The Skin Stealer

She was a girl made of glitter.

She was a diamond, a rainbow, a bright pretty sparkly thing. Her hair was white silk, long down to her back; her eyes were glimmering jewels, a faceted candy-colored kaleidoscope. And her skin was redpurplepinksilverbluegreen glitter. She sparkled like sunlight on water and shimmered like gems. Her teeth were sharp and pointed behind her gleaming lips. She was beautiful and terrifying.

She didn’t have a name, but she was known. She was a coveted treasure, shiny and valuable. She was a thing to have and a thing to own. She was nothing.

She avoided people. They wanted her for her strangeness, for her worth in gold, for her freakshow factor. She was not a circus act. She was not a museum exhibit. They called her Glitter Girl, The World’s Most Beautiful Creature. She was not a creature; she was human, but different. She had a human body and a mostly human face. She walked and talked like one, functioned like one. And she wanted human things like love and home and family. She had human desires.

Glitter Girl lived alone in a small isolated house. When she went out, which was not often, she heard the whispers and felt the stares, tasted their fascination like a poison in the air.

“She’s beautiful,” one would say, reverent as if in prayer.

“But the eyes,” another would say, “and the teeth.”

“But the rest of her is perfect. Her skin is like magic.”

“What does she feel like? Is she soft, or do you think she’s rough and scratchy?”

“I wish I could touch her.”

“I want to see her whole body. Is she like that everywhere?”

“And her hair,” another whispered. “It looks like real silk. I want to run my hands through it.”

“She’s blinding. I can’t look at her outside. The light’s too much.”

“I could look at her all the time. She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I want to keep her on a shelf in my room so I could look at her whenever I want.”

“I wonder if she’s glitter on the inside, too.”

Glitter Girl ignored the things she heard. She was a shield to protect herself. She was not their object to worship. She would be their thing to fear, because it kept them away. She would use her eyes and her teeth to make them leave her alone.

But she was sad. She was lonely and empty. She did not want what the world was offering her – to be a pretty thing to have and not a thing to truly understand. She wanted something more.

She knew searching for it would be useless. So she stayed inside.

She avoided leaving her house for as long as she could, but she was mostly human, and she needed human food. She put up her hair and wrapped a scarf around her head. She put on a long dress and tall boots and a long sweater and gloves. She kept her mouth and her eyes uncovered. The most terrifying parts of her would be the only parts they could see.

There was a boy outside her house.

She stopped, frozen in mid-step. The boy was standing near the curb, his eyes wide. He smiled. No one had ever smiled at her like that before. It was not greedy and gluttonous, not a predatory thing. It was kind.

“Hello,” the boy said. He did not move towards her. He waited, and slowly, she approached him.

“Hello,” she said. “What are you doing here? What do you want?” She was cautious and wary, and the boy shook his head.

“I don’t want to . . . I’m not like them,” he said, his voice growing softer. “I’m just curious about you, I guess. I’ve always wanted to talk to you. What’s your name?”

“I don’t have one,” she said.

“Why are you all covered up?” he asked. He tugged at the sleeve of her sweater. “Is it because of what they say about you?”

“It’s easier,” she said, looking away. “If they can only see my face, they don’t think about the rest of me.”

“I don’t think your face is scary,” the boy said. He brushed her cheek with his thumb. “I think it’s as beautiful as the rest of you. You’re amazing.”

She smiled again. She liked this stranger. He did not look at her like the rest. The boy tugged at her sweater again, and she let it fall from her shoulders. Maybe she did not have to hide.

Before she could even blink, the boy had a knife out and was carving away at her arm. He had sliced off a piece of skin before she was able to push him away. The boy stared at the piece of skin he had taken in awe. He turned it this way and that so it caught the sun.

“Amazing,” he murmured. She looked down at her arm, frozen in shock. Where the skin had been sliced away, the inside of her arm was soft and pink.

“No,” she whispered. She shook her head, angry now, violated, disgusted. “My skin does not belong to you. I do not belong to you. Give it back.”

Fury rose up in her, sizzling through her blood and making her teeth sharp. The boy was still staring at her piece of skin. Her hands clenched into fists.

Give it back.

The boy coughed, his eyes suddenly wide. He began to choke. He dropped the piece of sparkly skin and scrabbled at his throat. Glitter foamed at the edges of his mouth. It painted his lips and dripped from his chin. Glitter Girl moved forward and picked up the piece of herself from the ground. She stuck it back on her arm and watched as the boy choked on her. He fell to the ground.

Piece by piece, she took off all her clothes. She stepped over the boy’s body and dropped her scarf on him.

She was not their thing to have.

But she could be their thing to fear.

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