The Rash

The Rash

The rash had not been there the day before, but was now raging over swatches of Erin’s body. She was covered in light pink spots on her stomach, across her back, and as they crept up her neck, they became deep red hues that changed colours ever so slightly depending on what time of the day she was looking at them. Seeing herself in the mirror was odd. Erin thought of one of those horse’s that Indians ride in old cowboy movies. She wanted a spear and she wanted it to be lit on fire as she thrusted it down into the ground.

The rash made her feel inhuman, like a monster. Erin craved to be in a cave, wet and dark, where her spots would be hidden by the black. In the evening, Erin watched as the rash changed from one hand to the next. It was pink like cotton candy and spiralled up her thumb and around the fleshy bit of her palm. Her eyes stayed fixed on it until it started to dissipate and move to the other hand.

Erin awoke in the middle of the night. The rash was like a night light glowing brighter than the heavy moon outside. She couldn’t sleep, so she stood out of her bed and blew the few strands of hair that were stuck between her eye lashes. Erin looked to her arms, which were glowing most of all. She followed one thin line that coiled around the nub of her elbow and traced along her upper arm before it disappeared underneath her shirt. She wanted to tear away at her clothes that lay lightly over her body. The heat of the summer air and the heat of her marked body were intermingled and made a pulsing strangle that ignited her.

Her clothes fell to the ground as Erin stripped them away. She walked out of the backdoor of her house and listened as little creatures cracked and chirped in the forest. They couldn’t be seen, but Erin was alight, the rash lying on her earlobes, the hard skin between her toes, and in red patches below her knees. The rash had tattooed itself all over, but it had no permanence. The colours still moved and switched places. Erin continued walking, the dried leaves crunching between her bare feet. With every footfall, the rash glowed brighter.

The lake was like an ink-pot, full and murky. Erin did not dip her rash-toes in first to feel the water, but instead, slipped her body in, the rash swarming in red, overtaking her.

Ariell Cacciola is a writer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in various magazines, journals, and anthologies in the US and Europe. She is also the World Literature Editor for The Mantle and is finishing her first book. Visit or on Twitter @ariellcacciola.

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