The Glass-boned Creature

Having schizophrenia is a weird thing. Psychosis is a whole different kind of brain wiring. So different, that often, my friends fail to understand why I can get stuck in it for days, weeks, or even months, even though I can be the most rational and pragmatic person they ever met. They fail to understand, and I fail to explain. But, as a writer, I think that sometimes, stories explain better than theory. So, here is one these stories, a story about how the intelligent and lucid PhD student I am can sometimes get caught inside the psychosis spiral…

[TW : several mentions of self-harming][the quotes are from the song at the top of the article]

Once upon a time, there was a creature which bones were made of glass. The creature doesn’t remember a time when it was different. The creature thought it was normal. So once, they discussed it with friends.

“Don’t you think glass bones are a strange thing? One could think that such an important thing might require a more solid fabric…
_What stories have you been reading? This sounds like a funny idea.”

The creature was puzzled. They never thought about it like a story. To them, it was not a story, it was life. Back in those days, the creature was still very naïve, so they insisted.

“It’s not my idea… I mean, aren’t we all made of glass?
_Have you been drinking? Bones are not made of glass.
_Well if not, what are they made of?
_Bones are made of… bones. Why would you ask such silly question?”

The creature asked such silly questions because they needed answers. But they never got it. Instead, the creature was sent to the doctor so they could better understand the making of bones. So the doctors explain again and again how skeleton and bones worked. The creature listened, nodding their head in sign of understanding. The truth is, the creature didn’t understand, but they have already understood that it was useless to ask question. Neither their friends nor the doctors truly listened to the question, so obsessed with the fact they were right and the creature was wrong, that they just didn’t listen. They knew bones were made of bones and they thought that the creature needed to understand that for their own good.

So the creature learned the story. They thought that if they told this story of bones made of bones to themselves enough times, they would believe it. Their bones would suddenly not be glass anymore, but real bones, like the bones of anyone. The creature learned the words by heart, but never came to believe them. They told themselves the story of bones made of bones every night before sleeping, but it never worked. Their bones were still hopelessly made of glass. The only thing their friends and the doctors told them was that the creature was alone. Deeply alone. Not only were they the only being in the world with a glass bones skeleton, but also, no one would listen, and even though they did listen, they never really heard the creature.

So the creature stopped talking about their glass bones.

This ain’t the way thing should be now, over years to follow.

Years were passing by, and the creature talked less and less. If people couldn’t understand such an easy concept, that bones could be made of glass, how were they supposed to understand that these bones could break and hurt you?

After talking about their glass bones, the creature was mocked and attacked. The creature was turned into the weirdos, the alien. Beaten and beaten over again, the creature would resist, but inside, the bones were breaking. Tiny pieces of the bones would break, separated from the rest of the skeleton, to wander around in the creature’s body. The creature would wonder “is this normal?”, but they didn’t dare asking anymore. So they just let it happen and learned to live with it, even though it was so painful.

The creature learned to fight, but it wasn’t enough. Life kept happening over the years. The creature didn’t even realise they were fighting all the time anymore. Fighting was as natural to them as glass bones. So natural, it was hard for them when life didn’t require fighting. Were they missing something? They know the monsters were never too far. The monsters did believe in glass bones. They love glass bones. They love the sound of glass bones breaking and cracking between their teeth. One thing the creature knew is that once the monsters would be out of glass bones, they would eat bones bones. Because you have to eat to survive, even when you’re a monster. So the creature learned to fight harder to protect the ones they loved. Even if they didn’t know the danger. Even if they didn’t know that for now the only thing protecting them was their bones bones. In a way, not knowing that monsters existed and could be after them was better: they wouldn’t live their life in fear. So the creature never said a word.

But the creature was tired. So tired. And so lonely. They couldn’t talk about the monsters. They couldn’t talk about their glass bones… Things were getting worse over the years. They could feel the wandering shattered glass, and blood was pouring. A thick black blood. A blood that couldn’t get out. A blood that was rotting and decaying inside the creature’s body. There was no more tears, for when the creature cried now, only blood was flooding from their eyes. It was one of the most painful thing ever. The creature would cry, and the shattered glass would hurt their eyes, and the blood would pour. And the monsters would smell the blood and they would attack while the creature was oh so weak. There was no one to call for help, for if they call, the monsters would hurt the helpers.

And the helpers couldn’t even see the monsters. They would look at the creature collapsing on the floor, crying and shaking and begging for help, and would wonder what this mess was all about. So when the creature started cutting through their own flesh to get the shattered glass out, they were sent to the doctors. Again.

I’m falling out the edge of the world.
This ain’t the way thing should be now, over years to follow.

The doctors said the creature shouldn’t do that. That it was bad. That the creature was killing themselves. And naïve again, the creature tried to explain one more time. They were not trying to kill themselves; they were trying to save themselves. Because there were a problem with their blood after all these years of internal bleeding and shattered glass, the creature had to cut themselves free, to get rid of the rot that was growing inside of them. The doctors took their polite voices that know all and better. They explain to the creature how a human body works. In this very slow and patronising voice adults use with children they think are a bit idiot. The doctors would explain that the monsters did not exist. That the creature was inventing them because of fear, but there was nothing to worry about, because the doctors had pills for that.

The creature would think that they were idiot. Once again, they were not listening. They were not listening because they already know the answers before the question was asked. They didn’t even realise they were not answering the right question. Only the creature realised it.

