Regions of Red
The grandma had scabies. The itching started in her toes and traveled up her body, leaving blisters and scabs in its wake as it forced its epileptic trek onward—a devil’s tango in bas-relief. Soon the mites would reach her thighs and submerge into their warmth.
The grandma’s only son took care of the grandma—feeding, doping, and washing her. The grandma’s daughters stayed away, but sometimes they made her meals. They prepared Spam sandwiches and tomato soup with lots of pepper because they wanted the grandma to remember when she was happy. They packed the food into simple brown bags their husbands handed the grandma through her screen door. The grandma nodded and was thankful.
At night, the son took the grandma on walks around the block to calm her spirit. One evening, instead of walking, the son showed the grandma photos of the bugs inside her body. Sarcoptes scabiei, the descriptions read. She did not understand. The son did not clarify or speak of the arachnids’ history with the Egyptians or their immortalization in the holiest book of the land, preferring only to demonstrate their destruction. He showed her diagrams that portrayed human skin as a slab of layers, not unlike a piece of cake, images of the mites burrowing into the block, searching for a kind of permanence within the chunk. The son invited the grandma to multiply the mites’ eight legs by a million, infinity, an impossible factor. To imagine an awakening inside—the original culprit was after all female. Perhaps the grandma could commiserate with this kind of corporeal coup d’état, develop a new poetics of pleasure so different from the divine so as to be its antithesis. The mites, the son explained, would spread to her buttocks and bellybutton and elbows, attracted to these softer collections of flesh, these regions of red. They would conquer her.
Amanda Gomez is a Senior Lecturer at Texas State University where she teaches editing and publishing. She also serves as an Assistant Executive Editor for Porter House Review and manages the Lindsey Literary Series Digital Archive. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Crab Orchard Review, phoebe, The Common, Word Riot, and elsewhere.
Cover Photo by Ana Segota