Summary: Platitudes really are less helpful than a sharp stick.
Author's Notes: For writerverse’s Story Starter Challenge.
"It’s getting bad again."
My friend, William, didn’t even look up from his laptop. "Well, just don’t scratch it."
My hand stopped halfway to my leg, but then I gave up and clawed at the skin anyway. "Shut up," I said, "That’s like telling someone that they should ignore a bat flying around their head, because it probably won’t bite them—much."
"It probably wouldn’t," he said. "Plus, it’s just a rash. Do you want to have scars when it’s gone?"
"No." I slapped my skin, hoping the sting would stop the itching. "Though scratching is the only reason I haven’t killed you yet."
William closed the lid of his computer. "It was not my idea to try to climb that water tower," he said. "And I told you those plants at the bottom looked like poison oak."
"And you were the one who thought it would be fun to get the junk yard’s Rottweiler all worked up," I reminded him. "After that, the water tower was our only hope."
"All right, fair point." William went back to looking at his computer.
I paced around the room, driven by thoughts of blowtorches and sandpaper, and sweet, morphine-induced relief. "Anything?"
"You’ve tried calamine lotion."
"Two hours ago," I said. The memory of its uselessness made me itch all over again.
"Then we could be here awhile," he said. "But I’ll keep searching."
"Hurry it up." The side of my left knee was weeping, but it didn’t even slow me down.
"Stop scratching!" William said.
"Shut up, or I’ll put rats in your bed!"
The only thing harder than these last few hours was knowing we were barely past lunchtime, and I still had most of an entire day to get through before there was any hope of sleeping the worst of this torture off.
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