This story is a confession of sorts. I don’t feel penitent, although the regret is enormous. I’ve already paid for this ponderous sin, as the following words will relate.
There I was, bed ridden. I’d never seen anything like it, never felt anything like it. My hands recoiled at the mere thought of casting their digits beside the infection that blistered across the altogether surface of my lower body–nearly the entirety of both my legs and virtually that as well my heavy arms, with a smattering across the upper torso–all oozing and weeping with rivers of puss at my every shiver and unintended undulation of flesh. I was become a monster in my own form, unable to walk, barely able to stand, suffering with terrible, unbearable heat in what healthy tissue sobbed miserably beneath the surface of my bodily horror. We tried an ocean of topical ointment, antihistamines, some variety of clay carefully arranged about my broken pores. Nothing worked. Not a damn thing worked. I didn’t arise from my bedroom for nearly two weeks. In retrospect, I don’t know why I so stubbornly held out so long; I must have assumed the gods to have some modicum of mercy.
You see, about a week or two before this all began, I had consumed quite deeply of alcohol, the exactly consequences of which remain a mystery to me today. The only evidence at first of the monstrosity of my misdeeds was evident in the severely misshapen longsword leaning against the wood-slatted walls and the clearing that I had apparently composed in the surrounding wilderness, into which I had thrashed and hurled and debased myself, falling repeatedly upon my features. I should mention, the entire area beneath the canopy of the woods was an underbrush of almost uninterrupted poison ivy, and I’d always been allergic since a child.
Eventually, I was dragged before my primary care physician who, when asked, related that this was the second worst case of poison ivy she had ever seen. I can only imagine the first contained damage to the genitalia.
I was prescribed steroids. Six hours after the first dose, I was quite nearly a free man. It was magical. More magical was the fount of strength and enthusiasm I had for all tasks, in spite of my sickly handicap. Fifteen seconds awaking out from bed and I was amidst the throes of a lightning storm, rearranging home-grown tomato plants to protect their bounty from the storm. The next three days were magical; I’d never been so strong, so upright, and I could eat and drink any other fool under the table. The aggression was worrisome however. But being slowly weaned from steroids was almost as bad as the poison ivy they saved me from; it felt like dying slowly. Apparently my experience is commonplace.
The only blade I have purchased since then is a paring knife when its predecessor went missing.