Wednesday, January 7, 2015

52 Weeks of Art - Week 02 "Flesh"


I hear them. They’re all talking at once, it seems. Some talking about me, others talking across me. But no one is talking TO me. It’s as if I’ve become invisible. No, that’s not right. I’m not invisible. No body that looks like mine is invisible. I’m more the stuff of nightmares.

Have you ever seen a burn victim up close? It’s bad. And the skin never really heals. No matter how many grafts and surgeries and treatments, the flesh is always a little different. And there’s no hiding it. So I sit here, not invisible but not really seen at all. I think it just hurts everyone too much, so they look away, up or down… anywhere but at these wounds.

It’s not a surprise, really. It’s been months. But you’d think I’d at least merit a hello or how are you today. Nope. The best I get these days is the ever-so-annoying monologue of my cousin Ellen’s morning pity parties.

“Everyone’s pretending they don’t want anything, but I know better. It will be just like with my own mother. No one cared enough to come by, but they were right there with their greedy hands outstretched for her jewelry. And who is Sarah, anyway? She’s not even family, she just married in. Why Tom thought she should have Mom’s gold and emerald brooch is beyond me.”

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.

She doesn’t hear me, though. No one does, anymore. I’m silent, the only sounds in the room the steady beep-beep-beep of the heart monitor.

I wasn’t always like this, of course. There was a time when I was normal. Hell, I was better than normal. Everything about me was strong and powerful. And I liked it. I was tall and handsome, and the ladies liked me. Heck, some of the guys liked me, too. And I ate it up. Not gonna lie, it was a damn thrill to know that people wanted me. Who doesn’t love Marines, danger, and tattoos, right?

Tattoos. I’d almost forgotten about those. I remember them all, from my very first Eagle, Globe and Anchor to the last one I got when I was home on leave, a memorial to my fallen buddies. They all mattered and they all meant something. They were the story of my life, bright and dark and a part of my flesh forever. Supposed to be, anyway.

Of course, all of my ink is long gone, left on the ground when the flames melted the skin from my bones in a shithole village halfway around the world. Not exactly something my battle buddies could pack up and ship home to me, you know? And there’s nowhere on this body now that isn’t already marked in some way by the fire. There will be no more ink for this guy.

So I’m stuck here in a body that looks nothing like the me I knew. And what’s left of me is beginning to fade, too. I’m barely aware of the days passing into night. And to be honest, I’m not sure if I’ll see another sunrise. Each day, I feel less and less tethered to this flesh and bone. I don’t know, maybe this how it all ends somehow.


I hear the beeping again. That damn heart monitor. Beep. Beep. Beep.

Wait. There’s something different. There’s two different monitors. One is the same slow steady beep, but the other one is much faster. And there’s energy in the room. So much motion and everyone’s talking at the same time and what’s with all the people in this room?

I feel different. I don’t know what’s happening, exactly, but I feel… different. I feel light, so damn light. It’s like every part of my body is free, somehow. I’m moving. Holy crap, I can move again. My arms, my legs. It’s like everything works again.

Whoa. My fingers look so small. What happened? How did my toes get so damn tiny? And my flesh… it’s… all… so damn pink. And I’m chubby. Somehow I’m fat and small and what the hell is all of this?

I don’t understand. What is going on? I was just laying in my bed, drifting off again. And now, I’m tiny and shiny and new and…


“Mr. Allen, would you like to hold your son now?”

Nervous, the man barely stammers out a yes and holds out his arms.

“Relax, Daddy. You’ll be just fine.”

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