I once knew a girl made of fragments of shattered glass. She was beautiful. The array of colors and shapes would refract the sunlight, splashing a rainbow of light and hope across the whitewashed walls, creating beauty out of broken pieces. She was a mosaic, made of intricately woven bits of stardust. A myriad of color and light and sound flowed through her in wondrous hues of golds, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies; an ocean of magic ebbed and flowed in ceaseless beauty throughout her.
And yet, she didn’t seem happy. She seemed empty, as empty as the golden sunlight that filtered through her. Wherever she went, people would stare. Not in awe, as I would have assumed, but in loathing, disgust, hatred. Because she didn’t look like them. Because she was different. Everyone else was made of durable plastic, and they never seemed to break. The girl didn’t like this because she could never see the stardust in them, could never tell if what they said was true, or what they were actually thinking. They seemed invincible, untouchable, unchangeable; while she just seemed delicate and fragile, like a whisper could set her falling apart.
She smiled and was friendly, but still they stared. Every time someone said something mean about her, a piece of her broke off and fell to the ground. Jokes about her, supposedly “just kidding”s, and “I didn’t really mean it”s chipped away at her beautiful form, leaving a trail of shattered glass in her wake. Bits of the stardust that made her who she was, her very soul, clung to each piece left behind. And she could remember exactly what had caused each piece of her to break. Every word sent cracks spreading throughout her body, until even her heart was a latticework of hair-line fractures, like a diamond spider’s web.
One day I asked her how she was still able to go on. At the time, I couldn’t see any cracks or empty spaces. “You want to know how I’m able to put myself back together, even after I’ve fallen apart so many times? Even after I’ve lost so many pieces I will never be able to replace them all?”
She told me it was simple, but it was hard. She said each time a piece of her was lost, she found something else to take its place. Something that made her happy; something that made her smile; something that made her feel: a book, a song, a poem; a person, a place, a flower; a compliment, an original thought; a smile, a hug, a tear. Anything beautiful, even if it was old and falling apart. Because she believed there was unspeakable beauty in broken things.
This was the reason why she was made of so many different shapes and colors, because they all became a part of her, infused with stardust and light. She said it worked most of the time, and she managed to be happy.
Until one day, it didn’t.
I found her.
No matter how hard she had tried to fix herself, the words had come too fast and too furious for her to be able to mend all the vacant spaces. So she stopped trying. And she fell apart. I found her heart in fragments, twinkling stardust leaking out and being swept away, forgotten. Just like she would be.
They said they were sorry. They said they hadn’t known she was so fragile. They said they hadn’t noticed the cracks. But how could that be true? How could they have missed the bits of shattered glass they had crushed beneath their plastic feet?
And then, in that moment of frozen sorrow and stardust, I felt my heart, too, begin to crack.