She picked herself up, wiping away at her dignity. The solid colour of her vestments was now mottled and soiled. Struggling not to feel the cuts on her face, burning slightly less than the red in her cheeks, she walked on, head high.

Not looking at the ground, eyes blurry. Asking for it to happen again. Washed and clean, she still bore the marks of the fall, and the stains never quite came out. She couldn't take as good of care because her purity was already ruined, feet unsteady. Every time, more and more dirty, cheeks redder and with more permanent pains. But anything pure lacked attraction, because she was already degraded. Settle, reach for only the bottom rungs and finally sit steadily where the original face plant had left such a lasting mark.

One fall didn't have to be the beginning of an avalanche. Makeup and new clothes, conceal and burn all traces: the end. Reconcile with the original fall, acceptance and discovery that mottled fits better than solid perfection. Not only avoid the rock on which she stumbled, but all similar rocks. The options were open. She opted never to recover her steady stride, chose instead to dull the degree of humiliation attached to each fall.

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