Even the impossible thinness of the hornet’s legs are too much for her powdery skin to withstand anymore. The first needley limb that pierces her flimsy outer layer starts an avalanche of her once-supple flesh cascading. The bug can’t be blamed for trying, none of them can, the delicate overgrowth that covers her is an irresistible buffet to them. They don’t even see her there behind the green, which was what she feared when she first sensed the overgrowth starting to cover her.
But it was so gentle, so pleading in its attempts to be with her, that she did not resist, and it now obscures every inch of her grey skin. Its jealous tendons tricked her, drained her of even the final drop of wet between her layers, hurrying her demise and making her skin so fragile the wind could almost shatter it. The hole left by the onslaught of the tiny bug is nothing new or extraordinary, letting another careless shard of light cut through her insides on the slow cold march towards nothing.
The spreading blank stiffness had been the first undeniable sign, when she could no longer lie her way out of the anxiety. Patches here and there where dry turned to itch turned to burn turned to blank. Once dead, the skin transmitted nothing to her anymore, which was both a relief and a horror. Creeping in from all sides at once toward the center, the searing pain as skin slumped from warped joints was the only indicator of death’s rambling progress.
It had set in upon her the first day that no one came back. She felt hungry, the wet cool fluids stopped filling and stretching her skin. The warm rush of clean new air that welcomed each morning didn’t come, and she slowly slumped towards the ground. The tingling constriction around her joints, where her bulging flesh usually pressed, melted away slowly. She couldn’t fight the morning’s cold or midday’s bright heat. Exhaustion and loneliness led her mute into the slow decay she barely had the energy to even acknowledge anymore.
Instead she floated somewhere between unconscioussness and the buoyant spring of her youth. She had loved to suck all of them in, their hands stroking the oily slick of her insides, the reliable hush as they were confronted with the pulsating frothiness of her endless cavities. The dizzy lull of her whispering pierced by the rolling tolling of their satisfied anticipations. The noise and color of everyday was something she never took for granted, and now gave her some place to rest her mind now that it was gone.
The first day they came, she’ll admit, it was nerve wracking. To have all those seething, sweaty people pressing into her, against her, seemingly trying to tear her flesh off her bones. She screamed in pain, but to them it was an inaudible whisper. Once she realized they’d never stop, she got used to it, to enjoy it, even to crave it. Now she missed it. When they stopped coming, her skin itched and ached for them. Itched for their touches, and caresses. The tender and curious way first-timers would reach out at her skin with a shaking, timid finger and slowly let it press into her flesh. Only one time, just once in all those years had someone gone too far and actually injured her. She could still see the brute, a teenage boy of course showing off for his friends. He had something dangerous in his pocket, she knew that almost right away, but she assumed he wouldn’t. But she knew she was wrong when she felt that blade rip into her skin. Since it had never happened before, she didn’t even know at first that it hurt, but when the sensation sunk in, her whole body writhed against it.
She thought about death enough back then, who didn’t, but not morbidly. She pictured herself, whenever her time came, a fluttering, shimmering, clearly aged yet still beautiful version of herself. Wisened, slightly hardened perhaps, but stuffed full on a life a joy. Ready, she saw her irridescent flesh pressing harder against the tethers that bound her to earth. They would snap and slide away one by one as she flounced at first into her flight. Up she would go with everyone watching, cheering, as she slowly faded into the blinding white of the upper atmosphere, her soul slipping out of its shell finally as the vacuum of space sucked out her insides. Her deepest disappointment, maybe, was to have been robbed of this scene. Instead, she had been left to whimper into oblivion unwatched, uncelebrated, forgotten even by herself.