If only she weren't married to my brother, how I would love her.
My brother's new wife was both kind and beautfiul, moving with the kind of injured grace that you see in wild animals that have been wounded to the point where all they can do is limp. I have no idea where that idiot met someone so perfect, but he doesn't deserve her. That smug smile on his face reminds me of when we were children, and he thought that he'd done something I wouldn't be able to. He'd keep smiling like that... Right until I one-upped him every time. As I'll do this time.
She doesn't meet my gaze when I smile at her, and the thing I find myself wanting to write about most is her scent. I've always hated when people mention women as having the nicest scents almost naturally - but she does, oh, she does. It's unusual - she smells so strongly of gardenias in bloom, of freesia blossoms unfurled, that at first I felt that there must be a bouquet near by. But it's her - it has to be her, and the scent is too much to bear.
As for her voice, it isn't anything much - rather hoarse and unsuitable for a creature such as her - but she is fastidiously polite. Indeed, I don't think I've ever heard her ask for anything for herself; just statements to my brother, asking about his welfare and how he is feeling. He was still smiling, but staring at me - asking why I wasn't married, perhaps, or simply savoring his victory. For now - only for now.
Lounging about in the drawing room, I couldn't help but ask her where she'd come from. The direct question made her pause a bit, and my brother glowered a bit, but didn't interrupt - implying to me that he had no answer. He didn't know? Where his own wife had come from..? How very like my brother. As for she, her delicate eyelashes fluttered, caked behind far too much makeup; it marred her natural beauty.
"I am afraid I don't know, madam." She replied in a quiet and raspy whisper, stroking her throat. Perhaps it was a condition? I will ask the doctors about it, when she was mine.
Then my brother said something protective and possessive and placed his hand on her shoulders, and she feigned to faint towards him. How dainty and how unnecessary. I shall tell her she has to put on no such airs of frailty around me - but at the time, I did think to myself that she looked so beautiful in repose.
"All right, that's enough stress on the blushing bride." My brother said forcefully, clearing the last remnents of our little celebration from the countertop. Wine glasses and cigarette butts alike mingled and disappeared from sight, leaving the room feeling oddly empty. What sort of afterparty consists only of a brother, a sister, and a newly-wed..? The bride shuffled frome one dainty bare foot to another, her voluminous and form-concealing dress hiding her from view.
"Yes... Please... I'd like to rest..." She murmured, and I swear that my heart skipped a beat - more feverishly happy words I've never heard. I wanted to tell her right then that she could rest wherever she liked - but prudence, my close compatriot, won out.
"Well, I would hardly want to be the one to get in the way of newlyweds; please, see yourselves out. I'll just have a bit more to drink, and perhaps write some - you know me!"
Flashing them both a smile that tapered off as they left, I helped myself to another glass of wine, and to you, my confidant. The time is right, after all; I've hated that sanctimonious man ever since we were born, and now he has something I want that he can't be forced to share. I stopped to listen as I began to write, but the strangest thing is that everything was deathly silent. The lingering scent of flowers in the air had faded somewhat, and had been replaced by an after-scent I couldn't place, something like vinegar, perhaps.
As silent as everything was, it was the perfect time to write my goals. I shall return to my room, loyal diary; and tomorrow, I shall find a way to help free that beautiful prize from my brother's grasp.
When she awoke, her hair was matted and sticking out in every direction. Feeling annoyed with herself, she spent the better part of an hour with it, until it was just so. With the solution she'd been looking for coming to her out of a dream, she felt that she had to look perfect for today. Satisfied as she dressed herself in Sunday best, she left her room and walked downstairs into the same drawing room that had been designed to appear so lively last night, when three was a crowd.
To her surpise, her brother's new wife was already there - still wearing the same clothes from yesterday.
"Good morning. I take it that useless brother of mine is still sleeping..?"
Laughing at herself as if this was amusing instead of a statement of fact, she placed a hand on the bride's new hair, admiring how soft it was - almost flaxen.
"He was feeling... A little ill this morning..."
"Too bad. You know, I was just wondering what you saw in a moron like that? If you don't mind telling me, just between us..?"
She tapered off, and didn't answer, and that was enough for the sister, who smiled a crooked smile.
"Well, don't worry yourself about it. I'm sure that things will get better for both of you, in time. I'll go wake him up, then. No need to trouble yourself about it."
