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The cheery yellow wallpaper seemed more dour lately- less like a quaint dandelion field and more like the pallid hue of a dying man’s cheeks. The lights always flickered and there was this infernal humming noise like a relentless gnat in his ear- humming, humming, humming, humming-
No bother. The yellow wallpaper could go rot as long as he had her. She was the cheer in his life- his sea of joyful buds. The shifting of her almond eyes, tantalizing and evasive as the wind through a gossamer curtain, the wrinkling of her barely crooked nose with its perpetually pink tip, the flutter of her autumn red hair as it slipped into her face and rode her breath as he longed to do.
“Yes, Dearest?”
Those slim, cheeky eyes with their intangible colors- this day black, the next deep amber- slid over to his under one arched brow and compelled him forward with an enchanting flicker of amusement. Darling swept over to the gorgeous, ethereal being whom he was blessed to call a wife and snaked trembling arms around her waist, resting his chin on her shoulder and burying his face in her hair; he inhaled her scent like smoke through a pipe and moaned, swaying and bringing her with him as Dearest laughed and swatted at him.
“Darling! Be serious!”
He inhaled greedily and rubbed his cheek against hers with a deep chuckle as he continued to embrace her and limit her movements despite the hissing of the stove beside them and the clatter of the wooden spoon as it fell from her grasp.
“Mmm, I’ve never been more serious. Serious as death.”
His purring voice became a growl as he bent and swept her into his arms with a raucous laugh to match her squeal. A kick of her heeled foot spun the stove off as Darling stormed to their room, not caring what fell to collateral. The stairs barely felt Darling’s feet as he thundered upward, unlike Dearest’s skin as she reveled in every blissful touch of Darling’s lips, worshipping her body and lips with longing kisses.

Darkness, consuming and enveloping. Everywhere around him there was darkness and pressure- terrible terrible pressure. Nothing stirred. Nothing moved. Nothing breathed. A shifting and sudden piercing light. The sky split in two. The spilling of dirt and a hand, pulling, pulling, pulling, pulling-

The man woke with a shuddering gasp, his wife’s worried eyes burning his moist skin more than the soft touch of her fingers on his thigh. Darling choked back the scream that threatened to burst forth and scrambled to sit up, panting and wiping the sweat from his pale, drained skin.
“Darling, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, nothing... I’m fine. Go back to sleep.”
Dearest could never be convinced of a lie and her doubtful eyes speared Darling as he replayed the dream, praying for the bliss of forgetting. The sudden presence of gentle hands in his hair sent a shiver running down the frightened man’s body, but he soon melted into her loving touch, falling to rest in her open lap and letting the softness of love lull him back to peace.
“This reminds me of our wedding night.”
Darling snorted, knowing where this was going but humoring his dearest nonetheless.
“How so?”
“You were so nervous! Like a little lamb-”
“Hey now!” Darling shifted to glare up at Dearest but her stroking hands pulled him back down. “I was not like a lamb! I was like a wolf- a very manly wolf.”
“You were shaking.”
“Well of course I was nervous! Your father was glaring at me the whole time!”
“Shush! Let me tell the story!”
Grumbling but obeying, Darling settled his head deeper into Dearest’s lap.
“You were so nervous that you spent the whole event drinking. You even challenged the priest to a race!” Both laughed fondly at the memories as Dearest continued. “By the time we made it to our bed, you were so deep in your drink that you couldn’t do anything except lay in my lap, just like this.”
Dearest’s voice had grown softer and Darling thought he heard a tremble. He grabbed her hand, ceasing its rhythmic stroking, and brought it to his lips, leaving a trail of soft kisses until he was gifted a soft smile.
“My loss, that night- you looked radiant.”
Dearest chuckled and swatted at him, unexplained tears teetering at the edges of her eyes as she stared intimately down at her husband, gently caressing his cheek. In the soft glow of the room, Darling settled to fall back asleep when his dream came back to him and in his calmed state managed to smirk at it- how silly it had been.
“You know my dream- it had you in it.”
“It was nighttime, the moon was out and the crickets were deafening! The dream was more of a collection of images than a true dream but I know there was dirt- it was everywhere and it was pushing down on me. You were above me a bit, digging for something in the dirt. I wonder why you were digging- what did you bury?”
The lazy movement of Dearest’s hand froze as her whole body went rigid. Darling blinked in surprise at his wife and sat up.
Before he could continue to ask what had bothered her, Dearest thrust up the blankets and hastily left the bed, swiping her hands viciously under her eyes as she ran from the room. Left alone on the bed, Darling gaped after his wife and stood. What had come over her? An uneasy feeling grew in the man’s chest that he did his best to swallow down. It felt to him as though there was a locked door somewhere deep in his mind that he wasn’t sure he wanted to open.

Muffled sobs came from the small attic room that Dearest used to store her herbs, interlaced with hesitant creaks from the hall floorboards as Darling slowly closed in on the door that led to the candlelit room. The crying didn’t stop as Darling crossed the threshold, nor when he peered over at the crumpled figure in the corner, facing the wall and hugging herself as though he’d shoved her there.
Darling halted as something else caught his eye: a book, laying open on her work bench with a twisted drawing of a naked man. The door in Darling’s mind creaked and rattled warningly and he gulped as he approached, time slowing to a crawl as the words became clearer and clearer.

Resurrectionem Mortuis.
Resurrect the Dead.

The door of Darling’s mind slammed open and he fell backward, gasping and clutching his chest painfully as he began to hyperventilate. The dirt, the pressure, the digging. It was him. He had been what she had buried and he had been what she had unearthed. Crawling forward, Darling clutched at a shroud that he knew covered her mirror, ripping it off and falling to his knees as he took in the full extent of what she had done.
Darling’s once handsome, rugged face now gaped sallowly back at him, bloodless and waxy. He clutched at his skin and pulled desperately, wrenching slices of flesh from their place and revealing taut, lifeless muscle beneath.
“Oh god, oh god, oh-”
Darling moaned, no tears left in his corpse to bleed from his horrified eyes even as his wife, his loving, foolish wife wailed behind him. Even as this world that no longer belonged to him crashed around him.

“Yes, Dearest?”
“Would you pass the salt?”
The fading wallpaper really wasn’t so bad once he’d gotten used to it. However, he could do without the humming noise and the rotting landscaping. Apparently dark magic corrupted more than just the people involved. Darling did as he was asked, another patch of skin sloughing off and plopping into the potatoes. The couple laughed it off together; it had been happening more and more and Dearest reassured Darling that it was nothing to worry about. Yet Darling worried.
He worried what would happen to him when there was nothing left.


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