The Dashboard Light Game

Q.P. Quaddle
3 min readNov 6, 2023

Eczema has always been my relentless adversary, an enduring curse that has haunted me throughout my life. It’s a chronic source of embarrassment, affecting different parts of my body over the years, stealing away a piece of joy wherever it goes. Imagine having a skin condition akin to poison ivy or oak that’s been with you since birth. Now, picture it on your eyelids, spreading across your neck, inflaming your inner arms to raw dermis, even appearing between your fingers.

I like to call this experience “The Dashboard Light Game.” It’s about counting how many warning lights can illuminate on your vehicle’s dashboard before it ceases to function. Eczema is one of those warning lights. Nightmares are another. The Eye Twitch and the Heart Fish, these are all warning lights too. They’re the subtle, often ignored indicators on the lower periphery of our metaphorical dashboards, quietly nudging us toward a fight-or-flight response during our daily routines.

These dashboard lights signify the cracks and fissures that appear on the surface of our selves, allowing unwelcome intrusions and causing us to bleed emotionally. Eventually, they may flicker out, leaving us in the cold, dark.

I’ve had these metaphorical lights on my dashboard since I was six, from the day I witnessed the Challenger disaster in class to the present. I am the sum of my body’s dashboard lights.

As long as the car remains drivable, we tend to ignore these warning lights. If it’s still functional, we continue with our journey. We only start thinking about repairs when the car’s performance is compromised. I’ve become an adept tinkerer, a mechanic with a toolbox, refusing to let my vehicle, my body, become non-functional. I won’t let myself break down without a fight.

However, this doesn’t mean that the existing issues aren’t painful. In fact, they are excruciating to discuss. But the key is that if you want to hold yourself together, you must work on it, get a little messy, and be willing to break something else to rebuild. Or, you might have to replace it entirely.

The intriguing thing about mermaids is their connection to the fate of sailors. They are not just like cars; they have a much darker side. To possess a functional mermaid, you must be considerably wealthy. On the surface, she may seem alluring, a captivating catch, but beneath the exterior, she could be a perilous wreck, capable of luring sailors to their demise.

Navigating the treacherous waters of a dysfunctional mermaid can be emotionally taxing. In such cases, you must undertake the daunting task of trying to repair her, hoping she’s the one who can safely navigate you to your destination. It takes time, effort, and a significant investment to unravel the complexities, to become a mechanic equipped with the necessary tools and, most crucially, the touch. You must handle her just right, or she may lead you and countless sailors to a watery grave, leaving you destitute and alone. Marooned within your own metaphor.

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Originally published at on November 6, 2023.



Q.P. Quaddle

Top Writer Humor, Top Writer Satire, Just another freak in the freak kingdom.