Skin Deep - Finish The Story #61

in finishthestory •  last month 

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Intro by @Brisby

"Our company stands by our satisfaction guarantee!" beamed the processing clerk with her row of brilliant white teeth.

Arnav returned her smile with a tight one of his own. That hadn't answered his question. Before he could repeat it again, the woman raised a pale green arm and gestured to the hallway on her left.

"Please proceed to the end of the hall to begin your procedure. We thank you for choosing DermaTru." Shimmering, the glass partition darkened as she turned from the console. Punctuating a blunt end to the transaction.

Arnav blinked, debating if he should knock on the blackened separator to demand a better response. Anxiety from the thought of creating a scene thrummed a timpani beneath his ribs. Lara would never forgive him for an embarrassing display in public. Besides, the blatant avoidance of his concerns had told him what he needed to know. There wouldn't be any going back.

Flickering screens aligning the hall were alight with a dazzling rainbow of customers. Each one a testimonial touting appreciation and joy for their operations. Waiting beside the iridescent number four in line, Arnav focused on one he hadn't seen before. A teary-eyed blue woman, Bonnie, was thanking DermaTru for giving her back her life.

"After my accident, I hid away." Sympathetic music underscored the images of a crumpled car and her body mottled with burn scars. "People would stare at me in the stores. I couldn't stand the looks in their eyes." The music swelled into inspirational notes as she continued, "Then I found DermaTru." Azure hands clasped over her heart as she stared from the screen, "They gave me more than the skin of my dreams, they gave me my life back."

A pneumatic hiss drew his attention as the door next to the screen slid open. Arnav's stomach flipped, readying to paint the floor with its own colourful mix of pastrami and bile. Closing his eyes, he forced down the nausea with measured breaths. There wasn't a reason to get himself worked up over this. There hadn't been a single case reported of nanite rejection. It was a simple and safe procedure performed by professionals.

His trembling hands and quaking knees refused to acknowledge his attempts to calm himself. How like his life, even his own body ignored him.

But, all that would change after today. One quick injection and Arnav would have his wife smiling at him again. His Lara would be happy again. His hands fisted. He could do anything so long as it was for her. His knees eased their quivering. Anything to have her look at him again with something other than disappointment. His eyes opened.

Rallied by the thought of seeing love in Lara's eyes, Arnav stepped forward into the implantation room.

My Entry:

He held a hand up to his eyes to shield them from the bright light. Once adjusted he could discern the clinical room. It reminded him of a dentist chair, the thought didn’t help to resolve his nerves.

A woman dressed in scrubs entered from a side door, her bright pink arms carried a tray the contents hidden by a sheet.

“Please take a seat Mr. Gallo.”

He did as instructed, surprised at his own obedience despite his doubts.

“I’m Doctor Pasha and I will be inseminating your nanites today. Have you signed all the legal paperwork with our clerk?”

Her voice was slow and measured. She rolled a stool closer to the chair and lightly tapped him on the shoulder so that he would lie back.

“Yes.” His mouth felt dry as he struggled to speak.

“And do you understand your rights in regards to this procedure?”

She cleared the sheet from the tray she had brought in. On it were three large vials of a silvery substance that appeared to be moving, the nanites, and the largest syringe that Arnav had ever seen.

“Yes.”

The Doctor placed a line into his vein. She filled the syringe with the contents of one of the vials, tapping it to release any air bubbles.

“And lastly Mr. Gallo, are you prepared to have your life changed forever?”

He didn’t get the chance to answer as she place the syringe into the line and pressed down on the plunger. She repeated the process two more times until all the nanites were injected.


Lara stood in the doorway to their home, staring with her mouth agape at the man who used to be her husband. She scrutinised his smooth skin, all his beautiful blemishes removed, his hair luscious and long. Yet his smile still faltered the way it always had.

“What do you think, My Love?”

He held out his arms wide, revealing the subtler hue on his palms.

“You went to DermaTru without telling me? Arnav, why would you do this to yourself?”

He rubbed at his arm, looking intently at the new colour, he had always wanted to look like his wife, and now he did.

“Do you hate it?”

She took a step towards him and touched his face tentatively. She wasn’t sure what to expect, the colour to rub off on her fingers or the shade to be anything but the same as hers. A tear slipped down her face.

“Why would you do it?”

He hesitated. “I just wanted to be like you.”

She wrapped her arms around her husband, holding onto him tightly. Their skin, now the same stunning blue, collided.

“I wish you had told me. I would have come with you.” She pulled back from him, wiping the tears from her face, a big smile on her lips. “You look handsome, My Darling.”

