The Bestowal of the Magician
by Tianyue Zhang
The magician says: "The price will be steep. Death magic demands no less."
"I can pay." The husband declares it unhesitatingly, but the bedchamber they stand in belies his words. Like the rest of the house, the room is a little too grandiose in size for its few remaining items of furniture; the four-poster monstrosity upon which the body rests fails to obscure the missing wardrobes, the absent bedside stand, the dark rectangles on the wallpaper where paintings had hung. The unwashed windows fade the late afternoon sunlight to the color of old milk.
The magician observes all this with no outward sign of amusement. "She will awaken dazed. Confused. She will forget things."