The witch made her a promise, and she hoped the witch would keep it.

Every day she went out into the woods and she collected something.  A twig.  A dried grass with a soft buff of seeds, feathers.  She glued them together with the glue the witch gave her, every day she would carefully drop a tiny bit on a plate, then use a needle to prick the ring finger on her left hand.   One drop of blood, mixed with the green white of the glue.  She used the glue and the blood to connect the things she found, building them into a box.

It was the shape of a heart.

In the next room, her husband coughed weakly.  She looked through the door, saw him leaning, weakly against the table.  “Do you need me?”  she called.

“No…just a little out of breath, is all.”

And one day, the box was done.  She waited for one of his bad nights…he had far too many, and she used it as an excuse to sleep in another room, the box on her chest.

The next day, she placed the box on his chest, holding it over his heart.  She stroked his hair away from his forehead, traced her fingers over his features with the lightest of touches.  “I love you,” she breathed softly, “I love you, I love you.”

And when the dawn broke, she took the box outside, and buried it.

And he was better.

And she was worse.

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