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It has been a while since I last posted a story, been going through a bit of a writers block / a lot going on at home patch. Hopefully this is the start of me getting back into it.

This is my entry to the @bananafish Finish The Story Contest #61. Find out about it here.

Image from Pixabay.

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I read this last night and was impressed by your craft.
In her "beginning', @brisby tells us much through subtle details. Arnav's character for example: he was afraid to create a fuss; his heart was beating like a drum; he was undergoing the procedure to please his wife, not himself.
You reveal Lara to us with similar subtlety. The last line validates Arnav's apprehensions. She embraces him because he looks like her. This is supposed to be a "happy" ending, but of course it's not. We discover Lara to be as superficial as Arnav feared. Her love is a tinsel affair, worth not very much at all. Certainly not worth Arnav's abdication of self.
I can't wait to get my teeth into this story. I have the plot worked out in my head and am grateful for the Thursday deadline. This will give me needed time to join the story-telling fray.

The way you pick this up is seamless, building on the anxiety in the first half, slotting little details in that bring so much. I love that the Doctor has pink skin, it somehow feels appropriate for a doctor as well, and the way she rolls through it as a matter of course like she does this countless times a day. You continue normalizing this world, this procedure, and this outlook on the world, and yet... you manage to bring in something entirely new.. without ever even mentioning it.... or at least, that was the feeling I took away.

I feel like your ending builds greatly on the references to Lara in the first half, and the mention of her disappointment, and hating a scene in public, possibly tying together and into the look of love.

Reading this, brought up a mixture of emotions, initially a sense of almost anger, and resentment towards Lara, who required such a change form her husband to love him, to consider him handsome... but then... it really the up the question of why he wanted to look like her. Through her eyes, he lost his "beautiful blemishes", so she had found him attractive as he was. Her instant reaction to seeing him with blue skin isn't shallow joy, caring only about how he looks, but emotion concern as to why he would do this. And then the answer, to look like her. I feel as though this all comes together at the end, and that despite the rainbow nature of this world, it is rules by a far greater prejudice, where Lara looking at him lovingly in public would cause a scene, where them not looking the same is disappointing. She sheds a tear, and it doesn't feel like a tear of happiness that he looks good enough for her now, but a tear of empathy, the sacrifice he bore alone to alleviate something affecting both of them. It almost reminds me of the old fable with the hair comb and pocket watch chain.

At the very end, it feels like her heart has cracked, hurt by the thought he had done this to himself for their sake, not like what she wanted this for selfish vain reasons, it instead feels like she smiles for him, and what he has done for her. She always loved him, but now she can love him openly.

The more i thought about that, the more this feels like this is set in a wider world where discrimination based on appearance is rampant, and being different has been hard for both of them, and the conflicting mixed up emotions that came with it. Ending on her calling him handsome, it doesn't feel like a "oh you're handsome now" but like her being supportive of what he has had to do to himself for them to be together. Damn gaby, this got me the first time i read it, but the more I have thought about it, damnnnnn, for me, this is a story of love and dedication in a world that doesn't accept it.

Back with full force for sure <3

You've really hit the nail on the head with this. I really carefully considered what Lara needed to say, as the first half is in the point of view of Arnav we only see his understanding of his wife and his feelings as he sees them, but that might not have been the case for Lara. I had considered the married couple aspect, how after years there can be that subtle language between people.
I love how intricacies can come across in writing :)

Beautiful story. Change is always terrifying but the protagonist in this piece faced his fears to change himself so that they can stay together.

Just beautiful~

Where can I get this shot? I want to look handsome too!

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A tender story, I am moved by the final part when Arnav confesses to Lara that he only wanted to be like her.

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A special love, capable of anything for Lara, and very well corresponded.

Great work, Gaby! You've come back with style to give us a terrific story.

“And lastly Mr. Gallo, are you prepared to have your life changed forever?”

He didn’t get the chance to answer

You carry on the disregard for seeing to the Arnav's emotional comfort when undergoing a drastic and permanent change to his body. That the company is more interested in keeping the wheel of clients moving rather than perhaps having one change their mind at the last moment. That there could be repercussions to him mentally from having his life changed forever doesn't factor in to their concerns so long as he's legally signed off.

I like that you gave us the switch to Lara's perspective following his procedure. From the beginning we know that Arnav did this all for her but you gave us the answer to if he'd been asked to do it. Her surprise, the subtle detail of 'his beautiful blemishes', and her tear show us how much of her 'disappointment' was in Arnav's mind all along rather than being a true representation of how she felt.