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The Face In the Rose: An Interlude by Raeann

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Author's Chapter Notes:
Sam, who wanted more and more from poor Lucy, and what happened when she was turned. And 'Reap, for the last minute beta for me. Any mistakes are mine.
1. Before

We were locked like bone. Is this what's left of us? I thought you no longer shocked me. You had discovered my original internal cavity. Remember? You brought something big enough, passionate enough, to fill it. God, I was grateful. Loving you. And then you were gone. And I am open again. How did this happen? I fear what will fill me now.

--Found, from a letter of Lucy's to her ex-husband, Christopher, possibly never sent

Dad,

A tragedy has taken over my home. Does everything in my life have to involve hurt? Dad, I'm hurting. I've been thinking of Mom a lot. And you. And Chris. I'm back where I started and I hate it. I haven't left the house in four days. Since he left. I haven't eaten much or changed clothes, or bathed. I think I can still feel his heavy fingerprints on my cheeks. How can I wash them away? How do I get beyond this?

--another letter, never sent


To my boys,

You'll be so proud of your old mother. Now, I want you both to pay attention. Oh this is wonderful. Now, while my mopiness was legitimate, I admit its time to toss it off, get up off my behind, and push through this stagnant murk that's held our house captive. I also admit this Spring was a low point for the Emerson family. But it's going to be different now. It's time for a change, inside and out. It's time to get rid of this stuffy Arizona air, gloom and doom house, and pack it up for California. I grew up there. It's wonderful! I can't wait to tell you this. Escape, boys, think escape. Moving on. It will be better. I promise.

--never sent

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm devastated. God, I'm so tired. That's it. I give up. How can I keep everyone together when I can't keep myself together? It's just not fair, to me or to my boys or my father. I'm folding like new, unused legs. I'm wounded. Do they hear me crying in my sleep? Did you? Fine, take this. Take me. How can it be worse? Something's got to give. I'm so tired.

-note left for William


2. During

Was I running? I never could run very fast. My legs always dragged behind my torso and I'd look and feel like a ram attempting flight. There was crashing into pavement, followed by hard breathing. The other kids would zoom past and around me, like pickets in a fence. All around, too quick to see faces. Blending skins. Pouring into one another's limbs. I'd close my eyes until the last runner had gone by.

Was that memory?

I'm a little frightened. Here.

My husband before. Loved to dance. He'd swing me to the sound of his humming.

"Beautiful beautiful," he'd smile. My legs never dragged with him. I found flight.

Blue-green eyes. Self-assured, crooked smile. He took my hand. He took me through his eyes and I no longer needed to see with mine.

~~~

I'm running. William's fingers crush my wrist bones. I am aware of all of my bones. I don't want to touch or be touched. I just want to be skin.

He fit my bones in his hands, his mouth, as if I were a child. It was safe.

He told me in his language, "The boys are men."

They are? Where was I?

He told me, "They're going to be moving on with their lives soon."

Michael is in college now. Sam is never home. He practically lives with those Frogs. Oh, that sounds so funny.

But-

Chris's touch- bare. Simply skin.
William's touch- aware. Simply bone.

And my wrist hurts. And my heart hurts. The men? Not my boys. Loneliness had set up shop and what else was there to do? Bones and then nerves. Nerve endings bluntly cut, scraping against bone.

Beautiful?

William said, "Come back. Come back. This is better. You said so yourself. I promise, Lucy, I give you my word."

He filled the house with sweet food smells and quiet chatter. He drove Sam to his friends' house. He drove me to the beach and took my picture in the water as a big wave knocked me over. He slept in my bed and kept it warm and it felt so good to have another body against my back again, in my arms again.

Dad hated it. Whatever William said made him sick. But couldn't he understand? Oh Dad.

~~~

I'm dying. I'm dying. William, I'm scared.

~~~

There is a room. Plush carpets. Immediately I sink. The walls and furniture are bent awkwardly inward, like me.

~~~

Hold my hand, William. I'm so scared.

3. In the Moment of Neither

Remember-after the deaths we cleaned, silent. Blood licked up the walls and climbed the wooden stairs, and the stench of those body parts. Oh God, that won't be me. Will it? Promise me, William.

The sun is a giant orange eye. Death is a sucking whisper. I don't see my mother. I hope someday, I will.


4. During (Reprise):

He unbuttons my skin, unhinges the bones, unhooks the organs, and silently climbs inside. He will always be with me.

5. After, and Much After:

I am dead now. I don't speak well. I think the words, but I can't say them. William takes my hand roughly. The skin is rubbing away. My hair is longer and my mouth thick with red. My cheeks are flushed and my skin, what's left, is becoming bone and bone white. I am becoming bone. Hard. My organs are tender. Nerves remember. Everyone is always talking and it hurts my ears.

William wants me to wear long velvet dresses. Carry parasols. Powder my remaining skin chalky white. I refuse. I like my old skirts and jeans and sneakers.

"Well, you're still beautiful." He kisses my lips. I want to cook and eat him. I've become living marble. It hurts to talk. I nod to him.

I saw Sam at the house. His eyes are his father's. He has no smiles. I can't touch him. Only my insides touch. The only visitors: blood of strangers. Nerves and organs floating in poison. Soft and hard. Poison blood and bone husk.

The End
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