Dear Dazai,

When I was a child I got a splinter stuck in my right hand, at the base of my index finger. I don’t remember how I got it. What I was doing at the time, is lost to the fallible memory I possess. For it wasn’t what I was doing that was important to remember, it was important to remember that I got a splinter.

I cried so much at it. Scared of what would come. The splinter left in, fear of a potential pain that would come at my meticulous father’s hands. Fear of that pain greater than at the possibility of anything worse. I would close my eyes, and flinch at the slightest sensation, something that I have never quite grown out of, now it is more dramatic but no less innocent in its reason.

This splinter was deep. Too deep. A flinch meant that, as my father tried to remove it, it broke, leaving a sharpened point lodged in my hand. A metallic smell assaulted my nose and I thrust my hand in my mouth, swearing that I would get it out. That it would be my responsibility.

There is a dark spot beneath my right index finger, today. It’s covered by several layers of skin, and it’s been untouched for many years, but it’s where part of the splinter still lies. I shirked my responsibility, too scared to touch it. The fear of a pain I can’t remember. So I left it, ignored it and waited. For something.

It became a physical part of me, assimilated over time into my own flesh.

When I am desperate for a change. When I crave more control, when I crave a sensation that is of my own making, when I crave pain, I imagine taking a sharp, scalding kitchen knife, one that has often unintentionally sliced into the flesh on my right hand leaving blood to swell before I register any pain, and deliberately slicing down to that splinter.

Blood wells, deep crimson, carrying the pain down my hand with it. The rich, ferric scent overwhelms me, tantalising. I squeeze, gently, the splinter comes free and my right hand gradually becomes sticky with blood, drying in the warm night air. It never dries completely, the cut is too deep and too sharp for that.

Eventually, once my senses stop crowding my consciousness, I stem the flow, I sit, my right hand in my mouth, relishing that taste, a mirror of its scent, that of my own blood. The flow stops. But my hand is still in mouth. I linger. I always linger.

I won’t ever do this.

The pain stops me.

It shall always be there. I shall always be too afraid to do anything. But I might, one day, be brave.

Embrace, relish the change.

I have wasted many years being afraid.