Porcelain Girl

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Once upon a time there lived a girl who could not feel. On winter days she could see the droplets of cerulean water fall from silver clouds, she could hear them falling on the pavement below her, on the tin roof of her house, and sometimes, when she was very quiet, she could hear the droplets landing on her skin. On Spring mornings she could see the breeze dance through the periwinkle blossoms. She could see how the tiny petals would sometimes dance away from their home and be carried to the currents of the rivers as they made their way out of sight. But she could not feel the breeze ride up her ankles or as it worked its way between each strand of her hair leaving it tangled and unruly. On summer afternoons she could see how everyone was affected by the sun. Skin became flushed, foreheads damp and layers of clothing were more often left at home. But she always wore a wool sweater completely unaffected by the sun’s rays. And on autumn nights she could see the slow procession of tarnished leaves swaying from the tips of prominent trees to the layer of dark earth below them. She could hear the dry leaves being crushed under her shoes as she walked under autumn moonlight but she could not feel the bits and pieces being crumbled with every step she took.
Before falling asleep each night, she would run her hands over her shoulders, over her eyelids and on the insides of her thighs hoping to feel the slightest glimmer of warmth. But she felt nothing, not even the sting produced by unexpected tears she produced as a result of her repeated failure. Instead she heard only the soft whimpering of her breath as she cried herself to sleep.
It happened one afternoon when the sky was overcast and the clouds threatened to release large doses of precipitation. She made her way out of her home and down the familiar path she took each morning. Just while turning the corner of her street, she came across an extremely old woman who sat under the shade of an almond tree. Each inch of her skin was wrinkled in tight, dry puckers and her nose protruded from her face and curved to the tip of her chin. Her long fingernails cracked at the tips and were blackened with earth that also clung to the crevices of her palms. Her back arched with age, with pain and with heavy burdens she carried with her over the years. The old woman looked up at the young girl approaching before her. She cleared her throat in a series of dry croaks.
“It’s going to rain.”
The girl was startled to hear the old woman speak.
“I can feel it in my bones and veins.”
The young girl wondered what it would feel like to have a current of rain flowing down her blood stream. She could only imagine it would feel as it sounded: turbulent and musical.
“I’m old and dying. Every inch of my body aches with tumultuous pain. I don’t know how much time I have until I whither and rot like the leaves that have fallen on my lap but I wish I could not feel this anymore.”
The young girl then whispered, “What would I give to feel.”
The old woman, who was beginning to fall into one of her frequent trances of pain jerked her neck up and fixed her gaze at the girl standing before her.
“What did you say?”
The young girl lifted her palms and touched her rose cheeks, her plump lips and then rested them on the place where she often heard a heartbeat.
“I cannot feel, Old Woman. Not a breeze, not a kiss, not even the splatter of rain landing on my skin.”
The old woman’s eyes gawked at the girl and glued to her porcelain skin. Untouchable, she thought.
“You are unbelievable! I’ve never met anyone of your kind.”
“My kind?”
“Never mind that. Now, you wish you could feel?”
The young girl sighed.
“With every part of me, Old Woman.”
“Then come here, come closer to me. I can grant you that wish.”
The young girl was startled at the old woman’s words. She immediately drew nearer to the Old Woman whose eyes had brightened.
“It is a simple task: you must spill your blood by tearing one of the crevices of your palms. Once that is completed, you must drop three beads of blood on my chest. I will do the same.”
The young girl was quick. She scanned the ground and found a broken twig and a triangular pebble jagged enough for the job. When the young girl and the old woman exchanged three droplets of blood, the sky broke with a solitary fracture and released a downpour of water.
It was so sudden; she heard heavy rain fall from the clouds as one by one, like filed splinters, the raindrops landed on her skin. She watched the excess blood being washed away from her palm but it was not only her sight that took notice. She felt the heavy blood move away from her nervous skin. She felt her toes becoming cold, her head weak from much new found recognition. She then felt a slight burning across each of her eyes. The young girl lifted her hands and brought her fingertips to her cheeks. She gasped as she felt the warm trickle of teardrops fall from her eyelashes. It was all a blessing to her. She looked up at the sky and took in each raindrop that landed on her skin, each second of escalating chill that rode up her body.
Behind her the old woman sat and gazed at the young girl as she felt for the first time. Feeling the rain on her skin, the movement of her breath, and feeling the drum of her heartbeat. She almost felt sorry for her, knowing that now she would feel the ache of loss, the bitterness of nostalgia, and the misery of heartache. She almost felt sorry for her but then she quickly understood that there was no way she could because she could not feel at all.

© Crystal Ball


caramelizedvintage August 12, 2009 at 9:20 PM  

Amazing storytelling.

I love your descriptions, so precise and poignant.

evelyn August 13, 2009 at 2:18 PM  

you are amazing in writing! :O oh what i would give to be a good storyteller like you. it was very nice! :)

MeggUh August 21, 2009 at 4:32 PM  

I really loved this short story, do you want to be a writer?

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