The Prickling

Pic Credits: Anais Gómez-C

The first time I felt it, it was an itchy sensation in my stomach that let my blood run cold. I heard some of the women at my office had caught it before me. They called it the prickling. They said once it’s in you, it won’t go away. They were right. Until then, I had been careful not to contract it. I had stayed at my desk and done what was expected of me and no more, but one day, curiosity took the better of me. I guess I wanted to know what it felt like, to break the routine and venture in unexplored fields. I can’t say I regret it now, but I wish someone would have prepared me for what was to come.  Every morning, the prickling waits for me at work and every evening it follows me back home. There is no escaping. Night and day, it scratches my flesh like a famished animal lurking inside my guts. When the moon is high in the sky, I can feel the beast roaring and rumbling, as if calling its pack to arise. I wonder if I should tell the girls at work about it. I can imagine them at night, still glued to their desk, attempting everything to prevent the critter from screaming. I’m not much different. The prickling requires my complete attention. Sleeping is no option. Work is the only food it feeds on. So I gobble up whatever I can to calm its cravings; emails, checklists, inventories, spreadsheets, but it’s never enough. The thing always wants more. When I wake up in the wee hours, the bellows of my hollow belly remind me of the greedy creature nesting inside of me. It’s a sort of hunger you can’t satisfy. Sometimes, when I sit at meetings, it howls so loudly I’m afraid someone will notice me. From dawn till dusk, I shiver and quiver. The prickling keeps me on my feet, watchful of anything I could put under my teeth. All of my moves are the echoes of its growl; ravenous handshakes, starved business calls, voracious interviews. My colleagues say that’s what happens when you work under such a clear roof. At lunch time, while the men in ties are nibbling at buttered carrots and steamed white fish, we gorge ourselves on stale scraps saved for the staff. But every night in our sleep, we unleash the beast and let the prickling have its share of the feast.