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A Penny Dreadful: The shade of skins

3 mins read

Nobody appreciates the skin on their body. They all take it for granted. No one understands what it means. How it can determine your place in society, how it can bless you with history and culture.

No. Society is ungrateful of such a beautiful gift, but not Marcus Wright. He was a young man born to see the all the shades in the world. No one really thought much of his quiet demeanour, always shrinking into the background.

As all stories do, Marcus found his passion by watching others. People always commented on how focused the quiet young man was. Always paying attention to details, the spray of freckles on your face or the small scar on your chin.

Once upon a time, he was an artist. He always called the basement to his weathered little home his studio. Hours and hours he would spend down there, sculpting his latest creation. No one knew of the array of knives adorning his walls, polished to shine with wicked gleams. Neither did they know of the neatly folded sheets of plastic, stained with the odd splatter of red. Marcus only ever brought those he admired the most into his studio, and if they were so lucky, they would never leave.

So many shades he’d collected over the years: ivory, ebony and brown alike, all hanging from their hooks in a menagerie of privilege and respect. It takes a very steady hand to carve – his father had taught him that. A man who had been on his knees his entire life, with no way of finding his feet. But Marcus had solved the puzzle. Society loves colour just as much as he. All he needed to do was take it.

When the clock struck its latest hours, Marcus would transform into whomever he liked. Replacing his skin with another, wearing it with more pride than the nameless nobody who didn’t appreciate it in the first place. Marcus believed this was the only way the world would see him; after all, your skin says a lot about you, and Marcus wanted to be everything the world adored and feared all at once.

All he needed was a sharp knife and a good classical record to drown out those awful screams. He never did understand how none of his victims could see the beauty in his art. Perhaps you’ll be the one who does.

Featured illustration credit: Emma Halliday/Brig News

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