“You just don’t understand,” George said. “I don’t think you can understand.”
Rachel wiped the tears from her eyes. “If you’d just tell me, George, maybe…” She sniffled. “Maybe we could work through this.”
George’s eyes were glassy. Rachel hadn’t seen him cry since his mother had passed and she didn’t know how to react. Usually, he was bubbling with energy. Why had the last few days gone so badly?
“If I tell you, there’s no going back,” George muttered, looking at the floor, as if trying to hide his face. Rachel stepped close to him. She raised her arms to embrace him, but George shrunk away.
“Whatever it is, I’m ready for it,” Rachel said, and George stared into the eyes, whispered something unintelligible, and began to pull at the flesh of his forehead.
It was like taking plastic wrap off a plate of food. The skin tore easily, and, just before the husk left George’s mouth, Rachel thought she saw the faintest hint of a smile. A smile of relief. There was only a little blood.
The skin clumped on the floor in a depressed heap. It barely looked real anymore, compared to the dark brown liquid that had been hiding underneath. George took off his shoes, and put them to the side. He then ripped his feet off, which he placed neatly inside his shoes.
“For safe keeping,” George said softly.