Jenny sighed loudly. Her lips tightened to the side of her mouth, and she planted her palms on her hips to underscore her irritated look.
I couldn't help but smile at her childish pose."We're almost done."(more)
Jenny never really liked getting her skin peeled, often complaining that it felt unnatural. But her skin was too porous for our city: it absorbed too many chemicals, got too dry, and if left unpeeled, would turn brown and rough.
"Look, do you want shiny bright skin like the women in the tree magazines, or would you rather look like an old wax fruit?"
She sighed again, more loudly this time.
Slowly, I ran the orange peeler down her arms. A sweet, citrus odor tickled my nose, and the dark orange peel curled over my wrist as I gently peeled down her forearm. The underlying skin was white at first, but if you looked closely, you could see it turn slightly yellow as it reacted to the oxygen in the air.
"Maybe I'll just become a hobo," Jenny said. "Those fruits in the boxes outside the grocery stores don't look that bad. And isn't 'organic' sort of 'in' right now?"
"Not your kind of organic. People would probably just think you smelled like a screwdriver."
She slapped me on the arm playfully. "You're such a jerk!"
I laughed and continued peeling. I loved these moments: the smell of her juice, the light sprays I would get when I peeled too closely, and the soft feel of the white pith that was only revealed during intimate sessions like this.
"We're almost done. Where's your swimsuit, Jenny?"
She rolled her eyes. "Really? Is it really that hot today?"
"I won't keep you in the fridge long. I promise."(less)
My skin is still peeling. Which is funny, because honestly it's been over a year now and I feel like the fact that it is still working its way towards healthy again should be disturbing. Sometimes it is. Most of the time it's just become a fact of life,(more) and I'm just waiting for the day when my shoulders will be normal again. If they ever will.
I don't tan. Not really. I burn. Some people say you have to burn before you can tan. That when the burn goes away then what is left is darker skin. That theory is for the birds. I'd rather be pale and look like a ghost my whole life..
But I'm really spacey. So it's no surprise that on the day when I was partially in charge of things, I forgot sunscreen. About ten hours later I started to feel the tightness and heat of my skin that told me it was done cooking and I knew that I messed up. By the end of the day, I could feel the sting and the feverish warmth radiating from my shoulders. People saw it, because they aimed open palms at my shoulders to watch me jump.
I learned a day and a half later just how bad it was. Quarter sized boils sat on my shoulders, accompanied with alternating heat and chill, feverish thoughts, and the inability to wear proper t-shirts. I couldn't raise my arms.
I tanned after the burn calmed down. Shoulder pads of tan skin followed by a band of white, and darker elbows and forearms. There are tank top straps of white over the tan. The boils popped, my shoulders cooled, and I am still peeling today, an effective reminder of the importance of sunscreen.(less)
"Ah," is going to be the last word of my life this time around. I'm holding my hand in front of my face to see the skin blackening and blistering. My other hand has already gone through the disease's symptoms. Soon, all my skin is going to blacken, swell,(more) burst, and eventually fall away from my body. It hurts. It hurts more than any other time I've died. I can't stop the tears swelling in my eyes. Everyone around me thinks it is because I'll be dead soon but that's not what I'm afraid of. Did I help these people? Did I make a difference this time around? Am I making the differences I am supposed to be making? It doesn't matter. I'll just go to the white room and sit for untold amounts of time until they allow me to come back into the world, until my previous mark has been long forgotten and erased. It's very hard to think clearly right now. My hand is too contorted to even look at any longer. I just want to die and start over. I want this disease to kill me and I want to start over. I want to... try... one more... time.(less)
"Is anybody else's skin peeling off? No? Anyone? 'Cause I'm losing an observable minority of mine... Did I say minority? Scratch that. Not sure if it's shock or what, but I can't actually feel it. Wait: there it comes. That's some pain right there. Oooooww."
(more) "Shut up, Gary. You're moulting."(less)
"Why are you crying?", I ask mother as she stands over the chopping board, her eyes streaming quiet torrents onto a shirt that's too good to for the kitchen.
She picks up a peel and waves it absently at me. "Onions", she replies, dabbing the edge of he(more)r face with a drooping sleeve.
"And here I was thinking it's because you'll miss me when I'm gone", I tease her, eyes twinkling. She turns away to her knife and her chopping board, mopping her reddening eyes without a word.
I can't bear to see her cry over a bunch of onions. "Let ME do it, Ma", I insist. "Let me let me let meee" I badger.
But she is unyielding.
When she is finally done, there remains no trace of the tears they have brought forth. Only a heap of slivered onions on the board and a destitute peel floating toward me on a gust of wind from the unopened window.
And then she turns to me. "You think I won't miss you?"
I nod, wondering, worrying.
"You're leaving, you silly goose. You know how that feels? Who's going to prance around the kitchen with a knife pretending to be a samurai when you're gone? Who's going to make me laugh?"
She puts down the knife she is rinsing.
"You aren't a mother. If you were, you'd understand what I'm saying, how I'm feeling. The thought of you going away is like...like...my chest cavity is emptying slowly as they pull the organs out of it", she pauses. "It's like this peel without the onion inside. See? Empty." she picks up the delinquent peel, still on its route toward me, and packs it neatly away into the bin.
A close up from my hazy mind reveal blisters and dead flakes peeling from my hand. The light to the left grows wider and suddenly here I am back to the start-- the beginning of it all.
With gaping breath, I mutter "it's only a dream." Panicked doubt(more)s begin to rise and to quickly ensure reality and sanity-- I glance at my hands. And scream. RED blisters everywhere, gushing pus foam at the tips of my fingers. "It's only a dream! It's only a dream!"
Dead skin cells form, flake, and fall from my hands in faster intervals. It feels like the transformation is traveling through my hands and crawling upwards with a mission to savagely infect the remainder of my body.
Nails frantically dig into my skin, which brings simultaneous relief from the agony and yet create fear because the urgent scratches are now revealing deeper blisters-- raw blisters, colored like the cheeks of an angry rash on a baby bottom. (less)
Having just met her my senses kicked in in virulent force.
She appeared as a beautiful medley of layers.
Stark color contrasts extenuate upon her oval like black and white frame. Each color exhumed the two sides of her personality. One a sultry, spicy, succulent seductress of splendid specul(more)ation. The other a bland blanket of bright bereavement awaiting a blanketed basting.
How I longed to jump at her headlong. It was as a blinding spectacle to sit at bay and watch her. Her heat came over me, even at a distance. I could help myself no longer. I swept her up slowly, I had thought, but at once I looked down and she was gone. It was as if she were an apparition in the night; but here I was holding the check.
I paid and promptly left. Next time I will control myself. Next time it will be different. Next time; maybe there will not be a next time. We both know that's not true. My wife is a great cook, but her curry I can not resist.(less)