Skip to Content

Companion blog for Voices, a Landmark College student publication

Second Skin

by Guinevere Downey

It is like this: you do not know how to describe the melancholy that you feel.
It is a feeling akin to having suddenly realized you have gotten lost on a road trip, except in none of the ways that are fun: there are no over-sized balls of yarn or rocking chairs here.
You are stuck: breathing, moving, living – helpless in your own body.

It is like this: the confidence, the brazenness that you wear on your sleeves, on your body, like a second skin, is just that: a second skin.
They talk about your confidence as though it is something to reach for - as though it is something to help them keep breathing, moving, living, as though you are not helpless in your own body.

It is like this: you wear the brazenness because your only other option is despair, and despair means giving into the melancholy that surrounds you like the fog that descends near the river at night.
Getting lost in the fog again is not something you think you could survive.
You could not keep breathing, moving, living; you would be helpless there.


It is like this: your deepest desire is for the world to pause, for just a moment, so that you can catch your bearings, your breath, again.
You want the world to give you more time, to give you back the childhood that was unjustly stolen from you.
You would give anything to stop the world from turning, breathing, moving, living. But you are helpless here, too.


It is like this: when you are with the family that gave you your life, you are alone in company.
You stare over the vast gulf of the dining room table, every inch covered with food and love, and you are alone.
You wish that they helped you to keep breathing, moving, living. But they don’t, and you are hopeless to change that.


It is like this: you want someone to hold you, and tell you that everything will be alright, that this, too, shall pass, that you are no longer alone.
You want your second skin to sink in to the core of your being and become part of you, you want to wake up in the morning and discover your second skin is real.
But it isn’t, and wishing doesn’t help you keep breathing, moving, living. And you are hopeless without it, so you continue to wear it.


It is like this: you worry that you will be left alone.
It is your greatest fear.
You need your friends, otherwise, you cannot keep breathing, moving, living. You are helpless without them.


It is like this:

You do not know how to describe the melancholy that you feel.

Despite that, you keep breathing, moving, living.

Originally published in Spring 2020, Volume 1, Issue 3

Back to top