If I had to venture, I would guess that the first time the quills came out was when I was nine or ten; around the same time that I became ashamed of my body.
I was an easily startled young boy. Constantly nervous, painfully anxious. I was full to the brim with equal parts quiver and humor; shaking and hairless. I didn’t care for people touching me. When, in school, physical contact was made, I usually responded with a flinch and an internal massacre. My stomach would tighten, breaths would shorten and a catch in my throat would pitch my voice, already a soprano, a few steps higher.
One day, when I was a startle away from burrowing into the wood chips of the playground, black and gray, with a hint of silver, spikes emerged from the backs of my arms, my shoulders, my calves and butt. Curved and piercing quills unsheathed from my pores. With a flick of a muscle an razor sharp and painful dagger would present itself to warn others.
Don’t touch. Not worth your time.
It was how I made it through the days sometimes. Those certain days. Oftentimes, I was quite a joyful and entirely too talkative child. Making up for my tactile dysfunction, I suppose.
So this is puberty, I thought.