His finger ran stiffly down her spine, which flinched slightly under the pressure. The five broken vertebrae could clearly be felt beneath his fingertip. Half-pained she flinched under his hand, barely touching, writhing away as much as the pain would let her before settling back against his palm. The wires were tensile enough to allow her the illusion of escape but rigid enough to hold her in place. She sighed in a melody of regret and pleasure, knowing the day of her completion was a step closer. Her back would no longer hold her straight but it would hold her where she wanted to be.
"I have to do this. You know that. I have begged you to find proper help. So now it must be this." He prepared the equipment and she smiled at him, making sure he saw the pain she mixed it with.
She was bound to have sustained some damage in such a long fall from grace but he would never have been able to anticipate the extent of the damage. Once he had opened her up, it became horribly clear what a long night he had ahead of him. Skill and patience would be at a premium.
Yva, Ber Brillantschmuck, from Deutscher Kamera Almanach, 1929, photograph
The spine turned out to be a relatively simple matter after all, involving metal and pinning. After decades in the ice, her eyes were unpleasant to look at, if not completely useless. He'd known that, but their replacements were far from ideal - though adequate, he thought. An illusion was all that was needed. The stiff leather bracing could work wonders, with certain limitations. And the drugs, working alongside the auto-viral acupressure implants, would be a boon to her.
He was unhappy with the tension of her skin. And the dress, re-engineered at her insistence from her fourth wedding outfit, was not all his clumsy fingers could have made of it with a little more time. But he was pleased with the final result - given the constraints he had to work under. Her stricken star had had a long and damaging fall, failing and tumbling for year after year before the tragic end; yet he had only been allowed mere weeks to work his miracle. He nodded in encouragement as she propped herself against the cold wall. He was careful not to have any mirrors in the place: his clients would not appreciate that.
At last she was back where she belonged. The music began and the vibrant hum of anticipation died down as she stepped stiffly out on to the stage to a burst of horrified applause.
"Desire is the great force."