Watercolor painting of standing man with no skin, showing musculature and skeletal structure

The Anatomical Model

Our figure painting instructor announced “a special treat,” and in walked a man with no skin. He was bound head to toe in plastic wrap—we could see muscle, tendons, ligaments, and bone. The plastic creaked as he crossed the silent room and stepped onto the platform.

Starting at the back of his skull he unwrapped the plastic, winding down his head and neck, down each arm, around his torso, down each leg, and finally removed the seafoam green latex gloves I’d failed to even notice he was wearing. He let them drop like heavy leaves onto the small mound of plastic wrap before opening his stance, extending his arms, and holding position.

His muscles glistened with slime under the lights.

The instructor said, “Okay, get drawing.”

Maria looked at me and mouthed, “what the fuck.”


At break, the model went straight into the bathroom.

Maria and I smoked out front.

I said, “I feel like I’m going crazy.”

“I know, is this not weird to anyone else?”

“Maybe he has a disease.”

“If so, it’s gross of Mr. Gottlieb to use him like this.”

Someone cleared their throat behind us, and it was him. His wet body shone in the sun, muscles flexed as he lifted a hand and said, “Got an extra smoke?”

Maria gasped and laughed. “Oh my god, it’s a fucking suit.”

“Yeah, what’d you think?” he said.

“I feel so stupid.”

He lit the cigarette and curled his lip. “You wanna see what’s underneath?”

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  1. jim ilika

    “You know you got me going now, like (you) knew you would.” You drew me into the story and delivered an excellent twist at the end. Very well done!

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