by Jessica Skelton
See the features on her face? She looks like her mother. In fact, her delicate ears, sculpted chin, and high, elegant cheekbones reflect the woman who gave birth to her and then, one year later, left. Even her shy smile—the one that purses her lips and wrinkles her nose—is a permanent reminder of a mother who was never really there.
See the tattoo on her back? She got it when she was eighteen, the year she came out as gay to a world where people like her are still regularly hated and abused. Still, like the lavender and grass-green butterfly she chose to ink into her honeyed white skin, she wanted to spread her wings and show her true colours. A bold-black tribal pattern stretches out from behind the delicate creature, spanning the length of five vertical Japanese characters that declare, “Dare you to love me.”
See the scars on her hands? She made them herself. As a child, she would sit quiet and friendless on her bed, and pick at scratches made on the playground or the soccer pitch until blood flowed from her flesh. A distraction from her crying, she could only bare to leave her wounds alone long enough for fresh scabs to form before attacking them again.
See the gloss on her lips? She has an obsession with it. Every few minutes, she compulsively coats her mouth with a fresh layer of mint or cherry balm, an attempt to keep the skin on her lips from cracking, a problem she’s had her entire twenty years. She never consciously licks her lips, but when a petit mal seizure freezes her epileptic mind, she can’t help but do so.
See the glimmer in her eyes? Even though it often carries a jaded air, she went through years of therapy to get that back. Still, each day she talks sports with her dad or walks down the street holding her girlfriend’s hand, the gleam becomes all the more open, fresh, and animated.