Interlude

This new black skin is still too big.

Tough outer shell.

Spikes say I don’t care,

Stay back,

Beware.

I become black, I become metal,

For a fraction of a …

She thinks it might fit better, (something else’s skin,)

For a moment she hopes …

… maybe hope is what she’s travelling for.

She hopes that …

She hopes that …

No. I don’t.

I can’t.

I won’t.

He’d want her to.

I don’t hope.

I can’t hope.

No new skin will change what’s inside, no dye, no Desire, no tight black jeans nor kohl-lined eyes can stop them seeing that,

Now I’m nothing.

She slips it off.

Ecdysis leaves her vulnerable, but not renewed.

She’s naked, truly naked for the first time since …

Have you ever seen someone burnt? Flayed? Red, raw, naked muscle, glutinous yellow globs of fat, pounding veins, glimpses of heart, brown-red liver, lumpen bowel by the yard? That’s her without a skin. No outer sheath to save her from the world. But leathered skin didn’t save him.

Rivers of water stream, steam.

She raises one arm, watches biceps contract, triceps relax, ribs flex and separate. The bones are still there, she should be glad. Cold comfort from the hard white strength that still bends before it breaks.

Does she have a choice? If she strips her skin can she wield the pathologist’s knife, peel back muscle, spill blood? Because despite it all her heart’s still pumping and there’s that bloody metafor. He’s gone but her heart goes on so she has to wear her skin again.

Suit up,

Zip it up,

Shut up,

Suck it up.

She emerges, pink, from the bathroom, blue jeans, white shirt.

Still me,

Still here,

Still nothing inside.

At least she says goodbye, doesn’t run this time.

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