It has been a week since my frame was removed. In the time since, I've been grateful that I can barely see. The small world in my eyes was strip-mined down to nothing, and the fog that I see the outside through has spared me from seeing what was done to the rest of my body. Friend is indistinct and blurred. Her outline is poorly filled in with faded colors and abstract features. It hurts too much to make out the moles and rotten mouth that repulsed me before. What little bits of eye the tiny civilization inhabits left intact shudder and ache the more I try. The ruin of my brain can't recall details anymore. I imagine that this is for the best. I can only remember the cruel responses I made to stimuli that I can't receive anymore. I was a beast to Friend. I recoiled from her help. Even though she was disgusted by what I was, she looked at me. She touched me. She freed me. I would have cried in shame, but the Anapest dried those wells that Eyam's Cleft hadn't filled with gound. Instead I sobbed, despite Friend's quiet protests and gentle slaps. I looked up at her, and I could tell she was afraid. The small blur of white I saw that I imagine was her eyes disappeared for a while as she tried to pretend I wasn't what she saw. I tried to apologize in the language of hers I think I learned. She shushed me, reminding me that Wayle was listening. Always listening. I almost broke down again. She had hurt me, forced me to move, to act, when I felt worse than I ever had before. But she still stayed. She could have forced me to continue even when I couldn't move anymore, and I still wouldn't deserve her.
As she shushed me, the bristled trotters of her frame against my mouth, I moved my own hands along her arm. The bristles pushed against my hand, itching and poking the tender, broken ruin my fingers had become. It was so strange, so good to feel another person with my actual hands. I moved my hand to her neck, and she stiffened. I tried to relax my stiff, clawlike fingers to show her I wasn't going to strangle her like I'd imagined doing before, and moved them to the side of her face. I felt the raised, hair-covered skin of her moles, and stroked them like a small animal. She made a small noise of distress, and I jerked my hand away, afraid I had upset her. But then her trotter left my mouth and guided it back to her. I understood. She was disgusted with me, like I was a dog that tried to rut with her favorite pillow, but still forgiving. God, I thought, you're too kind to me. I gently felt her face, exploring the moles that threatened to blot out her skin, and felt her nose, the scar on her lip.
I raised my other hand to her head, and felt her hair. It was greasy and limp from dirt and sweat, and I could feel flakes of dander that had peeled from her unwashed scalp. But still, I played with it between the fingers of my was-trotter like I had a girl's when I was a child. I remember how that girl reacted, similar to how Friend did now. Was I always this repulsive, even then? It was hard to imagine a time when my face wasn't a split, drilled mess. Her hair was comforting, from the thick down on her moles to the oil-slicked, knotted lengths from her head. I tried to mouth thanks to her in a language I imagined she spoke, and immediately felt like an idiot for trying to make the ruin of my mouth do anything intelligible. Instead I stroked her face like a fool, and shifted closer to her. Then she took my hand again, and she pressed her scarred lips to it. I knew that her teeth would stain them purple like they had the parts of my skin she bit trying to break my Frame. But that meant she had marked me as hers, didn't it? It meant she wanted me, and didn't want to throw me away? It had to. Oh god, it had to.
She whispered something to me as she continued to kiss my hand, the purple film on her teeth slicking my was-trotter with her rot. I felt something forgotten and neglected stir between my chafed legs. I whimpered, ashamed. I could not let her see, and almost wept again. I looked away from her as best as I could. It was hard to tell where I was looking, with her outline blurring and dividing as the film over my ruined eyes refused to move with the husk of the globes beneath it. I couldn't look at her. I was, I am disgusting. Worms don't look at people with those thoughts in mind. As I sniveled and shrank from her touch, the grip of the trotters in her frame tightened on my hand. She spoke, barely above a croaking whisper.
“Nnnnn. Nno. No.”
She cupped my chin and guided the mess of my face to look at her. I imagine she choked back bile when she spoke to me again.
