Dead grass stands still.

I shield my eyes from the sharp glare of the sun. Waves of heat bounce off the tar streets, making fans and shades futile in this summer--

--the most unforgiving summer yet.


Usually I would be at the beach about now.

I can imagine the sound of the tides and the sparkly water. Sizzling sea foam rushing upon the shores, washing up pieces of ocean.

Most of all though, I miss the sounds of laughter and freedom.

Back when everything was good.

Nothing has been quite the same since the marks began though. The zipper marks. They started out with little lines of black dots. By a week or so, the dots would surface into a zipper across your skin. Whoever gets them always goes missing within a month: mostly younger people, but occasionally adults.

People became hostile. The environment changed; something here changed.

Our small town had become one of suspicion.

If you became zipperskinned, the whole town would target your family, would instantly isolate you. And in some cases, kill you.

“Doing it for their own children” was their justification.


A place built from community and hospitality, run down to the ground from broken trust. Accusations were made, splitting families and long time friends.

I knew every person that lived in this neighborhood. And I don’t recognize them anymore.

It's the fear that makes people turn.

To turn on who they want to blame because they can't understand something.

I guess I only say this now, because I have it. I am the one being blamed.

I am forbidden from my own little brother, my cousins. Before, I was just like the rest of them: waiting for one person to show signs, to have something to blame in an attempt to steady my rattled core.

I know now that I am wrong, but it is much too late. I fear that much like me, people will only understand once they become zipperskinned.

The words of a hypocrite herself.


I continue walking along the road.

It’s been at least three weeks.

Enough time to disappear, but I’m still here, oddly.

Sometimes I try to evaluate what I feel, but there isn’t much to evaluate.

I am alone.


But at peace.

I ignore the windows closing and doors shutting as I walk by. I can feel hushed whispers.

Sometimes I wonder how my family is doing.


Something pricks my skin.

Is that—


I fiddle with it, the zipper hanging from my collarbone.

_Pull it,_a voice tells me.

I pull it.


There is nothing.

I am gone from existence.


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