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She was beautiful. Still as beautiful as the day he had first seen her, despite the intervening years. She lay on the bed, eyes closed, her hair fanning delicately across the pillow, deep in the world of dreams. He loved to watch her like this, a picture of absolute peacefulness.

She was his muse, his inspiration, his life- his everything. She was the reason for his long hours, she was why he had worked endlessly to perfect his technique.

Now, finally, it was time. Through trial and error he had become a master and now he could put his skill to the ultimate test.

He put his bag down on her bedside table and opened it, careful not to make any noise. She habitually took strong sleeping pills, but he still didn’t want to make any more noise than absolutely necessary.

She stirred slightly as he took out his syringe, unwittingly exposing her arm for the needle. He whispered a thank you as he injected a strong paralysing drug.

She was awake now, but that was okay. He wanted her to see what he was doing, wanted her to appreciate his skill. He spoke to her gently as he took out his tools, explaining exactly what he was going to do with each one.

“The ancient Egyptians, for all their fame, never mastered the technique,” he told her. “But I have. I think their main failing was in waiting until after death to begin the process. But it will be different for you. You will be perfectly preserved. You will be beautiful forever.”

© Kari Fay