Heightened Sensitivity


While languid from the scallops and zucchini, you see her scratching at her right wrist. This gets you worried that she’s beginning to break out in hives. It always starts there.

But she’s not concerned. Because it’s been a while since her last allergic reaction.

Several minutes later, she’s rubbing her eyes, and you don’t want to take any chances.

“Let’s go,” you tell her.

“But dessert,” she protests.

“We’ll do a raincheck,” you say decisively.

Hurriedly you wave down the waiter and hand him a credit card. Once the bill is paid, you head out with her to the most temporally stable environment possible: home.

On the empty hillside road that looks like it leads to somewhere in the sky, you drive as fast as the speed limit and curves will allow. In the passenger seat, she taps her fingers on the door handle and her thigh, trying not to scratch her now rash-ridden arms.

“I don’t get it,” she says. “We did everything right. Hugely portioned entrées for plenty of flavor. A couple hours at least before sunset, so there were no obvious changes in daylight.”

“Maybe it was that couple in the restaurant. The fleetingness of youth or young love.”

“Oh, that couple. I barely noticed them.”

“But they may have piqued your unconscious mind.”

“Then it could have been anything! The transience of the waiter’s elegant movements. The melting of ice cubes in my water glass.”

“Right. We may never know what triggered this reaction.”

“I can’t believe Mom did this to me!” she shouts.

“She had no idea it would ever turn out this way,” you say. “You were fine for the longest time. More than fine. You could savor the most ephemeral of experiences, ones that eluded everyone else’s attention.”

“Yeah, until my mind didn’t want to do it anymore and now throws a fit every time I get close to something transitory!”

Her outraged words fill the car. You wish you could open the windows to let them out along with her frustration and itchiness. Too bad these things don’t work like that, and besides, the air outside is quite warm.

Shaking her bumpy arms at the windshield, she says, “If this is the price, I would never have tried to savor everything Mom trained me to!”

Heart twinging with sympathy, you answer, “Okay, I’d feel the same way too.”

As soon as you’re home, you get her some antihistamine.

Then, while you rub mint lotion on her arms, she says, “Thanks for putting up with this,” which surprises you.

“Well, ‘putting up’ wouldn’t be my choice of words, but you’re welcome all the same,” you reply.

“Oh, how would you put it? Entertaining this oddity? Attending to my condition?”

“If you’re going to make me put it into words, this is just being family.”

She nods, then says, “You always were the idealistic one.”

One of us has to be, you think before telling her, “That suits me.”

Fascinated by the ways in which the literary arts can serve as a mode of metacognition, Soramimi Hanarejima writes innovative fiction that explores the nature of thought and is the author of Visits to the Confabulatorium, a fanciful story collection that Jack Cheng said, “captures moonlight in Ziploc bags.” Soramimi’s recent work can be found in The Best Asian Speculative Fiction 2018, KYSO Flash, and Mad Scientist Journal.

Image Credit: “Shared Drop,” Sarah Deckro
Read by Ed Robson


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