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Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2131257
True beauty can sometimes be found after the breaking.

Word Count: 575

Age weathered hands, seamed with a thousand wrinkles, slipped each delicate shard into place. Not a single shake betrayed the woman’s art as she reconstructed the porcelain doll one careful piece at a time.

Instead of using glue, she sealed each delicate spider web crack with lines of liquid gold. After hours of meditative concentration, the final shard, a thin slice of rose pink lips, slid delicately into place.

“There you go, my dear, you are a beautiful angel once more,” her cracked and age worn voice whispered as she observed her work with her still sharp gaze.

Three hours later, a young woman with a wreath of cotton fluff brown curls entered her shop. Behind her trailed a small girl, whose head dipped down, letting a similar wave of curls hide her face in shadows.

“Ah, here we are,” she greeted her guests with a nod of her head. Her bun, completely silver now without a hint of the once midnight color, bobbed, catching flecks of light from the naked overhead bulbs.

The young woman’s lips twitched in a failed attempt at a smile. “I’m so glad you were able to repair her. Emily is Nora’s favorite, and I didn’t think. Well, no one else thought they could, I mean.” Her voice trailed off, the words dying on her lips. The overhead lights made her eyes too bright, showing the thin film of carefully held back tears.

“No worries,” the old woman said with a dismissive wave of one small hand. “Emily is better than new, come, see.”

Kneeling, her ancient knees gave a sharp double crack, she held the doll out, turning her so that her face was tilted towards the light.

A tiny gasp sounded from behind the younger woman, and Nora inched out from behind her mother to get a better look at the face of her beloved Emily. “S-she’s so pretty,” the girl whispered, her tiny voice breaking a little, rusty from disuse.

“Yes, she is.”

Then it was the mother’s turn to gasp as Nora’s head rose, just a little so that her dark curls fell away to expose her face to the light.

Unlike so many others, the old woman didn’t flinch away from the sight. She didn’t exclaim over the road map of stitches covering the girl’s face from her hair line to her chin.

Instead, she reached out and let one bent finger trace the air above the girl’s face, following one of the twisting paths. “Have you ever heard of the Art of Kintsugi?” she asked.

“No, what is that?”

Holding the doll out, the old woman ran the same finger over one of the thin lines where the porcelain had broken. “Kintsugi is where an artist doesn’t attempt to hide the cracks, doesn’t try to smooth away the proof of damage. No, they take gold and fill in the broken places, celebrating the creation of something new, a beauty who found its life in being broken, yet being put together again to become something more than it had been.”

Again, she let her finger hover over the girl’s face. “Your little Emily was repaired with gold. When you heal, your repairs will be made with soft rose and silver.”

For the first time since the dog attack, Nora gave a small smile, and though it was a little crooked, her mother and the old woman smiled back, seeing the beauty of her new face.


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