Skin Deep (Featured Version 2015)
Every utterance from a question at work to a compelling secret slipped at midnight is forever branded across skin. Compiling, spilling over each other, all arguing and elbowing for a space in the world and on a face. Some people rock on a rotting bed frame night after night, haunted by words that never passed their lips; others sit in their rooms and do nothing but whisper beautiful phrases so they appear to be a good person.
John never learned to speak. After it was clear that he wasn't a late bloomer and his skin would remain as white as a fresh sheet of paper, it was only a matter of days before his mother tossed him away. Blank skin equals a blank mind, a tortured soul with no company but a group who played their card game upside down.
Josephine never learned to listen. She tempted fate, she stabbed it right in the face as she cut into her own skin to create the words that would never come. It came as natural as breath, a pair of rusty confiscated scissors clutched between her shaking fingers. Eyes the color of blueberries are lovely with ink surrounding them, not dried blood.
Jenna never learned to care. Words crept to the intimate parts of her body, the blank flesh on her face and arms her last saving grace. What condemned those around her, saved her from being choked by the toxic air created by words that betrayed. The girl who is whispered about, rumors imprinted on everyone else's skin to be taken as gospel truth, is trodden down to the point where she flourishes.
When beauty is no longer skin deep, how does one prove their worth?