She was the most beautiful person in town, and that made him wonder how he'd gotten so lucky with her. She literally could have had any other man that fancied her—every single one his age was after her, anyway. Her dating pool had not been small, and her choices broad. Back before he took a deep interest in her, she'd been wooed by an engineer, a billionaire that spoke fourteen languages, and a senator, to name but a few. Men in power craved her stunning figure and her lighthearted attitude, for they desired a lusty wife who was still pure enough not to stray. She fit that bill perfectly—yet she did not pursue their courting.

Instead, she picked him.

He was twenty-four when they met, finishing his degree in embalming at a trade school nearby his hometown. Being rather shy and withdrawn, he'd decided not to become a funeral director. Too many people, he'd thought, and too much stress. Other humans blended into a large mass of colors and words to him, speaking as if they were wet murals without mouths, bleeding out of his vision in an invisible rainstorm. They frightened him, threatened his solitude with their existence. Embalming was a peaceful alternative. The people were long dead by the time they got to him, and they did not moan or complain if he made a minor mistake. The dead were much more preferable to the living.

Back then, she'd been a nursing student who'd stopped by the cadaver lab to complete some class assignments. He spent all his free time in there, mingling with the cold souls and studying them to his heart's content—he was the weird guy on campus who never went out to party or picked up drunk girls at bars. He was sure that she knew about his negative reputation, for she didn't speak to him the first few times they were alone in the laboratory together. But a few weeks after her first appearance, she made idle chat.

"I see you here often," she brought up as his back was turned to her, hunched over the pale form of a deceased woman whose head had been shaved, studying a malformed skin tag on the scalp. "Do you not have many friends?"

"The dead are my friends," he replied.

"I understand," she said. "I'm not quite sure why I'm a nursing student. I enjoy being around them as well. They are not rude nor unfaithful—they would make excellent lovers."
"I am an embalmer," he steadily told her without deviating from his task to turn around.

"I see," she said. "That's noble of you."

They worked the rest of the hour in silence, and yet the days they would spend together in the future were filled with her melodious voice that flowed as evenly as the elegance of a smooth river, speaking to him in a social tongue that he did not understand, yet flourished under. She did not truly know him, but he knew every aspect of her-her silken red hair, peppered with flecks of streaks of black that regaled him in their solemn simplicity. Her breasts were plump but not defined or outright boastful; they were almost conical in their shape, pointed at the ends and sloping in a constant circle. Short but with legs that were taller even than a model's, she did not seem to be your typical nursing student. In his eyes—his biased, lonely eyes—she was perfect, and no other woman could match up to her beauty. After all, she chose him, and he was nothing more than an embalmer. He was a plain, stout man, heavy around the middle and dull in his personality, but she loved him.

She loved him, didn't she?

Yes. She did. She lied when she said she didn't.

She lied, the bitch.

The dead were his friends, as they are today, but she is still with him. For a while, she didn't want to be, but she changed her mind. Or, rather, he changed her mind for her. It was all for the best; he knew that she would agree. That way, they could be together forever. There were some days when he awoke and did not want to leave her side—he wanted to stay and caress her all day, feel her sweet lips on his and taste the slight chill on her tongue. He detested the moment when he got a call from the funeral home that he worked at for him to come in and embalm the deceased, because that only meant more time spent away from the woman of his dreams. If he had the option, he would denounce his career and just be with her, for she was all he ever needed. Perhaps he wasn't to her, but that was a foolish fluke on her part. Someday, she would realize that.

She would realize his love for her.

She would realize that paying for her mistakes made it worthwhile in the end.

… that's noble of you.

And just when he thinks he can hear her voice, his pager rings, and he puts her back in the freezer, longing for the end of the day when he can come back and see her again.