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Eternal beauty was, in Helen’s point of view – after thousands of ‘living’ under layers of paint, sealer, and mortuary spackle , about everything it was cracked up to be. Mad could go on about how she looked so ‘charming’ with her chisel hole dimples, but Helen was as much in love with the reflection that greeted her every morning as she had been when she had the first taken the potion.

Madeline – louder than she – often complained about her own graceless rot. They jibed and snapped and sniveled and shouted, which tended to utterly ruin Helen’s day – those YA detective novels she ghostwrote didn’t produce themselves! It wasn’t Helen’s fault that Madeline couldn’t find a surgeon t make her face entirely over and thus open herself up to a miraculous comeback two centuries after the last one.

“Reality does have its limits,” Madeline sighed.

“So does your girdle,” Helen snarled.

They ended up taking their frustration to Madeline’s Pepto-pink bedroom as a vent for all of the desires living lovers couldn’t satisfy – one couldn’t explain to a total stranger why one’s labia is falling off and mottled gray, but Madeline eagerly nibbled and licked them in a way that made Helen convulse like Frankenstein’s monster on the slab.

And Madeline, in turn, could take every bit of punishment Helen dished out , ignoring the funeral parlor stench of her skin and the flecks of black, disabused skin that peeped out.

“Hel,” Madeline would cry.

“Mad!” Helen would shout.

They would fall into each other’s arms, festering and grey, enjoying each other the way they had done with no man.