His touch nettles her skin into forgetting, memories she cannot make out flap like faded flags. When he speaks to her, dense shadows bruise her face. She fits his words carefully to her understanding. She tries hard to be a good wife to him, to concentrate on his finer qualities. She strives to ignore his cold potency, the fact that he has a flair for injury.
He steps like a hero from his portrait, to tell her he must leave. He is going away for a few days. In the time it takes her to roll over in bed, Bluebeard has disappeared and she has already begun to imagine the next move. Stars prickle the window, like iron filings, patterning the sky with motive.
What does she see when she opens the door? A little room filled with the mystery of colour, blood pooling and staining its dark maps into the floor. The open-mouthed dead are floating in grotesque pools of light, hanging in sorrow on the walls, slumped in disbelief on the floor. As she stands in the room it is as though she has entered a sealed tomb in her heart. She is trapped. She knows that love can be a cryptic force, but this time, she doesn't think she can unravel its puzzle.
Fumbling to turn back time she drops the key into the sump of blood at her feet. Snatching it up she bursts out of the door and flies back down the unfamiliar corridors to her own life, her heart pumping pure terror.
But the key, of course, is ruined, marked indelibly with the curse of curiosity. At night she frets about this key, more than she worries about the room. Try as she might she cannot make the thing mean anything other than itself.
Morning will come, and with it, the return of Bluebeard. Morning will come and the key will shriek its own story to its master.
His embrace is an aggression of assessment. Come back to me, my fierce loving heart, she begs of herself. Come back and shine like crazy now. Instead, inside her breast her heart flops like a tiny unkissed frog.
It is so then, thinks Bluebeard. And knows what will happen next.