THE FIRST THING to go was his hair. He sat in the chairs with the other guys, slouching back with tubes sticking out of their arms. "What you in for?" he asked the man sitting next to him.
"Balls," the man said, nodding his head down.
When he got home he opened the fridge, and for a few minutes he scanned the interior. He had a shelf for meat, a shelf for vegetables, and a shelf for dairy. None of it made him feel hungry, but the coolness of the air was pleasant. Afterwards he had a shower and went to bed.
In the morning his head felt cold. He reached a sleepy hand up and felt soft, bare skin. He looked at his pillow, expecting to find clumps of hair, but there was nothing there except for a thin patch of dribble. He drank some water, put some clothes on, and then rooted around in the cupboard, fighting his way past cardboard boxes and other assorted junk. Soon he found his old baseball cap and put it on. On the front was the logo of his old university. It was a perfect fit.
The next things to go were his toes. At work everyone was considerate and understanding. The doctors said he should stay at home and rest, but he wanted to go in. His colleagues told him how brave he was, and they insisted on making him regular cups of tea. His boss stopped shouting at him, even when he was late with reports, and no one said anything about the number of toilet breaks he was taking. People even went out of their way to avoid disturbing him with loud chatter. He heard it as he approached the staff room, but as soon as he walked through the door they fell silent and looked at the floor.
He was sitting on the toilet one afternoon when he felt an itch at the tips of his toes. He pulled his feet out of his socks and shoes so he could scratch them, but his toes weren't there anymore. He checked his socks, but they were empty.
When he lost his ears, he decided to change his headwear. Out went the baseball cap and in came a woollen number with ear flaps. Winter was approaching, and it helped to insulate the little heat he still produced. To cover up the absence.
One of his friends rang up, said they missed their regular evenings at the pub. Half an hour later there were three of them at the door, each carrying a six-pack of beer. One of them passed him a can and he took it, holding it between fingers devoid of knuckles or nails. They sat in the living room, drinking, trying to think what questions could still be asked. Trying to calculate whether they were looking at his featureless face too much, or not enough. Eventually, one of them turned the television on.
After they left he lay in bed. He ran his fingers down his hairless chest, passing over where his navel used to be. He kept on moving, down to his groin, to nothing at all.
A couple of days later he was sitting in the clinic again. The guy who normally sat to his right wasn't there. Hadn't been there for a while, now he thought about it. He tried to remember the man's name, but he couldn't bring it to mind. He only saw the chair, empty.
The guy to his left looked at him. "Teeth, huh?" he said.
He didn't know what the man was talking about until he pushed his fingers into his mouth and felt his bare gums, rubbery. When he got home he looked in the mirror. His skin was pale, almost translucent, as if the light didn't notice his presence.
The next day, he went to the park. He shuffled along the pathway, looking at the grass, the bushes, the trees. He took his hat off, and then his coat, dropping them by the side of the path. He kept walking. He took his shirt off, and then his trousers and underwear. For a brief moment he felt the heat of the sun, warming, melting.
The last things they found were his shoes.
Anton lives in Durham, U.K. He writes fiction and poetry while working on a PhD in Theology, all fueled by numerous cups of tea. Find him at antonrose.com or @antonjrose.