It burns. My skin is torn away—like strips of wallpaper steamed, peeled and tossed in the trash, leaving my flesh exposed—raw—compromised. I look up, and the only thing I can see while strapped to this chair is the bare bulb and thick bubbles of dull green paint above me—bulging, grotesquely twisting into unrecognizable blobs of imperfection.

“Does it hurt?”

I stare, scalding my retinas—and feel the burn again—this time on my thigh.

I don’t answer. I focus on one blob—a swollen pocket filled with gas—filled with the emptiness I wish I owned and the last thing I’ll let the bastard do is see my tears. I blink them back. The light on the ceiling surrounds the largest paint bubble like a halo. It lives in a bright white world overflowing with blinding possibilities.

The thing that thinks it is a man, chuckles—waiting for me to beg–hoping to hear me cry. I will NOT give in. I continue to fixate on that little world and imagine it growing larger—huger—stretching out to engulf my tormentor in a latex death bubble. Strangling him until blood runs out of his nose, his mouth, until he’s pissed himself and bellowed his misery in a voice that no one will hear.

I shudder. A flickering thought passes through my brain. Perhaps I am not so different from this thing who thinks it is a man, if I am so ready to dehumanize him, to turn him into a life promptly suffocated by the world above me—sterilized by light and blessed by the agony of screams.

It burns.


*This piece was written at a writer gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia using the prompt: Paint Bubble