Friday, May 21, 2010

Discarded Skin

Lying in the dark, I put a hand to my lips. The lamp burned beside me, on my bedside table, and I rubbed my eyes, allowing my hand to smooth down my cheek until it encountered the puckered planes of my lips. They were puffed out, swollen. Running my middle finger over my bottom lip I felt the protruding skin of chapped skin.Carefully, gingerly I slid my finger tips around the edge of my skin and peeled up. I felt a little jolt of pain but kept pulling. Soon, I felt some wetness pooling on the little dimple in my lips formed by the press of my fingers. While I pulled that wretched piece of skin up, I thought about what a Biology teacher once told me. Our skin, our senses are not actually capable of feeling "wetness." Rather, we feel coolness, weight, slipperiness, and other things, and put it all together.

I looked at the little bit of flesh in my hand, at how it distorted the light. While the blood felt cool, slippery, heavy, and other things on my mouth, I looked at that little bit of skin. Nothing had been so important to me in that single moment as peeling off that dead and damaged layer, that layer of light-distorting cells that separated my internal veins and muscles and organs from the outside world. Nothing had been so important as getting that layer off me, until my skin was smooth and free. But I still got satisfaction from peeling it up.

I could practically feel the blood clotting in the exposed air, but I got it up and laid that thin little layer on the top of my bookshelf, near a bouquet of dried roses and a book on devilish fairies. When I had lain back down, I licked my lip hesitantly, only to find that the blood had not clotted.

While the metallic, primal tinge of it filled my mouth, I lay back and switched off my lamp. I fell asleep thinking about primal, instinctive things.

By the end of the month, that single slice of skin on the top of my bookshelf had developed into a pile of dead, lifeless individual layers of cells. Every night, I peeled off as many layers as were necessary.


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