The Second Skin
You see me and you wave. You tell me you love me and I smile. I’m that nice guy everybody whispers about. That one person they love to stick their eyes unto. So you cozy up to me because you think I’m going to be your luck potion. You hear I’m brilliant. See me dazzle and slip through trouble like a slug would through a tiny crack.
You tell me I’m nice, I look at you. Tell me you want to get closer, be my friend, my only friend if possible, and I still look at you. You eat my smiles for hope, and keep me in an ornate frame in your mind as a staff with which to part your Red Seas.
I don’t tell you anything apart from the casual greetings and deep stares we share. You ask me, “Why don’t you talk much?” I just smile and smile till you blush and blush. And then I leave you out there under the scorching sun. You feast gluttonously on me you don’t see the pity in my eyes. If you have the gift: to hear the tiny voices of the mind, to read the endless scrawling on my mind you will understand a tip of me. See this skin I frequently wear, this skin everyone loves – the second skin.
Only the dark sees me. When the thought of father’s stern voice and my mother’s cold stare tethers me to my books for hours the dark is there. When I fight with frustration at not retaining the scientific words on the books, struggle for air underneath the sea of fear that frequently envelopes me, the dark is there. I cannot fail. I must always be the best. Only the dark listens when I pour out my pain, my fear, the fatigue, when I pour out me, through my voice as I sing. At such moments the splinters of the universe – my universe – assembles into a whole that soon dissolves when thoughts of my parents resurface. I want to sing through my life. I want to bask in the elation of having to flow out through my voice and assemble pieces of life together, heal wounds and calm spinning wheels. But my parents have insisted I become a medical doctor. I have to take over their huge hospital.
So you call me a genius, fine. Adore me probably because you have not seen my true skin. You join others to trade the whispers: “The Ben Carson of our time”, “Our best graduating student.” But you don’t know. I might just leave this world before that time.