The pills were poison, soon, the creature’s blood turned even thicker that it used to be. So thick and so rotten that worms felt home in it. The creature could feel them moving and multiplying. The creature felt the urge to purge this body even more. The urges were so strong, that when they had nothing to properly cut, they would just dig their own flesh barehanded. The creature was more and more desperate. Why would no one listen? Why wouldn’t the people supposed to help and cure them listen better? Why wouldn’t the people supposed to love them be more worry about their pain than the normality of the pain?

Because the creature was not normal.
Because the creature was not made the right way.
Because such a creature was not even supposed to exist.

Suddenly, the creature understood why the monsters wanted them: they were one of them. The creature was a monster. A non-existing being. A story. A lie. The creature was a lie. Only a lie covered in skin which enables them to be seen by the normal humans. A lie covering a glass skeleton. The creature didn’t exist. They were some kind of twisted art, or a fucked up experimentation. A glass creation hidden under human skin like statues were hidden under a blank sheet before being unveiled.

The creature didn’t exist. That was why no one could hear them when they talked, why their loved ones didn’t react to the right stimulus. Statues are not supposed to talk to you. Do statues get lonely, petrified like this in public places, but unable to reach anyone passing by?

This ain’t the way thing should be now, over years to follow.

The creature thought for themselves, maybe it would be less painful to accept their nature of humanified lie, instead of trying to be one of the humans. So when the night came back, the creature changed the cutting tools for brushes. No one believed their bones were made of glass, but they fell for the stained-glass windows the creature started to create. The colours were so delicate and exquisite, the drawing so precise and alive. They were all so impressed. How beautiful this all was! Soon, the stained-glass windows covered the full body of the creature, and everyone thought it was their real body. How easily did they forget about all these stories of glass bones, monsters, and self-harming! Was manipulating people that easy? Yes, it was. Show them colours, they’ll take the colour over the shadows. And the creature wanted to do so too…

In the shadows, the creature was still internally bleeding. The creature’s bones were still breaking and cracking. The shattered glass was still hurting them from the inside. They could still feel the blood pouring. There was no crying anymore. The fear of the pain was too big. They didn’t cut anymore. It didn’t solve the problem, it would just add cuts to the others, and they didn’t want to be sent again to the non-listening doctors. Plus, they started to enjoy the stained-glass art on their skin. It sure was colourful and beautiful.

Yet, the monsters didn’t stop coming to them. They were lonely too. The creature knew, because they were still lonely. Only the monsters accepted to see the rot and the worms under the colourful stained-glass. Only the monsters knew the pain. Only the monsters acknowledged their whole existence.

The creature has now to face new questions. What was the best solution to stop the pain and loneliness? The creature was a monster of a unique kind, they didn’t exist, they were nothing but an intricate story built on glass bones and covered with skin which was also covered in stained-glass. Which part was the truest? Was it the glass bones that were here since day 1? Or was it the stained-glass windows the creature created to cover the darkness of their sole existence? Could the two parts still exist in a single body? There were these days when the shattered glass would pierce through their skin and the creature would bleed again, bleed this black thicken and rotten blood. They would try to take off the piece of glass like you take off a wood splinter. Sometimes, the creature would wonder am I turning into some kind of weird hedgehog? What surprised the creature the most was how blinded the people were. Someday, the creature’s body would be riddled with shattered glass and no one would notice. They never saw anything but the brightness of the colours on their skin. Maybe it was the creature’s fault: they made the colours too bright. They wanted to hide the blood and pain and rot. Was it such a good idea now that no one could ever see their real self? But which one was the real self? You can’t blame people for not being able to see what you’re hiding from them. That would be incoherent. And the monsters would not tolerate that.

There was this moment, when the creature was trying to peel out the shattered glass riddling their skin, they would wonder: am I not taking away pieces of my soul? Shall I keep them? And it was impossible to answer. When the creature asked for help, they were answered with the same unhelpful answers:

“Of course take them away! It’s nothing but pain. You should not keep pain.”

Once again, they did not listen properly. They answered with a ready-made answer. So they didn’t hear and didn’t realise what they were saying. It was the creature’s bones that were breaking, the shattered pieces were just looking for a way out. The darkness was looking for a way out. It still existed. The creature was no lizard. If they started getting rid of their own bones, they would soon be boneless. Getting rid of the pain meant getting rid of the bones meant getting rid of what enabled them to move around. There was just one more step to take to conclude that the creature was made of pain.

And the creature took it. They were a lie made of pain and covered with artificially colourful skin.

So they isolated themselves even more, in fear they would hurt the people around them. And the loneliness kept growing up. And if the urges to cry were still there, it was impossible now to cry safely.

And still, there was no one to answer the question, because no one was really listening. What was the truest part of the creature? What was worth keeping? Was it because the creature didn’t really exist that it could only exist as the people around wanted them to be?

This ain’t the way thing should be now, over years to follow.

The more the years passed by, the more the creature realised there was no answer.
The more the years passed by, the lonelier the creature was.

And still the question was unanswered: what made the creature this way? Why them? Why were they the only glass-boned creature? Why did they have to be so lonely? How could loneliness be the only solution? And could they survive to it?

I hope this story was able to help you understand a few things. I realise I could never stop editing it just to add questions over and over again, so I forced myself to stop ! But if it’s not clear and you have question, feel free to tell me ❤

If you have schizophrenic friends, or more generally psychotic friends, consider reaching out to them, because they can’t do it once they’re stuck inside the psychosis spiral.



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Non-binary French writer, theatre PhD student, metalhead and rain lover. Here, I write about living with schizophrenia. I'm owned by a cat.