by Matthew Parmenter
I have an irrational fear of books, magazines, and anything else related to paper. I keep thinking about the paper cutting my eye. I lift the paper, and I’m not sure if I do it intentionally, or if it is some kind of accident, but I slice the white of my left eye, the part to the left of the iris. For some reason, I drag the paper across my unblinking eye causing a clean paper cut.
I lower the page and with my left index finger poke the wound. It doesn’t seem to bleed, but it really hurts. Again I raise the page to my face, but this time I attack my right eye, to the right of the iris. With a different edge of the paper, I begin to cut. This time the cut is deep, and I snag part of the iris. As you can well imagine, my pupils are dilating madly to this newfound stimulus. There is still no blood, but now an odd gel has begun to leak out of my eyeball, and it dribbles down my arm and onto the floor. I take no notice of the juice, and continue moving the page back and forth in a sawing motion. As well as extreme pain, a new sensation becomes apparent. Like the chill I often get when licking the back of a mailing envelope to wet the sticky seal, my wet eye snags on the dry page, and I feel the chill run along my bones. The dryness of the paper against my eye causes tears to form and moisten the area. Instead of soothing the pain, the salty water leaks into the wound and stands the tiny nerves there on end in a frantic dance to stop the sting. I can’t help but laugh at how silly I must look. Of course, I can’t look in the mirror to see this spectacle, for now now I am quite blind.
I drop the paper and raise my right hand to brush away the tears and goo that have mixed and cover my face—I can feel it, like grease from a thick Chicago-style pizza. I put my right index finger into the new hole, the dry chills again surprise my sense. Inside I can feel the back of my eyeball, and know that I must be crushing important nerves and tissues that have taken millions of years to evolve. With a quick thrust, I push my finger through the wall of the orb, my left leg jiggles, and I’d swear I can see a sudden flash of light. Now there is blood. Lots of blood. Plenty of blood. I can hear it splash to the floor. I can feel it everywhere.
I push deeper into the cavern and feel intense heat there, as though I have a small electric heater right in my brain. As I contemplate the sensation of heat, it suddenly changes to a tickle. I stop pushing, so stops the tickle. I wiggle my finger, the tickle returns. It is a funny tickle: an itch that feels too good not to scratch. I tickle and tickle and giggle. It feels so familiar. I love it. I should have done this years ago. I can’t stop. The tickle grows and intensifies. It builds until my laughter turns to a whine. I sound like an old dog getting his belly scratched as I dance around the room, poking my brain as if it were a bowl of eggs being scrambled for breakfast. The feeling intensifies till I’m quite sure I can’t bear another second. I shriek with excitement as my mother enters the room.
“What the hell are you…Oh my God!”
I mean, what can you say? I stand there like a fool, my finger jammed halfway through my head. “It’s nothing,” I say, trying nervously to get my finger out of my face. Now it’s stuck. “I—I just wanted to…”
“You’re sick. You’ll go blind,” she screams.
“No really, it feels good.”
She runs out of the room. She’s embarrassed. You know I’m embarrassed. I just have an irrational fear of books, magazines, and anything else related to paper.
© 1989, 1999 Strung Out Records