Phoebe’s hands were soft, and graceful. They moved about her like pale, twin birds, quiet and fine. Hovering over a tea kettle, alighting gently on piano keys, silently turning the pages of a book. Every motion fascinated me.
I would watch her out of the corner of my eye, careful to avoid the embarrassment of openly staring. I loved her hands, the delicate structure of the long, tapered fingers. I admired their natural elegance and beauty and spirit. She was a creature exquisitely wrought.
No. I must be truthful. What use is a confessional if it is polished into something else? Can I find true absolution if I continue to hide my sin in pretty words? It was more than mere admiration. Or fascination. I envied those hands.
The truth is, I envied everything about Phoebe.
Dear girl. If she had only known, had only seen the jealousy hidden in my eyes, the seeds of discontent growing in my heart. Had my dark and bitter soul been known to her, she would have turned her face away. I was a loathsome and fearful thing. It was in my very bones, and she would have been right to look away. But it wouldn’t be fear that prompted her retreat, no. She’d have done it out of mercy, I am certain. She would spare me from knowing that she knew, that she saw who I was. That’s the kind of good that Phoebe was.
But, I was not.
I was not good, or noble, or selfless. I hid my true nature from her, perhaps in some degree from myself as well. Maybe if her hands hadn’t been birds, and I had been content with my own short, blunted fingers, things would have turned out differently. If I’d been satisfied with my mediocrity, my plain and common existence, then maybe I could have allowed her to continue living in that graceful, serene state. Maybe.
But maybe Mother had been right all along. I always did break the beautiful things.