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    podcastle.org9/14/2112 min
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    • DellwoodBarker
      Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
      1 month ago

      Creatively funny and sad and brilliant and liberating.

      Currently, Nora is dating an amateur acupuncturist. They met at a bar, where he told her a bad joke about why acupuncturists shouldn’t be trusted, something something something because they are a bunch of backstabbers.

      He turns out to be neither of these things: a backstabber or an acupuncturist, professionally speaking. He is sincere and loyal, and he performs acupuncture only at the hobbyist level, though he hopes to get an apprenticeship soon. For now, he practices on himself often, on her less often, and most frequently on the bumpy, porous skin of grapefruits.

      When Nora becomes this time, she is reclining on his living-room sectional, the amateur acupuncturist focused on the cap of her knee.

      “Do you feel anything?” he asks, inserting a fourth needle experimentally. “More relaxed, maybe?”

      “Sure,” she responds, feeling nothing, though maybe a slightly less dulled version of the nothing she usually feels.

      Suddenly, a patch of rough, faintly green skin blooms in the space between the needles. It is thicker than the surrounding skin, and when she pokes it, it has a bit of give.

      She looks up at the amateur acupuncturist. “Is that supposed to happen?”

      He examines the patch thoughtfully. He doesn’t think so, but also, maybe. Which is to say, he hasn’t seen this before, but there’s a lot he hasn’t seen before. After all, he isn’t an expert.

      “Hm,” he says, and brings a cold compress.

      “Hm,” she says, and tries over-the-counter eczema cream.

      Nora has a strong reaction. Over the next few days, the odd patchiness spreads until she is rough and green on her arms, legs, and chest, and on the small of her back, and in the divots of her hips. The patches aren’t itchy or painful, but the amateur acupuncturist avoids them all the same when his hands roam across her under the covers in the dark.

      The pale green grows more vibrant, tinged with yellow in some places and with blue in others. Nora loses her appetite. She is cold all the time. She feels so thirsty she might die, but bloats if she drinks more than a swig of water.

      Then she sprouts her first needle-sharp spine.