Perfect Skin

“If I feel this feeling, will you crawl out of your perfect skin and climb into mine?” ~Black Lab

There was just something about the rain that captivated her, that steady drumming on the tin roof of the little house, the water occasionally finding imperceptible holes, forcing its way inside. She could sit in the mud room for hours, on that little bench that used to accommodate her so well. But time moves in mysterious ways, an hourglass bolted fast to the floor, and she squeezes into the well-worn spot on the bench just enough to sit still and ponder the rain.

Her reverie is broken, however, by the sound of tires squealing to a stop in the driveway just beyond the front door, and she realizes she has been sitting there for far too long. A dip of her head, a tap of her foot on the floor, and she rises from the bench before the door opens, knowing that every moment counts. The slamming of a car door sounds closer than it could possibly be, but it arrives muted to her ears as she melts into the house, just another puddle on the floor on a rainy afternoon, just another silent scream waiting to explode.

As she waits in her hiding place for the series of moments to pass, for the footsteps to fade away, she absentmindedly touches the scar on her face, the one blemish on her entire body. She often stands in front of the bathroom mirror and tries to figure out ways to make it disappear, to be perfect like she used to be. Perfect is now merely a dim memory, a faded yellow photograph that doesn’t seem real anymore, like it was taken by ghosts. She pulls herself into a ball while she waits, no longer scared like she used to be. Just hoping to survive.

The rain comes down heavier now, pounding relentlessly against the tin, hammering firmly on the little house like an implacable beast, suddenly ominous in its ferocity. The storm has begun. Her fingers worry themselves like cricket’s legs, friction mounting as they scissor back and forth, trying to force herself not to touch her face again, because she knows she will open her mouth and let loose a guttural, primal yell, and she cannot afford that small solace. Instead she imagines perfect skin, an endless expanse of smooth, unadulterated skin, a beauty without comparison that she wishes were hers.

She hears him approaching her hiding place, the sound of his feet slapping across the tiles, and she knows that perfection is a lie parents tell their children to make them obey, to make them think they can thrive in a world that wasn’t made for everyone. Her fingers stop the twitching dance of their own volition, and she can’t seem to help herself as they flutter to her face, one touching perfection and the other jagged ridges, existing in equal measure.

Which is all she can say for life. As she opens her mouth to scream.

Sam

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