Her eyes went wide and all the color drained from her face. “You don’t feel that?” She gasped in horror.
Confused, I followed her eyes to where my left arm was resting on the bathroom counter. On top of my curling iron - which was on, by the way. My eyes grew wide as I watched a sliver of smoke drift lazily to the ceiling. Horrified, I snatched my arm away, accidentally knocking the curling iron onto the floor in the process, where it clattered twice and broke.
Lily gasped as I turned up my arm to inspect the damage. A pink puckered line of burnt skin stretched from my wrist to halfway to my elbow on my left arm. I wrinkled my nose as the scent of burning flesh hit me strong enough to make me gag.
I looked at Lily, her hand clapped over her mouth and nose in an effort to avoid the smell, her eyes wide and terrified. “Lily, please don’t say anything. Please look at me,” I pleaded with her.
In a daze, she finally tore her gaze from the burn on my arm and I flinched when I saw a second wave of terror flicker in her eyes when she met mine. “Lily, please!”
I sighed when she still didn’t respond and climbed onto the top of the toilet seat to open the single tiny window of the bathroom. I had enough to deal with as it was - I didn’t need my mom asking questions I couldn’t give reasonable answers to, and she’d never believe me if I told her the truth. I was fading. Like a ghost.
It had started with little things: not feeling a paper cut on my finger, becoming less sensitive to temperature changes, that sort of stuff. But it was progressing quickly. I didn’t know why. The burn on my arm was emergency room-worthy. I should’ve been in agony.
But I wasn’t. I didn’t feel anything. Not the pain that should’ve been pulsing through my arm, not the cold porcelain tile underneath my bare feet, not the tickle of the breeze on my skin from the open window. All that I knew from experience, but I didn’t feel it then.
I slipped past Lily in the doorway and padded quietly into my bedroom, shuffling the piles of clothes until I found what I was looking for - a red long-sleeved tee shirt. Pulling it over my head, I saw that Lily had crept into my bedroom and now sat on the corner of my bed, staring at the burn which was now hidden under the sleeve of my shirt. Hesitating a moment, I stepped forward and gently took her hands in mine, forcing her to look up into my eyes.
“You’re telling me you don’t feel anything?” Lily breathed. “Not this?” I watched as she gripped my hand tightly and squeezed my fingers twice quickly. I shook my head sadly.
“It’s like I’m stuck behind glass - I can see what you are doing, but I can’t feel anything. Not even extreme temperatures, as you saw.” I held my breath, fearing the worst.
“Why?” Lily asked.
I sat down on my bed next to her, my shoulders slumping in defeat. “I have absolutely no idea.”
To my surprise, she wrapped her arms around my shoulders and pulled me into a hug. “Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me. We’ll get through this together,” she cooed as she stroked my hair.
Of course, I couldn’t feel anything she was doing, but I pretended that I could feel the heat from her hug soak into me, giving me strength and telling me I was going to be okay. I also pretended I could feel the tears sliding down my face, warm and salty against my pale cheeks.