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"I am a matchstick man," she said hurriedly, her hands fluttering near her face like moths hung by a failing lantern. Her face was waxy, pale, yellow as cheese. "Ashes, ashes. I'm a house of cards, and, and we all fall down-- Will you stay with me? Even when I've fallen down?"

Wesley nodded and his chin was grim and solid and his eyes were bright as glass.

Her skin was hard, brittle, like when you put fudge in the freezer to set and then you cracked it with a hammer so you could share it out. She was hollow as a chocolate bunny, the ears always went first, oh, and she clapped her hands over her ears to make sure they were still there. Inside, her heart ticked like a muffled bell, something small and silver that you held in your hands and shook to hear the clapper shift like a dry pea in an eggshell. Things that are hollow, things that crack, break your mother's back.

"You have to tell my mother, the rabbit was real. Feigenbaum. And that I wasn't afraid. Will you tell her?"

He was turning to stone, too, she could smell it. The wet salt smell of new sidewalk, smoothed over, no footprints. He would harden like fudge, and who would be the hammer?

"I can't leave yet. I'm not finished. So I can't go, that's that. Isn't it?"

She knew Wesley could speak, because he'd read to her, and he'd lied to her, just like she'd asked him to, but maybe her ears were gone after all (she checked them again, cold shells under her stiffening fingers) and she couldn't hear him anymore.

"It wants to be a monument," she explained, and Wesley wept and said nothing. "I don't want to be a statue," she whispered. "All they do is stand around, and they never get to have tacos or showers or-- But you can help me, Pygmalion, he made her soft. Make me soft, make me soft, Wesley," and her panicking hands felt only softness in his lap, but he splayed his whole hand against her thigh and slid it up under her skirt.

She was dry, but he touched her with heavy care, and some well still sprang. The edge of his thumbnail was smooth and sharp against her wall, the pads of his fingers pressed against her rabbiting pulse. "This will be real, and I'll wake up to a samovar and a monkey."

When her breath caught, he slipped two fingers inside her, so she had something to hold, and when he slipped out again, she was wet and trembling, but she couldn't cry anymore. So she made him promise to tell many more lies on her behalf, and she asked him to kiss her, even though she tasted of cold and clay and ash, but there was still warmth in him and she clung to it, until the shaking hands stilled her heart, and the muffled bell stopped ticking.