The Leech

Samina Chaudhry was the winner of the 2019 Next Chapter Award from the Scottish Book Trust, is a member of both the Scottish PEN Writers In Exile Committee and the Ten Writers Telling Lies group, and has had her work published by thi wurd and Poetry Forward Press.

Sixteen years is a long time now that I think of it. For me it wasn’t a leech at that time, it was God’s creature just like me.

The first time I saw it on the kitchen floor I left it thinking I’d throw it out in the morning. I should have given this matter some attention because next morning when I was getting ready for work, I saw it come up my foot and attach itself onto my ankle. I put my fingers around it and tried to pull it off. Every time I took it off it came back up again. Eventually I pulled my sock over it and left for work. In the evening when I came back it slid off my ankle and went to hide in some corner. Sometime during the night it made its way into my bed. This started to become a routine and the leech began to go everywhere with me. At work it was always there on my table underneath a pile of papers or a file as I met clients, held business meetings, watching me as I tried to expand my business. And as my business turned around so did my profits. But some time later I noticed a bite on my lower leg. I began to feel unwell. Day by day as the leech dug deeper into my flesh a hole the size of a ten pence coin became visible. And because of my illness the business began to go down and the debts piled up.

How could you have let a parasite like that live on you for so many years? The doctor said shaking his head.

I told him it knew my weaknesses and my strengths. It knew to slide off my leg whenever I got angry. It would go and hide somewhere and come back when I cooled down. I’d even woken up during the night dreaming the leech had gone into my throat. I couldn’t open my mouth. I could only look, my eyes wide and startled.

That day I came home thinking I should have killed it because it’s killing me now. ●

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