She pulled her hair back from her skull tightly and stared at the image on her computer. Her eyes burned from lack of sleep and held a shadowy expression of loss and confusion. Her thick mouth was firmly and tightly compressed into a straight line. The photo danced teasingly in the monitor's glare until the girl viciously rubbed her eyes with the palms of her hands. The picture settled once more into the solid shape she knew it was in and stared soberly back at her.

"What is so enticing about you?" the girl murmured aloud. She jumped at the noise and swiftly looked around, but no one was in the house to hear her words. She concentrated once again on the dark, poor resolution photo. It was a photo of a young woman with a shy smile, dressed in a sober black dress with a teasing show of knees and legs. From the slight strain in that shy smile, it was obvious that the height of the dress was an uncomfortable one.

With one finger, the stressed woman traced the dress and made circles around the girl's tiny face. "You are flawed," she stated matter-of-factly. "Your ears stick out, your hairstyle is dated and the color is distinctly mousy. You have short little legs and you're blind as a bat and you're ridiculously obsessive about ridiculous things. You're not truly desirable in the common way. You have small breasts and a soft butt. Definitely flawed." With a satisfied nod, the woman flicked off the monitor and moved to do the same to the computer itself.

A slight waft of air touched her cheek and she shivered, tilting her head away from the draft. Her finger hesitated above the silver power button as her mouth opened unwillingly. She sighed and turned the monitor back on. There was a faint pop before the delicate-looking girl appeared again, just as she'd been left. Her searching finger once more traced the elfin face. "It would not be fair to tell myself the bad, without listing the good," she whispered longingly.

"You are an angel," she began hoarsely. "So filled with humor and fun that a whirlwind would be left exhausted. You're complicated and earthy, a welcome change from style and faux belle. Your beauty is only flawed if you hold it up to a magazine's standards. Your eyes are blind but beautifully alive; sparkling and filling me with fire when I thought I had burnt myself out long ago. You are small and perfect for holding, something I wish I could do forever. You make me want to protect you and save you, defeat everything that might make those wonderful eyes dim."

Her voice trailed away into the darkened room as the echoes of what she'd said came back to her. "Such a strange blend of lust and mothering," she mumbled, her eyes never straying from the photograph. "You affect me like no one else has; no man, no woman. If I could have you-just take you into my arms and clasp you tightly, I think my world might feel alright again." A tear slid slowly down her cheek. "Oh, beloved, how this devil wishes to hold the angel close tonight."