How Pretty

Title: How Pretty 

Word Count: 760 words

Rating: PG


She is made of silk, tulle, and gossamer. Her eyes are two jeweled buttons, her mouth one long up sweep stitch in a color the Creator calls Rosebud. She is a happy little doll who sits patiently as the Creator applies the finishing touches – lace ribbons for her hair, knitted shoes for her feet, and finally a heart.

how pretty, how pretty

The Creator says, “This is the most important step. Where your heart is will say a lot about whom you want to be.” He offers suggestions; tucked behind an ear no, hidden against her chest no, the back of her knee no.

It’s her heart, her decision, and she finally settles on the sleeve of her arm. The Creator expresses some doubts, telling her that she is delicate and she should keep her heart protected. No, she says, you give me a heart to share. I will not hide it.

The Creator smiles, and says, “Then we’ll use a buttonhole stitch, and hope it stays tight.” The Creator pulls several colors; things with pretty names like Butterfly Kiss and Kitten Noses and gently sets about creating a heart for the little doll.

how pretty, how pretty

She is set out into the world where there are so many other’s like herself and yet not. She meets calicos and cambrics, ginghams and grograms, mohairs and muslins, and mixes like herself who don’t know exactly what they are.

Some of them have hearts in bright colors peeking from beneath the collars of their shirts. Some of them hint coyly at where their heart is located, but none does she find with a heart on their sleeve.

They come to her, saying how pretty, how pretty and we are your friends, let us touch your heart.

She smiles and only asks that they be careful. She keeps her elbow angled, it feels awkward as they coo over her and pets her heart, but they handle it like a precious thing so she allows it. It goes on though, for what feels like forever.Please, she says, can I stop, this hurts. They ignore her, holding her arm still so they may keep touching and petting. She begins to cry, to tug, to beg but they continue to ignore her.

how pretty, how pretty

There comes a boy who chases them away and says they’ve become a nuisance. For a while her friends argue and shout but the boy wins. She cannot tell what he is made of (denim, perhaps) or where his heart is. Don’t worry he says, I won’t let them hurt you anymore. He pays no mind to her heart, takes her hand, and she feels safe at last.

The world turns, seasons pass, and the boy says nothing, considers her heart quietly. No how pretty, how pretty and she worries of what he thinks.

He says, This thing is old, it’s faded. He scratches at the lines, pulling the stitches free before she can stop him.

Her heart has come half-undone; the fabric beneath it is a pale imprint of the ruined embroidery. She covers it as best she can, why?

I’m doing you a favor. Hearts only hurt you. He pulls aside his collar, showing her the place where he has clipped his own free, loose threads still clinging to his fabric.

She runs to the Creator, hoping for something to fix it, to stop the heart from unraveling. The boy has torn it straight through the fabric of her arm and it hurts.

“Oh dear,” says the Creator, “I was afraid of this.”

Can you fix it?

“I can patch you, and I can re-apply a heart, but it will not be the same. I’m out of those particular colors.”

The Creator has to pull her arm a little tighter to close it; she’s missing a bit of her filling in that arm but not enough to make a noticeable difference. She just feels a little lighter. “You’ll get used to it, dear.” The Creator pulls colors, Bubblegum and Blossom, and sets about making a new heart.

The shape is a little different, and the few remaining threads from the old heart peep through, but she’s whole once again.

how pretty, how pretty

She dances out of the reach of others, changes the subject and distracts them. Her heart is still on her sleeve for all to see, she doesn’t regret that, but she’s careful now about who touches it.

This is an older piece, originally written in 2011, reprinted here for your viewing pleasure.

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