10: Rotting Roses

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    Scotch was lying on his back, shirtless with arms stretched over his head. His make-up from the production was mostly smeared. Dark smudges enveloped his eyelids, some spread over his brow. He looked more dead than inanimate. Powder was able to breathe after she took another step and could see that he was wearing something—black draw-string pants. Flesh-toned seams ran down Scotch's chest and abdomen (it surprised Powder that he had no navel since she imagined the Monstress would embroider decorative ones). Around each of his shoulders was a thin line demarcating where his arms connected to his torso. Lavender lip smudges began at Scotch's neck, covered his left collarbone and then followed no particular pattern across his body. He had smeared away every lip print that would have been in range of his vision, as was evident by the matching lavender smudges on his hands.

    Powder had been staring at Scotch a good long while before the heat in her face brought her attention back to serious matters. She should leave. How would Scotch feel to wake up and find Powder taking in all of the horrors left behind from something she probably wasn't supposed to know about?

    As if he had been listening, Scotch's eyes opened. He looked at the ceiling first, but his gaze and face eventually turned towards Powder, who was partly hiding behind the round pillow she held. Neither one of them moved for three seconds, and then Scotch's mouth came open and he sat up straight. Powder turned to run for the door but immediately jammed her knee against one of the posters of the bed. She buried her face in the pillow to keep from crying out loudly. Nothing she could do now but stay and explain. Powder straightened up the best she could, holding onto her sore knee.

    "I'm sorry," she said, swaying. "I thought no one was in here!" 

    Scotch said nothing. He was turned away from her. Up the middle of his back were thick stitches that drew in his fabric and mimicked a spinal column. Across his upper back in familiar blue thread was embroidered "Butterscotch" in cursive. But unlike Powder's, above his name in an arc was stitched, "Madame's Dolls" and below his name, "0288". The embroidery was contained inside an oval that stretched across the top half of his back.

    Powder felt a ghost spasm between her shoulders when she saw it even though embroidery probably wasn't half as painful for a doll. There was a lot of lint and a few tiny feathers collected on his lettering. There were also a few frayed threads in his name, a particularly long one hanging from the last 'c'.

    Since Scotch didn't respond, Powder assumed he must have been mortified. He probably needed space. She decided to clear out of the room but when she looked through the back door the one-armed proto was halfway up the stairs, sniffling and whimpering. Powder closed and bolted the door. She glanced back over at Scotch who hadn't moved, and then made a dash for the other door the Monstress had left from.

    "Wait," Scotch said.

    Powder stopped. "I'm supposed to be in the dressing room," she said and then looked over her shoulder. "The M's probably heading back there for me."

    "No, she's not." Scotch turned and looked up with a face full of gray, black, pink and lavender. His hair was impossibly tousled. "She went to write her next production. She'll remember you later when she's run out of script ideas."

    Writing? The Monstress had left with Bittersweet, spent time with Scotch, now she was off designing a story? Well, she hadn't exactly promised to be right back. Powder wasn't sure what to do.

    "Well, I—"

    "Just stay," Scotch said more firmly.

    Powder's hand fell from the door. She didn't need another reason to stay—not with a proto outside one door and unfamiliar halls outside the other. She walked back to the bed and tossed her pillow onto the covers, then paused while determining the best way to get up onto an almost four-foot tall bed while wearing a poofy skirt. Nails now dry, Powder took a great hop and with a lot of groping and kicking managed to wriggle onto the mattress. As she maneuvered to a comfortable position Scotch moaned and rolled onto his side, hugging his knees.

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