.

Anyway, that got me thinking about my ears. Would their scent calm me like my nose and navel do? I had to find out. So, one day, I insert a cotton swab into my left ear and dig around. I pull out the swab and sniff it. It doesn't have that cured meat odor but it's odd just the same. And surprisingly, it's calming, too.

At this point, you might be wondering why I'm telling you all this personal shit. Well, I tend to babble when I'm scared, and right now, I'm really scared. I did something stupid and my parents will freak if they ever find out. I bought a gram of coke to snort, just to see what it's like. The only problem is, I bought the snow from a guy who mixes in all these hardcore chemicals. With his stuff, you either die right on the spot or get knocked on your ass for an hour or so. Just my luck I ended in between and found myself hovering over my body. In other words, I landed in limbo for lack of a better word. It's not so bad and it's way more calming than picking my nose, my belly button or my ears. The only thing is, I don't see anyone else around here, except for this red fog that's shaped like Cousin Itt. And those dark, beady eyes, the way it watches me, like its hungry, really creep me out. And everywhere I go, it follows me around.

Hey, there goes my brother, Eric. Phew! Maybe he’ll call an ambulance and get me out of here. Why is he putting his ear against my mouth. Idiot! Call the paramedics already. Now he’s walking out of the room. Why isn’t he freaking out? Oh, here he comes again. What’s with the pillow? Eric! Don’t put the pillow over my face! Are you serious? Holy shit! Eric! Eric!

I stopped hovering over my body, and now I'm stuck in limbo forever and ever. Why did my brother kill me? Wait . . . this thing is biting into my leg. I have this huge bite mark on my thigh. I can actually see my leg bone. That's not calming. What the f---.

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