Don't Pick: Flash Fiction



Don’t pick. Don’t pick. Don’t pick. She closed in on the open pores that, once enlarged ten times their normal size by a high magnification pocket mirror, looked more like open sores. Each one represented a volcano, ready to erupt any moment, but not without enflaming the underground first. Though cliché, the resemblance was uncanny. If she could, she’d reduce her fingers down to the size of a spider’s nimble legs and dig up the dirt and dinge and puss until there was no more.

Her face could use a decent excavation. 

But her mother told her not to pick. Don’t pick at it, she said. I swear to God if you pick at it, it’ll only get worse and you’ll have ugly scars for the rest of your life. She resisted as much as she could, but then there were the times she couldn’t. 

Late at night, tired and desperate, she’d ready her station—bright lights, big mirrors, sterile utensils—and dive right in. Just like her mother promised, it did get worse. Once pale and smooth, the vast ranges around the disaster zones were now hot and wrecked as well, cracked and cratered like the ancient floors of abandoned desert valleys.  

It’s really not that bad, her friends would say. Don’t worry so much, and don’t pick. But she could tell the way they looked at her differently, their baby faces twisted into feigned empathy. They exiled her whether they meant to or not—their old friend, turned cauliflower. 

There was only one thing left for her to do. She grabbed a rusty hammer from under the kitchen sink and took it to the bathroom mirror. She shattered the glass so she wouldn’t have to see. The rest she bludgeoned.

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