Tugging the gloves and sliding shoes off was really the first step. So small and seemingly insignificant that it seemed that it could not possibly lead to what it lead to. It was too easy.

Everything counts.

Taking off the coat has thrown the figure off balance. It was heavy and quilted. Pockets over stuffed with crumpled and worn scraps of paper, so much that paper peeked out from the pockets here and there. Not enough for someone to read, but enough to pique the curiosity of observers. Loose buttons, crooked hooks, and broken zippers were all hastily undone. The glare of the yellow jacket would be enough to put anyone on edge. (I am not used to this weight being gone and my eyes feel lost without the offensive color. It?s left me grasping with needy hands for something to replace it.)

Frenzied, hands stripped off the layers of clothing previously hidden underneath the jacket. Bulky sweaters and tops too thin to wear alone are worn five times over. Tank tops that stretch and cling are worn without discrimination to size, color and style. Sweatpants are worn over jeans. Jeans are worn over tights. Tights are worn under socks. (It was insufferably hot, but now a layer of sweat sits on my skin. The faintest of breezes will send me into a fit of shivers and set my teeth a clacking.)

Taking off the underwear was surprisingly the easiest step. Black and simple, a secret no one would have guessed at under all the mismatched fabrics that kept the figure totally obscured. (For she is not me, tell me she is not me.)

Underneath all of that was something maybe worse than the violently yellow jacket. Soft, but able fingers set to the task of pulling the tape off. Tape that those same hands had pressed to fresh skin. (We'll blame circumstance, but I made the choice- to a degree, to be out of touch.) Duct tape pressed like a second skin fitted to each curve?s need. The sound of tape being pulled from skin is like fabric being torn. Teeth dig deep into an abused lower lip. Eyes clench shut, for they cannot stand to watch what is happening. Shuddering breaths and erratic heartbeat, and the ever present question, ?Is it over yet??

Cracked and angry skin stands and gives its testament in the mirror, and eyes glare back with unspoken accusations, lips parted and tongue ready to give the lashing of a lifetime? Oh the joys of looking in the mirror at a self that seems not like the self. Something so distorted and misshapen that the yellow coat self seems preferable to this hyper realistic portrait that seems too much for the most experienced eyes to bear. Hands, which have long grown tired, no longer hide what would seem unsightly to the public eye. Palms are dry and each fingertip has a unique roughness with nails bitten until blood oozes out.

Nervous. Nervous. Nervous.

The task in which these appendages were set to seems unfair; they were the picture of feminine grace at one point. (My hands were forced! Don?t look!)

Was it worth it?

(Is there something, for someone is questionable, substantial underneath it all?
Who am I without my shield of anxiety, barbed insecurities, and bible of heart breaks? My little big loves, larger than life desperate hopes, and my so called well reasoned out principles?
Without these walls, that I have broken bit by bit, I am not sure where I have started and they began. They have been my constant companions.)

I am frightened.