Too Loose A Skin.
A short-story I wrote. Inspired by one of this Tumblr user's drawings, but my (very) short-story, so credits are mine. Here it is !

“It fits just fine” he thought, looking at himself in the mirror. “It fits just fine and I feel just… fine.” He felt perfectly fine, just at ease. “At last”, he’d say if only he could, if only he dared. After a moment of self-contemplation, he finally put on a tee-shirt, a fairly simple one, the kind he was used to wearing: Not too large because it would only stress his under-developped muscles, but not too tight either – for the very same reason as well as… well. He felt just fine but as the weather was still a bit chilly for the season, he also put on a jacket, a very casual one, a dark shade of blue. Lucky thing the weather was still a bit chilly, it provided him with just the right excuse to wear a jacket. He would have worn one today anyway, whatever the weather. He felt just fine, but he still thought he needed the jacket, just in case. You’re never too safe.
He gave his reflection one last look, tried making a few moves. “I don’t think it shows. No one will notice” he comforted himself.

He laced his sneakers very slowly, as if buying time. But there’s only so much time and care one can spend or pretend to spend lacing his shoes. He grabbed his wallet, didn’t even have to look for it because he hadn’t thought of hiding it. He was as ready as one can be. He stopped by the door, a rush of doubt flashing through him. Touching his chest, he repeated “I’m the only one who knows, no one can see, no one will see”. He still felt a bit insecure, but he felt good. He had to give it a try. “Get a grip, man”. So he unlocked his frontdoor, stepped outside of his appartment and locked the door after him.

It hit him immediately. He was outside of his comfort zone already. Yet, he didn’t feel as uncomfortable as he usually did. He felt uncomfortable, of course, but a different kind of uncomfortable. He was afraid of getting caught, highly afraid because if he were to be… No. No no no, no way in Hell would he get caught wearing this. That would just be the end of him. But basically, that was the point. He was terrified, but he had never felt so much like himself before now, even though he had tried lots of different kinds of himself in the past, and even though he had to hide this particular himself that he was really being for the first time. For once, he didn’t feel too awkward in his skin. For once, he felt like a master of himself, like his skin was not too loose nor too tight but just the perfect size to wrap him. He thought he felt slightly uncomfortable but truth be told, he just had to adjust to the feeling of being himself. It was totally new to him. And it wasn’t unpleasant.
But getting out of his comfort zone wasn’t enough. He had to face the world, too. And for that purpose, the streets nearby would do. “I could go to the store and get a juice, I still have a coupon for it. And then I’d head to the Square”. Looked quite like a plan.

He walked his way to the Store, which was not really a store because you couldn’t get anything in there unless you provided an official, central-government-stamped, local-government-checked-and-approved coupon for it. He was slow, slower than usual, but was in no hurry after all. He felt his legs were shaking a bit, hoped it wasn’t obvious and did not make him stand out. He tried to remain in control. Tried really hard. Kind of succeeded. Kind of. Apparently succeeded enough. Even though he felt his legs (his whole body ?) trembling, he was still walking, was looking normal enough. Normal. What an ill concept is “normal” ? Nevermind. If he had looked weird – sick, guilty? – too weird, he would have known. He would have been stopped, someone would have controlled him. Checked his ID, his authenticity, asked for his whereabouts, and what about your mother, are you feeling well sir ? how often do you visit your grandparents ? are your neighbours respectful ? have you been sleeping well ? and so on until they just found out. But he was still walking his way. He must have been looking like his usual self then, whatever this meant.

Thinking and struggling to remain in control, he suddenly found himself standing in front of the Store. “I made it this far pretty okay. This will be a good exercice”. So he walked in. He tried not to hurry. He found the juices, picked a bottle (pineapple), queued a bit, traded his coupon. It all went really smoothly, the air filled with the usual politeness. Every party involved pretty much stuck to itself. But that’s what society was like. Everyone was utterly polite, but no one was really, say, involved in anything, or with anyone. Because everyone had a little secret about themselves they wanted to preserve no matter what, he supposed. Just like me, he added in his thoughts.

Head to the Square, now. That was the original plan. Stick to the plan, he mentally ordered himself. You’re doing well, so just keep doing well. Go to the Square, it’s gonna be the official broadcast soon. Stay there for a while, drink your juice there. Listen to the official broadcast, with the people around you, do not freak out, go back to the appartment when the official broadcast is over. Do not freak out. It doesn’t show. No one knows. No one sees. No one can see. No one will notice.

So he kept walking his slow-but-not-too-slow way to the Square, casually taking a sip of his juice from time to time. He hoped to make it just in time for the Broadcast. There were three Broadcasts every day. One in the morning, half an hour before work time. A second one in the afternoon, half an hour after work time. And a last one in the evening, just before curfew, its main purpose being to remind everyone about the curfew and giving the highlights of the next day. The morning Broadcast would usually be a weather forecast, a few chosen tips and a brief recap of what had had happened the day before. But the afternoon Broadcast was the serious one. Then would you get the news of the day. Sometimes the very benevolent words of a leader and most definitely the faces of the felons arrested. “Should I call the felons ‘fellows’ from now on”, he wondered. He had the feeling he was one of them now, he’d most probably be categorized as one of them if someone ever found out. Mmmh… Thinking of it, maybe not something that drastic. First offense ever, it would be. For something like this, they’d certainly give education a try. That’s how it usually went. But, there could be circumstances. Sometimes there were. Sometimes it happened. Some people’s picture would be Broadcasted, the fearful word of “Felon” written accross their chest, and when you’d know what felony they were charged with, you would have never thought it’d go as far as being a felony. Better not get caught anyway. They could want to make an example out of him. He didn’t know much about how it all worked but it scared him. He just knew he should not be caught, not ever.
The Broadcast was about to start. The Square was crowded, as expected at Broadcast time. His bottle of juice was now empty, so he threw it away properly. It would be recycled. It would have been suspicious to keep an empty bottle with him. And he did not want to look suspicious. At the moment, he felt suspicious enough as it was. No need to draw staring looks upon him. “Act normal”. Not normal. Normal was an empty word. But they were all behaving like empty shells. So maybe normal.

The crowd thickened. He tried not to panic, feeling so many people around him, so many people surrounding him. He tried. “They know, they’ll catch me, they noticed. They noticed, they must have noticed by now. Screw it there’s no escape! What do I do now?”
After a while, the crowd scattered. He quickly got a grip of himself, scattered like the rest of the crowd. “They did not. They did not catch me. Are they following me home ? Do they plan to get me there ?” Lost in his train of thought, he barely noticed he had reached the building.
It hit him when he closed his appartment door behind him. “I’m home again. They did not catch me. Not yet.” And after a while, another thought, disbelief impregnating his mind nonetheless: “No one noticed.”

He had managed to go through a day wearing a bra, a bra that made him feel just fine, just like his skin were not too tight nor too loose, for once. He had made it. He had made it, and it was worth repeating over and over again. He had made it. And no one had noticed, or at least no one acted upon it.


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