She placed strips of lace about the wrists. Pearls were strung and restrung around the neck. A base layer was powdered atop the features and subdued umber colors were chosen to highlight the lips and eyelids. The skin was dry and cracking in places. The flesh beneath was hard and resistant to the application of lotion. More clothing would be needed; perhaps a fur stole.
She lifted the head and sprayed perfume across the soft white pillow. It didn’t take much, just a whiff, a familiar smell. She returned the head to its rest and flattened the surrounding linen with a dusting brush. There would be no wrinkles. If anything had been made clear it was that.
She stood back to survey the results of her care. It was much better now. Less natural. More real. There was something still missing. Was it the stole? Could she place a cigarillo between the lips? Would it stay? It somehow seemed in poor taste, so she abandoned the thought. She left the shiny black case in the gloved hand.
She felt like a priest preparing her queen for an immortality beneath the pyramids. There should have been cats to stuff and golden relics to stash away at the corners. Whose fault was their absence?
She meant to say something; this seemed the moment to speak. The sense of responsibility quickly passed. It was to be a closed casket. Her mother’s request. She shut the heavy lid and went to change her clothes.