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They're all around me.
Faces I know. Faces I care about. All asking, begging, imploring me to do it.
For me. For my safety. My peace.

They're all around me.

They're strangers. Shouting, screaming, screeching at me. They'll kill me I know it.

They're reaching towards me. To hug me, comfort me. Their touch burns. Makes my flesh crawl. I feel it try to peel away from their touch.

They stroke my hair. "You can do it" they quietly assure me. They make my ears throb.

Why won't it stop. Why won't they stop. I want to do something. I want to make it stop.

My heart is pounding. It's going to break my ribs. I try to brace against it.

But my skin. It burns. It crawls. It no longer feels like mine. The fingers in my hair are scalding.

I'm trapped in someone else's skin. It feels tight. It feels loose. It touches me everywhere. It leaves me exposed and raw.

Damn my heart. Damn my ribs. I need to get out the skin. I scratch at the ill-fitting face.

My nails are claws. They don't feel any worse from the touch of my family.

Its never going to stop. Why won't it stop. I need to do something. I need to make it stop.

The voices are too much. I can't take it anymore. If my ears must bleed it'll be because of my own voice. If I'm going to be flayed then I'll be the one doing it.

I scream. Claw. Screech. Tear.
My skin starts to come off. My throat starts to bleed. I'll rip myself apart and be free. I can be free of this.





Opening my eyes I see my lamp. Then curtains, my flannel sheets and the rest of my bedroom with it. I am safe, curled up in my bed.

As I reach to feel my pulse I see that my hands are not bloody and terrible. As a matter of fact they are just as they have been for weeks. Skin slightly too dry with hangnails just starting to grow and my short, unevenly trimmed nails on full display.

My pulse feels a bit hurried for simply resting but not fast enough to cause alarm.

I clear my throat and call for my cat. Comfortingly my voice does not crack and my throat does not bleed.
The only things touching me are my clothes and bedding.


There is no sound except for the traffic outside and the jingle of Shiro's collar.


I only realise as I sit there petting Shiro that my skin fits exactly as it should. Unnoticeable and exactly as it always had.


There was not a single thing wrong and while the clash of my vision against reality was disconcerting the feeling would pass.



After all the memories of dreams hardly ever last.