By Shekina Rose
She can’t remember how old she was when she started to give away pieces of her body. Maybe it was when she was five and lost her first tooth. Everyone was excited about her becoming a big girl. She placed the tooth under her pillow, and the next day it was gone—the tooth fairy had taken it, swapped it with a fifty-pence piece.
She has a memory of being eight and sitting on the carpet at school, pulling strands of hair from her head. Plaiting them and hiding them in her pocket. She didn’t give those strands of hair away, but she didn’t keep them either. She wondered where those plaits of hair ended up.
As she grew older, she began to give away the hair from her body. She looked in disgust at the hair growing on her legs, masculine and unkempt—she didn’t ask for this. Frantic strokes of the razor created cuts. She watched as blood and hair drained into the plug hole for the creatures below to keep for themselves.
Giving away her teeth and her hair wasn’t enough. She began to scrape pieces of skin from the soles of her feet. Sometimes her skin would bleed, and she would plaster over the wounds and flush the dry flakes down the toilet. She moved on, carving deeper chunks of skin from her face. Her arms and legs. She packaged the skin in airtight boxes. Confirmed they were sealed. Handed them out as gifts to her friends at school.
Once her arms and legs and face had no skin left to take, she gave away her eyes, to give someone else the gift of sight. But now she was blind. She gave away her ears and her nose, and she couldn’t hear anything anymore. Her sense of smell had disappeared, too. But her sacrifice made someone, somewhere, happy. Making others happy felt good. She had to keep on giving.
She still had her mouth, but it was time to give that away, too. Using scissors, she snipped at her lips, at her tongue.
“Come and take it,” she mouthed.
She began to give away the parts of her that, as a child, she’d always been told were her own. Suddenly, nothing was her own. So she gave them away—the secret parts. She sliced them off and wrapped them in a ribbon, delivering quickly and without complaint to those who asked.
Soon, she was giving away her muscles in her arms and her legs, and her stomach. She was becoming fragile. Next went her bones, one by one. Weakened, she had no strength to give anymore, not by choice. Now, the pieces of her body were being snatched away. Quickly. Carelessly. Without thought.
The last part of her body to be taken was her heart, which was beating, but slowly. Gentle thuds. Slower. Slower. Until the beating stopped. Her heart was still. She had nothing left to give.