It's written all over your..uh…arm.
The first time it happened, I was taken utterly by surprise.
A faint, but persistent itch on my left forearm. I absently scratched at it, without really paying any attention to what I was doing.
The faint itch became a nagging tickle.
Still focused on what I was doing, I lightly dug my nails in for some quick relief, and re focused.
It was at this moment, that something registered on my fingertips as “..uh, what was that I just felt now?” and I glanced down.
Raised red wheals from my wrist to just about at my elbow.
Intersecting those welts, were raised black lines. The tattoo on my arm was inflamed, and as I watched, fascinated despite myself, a line of ivy curving around my wrist lifted as if by magic to join it’s puffy brethren.
I quickly reviewed my day.
No, not sunburn. Been inside.
Haven’t changed fabric softeners, laundry detergent, soaps, shampoo, etc, and so on..
No contact with allergens that I was aware of. Breathing was ok, not a sign of impending anaphylaxis.
Did I anger some budding voudun? No, pretty sure I hadn’t been walking through fairie rings, either.
As I pondered, the sensations became doggedly persistent, and it was if I’d started gently rubbing up against a bat of fiberglass, embedding the fibers in my arm, and breaking them under the skin.
I checked my arm.
Nope. Not fiberglass. Too easy.
I soaked my arm in cold water to reduce the inflammation, and made an appointment with my doctor, as this was well beyond the realm of things I knew how to deal with. The cold water did nothing to alleviate the prickling, and as my skin dried, it quickly entered the realm of torturous.
I wanted nothing more then to dig my nails in, and start ripping the skin from my arm. Anything to get it to stop.
Pain would’ve been more then preferable to the unrelenting inner gnawing.
Sleeping was laughable, as once I started to relax things intensified until I felt like I was crawling out of my skin.
After a few torturous days, it subsided.
It took up new residence. This time, in my right ankle.
Interestingly, when I scratched my ankle, once more, raised patches in my line-work started to emerge.
The more I resisted the urge to abrade it, the quicker it faded.
My GP referred me to a dermatologist. By this time, I’d learned to entertain myself by drawing with a fingernail on a patch of exposed skin, and watching the raised patterns emerge, redden, swell, then subside. This beat scratching, leading to substantially stronger sensations, leading to more scratching, leading to digging frantically at the affected part, hoping to cause enough irritation to induce relief.
He examined my back, and told me that I had stress induced Dermatographism. That this was something that I was going to have happen again, unless I could reduce the amount of stress I was under.
Not witchcraft then.
I was only mildly disappointed, and less so, once I received a prescription that not only put me very soundly to sleep, but eased the itching that much quicker.
I was pretty proud of not having a flareup all summer, but just now I casually scratched my shoulder and felt the tattoo on my back lift against my fingers.
I’m all out of magic.