Hiding Beauty

He is taken aback when the waitress smiles at him. The steam coming off the coffee gives her face a wavering, ephemeral look. It's genuine. Not the smile you give a customer, but one of gentle knowing; a "had trouble sleeping didn't you" smile.

He wonders if it's a pretty smile right down to the bone, if the skin and muscle clouds true beauty, pale and gleaming. He wonders if that smile would be so friendly if she knew he was imagining her ribcage, laid bare for all the world to see, light trickling through to illuminate the vertebrae. Bundy could have felt like this, a monster walking through the world of men, unmotivated by money or desire for peace. Just wanting to imprint his own fractured reality over the world.

He's slipping and he knows it. He used to only thing about the beauty underneath the skin once in a while. A passing fancy. It consumes him now, constantly trying to distinguish the bone from meat, mentally butchering those around him. Soon enough the butchery will stop being mental.

Sometimes he feels trapped. His skin too heavy, the muscle below restraining him. Breath is constrained by lungs. His organs are a weight that bends him forward, a hunch he could shake if only he were truly free.

It's odd, planning someone's death. It starts as a mental exercise, something he insists to himself is never going to happen, not ever. None of the meticulous ritual, the precise timing will ever be more than a fantasy. This is the lie he tells himself as he mentally runs down the checklist of when the waitress will end her shift. The map of her route he has pinned up in his bedroom says she'll be taking the subway, past the dark alley between the abandoned warehouses, in the district where noone reports screams to the cops.

The coffee cup is white, and, staring at the sparkle from the lights, he wonders if her skull will have the same gleam, or if he'll have to steam it; heat stripping the last particles of meat from between the teeth. Maybe a lacquer, to give it a glorious shine. Well, there'll be time enough to think of that later... He wrenches himself from that line of thought. No. Not yet. He doesn't want to walk away from the rest of the world yet.

There's nothing sexual about it. Indeed, the very act of sex disgusts him, too much sweat and fluids and the noise of meat striking meat.

The steam from the coffee fogs the window, and he can almost see it, phalanges glowing in the light of the street lamps, the eternal friendly grin of the passers-by. The world he should have been born in.

He sips his coffee and feels the patina form on his teeth. Still hiding beauty. For a while.

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