Excusing herself with a brush of her hand, the sister strode upstairs, to the room her brother had inherited from the lofty status of being first-born by a few seconds. She knocked - and then knocked again, and then a third time - and nothing responded except silence.
Smiling wanly, she left herself in, and...
What good fortune, diary. What amazing fortune! It appears that my naive new wife underestimated my brother's constitution, and doesn't know how to check for pulse or for breath; because he's dead as a door nail, and not even by my own hand! Oh, how the heavens must favor me. But first, a memorial for my brother. You were a fool, self-sure, first-born and first to the grave. I'll make sure you get a decent burial, at least.
Can you believe it though? Ah, but she'll be devestated, I'm sure. I'm not entirely unused to dealing with wrecks, however; a few calm words, and I'll have fixed things up, just you watch. It would be my brother that died from his own excitement; you'll have to forgive me for smoking near your corpse, gentle brother; but this is a kind of victory that can only be savoured once, and I intend to let it linger.
Just a moment.
The knocking against the door was sharp and yet soft, unyielding until she opened the door. Behind it, the bride was staring with sorrowful eyes.
"He's dead... Isn't he..?"
"Yes, yes, but forget about that for a moment. Come here - sit here." The sister intoned gently as one can while making a threat.
"It appears that my brother overestimated himself, and underestimated you. I know how much of a shock this must be to you, but, I can guarantee you that this sort of foolishness was entirely in line with his character. But I know you, and that you must be scared right now, and I just want to say - "
She stopped for a moment, inhaling deeply of the scent of mixed flowers.
"Nothing has to change. You can stay here, with me, and just... Enjoy your life. I'll keep you well supplied with whatever you want, of course - and nothing has to change."
Placing her hand on the bride's knee in an approximation of tenderness, she awaited a response with a slightly manic grin.
"Is that... So?"
To her surprise, the bride - her new wife, she corrected herself - showed no emotion at all, merely remaining as still as a corpse.
"That would be... Fine... But there is something... I should show you... First."
"Of course, of course. Anything for you, my dear. You know, I don't even know your name?"
The bride clumsily brushed her hand off of her knee and lurched down the stairs, pausing only to indicate that the sister should follow her - and follow she did, talking all the while.
"Or how you smell so divinely! You'll have to tell me one day, soon. Slow down, why are we heading to the basement?"
The basement was calm and cool, having not seen use since the masters of the house were younger. There was no light at all and the sister struggled to see until her hands found the unfamilar lightswitch, the chain clicking as light flooded the hardworn stone. The new wife was in the center of the basement, staring at the ceiling and rocking slightly, back and forth.
"Just so you know... You aren't the first..." She began, slowly fiddling with the folds of her vast and lace-infested dress as if unsure with what to do with the garment.
"Normally I... Regret having to... Do this... But with the two of you... I..!"
She paused, eyelids slowly drawing shut over almost milk-white irises.
"Do you truly want to know... Why I smell of flowers..?"
Fiddling for a cigarette, the sister said nothing, only nodding impatiently. She watched as the woman in front of her sighed, a great sigh like air escaping from a balloon - and slowly began to remove the extensive dress from around her; it dwarfed her in size as it clattered to the ground, and as it did so the smell of flowers, pressed and kept in oil, became all but unbearable. She began to cough uncontrollably, just able to make out the extensive bandeaus and chains kept around the strange woman's waist, that she peeled to the side one by one.
As her eyes swelled up with tears, the sister could make out the sweet stench of rot in the air, preserved and decaying flesh mixing with an assortment of floral scents designed to mask it - now powerless. Despite the strength of the stench, her eyes could not shut as she saw the hollowed out husk that was that woman, moving towards her with a weight unencumbered by her chains. From inside the cavity she had carved spilled bones like keepsakes, skulls and scraps of cloth, all braided together with the same disgustingly sweet mix of scents.
Trying to run, she tripped over some of the embalming fluid that had sloshed forth onto the floor, cracking her head against the stone with a horrific crack. As the light began to fade around her, she turned her head back just enough to see the monstrous woman hovering over her.
"I knew what you thought... Both of you thought... The moment you saw me... Only a day before. You're both horrible people. I can add you to my collection... Without regretting... Anything."
And with that, the living corpse cradled the dying woman's face in the crook of her arms... And slammed it into the ground, and everything went black.