He wore his nails cut short and clean but cuticles picked to ragged, scabby shreds. These holes he carved in his own flesh stemmed from a latent slush of anxiety no rites orthodox or arcane could assuage, a constant state of unsettled sensibility that scaled to every occasion, rigged with ready apparatuses of self-torment: fingernails and lips– an unclean predilection rife with taint of bacteria. No shame stink could halt the roving action of plucking fingertips against an uneven surface, so insatiable the compulsion to grade the human landscape and smooth the disorderly, only ever compounding the problem, peeling away strips of derma to sorer flesh beneath.

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