I try to hold myself together, pressing each component that makes up my being into place until I hear a click, like the snap of Lego pieces being pushed into place.
Before I position each segment where it belongs, I add a thick squishy layer of glue to the edges of every jagged shard. I carefully wipe away the excess. It takes a great deal of patience to hold each piece until the glue has completely dried, letting the structure stand up on its own.
Next, I apply the primer before painting on my blotched, imperfect skin.
I remember to add each spot and freckle, every scar and every line, to the creamy layer of paint. I take special care when it comes to my face. Hours slip by in the painstaking effort to get it just right; from the over-plucked eyebrows to the pursed lips, bitten up on the inside, to the eyes drained of all their romance and enchantment.
I struggle to keep my hands still as I work.
When the smell of wet paint has ebbed away, I add a thin coating of varnish to help preserve the carefully-drawn features.
This is my creation; my offering to the world.
It hurts a little when I stare at it for too long.
It’s still very rough and imperfect, something I have spent years making and will continue to rebuild no matter how damaged the fragments become.
Before I finish, I unscrew a panel on the chest to look inside the hollow darkness. There is still another part to install. Using a pair of pincers, I pick up the stone heart which sits on the table in its own little tray. It had been flesh once, I think.
But, no matter.
It will have to do.
I ease it into position within my chest and connect all the wires exactly where they are meant to go. There’s an art to the circuitry. It requires the sort of attention to detail most people don’t have the patience to develop.
The structure should be stronger now, more resilient.
And yet, when I open the door and let the world back inside, I notice the cracks travelling through my skin, racing across my body in a fractured mosaic until hundreds of rifts have formed. After a moment of utter stillness, my body falls apart into a thousand pieces once more.
I sigh and begin my weary work all over again.