It’s hot. The sour smell of perspiration saturates my clothes. Pollen, from late blooming trees, feels like sandpaper against my slickened skin. I swat futilely at the cloud of gnats as they hungrily seek out the salt of my pores. I breath the choking humid air and screw my eyes so tight, against the excruciating radiance of the high afternoon sun, that my temples throb. There, on the horizon, hang dark clouds offering a distant promise of thunder and rain. In a few more months we can all be happily complaining about the cold. But, right now, it’s too hot.
I have a sunburn.
It’s the first time in years.
I had forgotten. About the soreness.
The feeling of heat flowing out from me, like I am on fire. The reddened, dying skin shrinking.
Itching for days.
Then it begins to bubble. Small drops of fluid under the damaged flesh.
Eruption. Cooling for just an instant.
Then the peel.
I shiver, breathless at the barely audible sound.
Almost a sigh, as I pull.
The sickly, satisfying, tugging sensation as old the separates from the new.
Bizarre fascination. I can’t help it.
I reach for another loosened piece of flesh.