Swear to you, they have the same look. Exactly.
She passed her hands under the spout installed over the counter and felt the tingling that accompanied the cleansing and decontamination. She used the extension to clean her face and her hair, all that was needed since sheâ€™d already taken a whole-body decont that morning. Once the machine beeped, she took out a sealed container from the medicine cabinet, opened its lid, then turned off the light.
She waited a few seconds in the dark, gathering her courage, hating the inevitable.
Get on with it, she told herself. With swift, practiced movements she pressed the tiny switch embedded at the base of her left ear, which disengaged bioelectric connectors, then peeled away the skin that covered the left half of her face and neck. The feel of it, something like thin, wet paper, repulsed her. She let the prosthesis fall into the preserving solution and sealed the cover. She sagged a little against the counter, relieved the procedure was over, already dreading the reverse process sheâ€™d have to go through in the morning.
Demetria raised her head and saw the darker outline of her body in the mirror. She longed to look at her face the way it used to be, the way she remembered it.
How could she have known that the appearance of one small sore on her cheek would devastate her life so thoroughly? Sheâ€™d gone to her doctor, mildly worried that the small patch of cancer would leave a scar. What a joke. By the time sheâ€™d received the diagnosis, the lesion had grown to the size of a mini-disc. â€œBrettâ€™s dermophagia,â€ theyâ€™d whispered around her, like a curse.
Week after week, she watched the skin of her face rot away, leaving muscles and tendons exposed. The disease also produced a plasma-like film that covered the denuded area; it didnâ€™t run but glistened in the light like a pane of glass. It prevented her muscles and tendons from drying out but it also gave her the look of a damaged automaton.
©2007 M. D. Benoit