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“You’ll see it when you close your eyes,” says Louis. “We’re almost there, cherie. Look.”

Ella’s eyes are a slice of iris. “La vie–” she whispers. “So–the scent–la vie–”

“One thing left,” says Louis. His voice is richer than shadows. “I promise to care for you. Heart and soul.”

Ella’s hands are spotted and callow. Her nightgown pools around her little form. “Yes,” she gasps. “Yes, Louis.”

She dies. Roses burst through her lips, her ribs, her sex. She arches to Louis’s laugh, a flare of trumpets–but shouldn’t they be silver?

Why, she barely wonders, are these brass?