“Ellen, Ellen please. I don’t understand what the big deal is? Everyone knows this about us. It is widely accepted throughout the world. That being said, for the fifteenth time, no. The answer is an emphatic no. I will not give you any more money to spend on perfume. I also will not pay to have your Lace removed,” Josephine said. She was short, slim, with curly blond hair and a round face. There were bits of Lace beneath her chin and mouth. Little green scribbles of past monsters that still walked the earth. She was wearing a gray robe, which made the stitches of green playing along her neck glow like a hunted jewel. Josephine was trying to talk to her daughter, Ellen, through the oak panel bedroom door. It was the final door in the narrow hallway with brown carpet. There was a fan on somewhere in the house. It buzzed like an insect that didn’t want to be discovered.
“Fine, whatever. I’ll just smell like a freak for everyone at school.” Ellen shouted through the door. She was short, fine-boned, and pale like flour, just like her mom. Her Lace was forged along her right forearm making it hard to hide unless it was winter, which was much shorter than it used to be in their city of Tonka Bay, Minnesota. Before the drum, they’d have snow for months on end. In fact, people used to hate how long the prison of winter could be. Now, it was a novelty, just a few weeks of frosty nostalgia at the beginning of November or December. The drum and Unnamed hadn’t just cut up human bodies a hundred years ago, but also the climate.
“Everyone knows about the Lace, Ellen. EVERYONE. The Reanimated, or us, have been a normal part of society for eighty years. You’d better just suck it up, because if I took you to the doctor to get the Lace removed they’d just laugh at you. Our bodies aren’t like humans. You’re not ready to learn about it.” Josephine said,
“Shut up, just shut up, why does everything have to be like this with you?” Ellen snarled through the door. Josephine sighed and pawed at the doorknob like a cat. She could sense Ellen was running out of replies and quietly left the hallway to let the teenager stew in her emotional juices. Ellen could hear her mother’s small feet vanish against the carpet. She was sitting on her bed, which looked like a half-wrapped bird’s nest of blankets. She was staring down at her arm with the marks of the monsters and the apocalypse from a hundred years ago.
She wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the Unnamed, but that didn’t make her thankful.
The Lace was the name of the scars left from her ancestors unnatural creation, when the Unnamed pieced together body parts to create the Reanimated from their magic vines. Her great grandparents were full-fledged Reanimated, having survived the drum and everything that followed. There were four marks about two inches long just above her right wrist. They were like little verdant slivers of the forest left in her flesh. They might be considered pretty, but the smell of sour and incomplete skin made her hate them. She smelled like a dead body most of the time thanks to their existence. Most people didn’t care. Nobody made fun of her directly, but she despised this abomination heritage.
Ellen glanced up from her monster skin at a small kitchen knife sitting on her square of a nightstand. It was small, with a white-handle and curled blade. Her mom said it was the sharpest knife they had, which didn’t make much sense to Ellen because it was so tiny. Regardless of the size she didn’t want to feel anything when she tried to remove them.
Ellen had read online about other Reanimated who had removed their Lace. There would be blood and fluids, but some had made it work, and their human skin had reconnected once the Unnamed’s legacy was removed. She had a red towel stuffed underneath her pillow. She hated the color, but if it stained from the impending blood-letting, her mom wouldn’t know about it as much.
“Okay, I can do this,” Ellen said to herself after a deep breath. She reached for the knife with her left hand, which was already awkward. Why couldn’t she have these demon scars on her non-dominant arm? Ellen plunge the point of the knife into the first piece of Lace, just above her wrist. She felt something snap in her tissue and the line of living green severed beneath the tip of the blade. The skin around her wrist parted like a freshly open bag of rice. There was a hiss somewhere, followed by the stench of her remade tissue being exposed to the open air. Blood and bile pooled out between the red lips, but not as much as she expected. She didn’t know how much of a hole in her own arm the Lace was keeping closed. She panicked slightly, and stuffed the towel into the gaping wound. Ellen felt like she was choking a part of herself.
Something shook inside her arm the moment the fabric touched it.
Ellen ripped the cloth free to find a small white mask just below her parted skin. It was pearl and perfect with a slanted eye carved into it. The visage, like it knew it was being watched, slid further up her arm towards the other bits of Lace like a worm. There was intense pain, like someone was rubbing her tendons and veins together. Ellen cried and leered back at herself. She had never hated herself more than in this moment. She should never have tried to change.
“What, what am I? What am I doing? What?” She said falling to her knees. The curled hole of veins and capillaries pulsed unfettered by the open air. When Reanimated were first made by the Unnamed, they were full of openings. She could survive them.
“Please, please make the pain go away. I don’t want to be like this,” she sobbed. She contemplated plunging the knife into her heart.
Somewhere a shape moved in a mirror, and echoes of the drum still played against the phantom streetlights.
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