Eyes clenched, squeezed like a pair of fists, seconds before a fight. Eyeballs lurch, left then right, pushing ripples behind my bunched-up lids. Rapid eye movements in a dream of pain. Probing for that sandpapery spot—oh, they itch so much.
I think no one is watching.
Teeth on edge, scraping, my jaw gliding, forward and back, chin bobbing an undancable beat. Enamel upon enamel, microscopic fragments cascade in a daily toothfall. Year by year, eroding my smile to a border of graying stumps. Spearmint gum dredged from the glove-box restores a sense of calm.
Chewing my pinky just above its base on the outside of my hand. The part of my fist I pound on the door when I’m pissed or just need to get in. A callus, small and hard as a button, catches, offering something to pull at. At least I’m not scraping my teeth.
Thumb-knuckle protruding, jabbing at my outer thigh. Sharp, piercing, repeated with every step, just beyond my reach. Hinge at my waist, raise my knee, a practiced movement, unconscious, like flipping your keys or checking your phone. Something to occupy my hands. A soothing snack of pain.
“Why do you do that?”
This heats my cheeks, my vision-edges fade, my hearing turns to fuzz. “It’s a neurological disorder,” I say, “I don’t have control.”
I escape, conscious of who I am.