Rough hands grab my skin, tearing it from my body. I groan as it is ripped away. As calluses abrade each new strip, I shudder, trying to hold myself together. There is life inside me. I must not give in to the pain, the pain, the pain. All is pain.
One nail is slowly pried off and I cry, loud, noisy, no pride left, please, no! Inside me, my heart flinches as I vibrate from the grasping hands flaying me, yanking my nails away, and all I can think of is the life I keep safe within despite the pain. All is pain. Everything, everywhere, is pain.
The night is cold, so cold. Skinned as I am, the cold penetrates me. I am weakened, vulnerable. Within me, the life I strain to protect shivers and dreams of peace, of a time without the cold and the pain, but all that is not cold is pain. There is nothing anywhere but cold, and pain.
Pounding shakes me as pieces of new skin are forced onto me, nailed into place. With each blow, I tremble. My skeleton shakes as each nail is forced into me, but I stand.
At last, new hands spread cool, soothing salve over my bruised body. My new skin is not yet so comfortable as it will be, but the pain gives way and I settle, wearily. From within, the life I guard creeps out to examine every inch of my new, wet skin.
The four-legged lives sniff me. One lifts his leg but I understand he is telling the world that I am his own.
“They did a good job,” one of the two-legged ones says.
“For that amount of money, they should,” says another.
“Still,” muses the first, “should last for years.” He pats me, gently, as if he were the one who was big and I the one who was small. “The house is good and solid again. I’m glad we got the new siding on and painted before it rains.”
That is the moment I understand. I have not been tortured. I have been reborn.