Every morning when she woke up, she found she had no skin, again.

There was a thin membrane holding everything in, but not really skin.

She was vulnerable to every knock, knick, or jab.

But what was she to do?

She went about her morning breakfast, step by step, bit by bit.

She put the water in the pot for her coffee and found some humour rolled in a neat tube and tied with a ribbon. She unrolled it and pasted it to her chest; it adhered and it became a little bit of skin.

This happened every morning.

Each ritualistic chore, each step to presence garnered a different piece of her soft human carapace, her skin, her protection.

Once, a whole thigh’s worth of skin was rolled neatly into one of her boots.

Each step in the process added security from the awful state in which she woke.

How she used to envy those who never lost their skin and were able to bounce out of bed and face a new day.

What happened to her?

Shedding like some weird snake? It certainly didn’t feel like that; she would go to bed well-armoured, then through the night and maybe in her dreams, the armour protection she had donned the previous morning just melted away, and she awoke, over and over again, day after day, quite skinless, emotions on the outside all aquiver in the daylight, looking for somewhere safe to hide.

Once she had found an old piece of grey metal in the corner by the cat food, she had pressed it to her body and her whole torso was encased.

She liked it when she found large chunks; if the pieces were small and hard to find, it took ever so long to put on enough skin to dress it and exit her home.

She liked to find most of it before she started her day, just to make sure she survived the battle, the onslaught that was life.

If she was tired and didn’t sleep long enough, not only was she skinless, but the pieces she found were few and far, thin and flimsy, like scraps of silk, or tough dry pieces like jerky that barely fit;

these were the danger days,

the red light days,

the black beetle days.

Today was going to be okay, she assured herself as she sipped her coffee and smoothed down some skin on her forearm that she had found hidden amongst the napkins.

Today I have almost all my skin,

I can put clothes on and look like everyone else,

people won’t even guess that I am one of the skinless.