"Ow", the needle pricked the skin on the girl's index finger, but no blood was drawn. The girl kept sewing, their face completely blank, but her red cheeks gave away her excitement. The string and needle joined her favorite flower pattern fabric to the corset, the beauty that was before her, she could not be placed into words. This would eventually become something special and beautiful. Everyone will think the same thing when they saw 'it' on display. The doll will be in an elegant pose, her thin waist matching the beauty of the corset and the dress. Yes, beauty was the priority. No exceptions. No excuses. Anything less than perfection could not be appreciated by the crowds of people.
"Hey! are you listening, Valie!", the cheery girl yelled and leaned over. "I am I am, Rosie. I'm just having trouble describing the character in this book", Valie said, frustrated and trying to concentrate. "Homework? we are in the middle of an issue bigger than an assignment that probably won't be graded! The police found another body, they said it was the same as the last one, could be a serial killer," Rosie sighed and leaned on her sitting friend. Rosie peeked as Valerian's answers spewed over the cafeteria table, but it drew little attention to her, they were in their last year of high school, college applications were nearing completion, and Rosie only thought about a few things these past days. She hugged Valerian as she leaned on her back, "I don't want to do the work right now, I'll do it at the beginning of class, two more to go anyway. Hey, Valie, did you bring part of the decorations and a present for today", Rosie said with a saddened expression, her embrace becoming tighter. Valerian stopped what she was doing and looked at Rosie. Valerian smiled and reassured her, "Don't worry, she's just leaving us for 2 weeks, 3 tops. Everything will go well and we can party when she comes back". Rosie smiled and nodded. She got up from Valerian's back and heard the bell indicating lunchtime was over.
The girls began to walk to their next class, Valie then became curious about the serial killer that Rosie had previously mentioned. "Hey, Rosie, has the police found any leads on that...uh...killer yet?", Valerian asked, a little nervous. Rosie gave a sly smile, "Oh, someone finally interested in the conversation". Valerian blushed as Rosie chuckled a bit and gave a deep sigh, "But, no. Nothing that can get a good lead. The news just says that the only thing that connects the victims is those fancy poses and a binder corset thing around their waist". Valerian interlocked her arm around Rosie's and walked according to her stride, "Just hope the guy never gets you, it would be too much for the world," Valerian joked as Rosie played along. "Yup, no one can handle this much beauty. But, just imagine, wouldn't I make a beautiful corpse ?" Rosie replied in a bubbly tone. The girls kept joking and walked blissfully to class, hoping, that the other did not know what they were actually thinking.
"Okay, class, before you go please remember a curfew was placed into action starting today by our police department. Be home by 8 pm and if you go out, go before curfew, and please stay in groups of at least two. That's all, I hope to see you on Monday," the teacher implored as she dismissed her class. Valerian and Rosie left their seats and headed to the gymnasium in a hurry. As they arrived they were welcomed by one of their friends, a cheerleader still in her outfit trying to inflate balloons and streamers. "About time, hurry up and help me with the rest, Alexander is almost here with lily", the cheerleader demanded but then cracked a smile. The two girls at the door giggled, "Ooooh, who is this cutie yelling at us, is that Arela? ", the three girls joked and quickly got to work, making the gym look like a birthday party.
Arela sat with her phone in hand waiting for a text, Valerian and Rosie unpacked the presents, and out fell a teddy bear from Valerian's bag. Valerian stared at that brown teddy bear with the blue ribbon around its neck, and now that it was done and ready to be given away, she felt a bit nostalgic.
"You really made it for her?", Rosie said, her expression bittersweet.
"Yea, she had a similar one when we were kids. I hope this calms her down", Valerian set the teddy bear down and sighed.
"Guys, they're coming, quickly, get into position!", Arela interrupted and with a big grin motioned the other two girls to stand beside her.
Footsteps were heard in the hallway and finally, the doors opened. Two students came in as the three girls yelled 'Suprise', startling them. The boy that entered laughed at his companion, "Ya see Lily, told you I knew where they were". The girl that accompanied him could only laugh and stare in wonder, her eyes tearing up. Lily immediately set her bags down and ran towards Valerian first, jumping into a hug. "Y'all shouldn't have bothered, but thank you so, so much", Lily cried as she finished her sentence. Valerian then gestured to the boy by the door to come closer, "Alex, help Rosie and Arela", Valerian chuckled. Alex nodded and went towards the girls.
Lily sat in the middle of their circle and opened each gift. She thanked everyone and the group fluttered into a chatter, Lily's attention fixated on the teddy bear. She remembered her childhood and her eyes twitched ever so slightly. "Everything... is much better now", she thought as she locked eyes with Valerian. Valerian had known Lily since childhood and sometimes wished she could go back to simpler times, but that just wouldn't be fair. Lily, smiled as stood, "So, uh...I told all of you I would be away for a time and if everything goes well... we can all celebrate at my house. Our favorite show just got a new season and I just want all of us to binge it together, okay?". Lily's breathing suddenly became faster, her lip whimpering, and a little yelp escaped her rosy lips. Tears began to stream down her face, she was quick to wipe them away but even more ran down her cheeks. Valerian quickly ran to Lily and embraced her, everyone also quickly followed and comforted Lily. Lily was happy that she had such supportive and loving friends, nothing could ruin this moment.
The party was over, and the group of friends got into their respective rides. Lily was the first to leave, she was headed back home to get some things before heading to the hospital. The second and third were Arela and Rosie, with Arela driving and Rosie hitching a ride since they lived so close.
"Valie, please come with us, it's fine if you live far but it's just too dangerous and scary for you to go alone", Rosie pleaded.