“Iiil-- Iloveyou.” She rasped, her voice hitching at the words, full of regret at her admission. I flinched as if I was struck. No. No, no, nonononononononono. It wasn't fair. It wasn't right. How could-- no. This was cruel, to me, but most of all to herself. I moaned, falling against her frame, barely able to support my creaking joints as I sobbed into the rubber, mucus and the bloody froth in my mouth squelching and bubbling in the pockets of air between my face and her frame as she shushed me, stroking my hair around the hole in my head. You fucking beast of a \\\\Clerk!////, I thought to myself, you can't do this to her. It's Wrong. And you'll still do it. I wanted to dash my head against the ground, to cave in what the gound hadn't eroded through. I was right. Gods of my people, I was right. I raised my hands to her frame, pawing at the places I remembered finding soft and appealing. But I could not remember them right. My hands scrabbled at bristled rubber, squeaking and scratching and groping for purchase. “Sssshhhh,” she whispered, reluctantly guiding my was-trotter to the bunched and grey rubber between her legs, crusty with mud and other filth from the manger and the marvel ouse. I wanted to look at her, to be discouraged and scolded away at the disgust I imagined her face was lined with. But I could not see her face. I scryed the fog that covered the world and saw only her eyes, rimmed with red.
I took hold of the rubber between her legs and pushed up until I felt it squish against her parts, and I rubbed, trying to please her like a clumsy circus animal learning a new trick. Her breath hissed as she drew it in sharply between her moldy teeth. I was tumescent, rigid, my shame on display for her. I tried to hide it beneath my skin, flabby from rapid loss of fat and darkened from constant proximity to my own filth. But I was not fit to hide, to conceal my desire to rut, to thrust, to despoil. I remembered when she checked the pieces beneath me to see if they responded. I don't remember if they had responded, they seemed so far from me. I pushed closer to her, and felt her body stiffen as I ground my stiffness against her frame, whimpering as the bristles of her poked at my glans and prodded its opening, and as the flakes of dirt and other horrors chafed at my infested skin. As I ground and rutted with the rubber on her thigh, trying to grip her sex, her humanity, to please her, oh god why am I doing this I should stop I should run and hide and never let her see me why did I do this why have I made myself a monster what am I doing
Her voice was impatient. She had no time for my self-abasement or selfish attempt at remorse. She knew that I was gone from that point of humanity, and lacking some offering for me to slake this embarrassment on, she allowed me to sully her beautiful frame with my touch, and she even stroked my ragged hair. I cried again, thrusting, grinding, pawing at her, drooling and sucking at the shoulder of her frame, afraid to put my face near hers lest I offend her further. I imagined the times that I had touched myself as a human, and remembered those times, but nothing, no twitch or moan came from me. And then I thought of her. I thought of my suffering in the Institute, the indignities in my frame before She met me, and left me her map. I felt a twinge of arousal, of excitement, and ground faster as I groped and rubbed her with beastly vigor. She drew in another sharp breath and gasped as I rubbed at the quim her frame protected from my horrible touch. I was encouraged when I should not have been. I continued my hamhanded groping, and began whispering through the mangled lips and cleft in the roof of my mouth
“I'mSorryI'mSorryFriendFriendI'mSoSorryYou'rreBeautifulI'msosorryforgivemeIcan't--” My words caught as sputum and regurgitated gound sprayed from the axe-wound that the roof of my mouth had become, and I felt the forgotten, turgid parts of me twitch and expel my frustration, my uncleanness onto her frame as she whimpered softly and stifled a moan, tightening her legs around my was-trotters, making them creak and crush in agony. She pushed my head into her frame and I sobbed, the sound drowning out her panting and choking back a gag.
“Ssshhh,” she whispered again, stroking my hair as I lay against her, my softness stuck to her frame by my own leavings, “Shh. Lloveyou.” I imagined that when she said it, there was no self-loathing in her voice. I would like to think that it was not a mere imagining. But I know it was only my ruined mind.
A thousand lifetimes, I thought, I could live a thousand lifetimes and never deserve a better Friend.