The one eye is exactly the same as she remembers it. The rest is a ruin. She turns away from the one small mirror that she still keeps in the apartment. For how much longer it will remain in one piece she cannot say.
Three weeks used to be so short a time, but now it is eternity mixed with forever and plastered over with endless millennia.
Just 21 days since it happened; since the surgeons first laid their hands and their cold, uncaring steel on her. Twenty-one short, endless days since she had suffered the loss of her future and her husband.
A face lost forever to the cruel kiss of hot tarmac; a love abandoned forever to the cleansing fervour of the flames. The same squealing song of death and despair replays in her head every day that she continues to go on living.
The apartment, though large, is far too small for a prison. The sickness of hospital air still clings to her. It is something that she cannot wash out no matter how hard she tries. It will always be with her through the years of pain ahead, the endless days of rebuilding and remodelling. But she wants her own face back - not one that can be bought off the shelf. Their cost is too high.
But she knows a place where she can find her face.
The door creaks in painful protest as she puts her weight against it. Swollen in the damp of last winter, it is reluctant to let her enter the place of her salvation. The old attic room was the last domain of her grandmother, the hideaway where she used to spend her days muttering over her memories of old Europe, recapturing beauty and love in a fine-spun web of evocations.
Grandmother would understand my quest, she thinks. She'd know this was the right thing.
She brushes the heavy dust from her spider-kissed hair, searching for the tell-tale glint in the close, gloomy space. A hint of her grandmother's perfume still lingers in odd corners, even after all these years.
Moving past the never-opened trunks, the treasures from another world now sunk beneath a sea of years, she spies the tell-tale shape. She coughs through a shroud of dust as she pulls back the heavy cloth from the objects she has been seeking.
A constellation of light breaks over her as the sunlight dashes for freedom after being trapped on the bright, hungry surface of the glass for a single moment. It reminds her of the jewels of glass strewn across the road and embedded in her soft flesh, leaving a souvenir sketch-map of scars.
Her hands grope forward to lift the first of them. She smiles back at herself from the moving mirror, from the happy preparations for her 18th birthday; the day after she had felt a man inside her for the first time, she remembers. She watches the girl's slow, contented movements and chokes back her bitterness. No man would want her now.
There are half a dozen of them. Clean and perfect and shining in the weak sunlight that filters in despite her best efforts to exclude it. Mirrors, but not mirrors.
A gift from her grandmother. Living portaits: how absurd. She had laughed at the time but the wise witch woman was right, after all. "You may need them some day. You may," she had said and patted her grand-daughter's head indulgently. "Keep them safe." And they were safe.
There, her faces; all of them. Her youth, her pain, her loves - all trapped within the glass, swimming silently through the paradise of her past.
The smiles, the shining eyes, the sighs, the lustrous hair. They are all there in front of her. They belong to her because they ARE her. They will be hers again.
The pain cuts short her rare attempt to smile.