The Glimmer of Me, Underneath This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The bathroom smells septic. I can smell it from the couch, where I sit. The couch. It’s been used heavily, by me and others. Brown, pretty faded, it’s seen a lot of firsts. Not my first kiss, no, I can’t say my first kiss was on this couch. That would be a lie. My first kiss was in the hallway, the petite “foyer” (pronounced foy-AY), which is visible from my place on the couch. The foyer smells septic, too. A candle will have to be lit.


This old brown couch, not so old actually, has seen a lot. Most things in this house have, dating back as a whole to when we moved in seven years ago. And when your life consists of seven and a decade plus years, seven is a long time. Seven years is long enough to establish something. Seven years is long enough to figure out who you are, where you’re from. You know, after seven years, that you’re from here, not there, anymore. I’m from here now. This is me, I’m not the stranger I used to be. I am me, then I was me. This is my face, was my face. These, my hands once belonged to me, as well.

These hands, they are dry, very terribly dry. I wear yellow gloves when I clean up. I don’t quite understand how they’ve become this way. But then, I remember that they are feverishly washed, often. Always trying to get them clean, always, to remove the Vaseline stickiness of various creams and ointments.

My hands, for as long as I could remember, had always been mine. Like my face, my hands were the right color, the color of me. The right combination of pinkish paleness. All the veins in the right places. They were mine, until recently. Now, like my face, they’re someone else’s. Some stranger from those horror story medical websites. It looks way worse than it is, I swear. Face, hands. They’re still functional, I say.

But they’ve lost something. Something in the way the silver and red, at once raw and decaying, overpowers green nail polish; it overpowers the glimmering me beneath. Now I am a stranger covered in millions of little inconsistencies, silver and red and raw and decaying, rough like an old person. I am seven and a decade plus. I am not an old person.

Seven years is long enough to figure out who you are. Seven years is long enough to forget who you were. In seven years, I forgot how to be a stranger. I remembered how to be me. How my face looks, how my hands look.

When I woke up one day to a face that was no longer mine, I cut bangs. Long, swooping bangs, covering as much of it as I could. Bangs to cover someone else’s forehead, silver and red. But bangs won’t cover my stranger’s hands. Nothing can cover a person’s hands. Gloves are a dead giveaway, begging the question, “But what’s underneath?” Hands are first impressions. Hands are for shaking, firm grip. How do you do? I no longer shake hands.

“But what’s underneath?” I tell you, I’m underneath. These things are no longer me, they are just a shell, something I need but don’t associate with. This is not my face. These are not my hands. I am still here. If you need to find me, just look to my eyes. They’re the only thing shining under all this red-silver, raw decay.


The bathroom smells like Persian Pomegranate; candle’s been lit for a while now. The hallway’s still a little bit septic, but I’m doing all I can. The doctor says it’s working; I go in three days a week. I’m still raw and decaying, but he’s doing all he can. Hope glimmers in my eyes, and there’s me, beneath a stranger’s hands.





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