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Yellowed and calloused fingers identified her as a smoker and a fisher-woman. Her teeth were strong, although... and here he found a small clove, still trapped behind a tooth. Cloves against toothache.

Her hair was lighter at the roots, though not by much. He'd guess a homemade dye, one that wore out rather than grew out. Most of it out of the woven braid she'd put it in, tangled and loose around her face.

Her skin was nut-brown, to her waist. It was paler between there and her knees. One of the coarser women then, who stripped down to their waists like the men did when they hauled in their nets. It didn't speak well for identifying the body, though she'd probably be well known enough in her area. Kei wouldn't bother, if he didn't thank he could make back the money for finding the body and preparing it for the funeral.

Still, that wasn't his concern. He was hired for the initial assessment, to find out what he could to identify the body, and pass on his findings to the boss, who'd decide if it was worth putting out a notice found of the body. Signs of violence would be taken to the police, who paid for the information.

This one had been a mother, though not recently. Her face had laughter lines and when he lifted up the eyelids, the eyes were light hazel.

He was uncomfortably aware that she was -had been- an attractive woman. Her body had kept itself together better than most corpses, and the fish had barely touched it. Unusual, that. He signed half-heartedly to his chosen gods with one hand.

There were bruises on her hip and scratch marks on her back, He measured them against his hand and decided they'd come from a woman, maybe even a youkai. When he looked at them through the lens, they had the weird precision h'd seen in youkai cuts, razor blade-like. There were half-moons on the shoulders, with bruises underneath. Not deep though, as if the other had been trying not to dig too hard...

he blinked and stepped back at the sudden, detailed image that assaulted him. His study and a okapi girl, delicate and vicious, naked with the okapi trying to keep from digging her nails too hard by pressing down with her heel of her palm.

He shook his head to clear the thought. Bad enough to know what the others said about him, that he liked his corpses too much, that he spent more time courting a dead girl than a living, that he'd pay to do this if they weren't paying him. No truth in it at all, only that he was good, and he could never stand a mystery, and there was nothing more mysterious than a stranger's corpse.

And now he was having these thoughts, that were totally unlike him and...

It was just that the woman still seemed so pretty. Like she'd get up off the table any minute, laugh and offer to drink him under the table. Her face still carried the trace of a hard life, lived well. Her hair was soft, even with the tangles.

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June 2017

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