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everything is real

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"Everyone's afraid of you," Beatress tells her.

Good, Mary thinks, because it's easier that way. Sometimes she feels so very distant from everything, from all of it, what other people seem to regard as the real world. There's a wall made of glass between herself and what goes on around her, and it would appear to be thickening, becoming curiously more opaque.

The only time things are clear is when she's cutting into someone, sharp and real, blood seeping red, flesh wet and raw and open.

But Beatress is different to other people. Beatress, it seems, is the exception. Beatress, Mary suspects, is the exception to many, many things, more than Mary could ever count, and when she's with Beatress, Mary feels present, almost as if she actually exists, in the moment in an oddly calming way.

"I'm not afraid of you," Beatress says, and she laughs; an affected, high-pitched giggle.

"No," Mary says, "you're not."

When she kisses Beatress, Mary can taste it, scars and sacrifice and bright red lipstick, the scent of money and pain.

"Let me take care of you," says Beatress, "just for a little while."

"I don't think that's a good idea," says Mary, but then that's what she says every time.

"Come on," Beatress wheedles, and Mary will allow herself to be persuaded, she knows.

It's always the same.

Everything's always the same.