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THE PORCUPINE

    Once a porcupine went in for body piercing in a big way.
    With tattoos becoming so common they might as well be just another fashion fad, and even prison tats and sports ink now looking like Kinko copies run off by the thousands, piercing, or better still, full-body mutilation, struck the porcupine as the only way left to show you could boast true individuality.
    You had to put the boldness of your spirit on exhibition, wear the scars of your inner self like a badge of honor, if you expected to command respect among your peers anymore and a secret envy in all those who wanted to be just like you when they grew up. 
    Its own inner porcupine was not the comically rotund figure the general public thought they saw. No, deep within this plump body was an awesome spirit straining to express itself. 
    In a world where nothing short of “extreme experience” was taken seriously as real living anymore, the porcupine meant to show all those who believed a three-pound nose ring or even multiple tongue chains equaled “a walk on the wild side” that entire continents of unimagined body image remained to be explored. It meant to show these pikers what real piercing was, and it meant to do that by taking the gutsy step of turning its quills unflinchingly on itself. 
    Carrying out the plan was easier said than done, however. Simply mutilating yourself willy-nilly or in haste would not do. Each quill must find its destined spot in a pattern of inspired bravura. Then there was the difficulty of actually bending the stiff spines backwards and inwards. After many failed attempts, the porcupine resorted to simply tearing quills out by the clump and driving them back into the aching flesh from which they’d just been ripped.
    The excruciating jolt to be felt as they penetrated its body, the sensation of almost passing out with the pain, of not passing out, then almost passing out again, gave the porcupine the hypnotic, pulsing sense it was really pushing the limits of awesome self-expression.
    Unfortunately, this exhilaration didn’t last. The porcupine found it needed to twist the quills in deeper and deeper, seeking greater and greater torment, to feel confident it would command all the respect and secret envy due such a heroic performance.
    Ultimately all of the porcupine’s quills had to be used in this striving to reveal the depths of its true self, down to the last one. When it had finished, there it stood: a bristling, twitching mass so covered with spiny excess and open wounds it was impossible to tell exactly what it might be. 
    “Looks like road kill,” was the most frequent reaction.  
    “Uhhhh . . .” the raw lump might be heard to groan. “How can they miss my awesome spirit on display?”