The class has moved on, but she stands transfixed in front of the glass case. The doll she’s looking at could fit in her two hands. Its ivory parts have been carefully set aside: the coil of an intestine, a button-sized liver. A small heart, crown-shaped. The smooth lid of a bulging belly. The doll’s eyes are closed, its face serene. A lovely, dead-saint’s smile. The girl leans in, touches the inscription. Fifteenth century. So much time to spend undone, laid open.
The doll’s hands rest over its hollow body, over the ivory figure of the curled up baby lying exposed inside her. The girl touches her own crown-shaped heart. She touches her own belly, looking for the same cold hollowness, the same exposed child. Hers is still hidden, so small it’s barely there.
The doll’s curls are loose over her lace pillow. The girl reaches up and tugs at her ponytail, and her hair falls around her shoulders. A museum guard walks by. Excuse me, the girl says. Is nobody going to put her back together?
Clio Velentza lives in Athens, Greece. She is a winner of “Best Small Fictions 2016,” a Pushcart Prize nominee, and has been longlisted for Wigleaf’s Top 50 2018. Her work has appeared in several literary journals, some anthologies in both English and Greek, and she’s currently working on a novel. Find her on twitter at @clio_v.