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He's only a voice in her head, a whisper that's been with her for as long as she can remember: a confidant at first, then, much later, a partner in crime. By now, he's as familiar to her as are her own features. His murmurs, velvet smooth, accompany her all the time. Although she knows her mind invented him to comfort her during the endless ordeal that was her childhood, he feels much more real than his lack of his own physical form implies.

In a way, she gives him a physicality: she wears the red on her lips and nails, on her head and heels, as homage to him. Considering what their little liaison is about nowadays, the combination with the crisp, white cotton she prefers is almost a piece of art in itself.

As her fingertips glide over her tools in an almost fluid movement, the sharp, smooth metal gleams in the overhead lights as if the trail of her touch stoked the embers of a long-forgotten fire. Pursing her ruby red lips, she stares down at her friends of stainless-steel for a thundering heartbeat, herald of the thrill that awaits her. Then, she nearly slams her briefcase shut. As she clicks the locks into place, his excitement swirls in her mind and pools in her belly. She smiles, but it doesn't reach her eyes just yet: Only when she created a piece of art, beholds its perfection, does she allow herself a moment of true joy.

She lights a smoke and inhales deeply, not because she likes it, but because she knows he does. He thinks it's sexy when her full lips close around the butt of a cigarette, and so do most men; it's yet another tool, in its own way as deadly as her favorites, but it doesn't matter. After all the projects she's worked on, all the canvases she filled with new life, she almost feels invincible. Now that she has shed the fear and pain of her old life like a worn-out coat, she finds nothing really hurts her anymore.

Not even he who is under her skin, whose anger has the potential to run deep in the veins where it clots the blood and deep in the body where it calcifies the bones, has that much power over her like they did when she was little.

As the young man waiting to be transformed into the art he thinks he already is enters the room, she stubs out her smoke and rises. As a blank canvas without a name, the model waits for the strokes of a metallic brush to fill him with an unknown life, give him an unknown purpose.

Her hands tremble ever-so-slightly as she slips on her gloves. They're smooth on her skin, comforting, but most importantly, they'll avoid her staining her own work during any part of the process.

While the flashlight dances over slickly oiled skin, he whispers forbidden promises that make her breath hitch. By the time she finally runs her fingers over her model, she's soaked with anticipation and at the same time burning with the fire of both his urges and her own.

She feels him reach out, slowly seizing hold of her in the one way he was designed to do. The part of her that didn't know control for years loathes to give it up again while another part, the one to whom his mere word is a revered command promising safety, desperately awaits this moment. It's in losing herself that she seems to find herself: her inner strength, her true nature. Him coming to life through her and her serving as his avatar brings an utterly fulfilling sense of ultimate purpose and power that pulses through her veins.

He reaches out and she lets go. As he lays their canvas on the ground, her consciousness shifts and slowly slips until she is his voice and utters his words out of her own mouth. The naked man shivers just like her whole body shakes, only that she reads a hint of dread on his face while she knows her own reveals nothing—and then, she's gone, reduced to a lingering presence within herself, a witness to the art that her heart desires but her hands don't find the courage to create.

Muffled screams and muted pleas mix and mingle as red and white and red again spills over skin first, then muscles and sinews and raw, exposed flesh where he guides their hands with the precision of a surgeon. Here a cut, there a slice: all comes together as the groundwork for something even more profound as they choose tool after tool. They move with their eyes closed, like dancers in the dark who need not see to find their rhythm or to draw from their passion deep within.

Their heartbeat races so fast now that it borders on painful: It thunders against their ribcage as they crack bone after bone that's in the way and reveal more flesh and more tissue, remove layer upon layer of the human mask disguising the ultimate form they seek.

Moans, cries, copper stench, looming insanity—through all of this, they proceed with never faltering movements, and when they're done after what seems an eternity, they sit back on their hurting knees. In awe, they draw in every detail of their beautiful creation, put on display for only them to see, splayed out on the ground like a symbol designed for the anointed one alone, for no one else would understand.

They wipe their mouth and smear their lipstick without realizing. Their frantic breath slows, becomes erratic as the aftermath rolls through their body and wipes out everything but this holy moment.

He laughs. She cries. Both is in bliss.

And then, as silence falls over the room and the end of the night draws near, they wipe the blood from their hands and tools, slip out of their gloves and back into their high heels, and with a rapid clickclickclick preserve their achievement for all eternity before they turn their backs on the scene.

With every step that separates them from their art, he retreats a little further, until he's but smooth velvet and the promises of freedom in her head again.