The first coating I did in college. Surrounded by exhibitionistic quirks of all kinds, it seemed the thing to do. Fusing the melted glass to my skin hurt less than I expected. Just a micron thick, just enough to make me shine, to give me polish. I crackled like cellophane when I moved. My nerve-endings, always so sensitive, so bare, flaring at the slightest provocation to a splotchy blush, went numb and cool. Sweeping laser-eyed girl stares pinged off me uncertainly. I could sleep with a different boy every night of the week and hardly feel them touch me, so I could focus completely on my own performance: arch here, moan there, toss hair like that, bend down, now lower. They became fascinated by their warped reflection on my breasts, by the slick texture of my thighs.  

When I graduated, I glazed myself again as armor for job interviews. The thicker coating forced me to move with sedate professionalism, kept me from smiling too much. My posture was excellent. My encapsulated heart beat tortoise slow during the negotiations.

“You’re so poised,” the interviewers marveled.

 I was a model employee. I worked like a machine, my eyelids propped open, my glossy carapace holding me erect through the night. The company recognized me for my hard-edge. I received several promotions and held regular press releases, camera flashes wincing off me in an impenetrable glare.

The long hours and lack of exercise eventually caused me to gain some weight. For weeks the pressure was claustrophobic, crawling, intense, until my stomach split open in a geyser of shards and splinters. In a panic I bound and glazed myself to seal the crack.  There were other mishaps, other injuries necessitating repair. I began to fear losing my reputation for invincibility and became cautious, brittle, dragging my feet across the carpet like heavy slabs. I swathed myself even more for protection. My face was rendered as featureless and smooth as a wig mannequin. A swarm of tiny bubbles occluded each new layer glass. With time my surface became crosshatched and fogged by faint scratches obscuring me inside. Underneath I appeared to be the color of mercury. Whenever I moved, I would feel my flesh slip liquidly against the walls in waves. And when I finally found it too difficult to speak, the company let me go. 

Now, my nurse wheels me on a dolly to the park most days. I know the pigeons alight upon me, because their shadows flicker darkly through the glass. The passersby believe I am public art, another abstract, and give me the most cursory of glances.   

Melody Sage is a professional artist. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in The Best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2013, Apeiron Review, Quaint Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2014 Scott Imes Award in fiction and currently resides in Duluth, MN. To view more of her work visit