by Tamoha Sengupta
Lust is the first emotion Rhea knows.
She feels their touch, as they inspect her skin, trying to verify whether it is as smooth as it looks. She was made for this and so she stands still. They finally give a satisfied grunt, and move into the shop to buy the pills that will make their skin identical to hers.
She hears her maker tell them the usual details. How the skins that will be created on them will shed every season, just like hers, to adapt to the climate, how they will prevent any skin disease from destroying that smooth texture. Another lot of customers comes to the shop, leers at her, and touches her hands again.
She cringes inside, but outside she smiles.
She wishes her maker had not given her a heart to keep her alive. She wouldn't have had to feel the touches, then. She knows that her body needs to be biologically alive, to shed the skin, and only by shedding her skin will she lose the memories of these selfish touches. But that knowledge does not bring relief to her.
She knows that they are all the same, even if she forgets. They are all interested in that snakelike layer that clothes her. None of them spare a glance at her.
And then one day, a boy rushing by collides with her. He grabs on to her to steady himself, then steps back, a sheepish smile on his face.
"Sorry, I was busy feeling the wind. I wasn't paying attention." He says. He looks at her shoulder as he says it, and it is only after he departs that she realizes he cannot see.