I spent Black Friday my senior year out with some friends. Well, kind of. We tried to go shopping starting at midnight, but since sales had been going on for, like, six hours at that point, the stores decided to close for a while to let employees sleep, or something. So we spent those hours in the basement of one of their houses watching the E! Network in the early hours of the morning. They fell asleep, but because of the coffee I drank to get ready for shopping, I lay awake paying far too much attention to the drama happening on screen. When we finally got back to the mall, we spent just an hour there, spending most of it in a shoe store.
I got home around seven that morning, and my father and I decided to catch a matinee showing of the newest blockbuster so I could get a couple hours of sleep.
Our seats were close to the front, but not too close that we had to look up to see the screen. There were a few empty seats between me and the next man, who sat on the edge of the row. He appeared as the lights were dimming completely, ushering the beginning of the film. I heard the first crunch of popcorn and glanced over, noticing the small bag he held in his lap. I watched as he continuously shoveled popcorn into his mouth, like a ravenous teenager after a long day at school. The opening credits ended and what was left in the theater was the dialogue on screen, with no music in the background. This absence left the crunching to my left amplified. I looked over again and again, for what felt like twenty minutes. Every time I thought he was finished, he would lick his fingers noisily. And then he would continue to eat.
I could feel tears forming in my eyes and I glanced at my dad. He didn't seem to notice anything, only what was going on on screen. How could he not hear it? It was like thunder in a storm, the kind that shook the house. I also didn't understand how the man still had popcorn to eat; he had gotten a small bag and hadn't taken a break since the movie started. Maybe it was because I was tired, but a panic began to form in my chest.
I started scratching at my leg, but they were covered by my jeans. The fabric was rough against my dry hands. So I started digging and scratching at the back of my hand, in the area between my thumb and forefinger. I pressed hard and trailed my nails down past my wrist, but the sound still picked at my ears like an artist at marble. My fingers moved in faster, shorter strokes, and soon it looked and felt like the back of my hand was itchy, and it was an itch I could not overtake. It continued past when the man stopped and crumpled the bag, placing on the ground at his feet. Finally I thought. I focused on the movie, but my nails still scratched at my hand. I needed my heart rate to slow before I could stop.
Soon, I felt moisture. I looked down and saw the familiar sight of read, irritated skin, the first few layers scratched away. The area was bigger than I expected, running the end of my thumb to the top of my wrist. In the light from the screen, I could see pinpricks of blood popping up, and this made the pain begin to flood in. I tried to place a napkin over it, but the coarse paper made it sting more than the cold air did. I moved it away from the eyesight of my dad, and kept it hidden as we got in the car; I kept the sleeve of my sweater pulled over it, careful not to let it touch the wound.
When my mother got home, she immediately noticed it and demanded I show her its severity. "I scratched myself too hard," I told her, explaining that I didn't realize how deep I was digging with my nails. She didn't believe me. She thought it had happened the night before, that my friends had hurt me somehow. I tried to tell her no, but she wouldn't listen. Instead, she held me down as she poured peroxide on my hand to clean it, and I cried at how bad it hurt. She wrapped it in gauze and an ACE bandage, and told me I could not see my friends outside of school until it healed to the point I didn't need the wrap anymore. We cleaned it twice a day: before I went to school and before I went to bed.
I had to be careful in the shower and when washing dishes for a couple of weeks, so as not to get the bandage wet. When I could take it off, the water stung the scabbing wound, and I picked at it until the scab was gone. All that was left was a purple blotch on my hand, which eventually faded to red to a slightly darker color of my flesh."What about eating at home?"