A man with a long-handled paintbrush colors images on his skin. He paints pictures on every shape and every muscle, every strain of sinew and each concave curve.
He twists his wrists into angles and contorts his limbs to reach the small of his back where he paints the moment that a hand slipped over that stretch of skin during his first kiss with his first love. The soles of his feet, where he paints the pounding run to the subway stop trying to be on time for an interview that could have changed his life, if he hadn’t gotten lost. The curves of the insides of his thighs, where he paints the story of the first time he had sex, slightly drunk and confused in the tumbled sheets of a bed that was not his own. On his knees are the ragged colors he remembers of being a child, of tripping and climbing and shouting. On the back of his neck he outlines the breath of wind that made him shiver, that night he lost his keys. Below his ears are the colors of everything he’s heard, the gentle whispers and the gasps, shouts and screams, moans and cries, murmurs and barked commands. Down his chest he shades the way his mother used to hold him, and the ache of a breakup, and the breathlessness of having run too far. He twists his arms to paint his shoulders, where he marks the hollow where a head sometimes lay and the almost-forgotten soreness that a backpack left every day until he graduated high school. On one cheek he streaks the skin with the print of smiles.
He paints his life on his skin, and when his body is colored and shaded and marked and cross hatched with the pictures of his memories, he puts the paintbrush down.