I've felt it like a splinter in the foot, for years. Learned how to lean to keep the weight off it. Only sleep on my left side. Like how I learned to half smile to hide the gap where my front tooth got knocked out. More of a dull ache, a gnawing itch than a sharp pain. 2/10 on the scale. Or a flat line face, neither a frown or a smile. Feigned phlegmatic indifference. It never goes away. It’s always there and if you catch it just right I’m on the floor. Reflexive flinches and self defensive retreats. Why do we let the sharpest burrs burrow so deep? Why do we assume the body will just heal, that the scars will layer it like blankets so you can’t feel the pea. We always bury the things we ought to free. I’m ready to cut it out now. Have gathered all my tools. Close the door please. Don’t be alarmed when you hear me scream. The festering core has made a home of me. Extracting it always stings.