Some mornings he woke to find that the night had come and turned his skin inside out. All his seams were on show, his stitches loosed; God’s needlework failing. Around him, the duvet, soaked to the feathers with his soul, the pillows logged with thought. The windows, matted blind with steam. The room empty, and his lover gone, no post-it note to speak softly of her. If he could rise and walk — if there were a store that he could have taken himself back to, he would have done that. Because to wake up dying like this was to find one’s body alight on a coal slate. He would have torn through the town until he had burned through the door of the workshop and said his part. He’d have rehearsed it well. You told me I was bought at a price, he would say, and now I am burning alive. Is this what I was built for, he would wail. To watch my temple gutted?
I am a rag doll.
Only he didn’t know where the workshop was. Or if it was. He might have arrived only to find a faded paint sign on a brick wall, preserved for posterity’s sake. It was a wise thing to do, then, not to move. He would wait for the slate to cool, then peel himself off it, and fast from sleep until his outside was inside again.