He stood in front of the oblong mirror. It was just tall enough to reveal more of himself than he cared to see. That’s how the meticulous process always began.

With wet, eager hands, he pushed the few inches of hair he had off of his forehead. The curls recoiled at his stubby-fingered touch. His nicotine-stained nails scraped the strands, determined to keep them flat. Once he was pleased with their placement, he submerged his hands in green slime with which to suffocate the follicles atop his head. Gingerly, he stroked and stroked, until not a visible hair remained brown.

Then came his favourite part: the whiting. He splattered the powder over his face and neck, excitedly. Absence became him. Absence of light; absence of colour; absence of life. The blood that coursed beneath his cheeks on the hottest of summer days simply disappeared behind the mask.

Next he buried his fingers in the mud he would use to blacken his eyes. He smeared the substance over his eye lids, up to his brow and down to his cheekbones. The silt felt heavy; to shift his sight was now an effort that matched his usual galumph. As he blinked, his top eye lashes ripped apart from their bottom counterparts, revealing the slit that would expose his irises. The sound tore through his ears like the swift extraction of a triage stitch; the holding together of bits of damaged skin with glue.

He was shaking now. His chest heaved as his heavy breath rapidly filled and emptied the cavity. It was time to redden his lips. He plunged two fingers into the crimson mucilage and smudged the thickness of it across his lips and spread it every which way. It was thicker and brighter than the blood that had flowed from his nose earlier. His lips stuck together now; cemented. Just the way he liked them.

The transformation was complete.

He stood in front of the oblong mirror. It was just clean enough to expose more of himself than he cared to share. That’s how the meticulous process always began.

Shyla Fairfax-Owen ©

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