Thursday, 29 September 2011

Written on The Skin - friday Flash

Daphne was born with a strawberry red wheal upon her angelic creamy face. Though a hemangioma unsightly yet harmless, her mint copybook was already blotted for her spotlessly jaundiced mother, who turned her back on her. Blighted in the incubator's hothouse.

In her stead, Ambrose the father struggled might and main, night and day, to rear the baby girl. Yet for all his efforts, the onset of cradle cap appeared to signal that Daphne's diaphanous halo had collapsed under its own flimsy weight and shrivelled to wreathe her crown. Unlike the rash maternal repudiation, Ambrose only gradually withdrew his defeated affection from his reptilian daughter. Signalling the singularly endearing strawberry on her cheek, being sent packing for a promiscuous outbreak of impetigo. To the untrained eye, the weeping scabs looked like herpes longing for the oedipal kiss to cast her back into a princess. The cold saw day in hell that would never be redeemed.

Deprived of human contact, Daphne cuddled up to the pet cat for affection. But for her pains contracted only ringworm, circling her leg like an ancient henge. A monument to perpetual desertion, even by her own recoiling flesh. No kisses under the mistletoe, just the pruritus of poison ivy. Daphne the honeyless sweet pea developed hives.

Hormonal eruption of adolescent acne bubbled and battled with a livid recrudescence of shingles. The tender nodules under her skin raised red raw. She tried to purge the blistering torture by bathing. Scourging the skin with soap. Rubbing, chafing it dry, rather than a soft patting, only further causing the skin to gape wide in fissures and cracks.

She rattled her eczematous abacus beads, counting off her teenage years. Rasping the chalky skin with her nails, scritch-scratching five-bar gates as she worried at the fleshy worry-beads on her arms. The roseola rosary. Her yearning carapace a desiccated river bed thirsting for water. A desquamation mark on her parched desire.

In her stewing loneliness, she reached out for a man. But each occasion she drew close, skin bumps and flakes erupted, shredding her scarfskin and shedding her resolve. The pustulent vesicles formed an archipelago along the roiling sea of her flesh. A catenation of anxiety alternatively submerged and then raised, by the tidal magma of the shifting tectonic plates of ravaging emotion. Inflamed feelings blown off and solidifying into crusts.

She took herself off to dermatologists. Despite a bombardment of salves, ointments and emollients, her skin continued to flare and rage. The hide specialists knew that the protrusions and spherules were caused by the bubbling passions beneath the rind. That there was nothing they could do for her.

And yet, she finally found herself a lover. He was colourblind, suffered from floaters, and had cataracts in both eyes, so her skin afflictions didn't register with him. She still insisted on making love with the lights off however.

Despite her newfound happiness, or perhaps because of it, psoriasis struck her. A folding in of her own skin, like a sheath of self. An immuring just for her man. Sadly he was to unwrap her from herself and she unpeeled herself yet further.

For once her lover's infidelity revealed itself with little guilt flushes in his face, the scales fell from her eyes. They tumbled on to her forearm and coated the flesh like chainmail. That inveterate male itch which demands fingerless lancing, now sprouted across her own forsaken flesh. But her burning tenderness couldn't be lanceted. Her nails like gauntlets, harrowing ridges across her pale wrists. The moraine of pared being, winding serpentine around her inviting arteries.

Time for a different type of unrequited love lettering to be inscribed on her flesh.

14 comments:

Sonia Lal said...

Whoa! Poor girl. I love the language in this piece. The descriptions are wonderful.

Dijeratic said...

Sad, fleshy carnage - yet somehow indestructible. The skin, the body's biggest organ, at its best, can give us goosebumps, how smooth and shiny and pore-less and how lucky are the few who can be airbrushed out of reality (nothing to me, I've got rosacea myself)?

O sweet, succulent skin - makes you never want to taste it again.

Stunning, Marc.

Anne Michaud said...

I was wondering how you'd work the conditions into your piece, and I am agreably pleased. Well, the story is super sad, but well done, your writing shines through:)

alisonwells said...

In particular loved the way that you matched the particular condition with the emotion or stage of life. The third last paragraph, the folding in of her own skin was my favourite description.

alisonwells said...

In particular loved the way that you matched the particular condition with the emotion or stage of life. The third last paragraph, the folding in of her own skin was my favourite description.

Virginia Moffatt said...

Welcome back! You couldn't stay away could you?!

Very clever as always, and very interesting way to tell her story. Such a sad (but inevitable)ending.

Jason Coggins said...

I've nursed all manner of skin conditions from psoriasis to eczema, burns to necrotising fascitis and to witness all of them gang up in this tragic emo tale made me bless my Peter Pan perfect, lily white complexion.

Angela Perry said...

How very sad. This highlights how much we judge people by their external appearances. She was human on the inside, no matter what she looked like.

Helen said...

I really felt for this girl and how we as a race tend to judge a book by its cover. Very clever and descriptive piece.

Chuck Allen said...

It's great to see you back at the flash fiction game, Marc. Great work with this one, touching and sad.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

How sad. And it made my skin crawl.

Carrie Clevenger said...

What a whopper of a story in such a short space, Marc. I feel for the girl. Wonderful descriptions.

brainhaze said...

Wow great piece - poor girl. Love the descriptions and the way each stage of her life gave her new skins issues. Excellent

Deanna Schrayer said...

Poor, poor Daphne! I can certainly feel for her as I've had skin issues since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, (which causes all sorts of issues), for years. But bless her heart, at least she felt love along the way.

Fantastic language, as always Marc!