Allergic Reactions by Michelle Ong

My heart palpitates when you’re near. My limbs weaken, my chest
constricts, and my lungs collapse. I grit my teeth to avoid scratching
the small bumps covering my arms and hands. When I try to answer your
questions, my tongue swells and my anxiety worsens.

When you’re gone, I feel stronger. I breathe easier. I rub my hands.
Your partner brings me a cup of coffee. He’s gentle. We discuss the
weather that night. The mud on my boots. How I must’ve slipped and
fallen in the rain and brushed up against the poison ivy. They found
my earring near the tree. No, it’s not mine. I’m not wearing any

When you return, my eyes begin to sting. You throw photographs on the
table. I can’t look at them through all the tears. You goad me. I feel
cramps in my abdomen. I feel sick. I ask to use the bathroom, but you
refuse me. I ask for an attorney. I’m left alone with the photographs.
I push them away, but I can’t help looking.

She was my neighbor. She was very pretty. She asked me to go into the
woods with her. She wanted to play a game. I closed my eyes while she
climbed a tree, but she slipped and fell. She broke her leg. I didn’t
know what to do. I couldn’t carry her back. She was in so much pain. I
helped her fall asleep.

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Filed under Michelle Ong

3 responses to “Allergic Reactions by Michelle Ong

  1. That was brilliant. A little good cop bad cop twist. Nice take on the theme!

  2. Al McDermid

    This story has so much to recommend it; the ambiguity of the situation (no mention of them being cops), the very effective use of 2nd person, the innocence of her voice (I helped her fall asleep.).

    Just superb.

  3. I love the skirting around edges here, of not quite knowing what happened. Very evocative. Peace…

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