Flesh by Ali Alshammari

For Bea, leaving her room was never an option,
She wasn’t driven to it per se, no pitchfork or torch-fire wielding involved
It was a self imposed banishment,
Vitiligo, a disease of the skin had consumed her,
Leaving her spotted with patches of white almost deliberately placed like the work of a master artist’s brush,
To her, losing her dark Barbadian skin meant losing her heritage,
Losing her identity and idea of beauty, 
She lost all comfort in halfhearted compliments that no longer made her feel better,
When words meant to evoke happiness start having the adverse effect,
Pleasantries start to sound like insults and words best left unsaid are muttered in anguish,
There Bea was, alone in her room,
Cigarette in hand, like it always was,
She liked to think that even if her skin was blotchy, at least her lungs had a nice even black coat,
She was twisted that way,
She was sadistic in others,
Seemingly enamoured by the taste of the burning cigarette on her lips,
And on this occasion, the way it felt pressed deep into her skin,
She took the cancerous stick and jabbed it, in a stabbing-like motion, with pinpoint accuracy into the patchy whiteness she resented so,
She’s done this before,
Usually just her right arm,
The embers would dance across her forearm once the confluence of skin and burning tobacco began,
Like volcanic magma bouncing off of jagged rock with no rhyme or reason
It was a rush of ecstasy,
She’s been doing it for 4 months now,
Her arm essentially ashen, with deep black craters in the milky blotches like a rabid Dalmatian that fell from grace,
This night, however, she felt particularly destructive,
Perhaps a self-destructive tendency spliced with a hint of fetishistic pleasure,
Wearing nothing but the silk sheets of her worn down twin bed,
Laying in bed with a stillness reserved for the paralysed,
Only her paralysis wasn’t of a physical nature,
She approached the burning with a routine, ritual-like confidence,
She took a deep drag of the cigarette,
Once the smoke billowed out of her lungs like a wheezing chimney top,
She injected the cigarette into her neck with surgical accuracy,
She yelled out in pain,
She cried out in horror,
She laughed maniacally in joy,
Once all tantalising satisfaction and feeling had left her neck, 14 stabs later,
She moved onto her upper chest,
Shoulder blades and all,
Pure bone it was,
Bea was as skinny and thin as her desire to live,
She knew this would hurt,
And she loved it,
She singed her skin with artistic flare and left a pattern of marks that resembled a necklace made from the fiery chambers of hell itself,
The cig was almost burned to a stub like a wick in the studies of scholars who wrote of Bea’s affliction but never really understood it,
She had to act fast,
Find the space where it would hurt the most,
With the reluctance of a heroin addict trying to line up the syringe just right in between the webbing of his or her toes,
Bea thought the piece de resistance would be her face,
An image still so doe-eyed and innocent in its allure,
Though all she saw in mirrors nowadays was a monster,
She looked at the cigarette with lust-filled contempt,
Took one final drag,
Closed her eyes as though awaiting a bullet,
And jammed the cigarette perfectly between where her eyebrows ended and the lining of her nose met,
Holding the cigarette with two hands,
Like a battering ram trying to get into an old castle,
Or a Samurai’s sword being lunged deep into his side as part of an honourable demise,
Jamming it nonstop in the same spot for what seemed like several minutes,
As though she was branding herself,
All that was left was pure carnage in her wake,
She fell back onto her pillow, frantic yet exhausted
Complete silence overtook the world,
There was no cry, no yelling out for help,
Had she gone deaf?
A limbo,
Just total darkness,
Something she’s grown quite fond of.

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