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Free online fiction by Alex Draven

Writing over the scars is a way of reclaiming his skin, his self. Needle buzz feels shockingly different over slick scar tissue than it does over the softer rougher skin that had been there before, but nothing compared to the feeling of looking down a thousand times a day and not recognising his own hands, how own wrists, forearms, chest and thighs.

It was a choice, but more of the devil and the deep blue sea kind than anything that he could really explain to the therapists, to his family, even to Breck, although his lover seemed to understand anyway.

It had started with naked fingertips, trailing gentle over the fragments that weren't covered in tape and scabs, making patterns and interlinking their initials over and over, whether he was awake or sleeping.

Later, once he was out of the hospital and moving around the ground floor studio Breck had found for them, where there was almost room for the crutches and no rail-less staircase to keep him prisoner, Breck's fingers had carried oils to paint his skin in gleaming stripes and swirls that rode the ridges and made them something whole for a while.

Later still Breck's brushes ink and the words flowed over his new shape and helped him learn it's possibilities, smearing promises and poetry between them to make love for the first time in months.

During the long quiet days, when Breck worked and he stared down the walls and forced himself through exercises and tried not to think about what he'd ever done to deserve this new existence, he'd taken his own pens and moved, driven, between the skin he could reach and the sketchpads where his plans took life.

He walked into the studio unsupported, Breck wise enough to stand a little to one side and that was important. Rob flicked through the books, pausing here and there to compare page and flesh, and then nodded and turned away to his equipment without another word. He went there because he knew Rob would get it.

Filling his skin was a long job, session after session to punctuate the days of therapy - for body and mind - and the long slow journey or realising that he was never going to be able to go back to the world he'd known. He kept his feelings locked down tight, the way he always had, but Rob's needle buzzing into him was near enough to tears that it kept him alive enough to love, and that's all that seemed to matter any more.

The cutting took longer, took words and careful planning, and sharing something desperately raw with Breck and then again with Rob, because to keep his hand steady and his heart sure Breck had to know beyond doubt that what he was about to do was safe and clean and that he was doing everything perfect. He could understand that, see how it would matter to someone who still had a whole skin.

It was worth the words tearing at his throat in Rob's curtained work room to see Breck's eyes and feel the skin parting, the blood beading hot and trickling cold, lining raised scars bright brilliant red again. Worth the ache and pull and itch of the healing this time around to reclaim those lines and make them his, victim into warrior and chaos a butterfly.

His skin was art now - crafted and created - and his skin was his.

** end **

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Skin by Alex Draven is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
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