Somewhere, trapped inside a wooden prison, sequestered, unknown, he whispers gently of fragrance - but only softly, ever so softly, so softly that she might not hear it even if she was alive.

What was the meaning of exile? The clean cut of silver and the ageless time that he wept? He knew what pain felt like when he slashed her skin, a clean cut across the throat – the punishment of guilt, laceration; the hot feeling of blood like rapture, kisses blazing out of control. The experience of wholeness and nothing, the gripping remorse gnawing at his insides now that every word prays, 'I love you.'

He knows that love is forever, but as he swallows his pride, he's aware – inhaling, exhaling - that he won't even make till tomorrow, left to drown in the lace around her body, another mist of linen. Hadn't she whispered into his ear once, swimming into his memory? Pride, pride… No, there isn't a semblance of that now.

She deigned to laugh but never to grin, being overly pious towards his every choice, swaying slightly when he'd chuckle, moved to tears. He felt her cheeks now, and they were cold; cold as porcelain, hard with eternal rest. The stench of phamaldahide filled the enclosure to swish with her perfume, a preservative… She would decay gracefully and he would sacrifice himself to the worms.

But there is a reason for all of this. He told it to himself every day, tracing redness up his arms with the tip of a knife, every word bleeding 'I love you,' needing to feel the guilt when she made the discovery, because he deserved it. He needed her reaction, that look of concern, those perfect lips parting into a glorious little "O."

They'd lost their color for china white.

His fingers trail along her arm, brushing the champagne of her hair, sliding down those manikin features. Her lips are parted as if trying to breathe, and he takes a breath for her, mephitic sweetness wasted on worthless senses; eyes closed, slanted towards the ceiling, carvings of perfect almonds; fingers laced across her chest to offer a penitent heart, pallor lost to a benighted entanglement - inhaling, exhaling… Gone.

"This was not murder," He whispers, cuddling into the crook of her neck, face tickled by the smoothness of blonde hair, the scent of embalming fluid. There is no room to move away, and he wouldn't, even if he could, whispering sweet everythings into a hollow ear, embracing that stark, frigid body too him… "But suicide."

And he doesn't fight to escape the casket, six feet beneath mountains of dirt, breath flowing between the 'floor boards' to wash the cemetery – inhale, exile – and she remains as motionless as an affliction, knowing that if the coffin weren't so dark, it'd be china white with the repose of her smile.