One might have described her as pretty. Not beautiful, to be sure, but of a certain symmetry, nonetheless. She had skin reminiscent of the magnolia she held, plain-looking eyes and hair of a uniform dark brown. Her hair was completely limp and gravity pulled it down without finding resistance into a thin curtain that cut off her head and neck from the world.

She fingered the magnolia's wide white petals. It had an unusual scent. Everybody said it was beautiful but she was undecided. The aroma had a strange...aftertaste, if a smell can have such. It was like honey, she thought. The first lick is wonderful, but after a few one gets nauseated from the sweetness. She replaced the flower in its vase. Have a drink, my dear. Wouldn't want you to wither, o no.

"How are you?"

Her gnawed lips twitched into an irrepressible grin. "Fine." She answered herself. Fine, o my, how fine be I, she thought. She covered her unsightly stomach with a blanket. Sometimes that helped. It stopped the feeling of being O So Fat. At times. Other times, like now, it did nothing. She drew a deep breath and her ribs came into sharp focus. She let it out, and weary skin sagged back into place.

She had dreamed of It again: a skeleton. Most times It was a living one, covered in fondant-like skin, other times just bleached bones. Once, worst of all (she thought with a shudder) there had been a least her dream-mind had known that, for there was no ceremony, no obvious sign or reference to a wedding. Just two skeletal creatures, hands interlaced. They hadn't had faces. She had woken up weeping.

She could hear her mother stirring in the room over, and checked her face again. The flush had faded, the feverish sweat that had glazed it was gone.

"Are you okay? I thought I heard something," her mother said at the door. "Did you have a bad dream?"

"I'm fine. Just a bad dream," she smiled with easy practice. Her mother smiled back, hugged her, asked her if she needed anything. She said no and her mother told her to go back to sleep.

Just a bad dream, yes.