Valerian could only smile to reassure her, "Rosie, nothing bad ever happens to me, when I get home I'll text you or something, besides, it's getting late and your mom overreacts".
Rosie gave a concerned smile, still not convinced but a bit persuaded," Okay....but text me this time, you always forget."
Valerian nodded and the girls drove off. What was left were Alex and Valerian, they stood quiet for a few seconds, the sun was setting and the solar-powered lights at the front of the school were beginning to light up. Then, Valerian broke the silence," So...you tell her, Alexander?", she said stoically. Alex looked away, tapping his foot nervously, he quickly saw that his ride was here and saw it as a way out, "Well, uh,....no....here's my ride I'd better, you know". Valerian sighed as the car approached and he reached towards the handle. "Look, I'm gonna tell her, I just want to make it special......you sure you don't want a ride, Valerian", Alex said nervously, then concerned. Valerian could only chuckle, "No, but thanks. And hey...you better hurry or I just may beat you to it". Alex rolled his eyes but laughed along with her as well, and with that, he left.
Valerian was now alone, she walked to her chained bike and hopped on. She steadied herself, then began pedaling. She was quite fast, the wind blowing on her face was something she always looked forward to, it calmed her down and got her ready for what was about to come.
Valerian lived in a run-down neighborhood. It was quiet except for the blaring cargo trains, a few houses down the road, and small shops 30 minutes away, there was nothing here but she preferred places like this. Everyone tended to mined their own business and they were basically invisible. Valerian arrived at her house, a one-story, blue house with a tiny section of grass at the back closed off by a tall picket fence. She waved at a neighbor and entered. She dropped her bag by the couch and went to the fridge, chugged a bottle of water, and grabbed another new and unopened one. She skipped to her room and made a b-line to a corner where a pair of shoes lay, she moved them and started to peel off the wooden floorboards. Then, when the hole was big enough, she jumped in and crawled through a space that led to a metal door. Valerian opened the door slowly but was immediately met with muffled screams. A girl with long brown waves of hair was gagged and tied to a pillar in the middle of a metal room, she struggled as she attempted to get Valerian's attention, her expression becoming hopeful the moment she walked in.
Valerian hurried to take the gag off of her and cleaned the tears, sweat, and saliva from her face. "Thank you, Thank you so much, please untie me-", the girl said with a head full of relief but was quickly interrupted. "Shh, it seems we have a bit of a misunderstanding here. I'm not going to untie you, and it would be good for me if you never got out of here. To make it perfectly clear, it would be best if you die here, but, I'll be next to you each step of the way until you become beautiful again", Valie said, with her usual friendly smile. The girl was confused as Valerian walked away and picked up a sharp object from a nearby table, the girl's mind going rampant until it finally clicked and she began to scream. "HELP ME!!!!! SOMEONE, I'M HEAR I'M-", her screams quickly went silent as her dry mouth sent her into a coughing fit. Valerian only chuckled and mocked the girl, "Hey, try screaming a little louder, maybe the nothingness around here or the deaf old woman will help you. If you'd like, I could help you?". Valerian then turned dramatically and showed the girl an outfit that she would soon be wearing, "Do you like it, I made it in your image. I really had a hard time getting the colors right, but simple is best". The girl became confused and began her attempt at a bargain, "Do you want money because I have money. I can get as much as you need or want and I won't even talk about you.....please, anything you want just please, don't this". The girl began to cry again and Valerian's annoyance became apparent. Valerian picked up the sharp object that she had previously laid out and placed it behind her back. She approached the girl and knelt in front of her, again, clearing her tears and putting her best sympathetic face into the line of sight. "You know, money isn't everything, it can't buy real friends or actual devoted love, or in this case....your freedom. But, I will give you something better, you are going to be a star in everyone's eyes. You will die and be remembered only as beautiful, I can promise you that". The girl's face again pleaded but before she could utter a word, Valerian quickly plunged the sharp device into her abdomen as she covered the girl's mouth. The sharp instrument then torqued upwards and rapidly slid across her stomach. Blood flowed to the drainage nearby. Valerian held the girl close to her until her body went limp, stroking her hair and again wiping away the filth. She then delicately placed the body on the floor. Valerian smiled and began her work.
Valerian began by removing the organs from the body through the cut that was initially made, careful not to rupture or tear anything. She then cut the body into seven parts: head, arms, legs, and her abdomen was cut in half horizontally. The blood was drained, the body cleaned with water, and dried. Joints were replaced by plastic ones and would be ready to be re-attached to the main body. Valerian then set each piece to dry and placed the head on her desk. She smoothed out her face and glued her eyes shut and applied eyeliner and shiny eyeshadow to give a feeling of simplicity. The long brown hair was brushed and pulled back into a messy yet polished bun that was finished off with a thin white headband. Valerian paused and inspected each detail. She held the head in her hands and placed it back on the neck with long carpenter's nails holding the head and the neck in place. Lastly, with a needle in hand, she stitched the severed skin back together with flesh-colored string.
Valerian began reattaching and stitching skin like a puzzle until the body was whole again, and, as she finished, a feeling began to well up inside her. The long white cotton dress made by Valerian was taken out again and placed on the girl first. With the dress being sleeveless, it was an easy slip-on and a beautiful flare with the light fabric. The corset was then put on. A completely black piece with a single giant sunflower on the side. Valerian then propped her up on a chair and posed her. Hands across her lap, legs together and slanted to the side, head facing towards the ground.
Valerian stepped back and was immediately overcome with awe. She saw a young girl overcome by her shyness as the world stared at her beauty. Valerian began to smile and was satisfied as she spoke to the girl one last time, "You see....you are beautiful again".