Today, I realized that it isn’t my outsides that are shrinking. It’s my insides. Dad mentioned it. Said I look a little shorter. It was in between jokes about my makeup. He tried to approach me for a hug, and noticed in the rejection that I’m only barely at his shoulders now. The difference can’t be more than an inch. But I am different.
He goes to jail tomorrow. Somewhere worse after that. I found evidence of what happened on his computer. It was the extra push I needed to finally tell someone the truth. It gave me something I wasn’t sure I needed, but it took something, too. The truth always takes something from you. Always.
Today, I got my own apartment. On the other side of the city. It’s freeing, in a way. In another way, though, we’re both being moved to our respective cells. Neither of us here by our own choosing. Though one of us is here by our own choices.
There is no furniture in this apartment, aside from my bed and my mother’s rocking chair. That was when I noticed it again. My feet no longer reach the floor. The skin of my thighs rolls up slightly at the sides of the narrow chair. Something odd.
Today, Dad was sentenced. Part of me hopes I will never see him again, but another part of me knows it’s just because I’m afraid I want to. Better to have the choice taken from me. To let myself be the victim.
I thought I would feel stronger, but I’m getting weaker. Everything seems heavier, farther away, less within my reach. I gripped my hairbrush today, and my fingertips mushed into it, soft. All over, my skin stretches, loose, catching and pulling. I am receding.
Today, there is even less of me. I decided to go for a walk, to clear my head. As I pulled on my shoes, the skin around my feet bunched up, wrinkling where the opening of the shoe met my leg, like rolling up a sleeve. Inside the shoe, my skin, no longer supported by bones, squished to conform to the shape of the shoe. The more I walked, the more it shifted and squeezed. I puked a little way into the walk before coming back home.
When I did make it back, I pulled my shoes off to find the toe bones of my left foot no longer in their skin. They had moved, the skin slipped off of them so that the wrong toe bones were in the wrong skin sheaths. Some of my toes were “empty”, boneless. I pinched them to be sure. They felt gummy, and cold. The nail on my pinky toe came off when I tested it.
I noticed something else, too. In the mirror. There is something inside me. Something that isn’t shrinking. The less of me there is, the more of it I see.
Today, I can make it out more clearly. I have to hold my eyelids open to do so; otherwise, they only fold and sag. When I lift them, though, over my shrinking eyes, I can see it, protruding from my belly. At first, I thought it might be a baby. But the face is too big.
I can barely feed myself anymore. There is not much more of me left. The skin of my hands hangs freely like a pair of gloves. I grip things with the small bones in my forearms now. I eat like a dog.
I know I should be more afraid. But in a way, it’s like retreating, finding somewhere safe inside me. A place where there is comfort, where no one can get to me, no one but the person inside me. I think about who it might be. I’m sure there’s some big reveal in store. But it’s hard to be afraid of that, either. I just fade into it.
Today, I tried to get out of bed. I landed on the ground, in a bundle of my own trappings. My arms no longer fill up their skin. They hover in my torso, stretching and moving it. I can touch the thing inside me, with my small, boney fingertips. I can touch it, but I cannot feel it. We held hands today.
I tried to drag myself along the floor and almost made some progress. It was like trying to crawl inside a sleeping bag made of my own skin. I only made it a few inches before a piece of skin caught on a nail in the floor. I couldn’t get enough of a grip on it to pull it free. So I’ve been sitting here all day, waiting to disappear. I am small and distorted.
He showed up around midnight. He knows I keep the key under the mat. He didn’t have to break in. He just entered.
He came into my room. He took his knife from his pocket. He cut open my skin. I watched, no longer able to scream, cry, or fight. I watched him open me. Suddenly, the thing inside me was gripping my hand with two hands. I held on back, not wanting to let her go. But he kept on cutting. And then he took her away from me. And now I have nothing.
I don’t know how much smaller I can get. There is hardly anything left. I can only live on the inside now. I live in a cold place. It is dark and lonely. No one to hold hands with. No one to watch me turn into nothing.
Today, someone will find me. And when they do, there will be nothing left but loose skin.