The applause that echoed throughout the room abruptly transformed into gasps of surprise. Adilene had been flawless in appearance and performance—until she turned her back to the audience and they saw the holes. Three large squares of pure satin fabric were missing from the bottom of her long, flowing gown.
With shoulders back and head held high, Adilene walked gracefully, as if unaware of the condescending stares that followed her down the aisle. She knew her mother would never understand, and the fashion show coordinators would probably exclude her from future events. But she was confident she’d done the right thing.
Adilene watched from the wings as the other young models walked down the aisle. Each received the same response: rapturous applause as they entered; disapproving whispers as they made their exit. For the gowns of each model had the same flaw: squares of fabric carefully cut from the otherwise perfect design.
As each model returned, they joined Adilene in the wings—watching the crowd with trepidation and anticipation. When the final note of their song had played, all fell silent. The moment had finally come.
The curtains opened, and one last model stood ready to walk down the runway. Sounds of rustling paper filled the silence as people checked their programs. She was not on the list.
As the young girl entered the light, the crowd finally recognized her. It was Sophie. The one girl who had been excluded from the show. The one girl who lacked the grace and beauty of all the others. The one girl who could not afford an extravagant gown.
Limping down the aisle, Sophie clutched her dress with both hands. It was a radiant patchwork of colors—a fragment of each of the girls’ dresses sewn together into one beautiful design. Adilene’s favorite earrings dangled delicately from Sophie’s ears, while a string of pearls adorned her neck. Her auburn hair was twisted into a glorious braid, with tiny ringlets falling loosely around her glowing face.
Reaching the end of the runway, she turned carefully and walked slowly back toward the stage. Tears streaked the fresh make-up on her face as she looked upon the crowd and saw their admiration. She was beautiful.
When she exited the runway, the girls ran to embrace her. The curtains opened once again, and the room erupted in applause. For everyone had witnessed one beautiful moment.
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