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Cover illustration and design: Lauren O'Neill

Lick of the Lizard

I am sweeping myself into the dustbin. Every day I take the brush and run it along the wooden floor-boards honeyed by age, marked and pitted by pots dropped in moments of un-coordination. I inch it into corners, sidle it around the legs of furniture so that when I arrive at the door, my brush has rounded up another day's gathering of myself. Little piles of dirty grey dust that cling to the sides of the plastic white bin liner. And what is it? Sloughed off skin cells. My skin cells. I cannot tell when I sweep up the bits whether it's an arm cell or a nail cell or a brain cell for that matter. I seem to gather into corners, in little puffballs that stick to the bristles of the brush which I have to comb off at the end of my sweeping, like a weaver carding wool. I am already half way towards burial.

I look at Lisa's fifteen-year-old skin, the softest, blemish free, the living bloom of youth upon her cheeks; the gloss of her black hair as it nests in around her ears, the brightness of her eyes. She walks around unaware of her beauty. That's what I don't like about her; she's too beautiful to be my daughter. She doesn't have to worry about sweeping her cells into the dustbin. They are too busy still replicating and bouncing around with life force to be anxious about epidermis or collagen.

They say our cells are renewing themselves every day; that over seven years we have renewed our whole body and we're really not the same persons we were seven years before. No wonder I have a problem with Lisa.